Monday, October 10, 2011

Still Harvesting

There are still tomatoes ripening on the window sill as the rain comes down outside. I know that there will be green tomatoes with thin skins that will crack or split from the rain, so once it stops I'll try to bring them in and see if I can use them for chutney or, if they are almost ripe, see if I can encourage them to ripen before they spoil.

Fortunately there are lots of ripe ones ready to use so yesterday I made a lentil soup that gets it's bright flavors from fresh garlic, tomato, lemon juice and Italian parsley which are added at the end. I found the recipe on Natashya's wonderful blog, Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. She has a number of lentil soup recipes but this one matched up with ingredients I had on hand and sounded like a perfect use for some of the fresh tomatoes.

I made the cooked part of the soup yesterday so that it could sit overnight in the fridge, letting all the savory flavors of onion, carrot and celery mingle over time. After reheating today I was able to add the garlic, tomato, lemon juice and parsley and serve it up for lunch pretty quickly. It was perfect for a chilly rainy day and pretty filling, too.

To go with the soup I made some bruchetta (using MORE tomatoes). Using some oatmeal bread I made a few days ago, I made thin slices, brushed them with olive oil on one side, and toasted them in a hot cast iron skillet, turning the slices to grill them on the second side. Once they were toasty, I turned them all with the olive oil side up and rubbed that side of each with a raw garlic clove. Don't skip this really makes a difference in the final bruchetta's taste. While the toasts were cooking I finished up the bruchetta topping. Earlier I had finely chopped a ripe Brandywine tomato. It had very few seeds, so I left on the skin and kept the seeds. If my chosen tomato has a lot of juice, seeds, or a thick skin, I would probably remove them and just finely chop the tomato flesh. For finishing up, I added finely minced garlic, chopped basil and a splash of olive oil and smaller splash of aged balsamic vinegar. These were mixed together with the chopped tomato. To serve, this mixture is piled on the bruchetta toasts.

They should be served right away while the toasts are still crisp and crunchy. The contrast of textures and flavors is delicious! This only really works with ripe tomatoes, so when you have some do give this a try. The standard recipes call for baguette sliced on the diagonal to give the largest real estate for holding the topping. If you have some other kind of sturdy country bread, by all means use it.

For those readers who are interested, we are to the point of painting the new walls in the new stove area in the living room. (This stove will help heat the downstairs part of the house. The upstairs stays chilly but I like to sleep in chilly rooms.) We have also chosen the new lights for the stove area to replace the old can lights. The walls have also been cleaned and the blue tape to keep the paint off of the wood at the ceiling and the wood trip around the door out to the deck has been applied. The freshly painted wall is going to be two-toned with the outer wall in Swiss coffee and the inner wall in Antique White which has a golden glow but is very pale. We also discovered that a local hardware store that had gone downhill has new ownership and now is a great resource. I need new door and drawer handles for the new storage and they have some great ones that I haven't seen elsewhere. Good times.

Here is that great Lentil Soup...pretty easy and very delicious:

Lemon Parsley Lentil Soup
- serves 4-6

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, halved and sliced
1 rib celery, sliced
1 large carrot, diced
1 tsp salt
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or a mix of the two.
1 cup lentils
1 diced tomato
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup chopped parsley
Black pepper

Rinse and pick over lentils.
In a small soup pot, heat vegetable oil on medium/high.
Add onions. Sauté until soft and starting to brown, about 10 minutes.
Add celery, carrots and 1 tsp salt. Sauté 5 minutes more.
Add stock and bring to a boil.
Add lentils and bring back to a boil.
Drop heat to gentle simmer and simmer until soft, about ½ hour.
Add tomato and garlic, heat through. Add lemon juice and parsley, heat through.
Season to taste and serve.

Bruchetta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil
- serves 2

1/2 baguette, sliced in elongated thin rounds (or your own country loaf cut into thin slices)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced in half
1 medium to large ripe tomato, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper

Lightly brush the slices of bread with the olive oil. Grill on a barbecue or on a cast iron grill or skillet, first on the olive oiled side, then on the other side. Rub the toasted olive oiled side with the garlic clove. Set aside. (I kept mine warm in a low oven until time to serve them.)

In a small bowl combine the chopped tomato, minced garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and chopped basil. Taste and add salt and/or pepper to taste.

When ready to serve, arrange the toasts, olive oil side up, on a plate or bread board. Scoop some of the topping on each. Serve at once while bread is crisp and warm.


  1. That soup look delicious. So homely and warming. I love lentil soup but always overcook the lentils so they turn to mush. This one looks great, so I'll have to try it.
    We have a few tomatoes plants too and they have been late ripening this year but all of a sudden we've got loads of them!

  2. Ohh, I very much miss the weird crossed items that we had at home - lemon parsley and stuff like rose geraniums. Those are harder to find here, but there are definitely UK crosses! (Just not as exciting to me, since I don't exactly know what some of the originals were.) Right now bell peppers are growing again - we are getting some really wonderful yellow ones from the farm people. They also do beautifully for bruschetta!

  3. Beautiful bruchetta! And I'm also envious that you have decent (i.e., brown) lentils! Yum!

  4. Do I want a bite? Do you have to ask?

    And I don't want just one bite! I want all of it. It looks fabulous.

    (I love the word verification word for this comment "wiblycou")