This month’s recipes at the Cottage Cooking Club were perfect for summer. Plenty of tomatoes, and other summer produce. I stopped by my favorite farm stand, knowing that I had some interesting, great sounding recipes to make.
We have great corn here, which wasn’t really on this particular menu, but also a couple of kinds of eggplant, onions and a small spaghetti squash. Oh, and some fresh tortillas and tamales…
My first recipe this month is Caponata. I’ve seen this eggplant relish many times in books, but I’d never eaten it, let alone made it. I decided to use my favorite method for cooking eggplant, and actually roasted mine. Of course, I also kind of forgot about it, so it was a bit more done than planned, but I knew it would be combined with other ingredients and simmered for a bit, so I didn’t worry too much. The eggplant then gets combined with a number of savory and sweet components and is simmered so it can blend together. Onion, celery, garlic, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, chocolate (!), raisins, capers and olives. What a combination! I did use the chocolate, despite wondering a bit about it – but I do make a braised short-rib dish that has chocolate too – so why not try it!?
I first served this for my book club where I also prepared a tomato and corn pie with a biscuit crust. It’s one of my indulgences in the summer to make it once – and this was perfect because I could share leftovers with my friends!
My next recipe was the Roasted tomato ketchup. This is really the tale of two recipes. To make the ketchup, you must make a roasted tomato sauce first. I liked the idea of this, because I was able to use what is now an antique food mill. It was my grandmother’s, and so that brought a bit of nostalgia to the project. To make the sauce, tomatoes are halved, drizzled with a bit of olive oil and strewn with fresh herbs. Then they are roasted to soften and enhance their flavor. Finally, sieved to remove the seeds and skins.
In the book, it’s mentioned that this sauce can be used for many things. It doesn’t make all that much, but I was able to tuck away a bit for later in the freezer. If I had access to a lot of tomatoes, I think this would be a fabulous way to save their summery fresh flavor for later in the year. It produces a light sauce, but one that could find plenty of uses.
For the actual Roasted tomato ketchup, the tomato sauce is cooked down with a combination of sugar, vinegar and a number of warm spices. This can sit on the stove on low for a long time, so it’s ideal for a busy day when you can swing by for a bit of a stir, but don’t really need to be actively involved.
I’m not sure exactly why I wanted to make this other than it sounded fun. I don’t tend to use a lot of ketchup, but this was really quite good, and a fun project to make, though after all of that effort, my half-recipe produced about 3/4 of a cup! But certainly something to make whatever its served with seem more special.
Next up, Tomato bruchetta. This is the perfect way to serve garden tomatoes, and I happened to have some freshly-picked cherry tomatoes, along with some fresh basil from the garden. The tomatoes get tossed with a bit of olive oil, a pinch of sugar, salt, pepper, and of course the basil. The toasts get rubbed with fresh garlic, and on some I added some melty Manchego cheese. I also decided I’d make some Caponata toasts to go with to round out the plate.
The tomatoes and olive oil create just enough juice to flavor the bread. This made for just a fabulous meal. Perfect!
Finally, I made the Asian-inspired coleslaw. I like coleslaws of any kind, but particularly ones with more Asian flavors. This is a recipe from the book that I had really wanted to try from my first look through.
This is mainly a slicing and dicing kind of recipe, with a well-flavored dressing to go on top.
Well, here’s the truth, at the last minute, I had guests come over, and I completely forgot to take a picture of the salad plated! Oh well, there are more important things than photos I suppose. I thought this was good, but when I served it, decided it needed a bit more crunch – so I served this topped with some peanuts. I thought that the next time I might add some wasabi to the dressing as well, to give it a bit more punch. I think I even did throw in a bit of jalapeno, and some diced Persian cucumbers as well. This was a great starting point, and enjoyable as it was.
I didn’t get around to making my last recipe I had planned on. Some other time. I suspect that one of the other club members did make it, so it will be fun to read what they thought. And for me? The surprise of the month was the Caponata. But the real favorite was the Tomato bruschetta. I wish I had some now. Maybe I can make it to the farm stand this weekend!
The Cottage Cooking Club is cooking through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s cookbook River Cottage Veg. If you’d like to see what others in our group created this month, you can check them out here.