Pomodori col Riso {gluten-free, vegan}


I was the happy recipient of two grocery bags full of homegrown tomatoes last weekend (thanks Erika!).  Talk about the perfect gift. Admittedly giddy, I went through and delicately handled each shapely orb, dividing them into little groups according to ripeness and day-dreaming about all the ways I could use them up.  There was one beautiful heirloom with dark burgundy and black stripes that begged to be eaten, so I sliced that one thick and ate it on the spot.

The four biggest, buxom beauties were set aside with this dish in mind.  I’ve been ogling the recipe at Rachel Eats for over a month, hoping to get my hands on a few particularly good tomatoes.
Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes {gluten-free, vegan}

Pomodori col Riso translated is literally Tomatoes with Rice.  No bells and whistles here.  Much like the name, the ingredient list is a minimalist’s dream: tomatoes, rice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a few leaves of fresh basil. I t should come as no surprise that the preparation is equally straightforward.  Basically, empty the tomatoes of their pulp and juices, mix said pulp and juices with everything else, and then refill the tomatoes with the mix.  Indeed, a perfect example of Italian culinary brilliance and thrift. Nothing goes to waste.

I am over-simplifying the process a bit, because it is necessary to heed two other very important steps. We’ll call them “The Wait” and then “THE LONG WAIT”.  You see, once you’ve got your bowl of tomato pulp, rice, oil, and seasonings – a primordial soup if I’ve ever seen one – you must allow it to sit.  The rice will swell and soften, absorbing the flavors of each component.  Rachel recommends at least 45 minutes.  It is after this little wait that you stuff the tomatoes and then roast them in the oven.

Now comes the torturous final step, or “THE LONG WAIT”, whereby you allow those hot, intoxicating and shriveled mounds to rest…for hours…at least 2-3, or even over night.

In an effort to escape the aroma and avoid temptation until dinner, Cecil and I went for a long walk.

The Pomodori are traditionally served at room temperature, which we noted allows all that flavor to really sing. The rice was exceptionally creamy, so much so that Adam asked in a puzzled tone what cheese I had used. The answer was, of course, none in the least.

POMODORI COL RISO
Adapted from Rachel Eats

Now, I must confess, I went a little rogue in my choice of fresh herbs. I had a nice bunch of fresh thyme but no basil on hand and it seemed frivolous to run out for just basil. I reasoned that an Italian would more likely frown down upon wastefulness than swapping herbs. Besides, it is mid-September and where I live the leaves are already turning, Fall is in the air, and thyme just seemed more appropriate.

We served our stuffed tomatoes along side perfectly fried, runny-yolk eggs, fondly named Nick’s Eggs in our house, after our brother-in-law. I will have to post that recipe sometime.

Do pop over to Rachel’s post for her spirited and altogether charming description of the preparation process; it is a delightful read.

Ingredients:
8 fist-size ripe and flavorful tomatoes (I had 4 extra-large tomatoes)
salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
10 or so tablespoons of arborio rice (or any risotto rice, I should think)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a glug
black pepper
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or fresh basil), chopped

  • Using a paring knife, slice off tops of tomatoes and set aside.
  • Scrape out tomato pulp, seeds and juices into a medium-sized bowl, leaving enough flesh intact to provide structure. Sprinkle interior of each scraped tomato with a little salt and then place top down over a few folded paper towels to drain.
  • Break down the tomato pulp via a food mill, an immersion blender, or a pulse or two in the food processor.  You don’t need a smooth texture; you just need to smoosh any large chunks.
  • To the bowl of tomato pulp add the minced garlic, rice, olive oil, about 4 pinches of salt, a few generous grinds of fresh black pepper and thyme. Stir the mix, cover with a tea towel and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Oil a baking dish that will accommodate all of the tomatoes without being either too roomy or too snug.
  • Before stuffing the tomatoes, stir the mix one more time and taste, avoiding any of the still-crunchy rice. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  • Fill tomato shells 3/4 full with tomato pulp and rice mixture and replace tomato tops. Place tomatoes in the oiled baking dish. Dollop any leftover stuffing around the tomatoes in the bottom of the dish.
  • Roast for 45 minutes, until the rice is tender.
  • Allow to cool 2-3 hours, at least.  Serve at room temp.

