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Red Bell Pepper and Shallot Curry

Sarah West

Building a masala (curry) from scratch with fresh spices creates an intoxicating depth of flavor for minimal effort, and is one of the foundational techniques of Indian cooking. This curry dish makes the most of late season peppers and tomatoes and is a good starting place for cooks who are used to pre-ground curry blends, as it calls for a small and widely available set of spices.

If you don't have black mustard seeds, you can substitute yellow, but know that their flavor profile is quite different. It is worth seeking out black (sometimes also called brown) mustard seeds if you plan on making this and other masalas part of your repertoire. Black mustard's pungent kick ties the aromatic qualities of this dish (and many other Indian dishes) together in a way that yellow mustard just can't imitate.

Serve this curry with rice and a protein for a complete meal. It is also lovely over a bed of steamed potato chunks or with sauteed wild mushrooms added with the bell peppers. There is a good amount of pepper heat in this recipe as written, so scale back the chile peppers if you want to tone it down.

Serves 6 as a side dish


1 bunch green onions, white and green parts separated, chopped into thin rounds
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
2 cups (11 oz) thinly sliced shallots
1 pound tomatoes, chopped
3 large jalapenos (or other chile peppers), finely chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon mild paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black mustard seeds (grind in a mortar and pestle or, if you don't have one, place in a plastic bag and pound with a rolling pin until coarsely ground)
3 to 4 red bell or sweet Italian peppers, seeded and chopped into 1/2-inch thick strips

1. Heat oil in a heavy, medium pot on medium-high for 30 seconds. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for 30-45 seconds, or until they become darker brown. Immediately add shallots and the white parts of the green onions and saute for about 8 minutes, or until the shallots are soft and golden. Add tomatoes, chile peppers, salt, turmeric, paprika, and mustard seeds. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the masala for 10 minutes, or until oil separates and glistens on top.

2. Stir in the bell peppers and cook, covered, for 3-5 minutes, or until they reach your preferred texture. Stir in the green parts of the green onions and serve immediately.
Based on a recipe from Vij's at Home, by Meeru Dhalwala and Vikram Vij

Summer's End Gratin

Sarah West

While you could make this recipe at any point during tomato-eggplant season, something about it calls out to the end of summer, when the chill that lingers in the shadows (or jumps right out and owns a whole day) makes you hungry for something comforting and warm. Any kind of eggplant works; to add a little more complexity to the preparation and the resulting flavor, grill the eggplant slices instead of sautéing.

I once cooked 1/2 pound ground lamb with the chard portion of this dish and found it highly satisfying. I've also used queso fresco or feta in place of mozzarella, and mustard greens instead of chard. Keeping the basic architecture the same, the fun part is tailoring the dish to the ingredients you have on hand and the flavors you like best. I imagine, once summer draws to a permanent close, that sliced delicata squash would make a nice substitute for the eggplant and canned whole tomatoes for the fresh ones.

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds eggplant
Sea salt
Neutral vegetable oil (such as canola or grapeseed)
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 small finely diced onion
10-12 cups coarsely chopped chard leaves (about 1 pound)
Freshly ground pepper
Several large basil leaves, torn
1 or 2 large tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
Handful of cherry tomatoes 
1 cup fresh bread crumbs

1. Slice the eggplants into rounds a scant 1/2-inch thick (you should have about 8-10 slices if using globe eggplant). Heat a ridged cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. While the pan is heating, brush both sides of each eggplant slice with neutral vegetable oil. When the pan is hot, add the slices and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, rotating them 45 degrees and cooking for another 5-7 minutes. Turn the slices over and cook on the second side the same way, though they may take less time. Alternately, brush the rounds with oil and bake in a 375-degree oven until soft and nicely colored, about 25 minutes.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for three minutes. Add the chard and a few pinches of salt, cover, and cook until the chard is wilted and tender, 5 minutes or so. Turn the cooked chard into a colander set over a bowl and press with the back of a spoon to remove some of the liquid.

3. Heat the oven to 350-degrees. Lightly oil a round or oval gratin dish large enough to told 6-8 cups.

4. Cover the gratin dish with half the eggplant slices and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the basil, then layer half of the tomato slices on top, followed by half of the mozzarella. Season again with salt and pepper. Strew the chard over the cheese layer and season lightly with salt and pepper. Layer the remaining eggplant, followed by the remaining tomato, and cheese. Tuck any small whole tomatoes here and there among the vegetables.

5. Toss the bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon olive oil and strew them over the surface. Bake until bubbly and the bread crumbs are browned, about 35 minutes. Let settle 10 minutes or so before serving.

Based on a recipe from Deborah Madison's, Vegetable Literacy.

Farro with Tomato & Onion

Sarah West

This delightfully easy one-pot recipe is highly adaptable: use any tomato you like and any onion. Try shallots instead, extra garlic, a different herb. Add chevre or feta crumbles to serve, or Italian sausage, or grilled zucchini or fennel (or all of the above). It's charming enough to make you want to eat it again and again, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to find your favorite permutation.

