There are 4 exciting NFL playoff games coming up this weekend – go Denver Broncos! Looking for something to serve for game viewing that is both scrumptious and easy to prepare? Why not try our Taco Salad Dip. A variation of the well-known Seven Layer Dip, this dish has no refried beans and is a snap to put together. Enjoy!
Taco Salad Dip
(Serves 6 to 8)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 package taco seasoning mix
3/4 cup salsa (we like Pace brand)
6 chopped green onions
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or to taste)
1 can (2.25 ounce) sliced black olives, drained
1 ripe avocado, chopped
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped lettuce
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning. Spread evenly in the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch pie plate (or other shallow 4-cup dish). Spread salsa evenly over the top. Sprinkle remaining ingredients over the salsa in the order given. Serve with tortilla chips.
Note: this dip tastes best if you let the cream cheese mixture sit a bit before serving (around an hour or two) to allow the flavors to blend. Don’t worry if you don’t have time to do that – it also tastes great when served immediately!
A great recipe for using up the rest of those delicious tomatoes from your garden! I love fresh tomatoes, and am always looking for new ways to serve them. This easy recipe has a wonderful combination of flavors. I think it looks the prettiest if you use a combination of different color tomatoes.
Tomato and Prosciutto Salad Recipe
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 to 5 very thin slices prosciutto (around 2 ounces)
2 pints of grape (or cherry) tomatoes, preferably different colors, stemmed and cut in half
1/4 cup chopped green onion (or more to taste)
chopped fresh basil
In a small jar with tight fitting lid, whisk together the vinegar, garlic and olive oil. Cover and set aside.
Spray a medium frying pan with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add 2 prosciutto slices and cook until crisp, around 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat with remaining prosciutto. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the tomatoes, onions and basil. Break the prosciutto into pieces and sprinkle over the top. Shake dressing, pour over tomato mixture and toss gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Make ahead: dressing can be made several days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using. Prosciutto can be cooked earlier in the day and stored at room temperature.
It’s that time of year when our gardens and farmer’s markets start to be full of delicious fresh tomatoes, and we are all looking for new and different recipes to try (especially my friend Dona Johnson!). Last fall I decided to do something I hadn’t done in years – can! Canning really isn’t all that difficult, once you understand the basic steps:
- Wash the jars, lids and rings with hot soapy water (or in the dishwasher). Keep warm in a pot of simmering water (or they should stay warm enough in the dishwasher).
- Select and make the recipe.
- Fill the jars; remove air bubbles.
- Wipe the rims of the jars clean, put on lids and screw on rings (but not overly tight, as air inside the jars needs to escape during processing).
- Place filled jars into canning rack and lower into simmering water that covers jars by 1 inch. Cover and boil jars for amount of time specified in recipe, adjusting for high altitude (+5 minutes for every 3000 feet above sea level).
- Turn off heat; let jars stand in water for 5 minutes. Remove and place on clean dish towel to cool at room temperature for at least 12 hours (or as specified in recipe). Do not tighten rings until after cooling.
- Press on center of cooled lid; if the lid does not flex up or down then it is sealed! If the jar didn’t seal properly, then refrigerate it.
My mom Sally, with whom I wrote “A Well-Seasoned Kitchen”, used to frequently make fabulous jams and chutneys, and she never liked this water bath method. She just followed the directions above through step 4, then left the jars on the kitchen counter. They make a fun popping sound as they seal. Note that both the water bath and self sealing methods are used for high acid foods, like tomatoes and most jams and jellies. For other foods you’ll need to use a pressure cooker.
Now, back to the recipe – I had a bunch of ripe plum tomatoes from the farmer’s market, and found a delicious sounding recipe for canned tomato bruschetta topping in Taste of the South magazine, so I decided to give it a try. It was great fun, all the jars sealed (yea!) and the result was scrumptious. And, I had several jars to give as a different and fun hostess gift!
Below is my adaption of the Taste of the South recipe. You can find their original recipe here.
Tomato Bruschetta Topping Recipe
(Makes around 7 1/2-pint jars)
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
5 cloves garlic
9 cups chopped cored plum tomatoes
1 cup finely chopped onion
Prepare boiling water canner, jars, rings and lids as described above.
In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine wine, vinegars, water, sugar, oregano, basil and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until sugar dissolves, around 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and onion; return to a boil and continue cooking at a boil for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle hot tomato mixture into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch space between the top of the food and the rim of the jar. Remove air bubbles; add more tomato mixture as needed to keep headspace at 1/2 inch. Wipe rims clean; place lids on jars and screw on rings. Place jars in canner covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring water to a boil and process jars over high heat for 20 minutes from when the water begins to boil – remember high altitude adjustments if needed (see above). Turn off heat and let jars rest in canner for 5 minutes. Remove and place on a clean dish towel to cool. Let rest undisturbed for 24 hours.
When ready to serve, drain off some of the liquid (otherwise I found it to be a bit too runny) and serve over brie or goat cheese on toasted baguette slices.
My good friend Dona Johnson has a garden overflowing with tomatoes and has asked for some new recipes. Here is a favorite of mine that comes from another good friend Kathy Soter. This recipe takes minutes to put together, and is perfect for a hot summer day as no cooking is required! Peaches and tomatoes make a delicious combination; Kathy recommends using white peaches and heirloom tomatoes.
Tomato and Peach Salad
2 large tomatoes
2 ripe peaches
1/2 red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (or more to taste)
good quality olive oil
1/2 to 1 lime
red pepper flakes
Slice the tomatoes. Peel, pit and slice the peaches. Arrange the tomato and peach slices on a serving dish in a circular pattern, alternating tomato and peach slices.
