Roasted Tomato-Garlic Confit

Roasted Tomato-Garlic ConfitI worked as an assistant cookbook editor for a major publishing house for three years, and during that time I acquired a lot of cookbooks. They were heaped under my desk at the office (next to another equally large and unsettling pile of “work” shoes), and stacked in my apartment on the coffee table, on top of the toaster oven, and next to my bed. I had cookbooks devoted entirely to cornbread, figs, apples, peanut butter, tomatoes, and potatoes. I loved them all, and I still do.

When I left my job to go to graduate school, I moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn, to a much smaller apartment. Unable to give away even a single cookbook, I took boxes of them to my parents’ house in Massachusetts, effectively transferring all those piles and stacks to my mother’s kitchen (thanks mom!). Eight years later I still haven’t quite managed to pick them up.

So, from time to time, when my mom visits, she brings me one of my now-forgotten treasures. Most recently, it was The Roasted Vegetable by Andrea Chesman. I can’t believe I completely blanked on this book for almost a decade! It’s so fabulous, I can’t stop compulsively flipping through it and flagging recipes with Post-Its.

Roasted Tomato-Garlic Confit PastaOne of the first things I made was this tomato-garlic confit. Plum tomatoes are roasted with a shower of fresh thyme and garlic and then mashed up with sherry vinegar and a pinch of sugar. It’s quick, rustic, and versatile. Andrea pairs it with spaghetti squash, but I served it over fusilli. If you have carnivores in your family, you can toss in some cooked, crumbled sausage (that’s what I did for Alex and he loved it). Leftover confit is delicious as a topping for crostini or as a spread in sandwiches. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

 

Roasted Tomato-Garlic Confit

Makes about 2 cups

Adapted from The Roasted Vegetable

 

14 large, ripe plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4-5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

1/2-1 teaspoon sugar

 

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Combine the tomatoes, olive oil, and thyme on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and pepper and toss to coat. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side down, in a single layer. Roast for 30 minutes. Scatter the sliced garlic over the tomatoes. Roast for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender, wrinkled, and beginning to brown. (There will be a lot of liquid on the baking sheet. Don’t worry.)

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the tomatoes cool slightly. If you can, peel the skins off the tomatoes and discard. If the skins won’t budge, it’s not a big deal. Your confit will still be delicious.

Transfer the tomatoes, garlic, and accumulated juices to a large bowl and stir in the vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Using a wooden spoon, mash the tomatoes into a chunky sauce. Taste the confit and add more salt, pepper to taste.

Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Peanut SauceThis recipe makes me feel old. I remember first seeing it in print in Cooking Light, all the way back in 2006. I was a recent college grad then, and I made dishes like this all the time because 1) sweet potatoes are cheap and 2) I always had a jar of peanut butter on hand. I doubt I even realized it was vegan.

I haven’t made this in years, but I started thinking about it again the other day. It’s getting so chilly out, and I’m craving roasted root vegetables, pumpkin, and butternut squash–basically anything starchy and orange and sweet. This time, I used chunky peanut butter and diced tomatoes and it came out even better than I remembered. I loved the contrast between the creamy, sweet potato, the spicy sauce, and the crunchy peanuts.

This is a great weeknight recipe because you can easily prepare the potatoes and sauce ahead, and then just heat and serve when you’re ready for dinner. It makes a terrific main dish on its own, but it’s also a nice side with simple baked chicken or fish. I love to pair it with sautéed broccoli rabe splashed with a little tamari and drizzled with sesame oil.

 

Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Makes 4 servings

Adapted from Cooking Light

 

4 medium sweet potatoes

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup water

1 cup petit diced tomatoes with juice

1/3 cup chunky, natural style peanut butter

Chopped roasted salted peanuts, for serving

Chopped cilantro or parsley, for serving

 

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Pierce the sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Place them on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until tender, 60 to 70 minutes.

In a large, non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic and sauté until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, salt, and cayenne and sauté for another minute. Whisk in the water, tomatoes, and peanut butter until smooth. Simmer for a minute or two, until thickened.

Split each sweet potato lengthwise down the middle and spoon in the sauce. Top with the cilantro, parsley, and chopped peanuts.

5 Minute, Weeknight Vegan Chocolate Pudding

5 Minute, Weeknight Chocolate PuddingOwen loves chocolate pudding. Sometimes I make it for him from scratch, sometimes we buy it from this fancy Italian market near his daycare, and sometimes it’s pudding cups from Stop & Shop. Obviously, the homemade pudding trumps the others, but it’s hard to find the time. Also, our favorite recipe (from Cook’s Illustrated) isn’t exactly healthy, what with 1/2 cup white sugar, 5 tablespoons of butter, and four ounces of chocolate. We won’t even get into the amount of heavy cream.

So I was excited to stumble upon a recipe for a quick, easy, and–best of all–vegan chocolate pudding on weelicious, my fave kid-friendly recipe site. Basically, you throw a package of silken tofu, some cocoa powder, agave, and vanilla into a blender and whip it all up. Since I can never resist tinkering just a little, I added some instant coffee powder, a smidge of melted chocolate, and a sprinkle of salt to round out all the flavors.

You guys, I wish I could tell you how much Owen loved it, but the truth is he never had a single bite. I ate it all myself.

 

5 Minute, Weeknight Chocolate Pudding

Makes 3-4 servings

 

2 tablespoons vegan chocolate chips

1 (1 pound) package silken tofu

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup agave (simple syrup would work too)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Put the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring once, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

In a blender, combine the tofu, cocoa, agave, vanilla, instant coffee granules, and salt. Add the melted chocolate and blend until smooth.

Transfer the pudding to a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until ready to serve. The pudding will thicken as it chills.