Living Lite

Katherine's Market Recipe: Italian Chunky Tomato Sauce

October 2, 2012

I can't believe tomato season is coming to an end. For tomato lovers such as I, here's a recipe to help you enjoy locally-grown, vine-ripe tomatoes year-round. I've even provided step-by-step pictorial instructions to make it as easy as possible.

Today is the 8th of  "Katherine's Market Recipes," in The Georgetown Dish, all of which are designed to be delicious, easy, quick, family-friendly, nutritious (heart-healthy & diabetes-friendly), and to highlight produce found at our local Farmers Markets this week. At your Farmers Market, you'll find produce picked at peak ripeness, which means maximum flavor, texture and nutrition. You're also helping save the environment when you buy at your Farmers Market. Here's how...

I recommend you buy the tomatoes, onions, garlic and basil at Georgetown's own Rose Park on Wednesday, Glover Park - Burleith Farmers Market on Saturday, or the  Dupont Circle's Fresh Farm Market on Sunday. 

Salsa Pic-Pac
(Chunky Tomato Sauce)
From "The Heart of Sicily" by  Anna Tasca Lanza, adapted and translated by Ann Harvey Yonkers

Ingredients:

1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds fresh plum tomatoes, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped*
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Peel the tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for 10 seconds or so. Pull them out of the pot, wait until they are cool enough to handle, and slip the peels off.* Core with a sharp knife.

Chop red onion and garlic. Sautée in the olive oil. Add the tomatoes and cook. Add the basil, sugar, salt and pepper, to taste.

Partially cover the pan and continue to cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The time it takes the sauce to thicken will depend on how juicy the tomatoes are and how thick you prefer it.

* My Grandmother Tallmadge's tip: Peeling tomatoes easily is done by dropping them into boiling water for about 10 seconds. Pick them out of the boiling water (carefully with a fork or slotted spoon), wait for them to cool down enough to handle, and the peel slips off easily.

Katherine's simple step-by-step pictorial guide to "Italian Chunky Tomato Sauce"...

Ann Yonkers' tip: "If you dont have time to make tomato sauce now, wash and freeze the tomatoes whole in a ziplock bag. Take them out and the skin will slip right off."

NOTE: If possible, use 50 pounds of end-of-season, vine-ripe, locally-grown tomatoes, multiply the recipe by 25 and gather an assembly line of friends to help!

Charlie Yonkers, Richard Flax, Kathy Alley in the Yonkers' St Michaels, MD Kitchen (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Charlie Yonkers, Richard Flax, Kathy Alley in the Yonkers' St Michaels, MD Kitchen

(Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge)

Ann Yonkers, co-founder of Fresh Farm Markets, tested and adapted Anna Tasca Lanza's recipes, careful to preserve the authenticity of the Italian recipes in "The Heart of Sicily," visiting Sicily four times for the project.


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Most Olive Oil is Not as Healthy As You Think

September 12, 2012

The expensive designer olive oil in your kitchen cabinet is likely not as fresh, nutritious, or high in quality as you assume. Does that mean you won’t receive the expected health benefits when using olive oil? Probably not. But there are some things you should know about olive oil to improve your odds and get the best bang for your buck.

What makes olive oil healthy are invisible nutrients in the oil, which studies show are not in most of today's olive oil, no matter the price or country of origin.

“The health benefits of olive oil are ninety-nine percent related to the presence of the phenolic compounds, not the oil itself,” said Nasir Malik, Research Plant Physiologist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

Malik is referring to the polyphenols in olive oil, nutrients also found in wine, tea, cocoa, and many fruits and vegetables, which have been discovered over the past decade to be the most important substances responsible for the bulk of olive oil’s health benefits, without which “you might as well use Canola oil,” said Malik. As, at least canola oil contains omega-3-fatty acids, not found in olive oil.

Studies confirm as days, weeks and months go by after harvest, the polyphenol content, nutrition and health benefits of olive oil diminish. 

Recent studies show polyphenols were surprisingly low in most commercially available olive oils, according to a recently published study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, co-authored by Malik.

They also don’t live up to international or U. S. Department of Agriculture quality standards, according to studies conducted by the UC Davis Olive Center.

But, it is possible to buy affordable olive oil which provides extraordinary health benefits and lives up to high quality standards. Here's everything I've discovered you need to know about olive oil (in today's Washington Post)...