The least flexible part of this recipe is the type of farro you use; it is designed for semi-pearled (30 minute cooking time) or pearled (15 or fewer minutes cooking time) farro, both of which can soften before the tomatoes are completely obliterated. If you use unpearled farro (1 hour+ cooking time), expect something akin to a red-sauce farro-risotto, delicious in its own right.

Serves 2 as a main dish


2 cups water (or chicken broth)
1 cup farro
1/2 large onion, cut in half (lengthwise) again and sliced thinly
2 garlic cloves, minced or thinly sliced
1 pint of red cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in halves or quarters (if you use slicing tomatoes: remove skins, then cut into chunks, about 1 1/2 cups total)
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
5-10 basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
Grated parmesan cheese for serving 

1. If using semi-pearled, place water and farro in a pan to pre-soak for 10 minutes. Put water, farro, onion, tomatoes, salt, pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a medium saucepan and bring, uncovered, to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking, until the farro is tender and the liquid reduced to a sauce. 

2. Plate and sprinkle with parmesan cheese, basil, and fresh pepper, or anything else you can dream up. 

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Tomato Jam (Melmelada de Tomàquet)

Sarah West

adapted from http://spanishjourneys.com/oliveme/2011/09/23/tomato-jam-with-museu-de-confitura-seal-of-approval/

makes about 4 half pints

3½ lbs perfectly ripe plum tomatoes
1 apple, peeled, cored, & chopped
1½ lbs sugar
1 oz (two tablespoons) freshly squeezed lemon juice a big pinch of salt
a sprig of fresh thyme


  1. Blanch the tomatoes for several seconds in boiling water, and then shock the tomatoes by submerging them in iced water to stop the cooking. Peel and core the tomatoes and put them into a large, heavy jam-making pot.
  2. Add the sugar, lemon juice, salt, and branch of thyme to the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, then a steady boil, stirring every few minutes. Watch the jam closely as the water cooks off and the juices become syrupy: you’ll need to stir it steadily to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Squash any big chunks of tomato while you’re at it. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface (those dense little bubbles will cloud the jam’s sparkle later if not removed). The jam will begin to set up in about 25 to 35 minutes. When it’s softly set, remove the thyme and ladle the jam into sterilized hot jars and seal.

Note: If you like, you can add spices to this jam, such as a pinch of smoky cumin and/or spicy pimentón, a cinnamon stick or a couple of cloves (that you can fish out before putting the jam in the jar), or a bit of ground ginger or cardamom.

Sweet Pepper and Tomato Salad

Sarah West

4 sweet peppers
6 ripe tomatoes, Cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. paprika
~ salt
~ pepper


  1. Halve the peppers lengthwise. Remove the seeds and ribs and place flat on a baking sheet, skin-side up. Broil peppers until skins are charred. Place charred peppers in a plastic bag, seal tightly and steam for about 15 minutes. Slip off and discard the skins. Cut the peppers into 1 inch squares.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add the peppers, tomatoes, and garlic plus a little salt and pepper. Simmer over a low flame, stirring occasionally until the liquid begins to evaporate. Cook until the liquid has a thicker, saucelike consistency. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add remaining tablespoon of olive oil, toss and serve.


Tuscan Beans (Beans all’Uccelletto)

Sarah West

recipe by Kathryn LaSusa Yeomans

Beans are a wonderful source of inexpensive protein. The benefit of farmers market beans is that they are so much fresher than those you’d procure at the grocery store. You may find that the flavor and texture are quite different than what you’re used to, and that the cooking time is less, due to their freshness.

Limited on time? Cook a large amount of beans and freeze what you will not use right away, along with the cooking liquid, in food storage containers or in plastic bags in the freezer. Thaw containers to use as needed in any recipe that calls for canned or fresh beans. And use the cooking liquid for soups – it’s delicious!

2 cups dried beans (soaked in cold water several hours or overnight if desired)
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
7 fresh sage leaves
1 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled & seeded , or 1 pound of canned whole tomatoes, separated from the juice (break each tomato into 4 pieces with your fingers)
~salt and pepper


  1. Pick over the beans, removing any stones or little clumps of earth, and then rinse the beans thoroughly. Soak them if desired. Drain the beans and place them in a pot. Add fresh cold water to cover by an inch. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer steadily but gently until tender but not mushy (start checking the beans after about 40 minutes). Turn off the heat and let the beans settle for 10 minutes. Stir in 1⁄2 tsp. salt and let the beans cool in the pot so that they absorb some of the cooking liquid.
  2. To prepare the cooked beans, gently heat the oil in a skillet large enough to comfortably accommodate all of the beans. Add the garlic and cook for several minutes until the garlic has flavored the oil and the cloves have colored a light golden brown. Add the sage leaves to the oil. Let them sizzle for a few seconds, and then add the tomatoes. Be careful when adding the tomatoes to the hot oil, as they may splatter. Let the mixture cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Drain the beans, reserving the bean cooking liquid. Add the drained beans to the pan, along with a cup of bean cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, adding reserved bean water as the mixture thickens, so that you keep the beans creamy, almost a little soupy. Adjust seasonings and serve drizzled with good olive oil if desired and accompanied by a slice of rustic country bread.


