The Passion Fruits

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Tag: tomatoes

From Tomato to Tomato, Potato, Green Bean Summer Salad

In the beginning, there was a single, baby heirloom tomato. My inspiration. And one I couldn’t stop capturing.

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Pronounced, “A Ma Trish E Ah Na!”

PastaAmatriciana

Pasta all’amatriciana is one of my winter fallbacks.  It’s classic Roman comfort food. A bacon tomato sauce? Bring it!

It is often made with guanciale (pork jowels) but pancetta or any high-quality American bacon will do. I made this dish on Christmas Day for my family after we unwrapped presents. My father loves when I make pasta, constantly shadowing me as I pull the pasta from the boiling water (salted as heavily as the sea) two minutes before the package says it should be served, tossing it with a bit of the sauce in the saucepan to marry the noodle and condiment. Remember, the noodle is the star. Use the sauce sparingly. Never flood your pasta bowl with ladle after ladle of sauce. For some creaminess, I added a dollop of fresh ricotta and a nice drizzle of some good-quality olive oil.

Recipe after the jump. Read more

This Lamb is Silenced, Agent Jim

Lamb Ragu's Close UpYeah, I can’t talk about lamb without engaging in some cheap Buffalo Bill impressions while dancing in front of a mirror as Joy Division plays in the background. It’s too easy. Like me.

Hell, even when I’m prepping and seasoning a lamb shoulder, leg, shanks, etc. I often find myself singing along to this little ditty from “Silence of the Lambs: The Musical.”

Yes, I’m ill. These are facts, dear readers.

I serve quite a bit of lamb in my house.  My friend Jim (not a fan of this habit!) argues I have a lamb fetish and would often groan upon learning that I’d be serving a lamb dish on the nights he would come over for dinner.  He’s now living in Fiji. If I close my eyes and hold a seashell to my ear, I can almost hear him screaming.

So, in honor of Jim and the great Patricia Wells who published this recipe in “The Provence Cookbook,” I present the following pasta;  a light lamb ragù sauce tossed with rigatoni and topped with a fresh cherry tomato and mint salad.

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Suzanne Goin, Me, and a Potato-Tomato Gratin

Cooling Tomato-Potato GratinI have made the following potato-tomato gratin twice now. It’s a recipe I limit myself to making in late summer when tomatoes are at their peak and opal basil is plentiful and I’m tired of tearing up the latter and throwing it into a simple salad.  Your thoughts on additional uses for opal basil will be embraced.  Go on.

I first made this gratin last summer when my bosses were coming over for dinner. I was seeking something bold and grand, designed to impress my colleagues. No pressure at all. While I was serving a simple pork roast, I wanted to have another anchor item on the table, one that could be brought directly from the oven to table. A centerpiece to supplant a flower arrangement that would allow guests to “Ooooo” and “Ahhhh” over.  Something bubbly and crisp, with stained, dark edges around the white porcelain dish. I found this delicious gratin in the book, Sunday Suppers at Lucques, the tome from the gracious and lovely Suzanne Goin, chef of Lucques Restaurant in Los Angeles.

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Crostini or Bruschetta?

Cherry Tomato CrostiniI am a massive fan of bruschetta.

Anything that involves grilling slices of bread, rubbing them with a raw garlic clove, and finishing with fresh, seasonal ingredients followed by a glug of tasty olive oil, I swoon. I first became greatly enamored with bruschetta courtesy of the ladies at London’s River Cafe most notably their first cookbook which features gorgeous,  rustic Italian recipes.

Included in this book are several pages of an endless array of  varying bruschetta pictures, such as tender asparagus with shaved Parmesan. The visuals are stunning and will leave you with plenty of inspiration.

A week ago, I was leafing through my copy of David Tanis’ indispensible book, “A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes” and happened upon the following recipe for a cherry tomato crostini with ricotta.

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Attack of the Local Tomatoes

Attack of the Local TomatoesI have a fetish. For tomatoes.

Trolling the farmers markets this time of year is always bittersweet.  I anticipate fall’s bounty but bidding farewell to the now spartan displays of stone fruits, fresh basil and tomatoes adorning tables at the markets, well, it makes me a bit blue.

During the summer months, I often swoop up–weekly– several boxes of colorful baby heirloom tomatoes–they look like little jewels from Tiffany’s in their rustic, turquoise boxes– and end up making way more Insalata Caprese for friends than is humanely necessary.

Same goes for my greedy possession of Green Zebras, Cherokee Purples, Big Rainbows, you get the idea.

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