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Smoked Tomato Soup
Soups

Smoked Tomato Soup

Tomato soup is great on a cold winter’s day, but it can be rather boring. Add some chopped basil, crisp croutons, or, as I did this week, I served it with a pepper jack grilled cheese sandwich that I made on some homemade olive sourdough bread made with Castelvertrano olives from Sicily. Another way to elevate this iconic soup is by smoking the tomatoes first. I highly recommend the Cameron’s stovetop smoker for this task, it is an amazing inexpensive kitchen tool that works great for smoking foods from vegetables and salmon fillets to hanger steak and pork tenderloin.

Pappardelle Pasta
Pasta

Pappardelle with Pesto

Pappardelle is a wide noodle that creates a very rustic looking pasta dish. The sheer volume of pasta in each fork full makes pappardelle one of my favorite pastas to eat. Pesto is a perfect match for flat pasta since it will stick to anything, while a nice thin cream sauce would run right off. When tomatoes are oven-roasted, the flavors become concentrated and very intense.

Prosciutto Baked Mozzarella
Appetizers

Prosciutto Baked Mozzarella

This is one of my favorite appetizers from our trip to Tuscany and combines some of my favorite ingredients; Prosciutto, Fresh Mozzarella (use Buffalo-milk Mozzarella if you can find it), ripe tomatoes cooked down into a thick paste and fresh basil. Bake for just 15 minutes to soften the cheese, crisp the Prosciutto and meld the flavors. Make sure you have plenty of crostinis to “mop” up the sauce. A spoon is often needed at the very end to get every bit of goodness.

Farro Salad
Salads

Italian Farro Salad

Farro is an ancient whole-grain wheat and is terrific in salads or served as a side in place of rice. It has a nutty flavor and chewy texture which makes it a perfect foundation for tomatoes (roasted or sun-dried), fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinegar. This salad was always a big hit on our Foodie trips to Tuscany.

Smoked Tomato Confit
Sauces

Smoked Tomato Confit

Confit refers to a food that is cooked in it’s own fat. In this case, the tomatoes are smoked and cooked in their own juice. The mixture is cooked slowly and reduced to a nice thick and rich paste that can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen in small batches for future use. It makes a great sauce for beef or chicken and can be added to dishes like pasta or Caprese Salads.

Caprese Salad
Gardening, Salads

Caprese Salad

Every August I find myself with more tomatoes than I know what to do with. I gift some to friends and family and then head to my kitchen where I use some in more traditional dishes like this Caprese salad, while others I confit for the winter months ahead when I’ll have time to ponder my garden for next year. Maybe I wont plant so many tomato plants!

Fried Caciocavallo Cheese
Appetizers

Fried Caciocavallo Cheese

I look forward to Caciocavallo cheese every time we visit Sicily for one of our Foodie Adventures. Our home base in Sicily is near the southern town of Ragusa, where “Caciocavallo Ragusano” is produced. Halloumi (from Cyprus) or Mexican Frying Cheese (Queso Fresco) are 2 good alternatives that have a higher “melting point” are more readily available. Tomato Jam with it’s sweet, sour and spicy qualities is the perfect accompaniment to the rich-fried cheese.