Sunday, August 28

Harvest Season: Top 10 Tomato Recipes

At the height of tomato season we are eating pomodori daily in every mode: raw, stuffed, sauteed, in soups & sauces!  From heirloom to beefsteak, fresh ripe tomatoes add bright flavor to any dish and with an organic garden with over 300 plants in 12 varieties there are plenty of meals to make!

 Here are the Top 10 Tomato Recipes served at La Tavola Marche (Organic Farm, Inn & Cooking School) using produce straight from our organic farm in Italy.

Friday, August 26

Another 60lbs of Tomatoes -

...and with the help of the good Dr. Gaggi, we continue picking, cleaning & jarring our tomatoes!
We are averaging about 30 kilos (that's over 60lbs!) picked & jarred a week!

Hungry for More Juicy Tomato Tidbits?!

Tuesday, August 23

Panzanella - Tuscan Bread Salad

A summer staple in Central Italy is the Tuscan bread salad Panzanella, a classic example of cucina povera (peasant cooking), transforming stale bread into a flavorful dish with fresh tomatoes, basil & anchovies.

Tuscan Bread Salad

3 bell peppers, grilled, peeled, seeds removed cut into strips
500 gr or 1 lb loaf of good quality stale bread
2 lbs or 1 kilo of ripe cherry tomatoes, (small sized) halved or quartered
6-8 anchovy fillets
1 small handful of capers, washed & drained
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 celery heart, thinly sliced
large handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
couple cloves of garlic, peeled
red wine wine vinegar
good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

In a colander place tomatoes and sprinkle with a generous spoonful of salt. Toss the tomatoes a bit. Put a plate or another flat object on top of the tomatoes then a heavy jar or container ontop of the plate to allow them to be pressed & drained.

In a bowl place the garlic cloves, anchovy filets & capers. Now place the colander into the bowl, allowing the tomato juices to drip onto the garlic, anchovies & capers. Allow this to sit for 20 minutes of so.

Meanwhile, in another bowl combine your onion, celery heart, grilled peppers & cucumber. Once the tomatoes have had a chance to sit, add the tomatoes to these vegetables and give it a toss.
For the dressing, use the bowl with the anchovies, tomato juice, etc. - remove the anchovies & garlic, chop the garlic & return to the bowl with the tomato juice. Add 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and about 10-12 good extra virgin olive oil. Stir well. Add a little salt & a good crack of fresh black pepper. Toss this dressing with the tomatoes & vegetables. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or so while you tear up your bread.

Remove the innards of the bread, tearing it into small pieces (leaving the hard crust). Add a about 2 handful of torn bread as well as 3/4 of your basil leaves to the salad. Stir and adjust the seasoning giving the bread time to soak up the juices. If after 10 minutes it looks a little watery, add another handful of the torn bread.

To serve: Adjust your seasonings. Place in a big bowl garnish with the remainder of your basil leaves and the fillets of anchovies. Give a good drizzle of olive oil atop before it goes to the table.

Sunday, August 21

A Bountiful Tomato Harvest

It is full-on tomato harvest season at our organic farm in Central Italy, with over 400 tomato plants in 12 varieties each day yields literally kilos of fresh ripe juicy pomodori.   Endless meals will be made & devoured with this harvest of tomatoes, their flavors as diverse as their names; ranging from the classic san marzano, beefsteak & cherry Tomato to rare heirlooms such as the egg yolk, pink accordion, Paul Roleson and the Japenese black Taifele.

Tomato Harvest in Italy
 This year's harvest will be one of our largest & best season's yet, we begun a few weeks ago & have already picked well over 100 kilos and jarred about 65 kilos.  Doctor Gaggi & I planted the majority of the rows in May using starters from our dear friends Beppe & Caroline. Then  Jason spent the time this spring to pain-stakingly trim back the plants leaves giving the fruit plenty of sun. (Last year's dewy mornings lead to a vines riddled with blight or malatia.) And don't forget all the extra care & time tying up the plant as it continues to grows again & again...Plus it's as if this last heave wave gave all the tomatoes a nice strong dose of deliciousness, dangling heavy on the vine ready to be picked!

From 8-80, age matters not in the garden and we are happy for the help! Thankfully guests & friends join in to help pick, jar & eat.

Photos of the 1st tomato harvest of the season about 1 month ago:

Cooking Classes at La Tavola Marche pick fresh tomatoes & cook with them

and so the jarring has begun....

I will post updates as we jar to how many kilos we're up to and our favorite tomato recipes!

Don't miss the August & September issues of Taste Italia for our monthly column "From Field to Fork" filled with tomato recipes, jarring tips & much more!

Thursday, August 18

An Idyllic Evening in Italy: Wood-fired Pizza on an Organic Farm

From locals to guests from our the world, our Pizza Night is a hit & they just can't get enough of that wood-fired pizza... turning even the sweetest angel into a complete animal!

Recently mentioned on LonelyPlanet: Pizza Night in the Italian Countryside 

Friday, August 5

4 dozen eggs for pasta + 8 kilos of pizza dough in 2 days..Welcome to our Italian Kitchen

Dinner in the garden, al fresco in Italy
 We've gone through over 4 dozen eggs for pasta & 8 kilos of pizza dough in just 2 wonder there hasn't been anytime to blog & podcast! Summer is in full swing & that means nightly dinners for 22, cooking classes 4 days a week plus its a packed house for pizza night! The days are long & sunny, our hens are working overtime to produce enough eggs to keep up with Jason's pasta production, the garden is exploding and its almost time to start jarring tomatoes!

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