Green Salsa Tomato Burritos

I bought some green tomatoes at the farmers market yesterday, mostly because I don’t think I’ve ever actually bought green tomatoes before. I figured I’d fry them up somehow, but when I was surveying the kitchen for burrito filling ideas (at the suggestion of Smucky), I came across the green tomatoes and thought I could incorporate them somehow. Aided by a recipe I found online, I decided to make a salsa with them, and it was pretty tasty, so I shall share.

A green tomato.

Green Tomato Salsa
Lightly adapted from http://moderncomfortfood.com/2010/09/green-tomato-salsa-verde/

2 medium green tomatoes, cored and quartered
1 small or 1/2 medium to large onion, roughly chopped
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, roughly chopped
3 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp sugar (I used brown sugar because my brown sugar is easier to get to than my white sugar)
pinch or two of cumin seeds
pinch of salt
splash of olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Place all of the ingredients except the lime juice and cilantro in a medium saucepan with a little bit of water (2-3 tablespoons). Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes or until tomatoes are soft.

Use a slotted spoon to move the mixture to a food processor.

Add the lime juice and cilantro and pulse until it’s as smooth or as chunky as you like. Let cool. Serve with tortilla chips or enjoy in a burrito as described below.

Green Tomato Salsa Burritos
Makes enough filling for 4-6 burritos depending on size

1 cup TVP
scant 1 cup vegan “beef” broth
1 packet Goya seasoning with corinader and annatto (optional)
1 cup cooked rice (I especially like rice cooked in broth for this recipe)
fresh cooked corn from 1 ear
1 recipe Green Tomato Salsa (see above)
flour tortillas

Heat the broth to a boil and whisk in the Goya seasoning if using. Pour the broth over the TVP, cover, and set aside for 10 minutes to rehydrate.

Assemble the burritos by putting down a line of rice, then topping it with the TVP mixture, corn, and plenty of salsa.

Roll them up. Burritos are not the easiest things to photograph, but trust me, this was tasty.

So, what else have I been up to? Raccoons, mostly. It’s the height of baby season and we are inundated. This little tyke arrived one day a few weeks ago and only had one ear! This was a birth defect.

Some of you may remember the the story of Emmy, who acted as a surrogate mother for some of our babies last year. We weren’t able to give any of our babies to her this year as she had a full litter of her own to take care of. A couple of weeks ago she moved the whole brood from her usual nest box to another one in a nearby tree. These pictures were taken two weeks ago when the babies were exactly eight weeks old. It was a very hot day and Emmy is trying to get some air by sleeping in outside. One of her babies woke up and got curious about the outside world. These are pictures of this brave little one venturing outside the nest box on his own for possibly the very first time.

“I’m going to do it!”

“Eh, that’s probably enough for today.”

“I’ll just hang here for a while.”

In other news, I’m SO GLAD it’s farmers market season. I don’t know how I survive without it. The only annoying part of the farmers market is bringing home my heavy basket of produce and being hassled by my cats, who LOVE chewing on anything green. Gomez’s face is NOT supposed to be in my food, but I was really charmed by the pattern of these garlic scapes sitting in my basket.

I’ve been continuing to go to parks whenever I’m able, though not as often as I’d like. The other day at Burke Lake Park I saw this luna moth. It was huge – at least 4″ wide.

An isolated picnic table at Burke Lake Park:
Occoquan Bay NWR and Veterans Memorial Park.

Mostly I saw a lot of different kinds of turtles. This is a painted turtle:

Eastern black snake.

This frog was my favorite.

An infrared shot of the creek.

I very narrowly missed getting drenched in a storm – the first fat raindrops fell from the sky when I was about 100 feet from my car and by the time my camera and I were safely inside, it was pouring. You could say I started hurrying back when the sky turned ominous, which is true, but the rather Renae form of hurrying that involves stopping and taking lots of pictures.

Finally, happy Bloomsday to all you literature lovers and Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers, especially my own, who is pictured here helping my mother brush his dog’s teeth. Good oral hygiene is important for everyone!

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Sicilian Baked Tomatoes and Onions

Donna Klein’s The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen is probably my favorite cookbook to turn to when I want something simple but amazing, when I have fresh produce that I want to showcase. I love tofu and seitan as much as the next vegan – don’t get me wrong – but there is something very refreshing about a vegan cookbook with not a single mention of either one: it’s all “naturally vegan” recipes from the Mediterranean. When I needed to use up two tomatoes I got at the farmers market on Saturday, I thought immediately of the baked tomato recipes from this book. There are two baked tomato recipes; I made the Sicilian. I was in a quandary because I wanted to share the recipe, but didn’t want to alter its simplicity to make it enough my own. But then I found that it’s on food.com, so I guess I’ll go ahead and post it. But not without urging you strongly to check out this cookbook. It’s really good. As the author suggests in the book, I made the baked onions at the same time. The two recipes are nearly identical, so I’ve just combined them.

Sicilian Baked Tomatoes and Onions
slightly adapted from Donna Klein’s The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen

2 large tomatoes
2 medium yellow onions, peeled
1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp smoked salt, or other flaked, kosher, or sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel the onions.

Place onions in a pot of boiling water and simmer for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside until cool enough to touch.

Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally, and use your finger to poke all the seeds out. Drain them as well as possible.

I also cored mine.

When the onions are cool enough to touch, cut them in half.

In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs, oregano, salt, and pepper.

Put the tomatoes and onions into a baking dish into which they just fit.

Fill the holes of the tomatoes up with the bread crumb mixture and sprinkle some more on top. Also sprinkle the onions with the bread crumb mixture.

Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes and onions.

Bake for an hour and a half (yes, really!). Let sit for a few minutes, or allow to come to room temperature, before eating.

Donna Klein suggest serving both of them together over rice or couscous (quinoa would also be good), which I’ve done before and it’s great. Tonight, though I was also having white beans and a salad, so I just served them on their own. The beans are pressure-cooked Great Northern beans, with sauted spring onions, a lot of garlic, imitation bacon bits, and sage, and a generous addition of Bryanna’s bacon salt.

This is the sort of thing I like eating when I want to feel particularly healthy! I served it all with Italian wine, and while it was cooking read some of a funny and very enjoyable Italian book.

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Japanese-Chinese Tofu and Tomato Stir Fry

I had a fresh block of tofu that I made yesterday and knew I probably wouldn’t be able to use it any other night this week, so I whipped out The Book of Tofu, figuring if the answer to “what’s for dinner?” wasn’t there, it wasn’t anywhere. The Book of Tofu is rather Japanese-centric, so the Chinese recipes it contains are mostly Japanese twists on Chinese recipes, which is why you’ll find sake in an otherwise rather Chinese meal below. I changed the recipe up, though, making it more authentically Chinese, so I probably should have swapped the sake out for shaoxing wine, but what the heck. It turned out well, it was quick and easy, combined flavors I love, and I’ll definitely make it again. But like my Japanese-type American-style Pickles, I seem to be making sort-of cross-culture foods lately. Which is a-okay with me.

Tofu and Tomato Stir Fry
Adapted from Fanchie-dofu in The Book of Tofu by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi

12 oz fresh tofu, preferably homemade
1 1/2 medium tomatoes, chopped into wedges
1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 large cloves garlic
2 Tbsp fermented black beans
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sake, shaoxing wine, or sherry
2 Tbsp tomato sauce
2-3 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
1 cup frozen peas or edamame
1 Tbsp cornstarch

In a small bowl, combine the fermented black beans (you can rinse these first to make them less salty, but I prefer not to), soy sauce, and wine.

Chop the tofu into 3/4″ squares.

Mince or press the garlic, slice the onions, and chop the tomatoes into wedges (make them thicker than I show here because mine cooked down too quickly).

When ready to cook the meal, heat some oil (I used peanut) in a hot wok. When hot, add the onions and stir fry for a minute.

Add the garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds.

Add the tomato wedges and stir fry for a minute or two.

Add the fermented black beans, soy sauce, and wine. If you can’t find or don’t have fermented black beans, you can just omit them and maybe add a little bit of vegan “beef” boullion, which is a totally different flavor but will give the dish a similar flavor boost. Try to find fermented black beans, though, because they are really, really good.

Stir in the tomato sauce and chili garlic sauce, adjusting for the amount of heat you like. I used about 2 tablespoons and Mark added hot sauce to his plate and I regretted not adding a little more. We both really like heat, though.

Gently stir in the tofu …

… and the peas or edamame. I think edamame would have been awesome here, and I sometimes have frozen edamame on hand but was sad to discover I didn’t have any tonight.

Allow to simmer for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch into 2 tablespoons cold water:

Stir the cornstarch mixture into the wok and stir for a minute or two until mixture thickens and becomes a bit glossy.

Serve with brown rice.

Every ingredient in this dish is a favorite of mine, so this was a no-brainer!

In other news, I GOT IN THE POOL yesterday. The water was a bit cold upon first contact but I was determined to go swimming, and it wasn’t at all bad after the initial shock. Despite this happy news, the forecast for this week is yet more cooler temperatures and even more thunderstorms. I can’t believe it! It’s supposed to be in the SIXTIES on Wednesday. What kind of horrible summer is this? Also, I have a busy week ahead of me and then Saturday morning Mark and I leave for our annual Beach Week with his family in Charleston, South Carolina, which I am looking forward to (the beach there is really nice and I also love Mark’s family). There’s no internet at the beach, so you may not hear from me for a couple of weeks, but don’t be alarmed. I’m just relaxing and probably taking a million pictures I’ll later subject you to, some of which may involve food. Mark’s family contains several vegetarians and is extremely accomodating of vegans.

I took Brachtune in for a check-up in anticipation of leaving her alone for a week, to make myself feel better, and the vet called Friday to tell me that according to all the tests they ran she’s doing “amazing”. Which didn’t surprise me at all because Brachtune has been acting nothing at all like a 17-year old cat who probably has cancer: she’s been acting like a little ole hunk of purring love.

Also, tomorrow (Tuesday) is BLOOMSDAY! So read some of Ulysses (I’ve downloaded it to my phone for free!!), drink a lot of beer or whiskey, and act real pretentious!

Here’s Pig checking out his copy of Ulysses during Bloomsday 2004: the centennial!

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