Very thinly slice the red onion (preferably with a mandolin) and sprinkle over the top. Sprinkle with cilantro. Drizzle generous amount of olive oil over the top. Squeeze lime juice over all (amount needed depends on how juicy your lime is!). Sprinkle generously with red pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt.
Make ahead: Tomatoes, peaches and onion can be sliced and plated up to 4 hours ahead. Cover and store at room temperature. Add cilantro, olive oil, lime, pepper flakes and salt just before serving.
I’m always looking for new breakfast ideas that can be made quickly, with ingredients on hand. Last year I created a yummy Greek omelet that featured tomatoes, feta cheese, avocado and Tzatziki sauce (you can find that recipe here). The other morning I started to make that recipe, but discovered I didn’t have any Tzatziki sauce. I did have the tomatoes and feta, so I modified the recipe and created this frittata. It passed muster with Robert (who has requested it again several times!) so I thought I’d share it. Enjoy!
Tomato and Feta Cheese Frittata
1 small shallot, chopped
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups chopped seeded tomatoes, or halved grape tomatoes
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles (plain or flavored)
2 teaspoons Panko breadcrumbs
Spray an ovenproof skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until softened, around 5 minutes.
While the shallots are cooking, in a medium bowl whisk together the eggs and mustard. Stir in tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add egg mixture to the cooked shallots in the pan. Sprinkle top with feta and cook until eggs are almost set, around 5 minutes. Sprinkle top with breadcrumbs and place under broiler until eggs are cooked through and the breadcrumbs are lightly brown. Watch carefully as it cooks quickly! Serve immediately.
What could be better – the ingredients in a BLT sandwich (minus the bread) in a bite size morsel! A wonderfully refreshing and delicious addition to any cocktail party menu.
BLT in a Cherry Tomato
(Serves 8 to 10)
8 slices bacon
20 cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1/2 cup finely chopped romaine lettuce
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Cook bacon until crisp; drain and crumble.
Take the green stem off of the top of each tomato, cut a slice off the bottom and carefully scoop out seeds and discard. Lightly salt inside of tomato shells and invert on paper towels for 15 minutes.
Mix together the onion, bacon crumbles, lettuce and mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fill each tomato with bacon mixture. Cover and chill. Place on a platter and garnish with chopped parsley.
Variation: Substitute 10 plum tomatoes for 20 cherry tomatoes. Slice plum tomatoes, season with salt and pepper. Place heaping teaspoonful of bacon mixture onto each tomato slice.
Make ahead: Tomatoes can be assembled, covered and chilled earlier in the day.
You say ‘to-may-to,’ I say’ to-mah-to’ – the root of our differences likely stem from the fact that there are more than 7,500 tomato varieties worldwide! About 130 million tons of tomatoes are produced annually every year. While China is the largest tomato producer, the United States and Turkey aren’t far behind. For just one variety, known as plum tomatoes, California accounts for 90 percent of U.S. production and 35 percent of world production.
The original tomato plants found in South America produced fruit not much larger than plums. The larger and heartier varieties of tomatoes favored by consumers were the result of cross-breeding and other hybrid growing techniques. A demand for smaller tomatoes resulted in the development of the ‘cherry’ tomato, which became a popular item for snacking and salads.
As the years rolled by and consumer preferences changed, the cherry tomato began to lose its appeal. Its thin skin and high water content made shipping difficult, and many consumers were not impressed with its variable flavor. Meanwhile, a new strain of tomato was created in Southeast Asia which combined the thicker skin of the beefsteak-style tomato with the size and flavor of the Italian Roma tomato. The result was a first generation hybrid fruit with a thick skin, low water content and an intense sweetness. Because it resembled an olive or grape, this new variety became known as the grape tomato.
A grape tomato is half the size of a cherry tomato, which makes it easier to toss into salads and eat as a snack. The lower water content cuts down on the ‘squirt’ factor experienced by many cherry tomato eaters. The flavor of a grape tomato is noticeably sweeter than a Roma or cherry tomato. Some bars in Asia offer customers bowls of grape tomatoes instead of the usual salted peanuts.
Grape and cherry tomato facts adapted from Wise Geek.com
This recipe was inspired by the Stetson Chopped Salad at Cowboy Ciao Restaurant in Scottsdale, Ariz. I especially love this twist on the traditional chopped salad for the spiciness of the arugula, saltiness of the toasted pepitas and the smokiness of the salmon.
1 cup basil pesto
2 shallots, chopped
2 cups mayonnaise
2 cups buttermilk
Juice of 1 lemon
4 ounces Asiago cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup toasted pepitas (Mexican pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup currants
1 cup chopped seeded plum tomatoes
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup chopped baby arugula
1 cup cooked Israeli (pearl) couscous
4 ounces chopped smoked salmon
To make the dressing: Place the pesto, shallots and mayonnaise in a food processor and blend. With the motor running, pour in the buttermilk. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Blend. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before using.
To make the salad: In a small mixing bowl, stir together the cheese, pepitas and currants. Set aside. In 4 shallow serving bowls or rimmed plates, arrange the salad ingredients in rows in the following order – tomatoes, corn, cheese mixture, arugula, couscous and salmon. Serve the dressing on the side.
Make ahead: The dressing and cheese mixture can be made up to 2 days ahead. Store the dressing, covered in the refrigerator.
[Photo courtesy of Cowboy Ciao, Scottsdale, AZ]