(Serves 4)

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Low and Slow Pulled Pork {gluten-free}

I am almost ashamed at how often I make this.

It is a fact. You can’t beat fall-off-the-bone pulled pork. Not only does it taste mighty fine, and can effortlessly feed a crowd, but the preparation is borderline slothful. You take a dirt-cheap hunk of sinewy meat, slather it in a blend of spices, and then plop it in a pot with a splash of liquid. The oven does all the tedious work while you go drink Rosé on the deck, or something very important like that.

Your unmerited reward: unctuous, tender chunks of meat, moistened in a subtly spiced pool of pan juices.

A few words on fat: while a thick layer of adipose tissue isn’t probably desired on your bottom, I assure it is mandatory on a pork butt. Whatever you do, don’t go diet mode and start cutting it off to save calories. You’ll end up with a tough and bone-dry slab of meat.

One last note, this is truly the meal that keeps on feeding. Once cooked, I divvy up my bounty into several zip-top bags, toss them into the freezer and then have any number of easy dinners available on a whim. Here are a few ideas: fajitas, barbecue, tamales, pozole, zuppa di fagioli, etc.

SLOW ROASTED PORK
Adapted from this recipe, originally published in the late and great magazine, Cottage Living (R.I.P.)

1  tablespoon chili powder
1  tablespoon ground paprika
1  tablespoon sea salt
1  tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1  tablespoon brown sugar
1  (6-pound) or 2 (3-pound) pieces Boston butt or pork shoulder
1  cup apple juice or orange juice
1/2  cup water

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Combine first five ingredients in a small bowl; rub spice mixture all over pork.
  • Place pork fatty side up in a large Dutch oven. Pour juice and water around meat. Cover with oven safe lid or aluminum foil; roast for 5 hours or until meat is fork-tender. Uncover and cook an additional 30 minutes until skin is crispy and cracks.
  • Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes before shredding with two forks. Once pan juices have cooled the fat will begin to pool, skim off some of this fat. Serve and store meat with some of the cooking liquid to keep things moist.

*** Slow Cooker Alternative ***
I passed this recipe on to my friend Susan ages ago and she likes to make it in her crock-pot, as follows: place spice-rubbed pork shoulder fat-side up in crock-pot, pour juice and water around meat, cook 10 hours on LOW.

 

Confetti Kale Slaw {gluten-free, vegan}

We whip this up all the time and scarf it down almost as quickly.  This kale slaw also makes a great addition to any Tex-Mex spread like enchiladas, fajitas, tamales, etc.

CONFETTI KALE SLAW

Kale is a tricky dark, leafy green to eat raw because it can be quite bitter and tough.  That’s where the avocado and lemon juice come in.  By massaging the guacamole-like dressing into the kale, the heat from your hands along with the lemon juice break down the tough, bitter leaves, resulting in a much more mellow flavor.  The avocado adds creaminess and you punctuate the newly tender green with sweet bell pepper and the warmth of a little onion. All these ingredients work together to make a pleasantly tangy, creamy, sweet and spicy salad.

Serves 6-8 as a side

  • 2 bunches of kale, chopped into thin 1/4″ x 1″ strips
  • 2-3 ripe avocados
  • juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced

In a large bowl mash up the avocados with the lemon juice, olive oil and a little salt and pepper until you achieve the consistency of a somewhat smooth guacamole.

Add the chopped kale and massage into the avocado spread, continue working in the avocado until the salad has shrunk by about half and the kale is flexible.

Add the bell peppers and onion, mixing thoroughly with your hands. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. I usually end up adding more lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

You can serve immediately. We like to let ours sit in the fridge a few hours and allow the flavors marry.

