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Posts Tagged ‘tomato confit’

Summer Salad Worth a Thousand Words

july26.foodpic.darcieSetting down the notebook where I stash ideas throughout the days, I sit at my laptop and begin to stir together thoughts about summer.

There was the day of walking around downtown that turned my black-and-hot-pink flip flops into flop flops. There was my certainty, after pulling into a parking spot at a favourite restaurant, and stepping out into a crunch of sunflower seed husks, that holidayers from Saskatchewan must have been there first.

And then POOF! I can’t think of anything.

I don’t know much about my new neighbours. Only that they replaced the old neighbours, with the ceaselessly barking dog.

I know they have eclectic taste in music (anything from reggae to dance to metal to folk). I know they bought new speakers when they moved it. And I know they’ll be considerate and turn them down if I let them know I’m home and bothered.

I am both.

Today it’s dance music. Muffled by the drywall.

But what I want is to hear the birds. Wind chimes tinkling in the warm breeze. The afternoon’s sun showers. I want to hear the quiet, which is exactly what I was listening to before the music.

I send a polite text, and minutes later, the music withdraws back into the wall, and try to find where I left off.

Summer. Heat haze. The swaths of waist-high lavender mounds that make our home and environs look and smell like a Provencal garden. The nodding hydrangea, and day lilies that are true to their name, unfurling creamy morning blossoms that, in the evening are half composted on the stalk, dying so completely on cue that they could never be called day-and-a-half lilies or anything but their true name.

At the hummingbird feeder, which I’ve lately moved my desk to see as I work, this year’s hatchlings sit and sip, blissful and ignorant of the aerial skirmishes being fought out by parent birds trying to claim the entire replenishing litre of sugar syrup for themselves.

Under physiotherapist orders not to spend more than 20 minutes at a time at my desk, I turn off the fifth such timer of the day and set my laptop to sleep. I leave the house, realizing at once that I’ve chosen to mosey out for a green tea lemonade during the afternoon’s hottest hours, which people in cleverer climates have set aside for siesta.

At a busy intersection, a young woman, impeccably dressed and wearing 3-inch stiletto heels and no helmet rides her bike against traffic.

I order my iced tea, turn towards home, and am soon waving my hands through the lavender, stopping to admire local honeybees that have thoroughly pollinated these mounds.

On the lane, I see our neighbour, smile in greeting, then step through my door to find a house that smells of tomatoes basting in hot oil, and Chefhusband putting together a salad with bowtie noodles, goat cheese and ribbons of baby zucchini. A dish and a picture as close to the feeling I was trying to shape as the words I was using to shape it.

Summer Salad with Pasta and Confit Tomatoes

1/2 lb Farfalle (bowtie) pasta, cooked tender

1 baby zucchini, sliced into ribbons with a carrot peeler

1 stalk green onion, very thinly sliced on an angle

3-4 tufts parsley, torn off stalks, finely chopped

1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, sliced

1/2 cup favourite black olives, sliced

1 recipe confit tomatoes (follows)

2 tsp white wine vinegar

1 – 113g package goat cheese

flaked kosher salt/fresh ground pepper

In a large bowl, toss together first 6 ingredients. With a fork, remove confit tomatoes from oil and add them to the other ingredients, allowing the oil clinging to the tomatoes to become part of the dressing. Add white wine vinegar and toss until coated, adding more of the tomato oil as needed. Season with salt and pepper.

Reserve goat cheese until plating, then crumble desired amount over each serving.

Confit Tomatoes

10 small Roma tomatoes, quartered, seeds removed

1 shallot, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely sliced

olive oil

flaked kosher salt/fresh ground pepper

Place tomato, shallot and garlic into a small, shallow baking dish. Cover with olive oil. Season with several pinches of salt and 10 turns of the pepper mill.

Cover with foil and place into a 275F oven (toaster ovens are perfect for this) for 45 minutes.  Allow to cool.

*Note: Reserve tomato oil for use in other salads or bread dips.

Darcie Friesen Hossack: food columnist, author

Mennonites Don’t Dance, Thistledown Press Sept. 2010

shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize (first book, Canada and Caribbean)

Danuta Gleed Award runner-up

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For the tomato confit:
9 oz heirloom cherry tomatoes
1 medium-large shallot, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
2 tsp capers
2 anchovy fillets
Add tomatoes, shallot and garlic into a small cast iron pan. Season lightly. Add olive oil until tomatoes are half covered. Place in a 325F oven for 40 minutes to cook slowly. Remove from oven. Add capers and anchovies. Set aside.
For the halibut:
4 skinless halibut fillets, 5-6oz each
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
canola oil
Add 1/4-inch oil to a medium skillet, heat over high. Pat dry and season both sides of fish. Add to oil, reduce heat to medium, cook until bottom side is golden and fish is cooked 3/4 of the way up. Remove fillets to a plate, upside-down. They will “carry-over cook” the rest of the way.
Serve with tomatoes and a little of the olive oil. Use or save remaining oil as a bread dip or drizzle.

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