Shakshuka – Eggs Baked in Tomato Sauce

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Food trend alert: shakshuka. I’ve seen this traditionally Middle Eastern egg dish popping up everywhere. I first laid eyes on it on Instagram; someone leaning over the stove, wearing an apron, cracking eggs into a pan of tomato sauce. I was insta-trigued – what was this mystery dish? Then I spotted it again, this time on Plated’s Instagram feed, and finally learned what the dish actually was. Then, a girlfriend forwarded me this New York Time’s article, saying that she and her boyfriend had made it over the weekend (while reading the Financial Times and drinking mimosas – so posh). I was convinced – had to try it. Because I hate following recipes, I made my own version.

Since I was in tomato overload last week, I had a low bar for giving this recipe a try – what else was I to do with all of that tomato sauce? I instantly realized that the hype was real. This dish is easy to prepare, hearty, and can hold up at any time of day. I made it for dinner last night and it was great. I have no idea what a traditional Shakshuka chef would say about this recipe, but it worked for me. (According to Wikipedia, variations of this dish are popular in Moroccan, Algerian, Israeli, Egyptian, Libya, and Tunisian cuisines. As described in the New York Times article, it’s often served at Passover.) The feta added a saltiness to the tomato sauce that was countered perfectly by the cilantro, and the eggs melted in my mouth since they were poached slowly in the sauce. YUM.

As proven by it’s popularity in many different cuisines, this dish is easy to adapt based on your taste. You could add some spices, like cinnamon or cumin, to the tomato sauce and get a totally different flavor profile. Add some different vegetables to the tomato sauce, or try a different cheese – there are all sorts of options here to customize this to your preference. Then have your friends over and impress them with your new favorite dish. (Don’t forget the mimosas!)

Shakshuka – Eggs Baked in Tomato Sauce

Yield: 1 serving. Per Serving: $5.88, 362 calories, 13g fat, 27g carbs, 16g protein.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat up 1.5 cups of tomato sauce (I used my basic tomato sauce made with farm fresh heirloom tomatoes) in an oven proof saute pan (I used cast iron, but a stainless steel can work too). Use a smaller sized pan so the tomato sauce is at least half an inch deep and fills the bottom of the pan. If you don’t have a smaller pan, double the recipe (the more, the merrier). When the sauce is warm and starts to bubble, crack two eggs into opposite sides of the pan Turn off the heat and top with 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese.

Put the pan in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it and take it out when the eggs are cooked to your liking (I like medium cooked yolks, so I took it out around 9 minutes). Let cool for 5-10 minutes, top with 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, and serve with crusty bread or a toasted English muffin.

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True Tomato Soup

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I love the true flavor of tomatoes – in the summer when they are at their peak, I eat them like apples. They are tangy and salty and sweat and acidic – all good things. Although I love a creamy tomato soup as much as the next person, I wanted a soup that really highlighted the true flavor of the tomato. The creaminess in tomato soup often comes from cream or milk, which can add unnecessary calories.

The combination of whole, canned tomatoes and a few fresh tomatoes brings a fresh tomato flavor to this soup. Here, I used roasted garlic, but you could use fresh garlic if you prefer (just use less). Roasting brings sweetness out of the garlic, which balances the acidity of the tomato.  This could be served warm or chilled as a gazpacho.

True Tomato Soup

Roast 1 head garlic in advance (cover in wrap in aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes). Bring a small pot of water to a low boil and add 2 beefsteak tomatoes, whole. When the skin begins to peel off, remove from heat and rinse in cold water. Peel off the skin and cut into quarters.

Sauté 1 cup diced onion in 1 teaspoon olive oil. When the onions are translucent, add 4 cloves roasted garlic and sauté for 1 additional minute. Add a 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes including the juice, the blanched beefsteak tomatoes, and 3 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove soup from heat and blend until smooth (I prefer to use a hand blender, but you can use a regular blender as well). Return to medium heat and add 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon sugar. Serve warm or chilled.

Yield: 4 servings. Serving size: 2 cups. Per Serving: $2.06, 100 calories, 2g fat, 17g carbs, 4g protein.

