Corn season is winding down (bummer!) but potatoes are starting to pop up at the farmer's market. This is a quick and easy soup that is good any day of the week, especially as fall weather sets in and evenings get cooler.
Corn and Potato Chowder
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Cook until onions soften, about 3-5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the flour and stir to make a roux; cook for 1-2 minutes. Add 8 cups of stock; stir to combine. Add the potatoes, corn, and lentils. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Mash the soup with a potato masher -- you aren't making a smooth soup; it should be chunky and slightly thick. Add more stock if the soup seems too thick. Add the half and half. Cook for 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the chard and scallions. Serve with crusty bread.
Looking for another way to eat tomatoes since, they’re in season and ready to be served? Of course, you can always opt for the classic BLT. Heck, I like bacon as much as the next person but sometimes you need to give tomatoes a holiday from bacon (or vice versa). This is also a perfect recipe for a brunch or light dinner. It isn’t heavy and if served with a nice salad, it will make a complete meal.
The catch? You have to use fresh, ripe tomatoes. You know those heirloom varieties sold at the farmer’s market? Yeah, those. Buy some and use them for this recipe. It will make a huge difference in the end product.
Now, if you look at the title, you’ll see I mention an olive oil crust. Yes, instead of butter, I made the tart pastry with olive oil and yogurt. Why? Well, I like butter. Trust me. Butter is my friend and I’m always happy to use it. But sometimes I like to see if anything else can replace butter. Nothing is a great substitute for butter, let’s be honest. The tart pastry is not flaky; it’s mealy. BUT it tastes great and works really well in this recipe. I do not suggest using this tart pastry for pies. It just won’t taste right and you'll be frustrated. But this is a savory tart and it works. If you remain skeptical, search out Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee recipe. It’s the standard pie/tart pastry recipe.
Tomato Onion Tart with Olive Oil Crust
Olive Oil Tart Pastry:
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (olive oil, water, and yogurt). Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until combined. If the mixture is too dry, add a little water. If it’s too wet, add a little flour. It should come together like a regular pastry dough (slightly soft but not sticky or crumbly).
Flour the counter and roll the dough into a circle bigger than your tart pan. My tart pan is 11 inches, so I rolled the dough into a 12-inch circle. The tart pastry should be about 1/8-1/4-inch thick. You don’t want it too thick. The pastry might break apart … and that’s perfectly ok. It’s a tart pastry, the most unruly and forgiving of all pastries.
Transfer the pastry to the tart pan and tuck the dough into the pan. If it breaks apart, just fill in the holes with the extra dough. Press any of the overhang against the top of the pan. Make sure the sides are enforced well with dough.
Slide the tart pan onto a baking sheet. Bake for 6-10 minutes. Basically, you are giving the crust a head start in baking.
Remove the tart from the oven and fill it with the tart ingredients. First, layer the onion and olives on the bottom of the pan. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Place the sliced cheese on top of the onions. Drizzle with olive oil. Top with sliced tomatoes. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese.
Return to the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving. Can be served warm or at room temperature.
How to Peel Tomatoes and Make Fresh Tomato Salsa
This is the first in a series of posts titled “The Basics” dedicated to teaching basic cooking techniques.
It’s tomato season! Real tomatoes are available at a farmer’s market near you, so do not purchase those flavorless, mushy tomatoes at the grocery store. Just don’t do it. The ones sold in the store are picked when they are green and then forced to ripen while in transit to the nearest food distribution center. Ew. Gross.
If you want a tomato that actually tastes like a tomato, you have to grow it yourself or buy from a farmer/grower. Or steal the ones from your neighbor’s garden. Don’t worry, I won’t tell. Use only the freshest, ripest tomatoes for this recipe. Any tomato variety will work, although I love using heirloom varieties the most (very meaty and full of flavor). Roma tomatoes can be very juicy, so I like to reserve these for tomato sauce. But any garden variety of tomato (beef steak, etc) will work for salsa.
To start off, you need to learn to peel the potatoes. Don’t worry, it’s easy. You can use this same method for peeling peaches (a delicious peach pie recipe is coming to this blog very soon).
How to Peel Tomatoes:
How to make Fresh Tomato Salsa:
I like to use a blender for this, but you can chop everything up by hand for a chunkier salsa or use a food processor. The quantities listed in the recipe are estimates and can be adjusted for your own tastes.
In a blender, add the onions, garlic, jalapenos, cilantro, and half of the tomatoes. Blend for about 20 seconds or until the vegetables are finely chopped. Pour into a bowl. Blend the rest of tomatoes if desired or roughly chop them up if you want a chunkier consistency. Stir in the lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for about 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to develop.