Gotta Love Garlic!

This past weekend I had the pleasure of smelling and cooking with loads of Ontario Garlic in Stratford! What a beautiful day to share some tasty recipes (some from my upcoming book) with a great group of local Stratford folks, but also groups from Guelph, Waterloo and London just to name a few.
I got there early as I always want to check out the vendors and the garlic that they are offering up. Let me tell you there was plenty to choose from.
I needed to stock up on my local garlic so I picked up a beautiful braid and hearty Music garlic that will last me a good long while.
Before my cooking demo I sat with my sister Tina and good friend Connie to enjoy a snack of delicious local pepperettes and butter pretzels-so yummy, they certainly hit the spot! I had the energy to cook up these three recipes and as you can see by the photos, I was having a blast!
Thanks to the Stratford Garlic Festival team for the photos and all their help with the demo and samples. I truly love going there each year as there is not just love for the garlic, but love of the food and people too. Hope to see you again next year!

Sliced Tomato and Pine Nut Salad

This fruit of summer overflows in everyone’s garden and offers up sweetness for salads and sauces. Look for red, orange and yellow tomatoes in stores, or pick them fresh from your garden to create a rainbow of flavour in this colourful salad. Heirloom tomatoes are also now easy to find in markets and stores so enjoy the local harvest.

4 beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes (red, yellow or orange)
¾ tsp (4 mL) salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) pepper
¼ cup (50 mL) walnut or extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) balsamic glaze or aged balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup (250 mL) halved grape tomatoes (yellow or red)
1/3 cup (75 mL) pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 oz (90 g) Gorgonzola, Stilton or feta cheese, crumbled

Slice tomatoes into ½-inch (5 mm) thick slices and arrange decoratively on platter, overlapping slightly if necessary. Sprinkle tomatoes with ¼ tsp (1 mL) of salt and pinch of pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, glaze, garlic and ¼ tsp (1 mL) of the salt. Set aside.

In a bowl, stir together grape tomatoes, pine nuts, basil, parsley and remaining salt and pepper. Spoon over sliced tomatoes. Spoon vinegar mixture over tomatoes and sprinkle with cheese.

Makes 8 servings.

Helpful Hints
Make ahead, cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Let salad come to room temperature before serving.

To toast pine nuts, place them in a dry non-stick skillet over medium heat and stir constantly for about 5 minutes or until light golden. Alternatively, place them on a baking sheet and toast them in a 350°F (180°C) oven for about 8 minutes, shaking pan once. Keep an eye on them as nuts burn easily. If you smell them it may be too late.

Chill Gorgonzola cheese in the freezer until cold for easier crumbling.

Look for interesting tomato varieties like candy stripe or sweet green. Try them on their own or mixed together in a salad like this.

Minestrone with Chestnuts and Pancetta

Whether you serve this chunky or decide to puree some of the soup, the flavour of the sweet chestnuts and salty prosciutto showcase some of Italy’s favourite ingredients. Minestrone typically has some sort of green in it and also can be drizzled with some extra virgin olive or truffle oil before serving. Serve with a crusty Italian bread

2 tbsp (25 mL) extra virgin olive oil
4 oz (125 g) sliced pancetta, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh rosemary or ¼ tsp (1 mL) dried
½ tsp (2 mL) hot pepper flakes
1/3 cup (75 mL) dry red wine
3 cups (750 mL) finely shredded cabbage
1 bag (150 g) roasted and peeled chestnuts, chopped
5 cups (1.25 L) chicken broth
2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh Italian parsley
Extra virgin olive oil (optional)

In a soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat and cook pancetta, onion, carrot, garlic, rosemary and hot pepper flakes for about 5 minutes or until golden. Add wine and cook, stirring until evaporated. Add cabbage and chestnuts and stir to coat. Add chicken stock and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until cabbage is very tender.

Using an immersion blender or pour half of the soup into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Return to soup pot and reheat until steaming.

Ladle soup into shallow soup bowls and sprinkle with parsley. Drizzle with oil, if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Helpful Hint
To roast your own chestnuts, cut a small slit in chestnuts and place in single layer onto baking sheet. Roast in 375 F (190 C) oven for about 45 minutes or until skin is crisp and inside is tender. Let cool until easy to handle and crack skins and pull off to pull out meat of chestnut.

Look for firm and smooth, heavy chestnuts in the store. Smell them too, to make sure they do not smell moldy or rotten.

Vegetarian Bolognese Pasta

Bolognese sauce traditionally is a meat sauce with milk in it from Bologna, Italy. Here it comes away from the beaten path to create a really tasty vegetarian option for pasta. Full of protein and tons of tomato taste, this recipe really hits the spot (even for meat eaters!)

2 tsp (10 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh oregano
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) lentils, drained and rinsed
6 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
2/3 cup (150 mL) vegetable broth
2 tbsp (25 mL) tomato paste
2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh Italian parsley
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
4 cups penne rigate pasta fresh
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion, carrot, celery, garlic and oregano for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add tomatoes, lentils, stock, tomato paste, parsley and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until thickened with some juices.

Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for about 5 minutes or until al dente. Drain, add to sauce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Helpful Hint
This hearty sauce can withstand some heat for those who want it. Add ¼ tsp (1 mL) hot pepper flakes to onion mixture and cook.


Popular Posts