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Katherine's Weekly Market Recipe: Silvestro's 'Italian' Gazpacho

September 11, 2012

On Saturday, I demonstrated and gave free samples of my Fresh Tomato Salsa with Watermelon at the "Community Harvest for Education Ward 7," a new Farmers Market in the middle of Anacostia, a beautiful part of the city with rolling hills, classic homes, huge, ancient trees, and some of the loveliest people you'll ever meet. There, I had the pleasure of meeting Keonte, his family and others, who were amazed at how easy and delicious fresh, home-made salsa can be. Keonte and other children were especially delighted with the salsa (my market recipe last week: Fresh Tomato Salsa with Watermelon), which confirmed my belief and experience that children do love vegetables, if they are prepared well and offered positively. Keonte, his Dad and others promised they'd make my salsa at home and bought plenty of the vine-ripe tomatoes abundant at the CHEW Market where I have the honor of volunteering periodically.

When I was young, one of my most vivid memories is the taste of my Grandmother’s vine-ripened tomatoes. I’ll never forget how soft, plump, sweet and deep red they were.  Definitely not today’s traveling kind.  They were the kind you picked and ate, still warm from the day’s sun.

The memory of these delectable treats makes tomato season my favorite time of year – for eating, that is. Nothing is as delicious as a vine-ripened, field-grown tomato, which, lucky for us, we can get from our local farmers at the Rose Park Farmers Market on Wednesdays, Burleith on Saturdays and Dupont Circle on Sundays.

Today is the 7th of  "Katherine's Weekly Market Recipes," in The Georgetown Dish, all of which are designed to be delicious, easy, quick, family-friendly, nutritious (heart-healthy & diabetes-friendly), and to highlight produce found at our local Farmers Markets this week. At your Farmers Market, you'll find produce picked at peak ripeness, which means maximum flavor, texture and nutrition. You're also helping save the environment when you buy at your Farmers Market. Here's how...

 

Silvestro’s Gazpacho
This recipe was provided to me by Burleith resident, and authentic Italian, Silvestro Conte.

Tomatoes, technically a fruit, are rich in vitamin C, potassium, and a powerful antioxidant called “lycopene,” which gives the tomato its red color. Lycopene in tomatoes may help prevent prostate cancer and heart disease.  

Men who consumed 10 or more servings of tomato products a week had a 35% decrease in risk of prostate cancer relative to those who consumed 1.5 servings or fewer per week, according to a major Harvard study. This benefit is largely attributed to the pigment lycopene found in the tomatoes, a phytochemical or a beneficial plant compound. Lycopene can also be found in other red fruits such as watermelon, pink grapefruit, and guava. Lycopene is a potent scavenger of gene-damaging free radicals. Men with lycopene levels in the top 20% had a 46% decrease in risk of heart attack compared to those in the bottom 20%.

Apparently, each fruit and vegetable is a little factory of nutrients and chemicals called phytochemicals (“phyto” meaning plant in Greek). These chemicals end up in your body’s tissues, where they have potent disease-preventing and life-enhancing properties. The phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables, when eaten whole, have antioxidant effects, stimulate the immune system, enhance cancer-fighting enzymes, positively influence hormone metabolism, and even have an antibacterial and antiviral effect. These important properties help reduce the incidence of cancer, heart disease, and other diseases of aging.

Serves 16+

Ingredients

6.5 lbs Vine Ripe Tomatoes, washed, cored and chopped, with skin and seeds
2 Green Bell Peppers, seeded and chopped
4 Red Bell Peppers, seeded and chopped
4 Celery Stalks, Including leaves, chopped
4 lbs. Peeled and seeded Cucumbers, chopped
1 Yellow Onion, peeled and chopped
4 Garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar (more if you like it tart, but be careful)
6 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste (Optional)
Sprinkling of Cumin (Optional)

After careful washing, cut all vegetables into chunks to make them easier to blend. Blend with a food processor or Hand Blender, until you have the consistency you enjoy. My friend, Silvestro likes it a little chunky (as do I).

Once blended, add the olive oil, the vinegar, and, if you wish, the salt, the black pepper, and the cumin. Silvestro says “Cumin is optional : I like that extra richer flavor it adds.” I’ve made this gazpacho without adding salt or pepper and it is delicious. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator for later. If you want a denser product, add bread crumbs.

Makes one gallon of Gazpacho, about 2,000 calories for the entire pot. Divided into 16 servings, that’s 125 calories per serving… And if you don’t add salt, it contains 0 sodium!


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