Thanksgiving Round-Up

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I feel a little guilty for not posting more Thanksgiving-themed recipes this week. Thanksgiving is like the Olympics of food events and I feel like I’m not doing it justice! I had every intention of sharing something new for your Thanksgiving feast. Last week, I attempted to make pomegranate-glazed Brussels sprouts but failed. It was a good idea in concept, but the finished product was a strange brownish reddish green color and tasted pretty sour. It wasn’t pretty.

To make up for my lack turkey-inspired recipes, here are a few past recipes that would be perfect additions to your Thanksgiving dinner. Have a happy turkey day!

Thanksgiving Round-Up

  • Sriracha Kale Chips: Crisp up a head of kale while the turkey is in the oven. These are a great snack to have on hand while everyone is hanging (or helping) out before dinner.
  • Butternut Squash Soup: Try soup instead of mashed butternut squash – this would be a perfect appetizer before the main Thanksgiving meal.
  • Oven-Fried Tomatoes: Not a traditional side dish for Thanksgiving, but sure to be a welcome addition to the table.
  • Simple Apple Pie: A classic turkey day dessert – make sure to save some room!

Oven-Fried Tomatoes

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During my recent visit home to Vermont, I picked up three pounds of beautiful organic tomatoes from my mom’s farm share. They were so perfect and delicious I ate a few like you would eat an apple. I was very inspired to experiment with them, but a little hesitant since they really didn’t need much help.

This technique was a success. Baking the tomatoes brought out their natural sweetness and by oven-frying, it stayed very healthy. After I had already committed, I realized I didn’t have any breadcrumbs – so I made my own! These would be great as an appetizer or a side dish.

Oven-Fried Tomatoes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast 4 pieces whole wheat bread until dark brown and set aside to cool. Slice 3 large beefsteak  into ¼ inch pieces and lay out on a cutting board. Pat dry with a paper towel and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Crumble the toast into a bowl to make breadcrumbs.

Set up three bowls – one with ¼ cup flour, another with 2 beaten eggs, and a third with the toast breadcrumbs. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a baking rack on top (one that you would cool cookies on). Spray the rack with cooking spray.

Dip each piece of tomato in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs. Place the tomatoes on the baking rack. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings. Per Serving: $1.64, 183 calories, 4g fat, 29g carbs, 9.5g protein.

Pasta with White Wine & Fresh Tomatoes

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Some of my favorite meals aren’t planned at all. I came home from work today and didn’t have any plan for dinner. I opened the fridge and found grape tomatoes, half a red onion, and an open bottle of white wine. Fifteen minutes later, this dish was on the table. It’s such a good feeling when your leftovers come together beautifully!

Pasta with White Wine & Fresh Tomatoes

Prepare one serving of pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. When the oil is warm, add ¼ cup diced red onion.  Saute for about 2 minutes then add 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise. Cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add ½ cup white wine and simmer. When the pasta is done, add it to the white wine and tomatoes with a pinch of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook for another 2 minutes, and serve warm.

Yield: 1 servings. Per Serving: $3.43, 455 calories, 7g fat, 77g carbs, 11g protein.

Spinach Tomato Baked Mac & Cheese

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A few things to love about Fall: foliage, apple picking, sweaters, and pumpkin flavored everything. Although the days are shorter and the air is cooler, it is my favorite season. I only wish it would last longer!

In addition to the aforementioned reasons, Fall is great because with it signifies the ability to use the oven guilt-free. There are few things worse than trying to bake or roast in the oven in 95 degree weather – which is why most summer recipes involve very little stove or oven time. Now that the seasons are changing, the possibilities are endless. Bring on the casseroles, muffins, breads, roasted root vegetables, and lasagnas (oh my!).

Homemade baked macaroni and cheese is perfect for cooler weather – it’s warm, gooey, and cheesy. This recipe is also light and colorful with tomatoes and spinach so you can get your serving of vegetables. You could eat it as your main meal, or serve it up as a side to a protein. Something roasted would be fitting – like chicken, perhaps?

