Tag Archives: tomato

Tomato Basil Soup

28 Oct

There are many things that pair well together. Two of my favorites, however, are tomatoes and basil. Perhaps the most common species of basil, sweet basil, is prevalent in Italian cuisine and has a clove and menthol-like aroma with a subtle peppery, yet sweet flavor. It is one of the few herbs that has a much more pronounced flavor when fresh, so using fresh rather than dried is often recommended. Basil is native to India and various regions of Asia with over 160 known cultivars (source).

Not only is fresh basil delicious, it is also chock full of vitamins and nutrients including but not limited to: Calcium, Copper, Dietary Fiber, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Niacin, Phosphorus, Potassium, Protein, Riboflavin, Vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, and Zinc (source). Basil also boasts a variety of health benefits. It has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, benefits the cardiovascular system, assists with strong bones and helps protect DNA (source).

Check out the many health benefits of tomatoes on my Corn and Tomato Salsa Fresca post here.

The recipe below utilizes both tomatoes and fresh basil, and is excellent on a cool day alongside a grilled “cheese” sandwich. Enjoy!

Tomato Basil Soup

Tomato Basil Soup
Yields approximately 8 cups

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
6 large tomatoes (3-4 inches in diameter), diced
1 cup Sauvignon Blanc wine
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh basil

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring often and being careful not to let the garlic burn.

Add tomatoes, wine, water, sugar, salt and pepper and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

Add basil, replace lid, and continue to simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Puree soup with an emulsion blender or place approximately 1-1/2 cups of the mixture into a blender and puree until smooth, approximately 30-45 seconds. Be careful not to place too much of the mixture in the blender or else pressure will build, causing a mess. Pour puréed mixture into a large bowl and repeat until entire mixture has been blended.

Place a large mesh strainer over a separate large bowl and add puréed soup. Stir to remove as much liquid as possible, and discard remaining solids. Season soup with additional salt and pepper to taste.

VARIATION: Tomato Basil Bisque – Add 1 cup non-dairy creamer after straining soup and stir to combine.

Cheesy Pesto Pizza Bites

8 Jun

Galaxy Nutritional FoodsGalaxy Nutritional Foods is at it again! Having introduced their fabulous cream cheese in 2011, they’re showing no signs of slowing down with their latest debut, their Vegan Shreds, available in Mexican and Mozzarella styles. Perfect for those avoiding gluten and soy, these “cheeses” are not only free from gluten and soy, but also hydrogenated oils, saturated fats, trans fats, preservatives and GMO ingredients.

Upon first trying these new “cheese” shreds, I noticed a slightly buttery, but mostly smokey flavor. If you like smoked cheeses, I would think you will enjoy these, and they are nice in a variety of dishes. Galaxy’s shreds are great on veggie burgers and melt wonderfully (just as advertised) when baked. The cheese even stretches nicely! Furthermore, ¼ cup of these babies provides 25% of your daily calcium intake! Who says vegans don’t get enough calcium? Pssshhh!

Following is a recipe I created that utilizes Galaxy’s Vegan Shreds:

Cheesy Pesto Pizza Bites

Cheesy Pesto Pizza Bites
Yields approximately 20 pieces

1 french baguette (approximately 2-3 inches in diameter and 20 inches long)
½ cup prepared vegan pesto (recipe below)
1 cup tomato sauce
1-1¼ cups non-dairy shredded mozzarella cheese (I used Galaxy Nutritional Foods’ Vegan Shreds)

Vegan Pesto:
4 ounces fresh basil leaves
¼ cup pine nuts
2 medium cloves garlic
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Process basil, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add olive oil and and salt, and continue processing another 10-15 seconds, or until oil is incorporated.

Next, preheat oven to broil and prepare a baking sheet by either lightly greasing with oil or lining with aluminum foil. Set aside.

Meanwhile, slice baguette into 1-inch slices. Place in a single layer on prepared baking sheet and spread approximately ½-1 teaspoon pesto on each slice. Next, top each with approximately 1-2 teaspoons tomato sauce, then sprinkle with cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 5-10 minutes or until cheese has melted. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before consuming.

NOTE: The Vegan Shreds used in this recipe was a free sample provided by Galaxy Nutritional Foods, Inc. The views and opinions expressed herein are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect that of others.

Corn and Tomato Salsa Fresca

10 Feb

Tomatoes, though often considered vegetables, are actually fruit. They are a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Manganese, Potassium and Vitamins A, C and K (source). Tomatoes provide many health benefits including:

  • high blood pressure reduction and blood sugar regulation
  • protection from sun damage to the skin, cell damage, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease
  • reduced risk of heart disease, ovarian and digestive tract cancers, as well as asthma, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease and osteoporosis
  • vision improvement

Furthermore, tomatoes are said to help reduce the frequency of migraines as well as help boost immunity, preventing colds and flus (source).

To help you enjoy these benefits, I’ve created this recipe for Corn and Tomato Salsa Fresca. A nice spin-off from your typical Pico de Gallo, it too, is made with fresh ingredients, and is perfect as a light snack or appetizer. Black pepper is added to provide a nice little kick. This Corn and Tomato Salsa Fresca is delicious when served with tortilla chips, but can also be used in burritos or as garnish for fajitas.

Corn and Tomato Salsa Fresca

Corn and Tomato Salsa Fresca

2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
3 small tomatoes, diced (or 2 medium)
2 tablespoons minced, fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium-size bowl and carefully stir until combined. Drain and discard any excess liquid then serve.

Perfect Guacamole

30 Jun

Avocados…aren’t they lovely? These amazing fruits (yes, they are technically classified as fruit) often have a bad reputation due to their fat content, but in all honesty, the fat contained therein is rather beneficial. Containing essential oils, fatty acids and vitamin E, avocados provide anti-inflammatory properties. These fruits also contain potassium for regulating blood pressure, folate for preventing heart disease and strokes, lutein for maintaining healthy vision, oleic acid for helping reduce cholesterol, and glutathione, an antioxidant that is said to prevent aging. What’s more, avocados even help defend your body against various types of cancer. So grab some tortilla chips and enjoy your guacamole without guilt!

Perfect Guacamole

Perfect Guacamole

1 ripe avocado (should give a little when lightly squeezed)
1 teaspoon lime juice
¼ rounded teaspoon salt
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons diced tomato
minced jalapeño to taste (optional)

Peel avocado, discarding pit and shell. Place avocado in a small bowl and add lime juice and salt, mashing into a paste. Add garlic, cilantro, tomato, and jalapeño, if using, and carefully stir until combined.

TIP: To peel an avocado, score in half length-wise (you will be cutting around the pit) and twist both sides to separate. Holding one of the halves in your palm, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh of the avocado. Repeat with the other half and discard the pit and shells.

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