White Peach and Summer Tomato Salad

Sarah West

recipe from Kathryn LaSusa Yeomans

white peaches
ripe tomato
one lemon
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper prosciutto, if desired, and/or mozzarella
maybe a few basil or mint leaves


  1. Slice the white peaches and tomato and arrange them on a platter with the arugula.
  2. Squeeze lemon juice over the fruits & leaves, then drizzle all with olive oil. Season with sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper.
  3. Garnish with slices of prosciutto, mozzarella, etc. to suit your taste.

Sweet Moroccan Tomatoes

Sarah West

adapted from a recipe in the book Morocco - Mediterranean Cuisine (a compilation of recipes from a dozen chefs)

This preparation of sweet tomatoes invites the fruit, which we commonly employ as a vegetable, to flaunt its fruitiness.

A kemia, or small (cold) appetizer, accompanied by bread. The dish of tomatoes would then remain on the table as a condiment for a main course (such as a tagine of chicken with onions, cinnamon, & ginger). I have found that they also pair very well with creamy soft cheeses, such as fromage blanc, making for an unusual and delicious cheese course.

Choose tomatoes of medium size; firm and not too juicy. The tomatoes should still be fleshy after removing the skin & seeds.

2 1⁄4 pounds tomatoes
1⁄2 tsp. fine salt
2 pinches saffron threads
5 or 6 cinnamon sticks
2 1⁄4 cups sugar
7 Tbsp. orange flower water
4/5 cup peanut oil


  1. With a paring knife, cut out the core of the tomato at the stem end. Do not cut deeply, just enough to remove the core. Cut a shallow X at the base of the tomato. Plunge the tomato into a pot of boiling water. When the skin loosens, remove the tomato from the water with a skimmer or slotted spoon. Immediately place the tomato into a container of iced water. Repeat with remaining tomatoes. Gently peel away the skins of the tomatoes, using a paring knife to facilitate peeling if necessary.
  2. Halve all the tomatoes vertically. Remove the seeds. Place the hollowed out tomatoes in a baking dish, cut side up.
  3. Distribute the salt, saffron threads, & cinnamon sticks over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with sugar, then spoon on the orange flower water. Lastly, drizzle the peanut oil over the tomatoes. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for 45 minutes. Allow the tomatoes to cool in the liquid. Serve hot or cold. They will keep, refrigerated, for 3 or 4 days.

Recipe from Chef Kathryn Yeomans, The Farmer's Feast http://thefarmersfeast.wordpress.com/

Tomato and Sweet Pepper Salad

Sarah West


4 sweet peppers
6 ripe tomatoes, Cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons paprika


  1. Halve the peppers lengthwise. Remove the seeds and ribs and place flat on a baking sheet, skin-side up. Broil peppers until skins are charred. Place charred peppers in a plastic bag, seal tightly and steam for about 15 minutes. Slip off and discard the skins. Cut the peppers into 1 inch squares.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add the peppers, tomatoes, and garlic plus a little salt and pepper. Simmer over a low flame, stirring occasionally until the liquid begins to evaporate. Cook until the liquid has a thicker, saucelike consistency. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add remaining tablespoon of olive oil, toss and serve.

Roasted Tomato Ketchup

Sarah West

makes about 1 quart

Roasting the tomatoes for this ketchup deepens their flavor. Adjust the spices to your liking.

6 pounds ripe tomatoes
olive oil
½ cup brown sugar
¾ cup finely chopped shallot
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 very small dried mild or medium-hot chile pepper
1 tsp. celery seed
a small blade of mace
1 tsp. mustard seed
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1 very small bay leaf, or a piece of a bay leaf
a small, quarter-sized, slice of fresh ginger

you may also add, to your liking: a tsp. of whole allspice berries, a few whole cloves, or a piece of cinnamon stick

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450° Fahrenheit. Halve the tomatoes and place them cut side up on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Drizzle them with olive oil and roast them for 20-30 minutes, or until they are softened and wrinkled. It’s ok if they are lightly browned.
  2. Let the tomatoes cool slightly, then, working in batches, puree them in a blender, food processor, or through a food mill.
  3. In a heavy-bottomed non-reactive pot, warm the sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly for several minutes. Add the tomato puree, shallot, and garlic, reduce the heat to medium-low, and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.

by Kathryn LaSusa Yeomans The Farmers Feast