Spinach Tomato Baked Mac & Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook 3 cups penne according to package directions. Saute ¼ cup diced onion in 1 teaspoon olive oil for 4 minutes until translucent. Add 3 cups baby spinach and cook until wilted. Meanwhile, slice 2 roma tomatoes into ¼ inch slices and toast 1 slice whole wheat bread. When the bread is toasted, dice into ¼ inch squares. In a large mixing bowl, combine penne, spinach mixture, ¼ cup part skim ricotta cheese, ¼ cup part skim shredded mozzarella cheese, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Spray a 9×9 or equivalent baking dish with cooking spray and add pasta mixture. Top with tomato slices, toasted bread pieces, and 1 tablespoon part skim shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake in oven for 25 minutes.

Yield: 3 servings. Per Serving: $1.89, 306 calories, 7g fat, 53g carbs, 13g protein.

A Second Chance for Leftovers: Caprese Salad Two Ways

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I recently made a big win for leftovers. The photos above (which may look familiar if you follow me on Instagram) capture two caprese salads: on the left is a traditional caprese of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil topped with farro; on the right is a caprese minus the basil plus quinoa and a poached egg.  Both salads warranted #nofilter and were as tasty as they are beautiful. The traditional caprese was dinner on Tuesday and the poached egg caprese was brunch on Sunday.

A key component of my approach to home cooking is leftovers. Leftovers save time and money by allowing you to make multiple meals at once while taking advantage of bulk pricing. However, I understand that there are people in this world that are vehemently opposed to leftovers. If you are one of those people, I hope you’ll give leftovers a second chance (no pun intended) by trying these tips to keep things exciting:

1) Add a new ingredient every time. If you’re the type that will get bored of eating the same meal multiple times in one week, add new ingredients to the dish each time. With my caprese salad, adding a poached egg completely changed the dish. Add a handful of spinach to leftover pasta, throw some kale chips on top of soup, or steam different veggies every night to serve alongside chicken. I’m also a huge fan of throwing anything on top of a salad – including deli meat, meatballs, and even lasagna.

2) Store and reheat properly. I recently had a terrible experience with a leftover quesadilla that I attempted to reheat in the microwave at work. What was originally a crispy, melty veggie quesadilla ended up a greasy, soggy mess. In retrospect, I should have brought the ingredients (cooked veggies, shredded cheese, and a tortilla) separately and cooked them for the first time in the microwave, rather than reheating. A great dish can turn into a disaster if the leftovers are not stored or reheated properly (think soggy salads). In advance, think about how the leftovers will reheat and plan accordingly.

3) Consume in a timely fashion. When people think of leftovers, they imagine a forgotten container in the back of the fridge filled with an unidentifiable substance. Don’t let your leftovers get to that point – intervene by the one week mark. One week after the dish was originally prepared, either eat it, toss it or freeze it. If you need to, label your leftovers with a date to make sure they aren’t forgotten.

Caprese Salad

Cook ¼ cup farro according to package directions. Slice 1 beefsteak tomato into ¼ inch slices. Slice 2 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese into 1/8 inch slices. Arrange the tomato and mozzarella slices in an overlapping fashion on a plate. Top with farro, drizzle with ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar, and 2 basil leaves cut into ribbons. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Yield: 1 serving. Per Serving: $3.72, 474 calories, 11.5g fat,69g carbs, 26g protein.

Poached Egg & Tomato Salad

Cook ¼ cup quinoa according to package directions. Slice 1 beefsteak tomato into ¼ inch slices. Slice 1 ounce mozzarella cheese into 1/8 inch slices. Arrange the tomato and mozzarella slices in an overlapping fashion on a plate. Top with quinoa and ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar. Boil 1 inch of water in a small saucepan. When the water is simmering, gently drop 1 egg into the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, keeping the water at a simmer. When the eggs white have cooked thoroughly and are opaque, remove the egg from the water with a slotted spoon. Top the salad with the egg and season with salt and pepper to taste. Yield: 1 serving. Per Serving: $3.09, 338 calories, 13g fat, 38g carbs, 21g protein.