Strawberry Buckwheat Thumbprint Cookies {gluten-free, vegan}

Buckwheat, despite containing the word “wheat”, is actually gluten-free.  It is native to Asia and the key ingredient in soba noodles and sundry other prepartions like French galletes, and Russian blinis. This psuedo-grain is often referred to Kasha here in the states. It imparts a subtle woodsy flavor to baked goods that I absolutely love.  Another feature to note is that buckwheat is related to rhubarb…which got me thinking, if rhubarb and strawberries are such a dynamic duo, wouldn’t buckwheat and strawberries make a great pair, too?

The verdict?  The little ruby colored gems did not disappoint.

STRAWBERRY-BUCKWHEAT THUMBPRINT COOKIES
The buckwheat shortbread would make lovely cookies on their own. The addition of strawberry jam just makes them extra special. Do use good jam; in an effort to finish up random ingredients in our fridge, I went with a weird low-sugar jelly for half the cookies and then some Knott’s Berry Farm jam on the other half. The cookies with Knott’s jam were far tastier!

This recipe makes about 1 dozen cookies using a round tablespoon measure for the dough. I used a round 1/2 teaspoon to make the even sized craters for the filling or you can use your thumb, hence “thumbprints”. Also, my filling shrank some while cooking. So, I simply heated a little more fruit spread in the microwave for 30 seconds and re-filled the craters before the cookies cooled completely. This worked well and the filling set perfectly.

Dry Ingredients:

1/3 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour*
2 tablespoons white or brown rice flour, or more sorghum flour
2 tablespoons potato starch (not potato flour!)
1 tablespoon tapioca or arrowroot starch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum

Wet Ingredients:

7 tablespoons Spectrum organic shortening (or 4 tablespoons coconut oil)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. In a bowl whisk together the dry ingredients
  2. Using a stand mixer beat the wet ingredients until just combined.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until a dough just comes together.
  4. Measure out tablespoons of dough and gently roll into balls. Arrange 1 1/2″ apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Using your thumb or a round 1/2 teaspoon create indentions in the center or each dough ball. Fill each indention with jam. Refrigerate dough 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Bake 15 – 20 minutes until edges of cookies just begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, refilling any craters with additional jam if necessary.

* If you’re not gluten free, simply replace all the gluten free flours except the buckwheat with about 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour.

Chocolate Chip Cookies {gluten-free, vegan}

Doesn’t that cookie look sad? All alone, no friends left. Depressing really. I was feeling empathetic, so I ate it for breakfast. It was the honorable thing to do.

Seriously, though, these were an outstanding batch of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. They’re vegan, too, not that anyone noticed. I really am beaming with self-satisfaction right now.

My husband said, “Wow, they look like real cookies!” That could be taken any number of ways. I took it as a compliment, which was of course his intention.

GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
These are an exemplary cookie even without the usual suspects (glutinous flour, butter and eggs), best fresh from the oven, when the middles are still warm and soft and the edges crisp. Enjoy them immediately.

I recommend increasing the salt in the dough to a 1/4 teaspoon OR keep it at an 1/8 teaspoon and sprinkle the raw cookie tops with a little coarse salt.

One last note, see those cracks in the surface? They are very important. As important as the cracks in a brownie’s crust. I’m not sure why or how, but they just are.

Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup sorghum flour (or brown rice)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon tapioca flour/starch
4 tablespoons brown rice flour
1 tablespoon teff flour (or sorghum flour or rice flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Add:
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I chopped up a bar of 70% cocoa)
coarse sea salt or Kosher salt

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop tablespoons of dough onto the cookie sheet approximately 2 inches apart, gently flattening into a thick, round disk. Sprinkle the cookie tops with a few grains of coarse salt. Bake 7-9 minutes, just until brown.
  5. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to cooling rack.

Makes about 1 dozen cookies.