Tag Archives: tomato

Wheat berry Salad

This salad is excellent picnic food and I make it to take with us sometimes when we go out for the day.  But I do make it quite often otherwise too. Shri likes to take it for lunch so this is what the girls and I had for lunch too, yesterday, with the steamed trout.

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Wheat berry Salad

Wheat berries – 125 gms

Chickpeas – 1 can (drained weight 200 grams)

Sweet corn – 1 can (drained weight 140 grams) or a little more if you like

Frozed or fresh green beans – I do this by approximation; enough for a salad for 6

Tomatoes – 2 large or 3 small, diced (in to chunks not too small)

salt to taste

Pesto – again, approximate as per taste ; use just enough to coat the salad ingredients well, say 4 tablespoons but not too much

(I always leave the pesto out near the cooking surface for a while because most bottled varieties tend to be quite thick to begin with but actually contain a lot of oil, so they become a little more fluid this way, which makes me feel I am able to use less than I would otherwise.  I may be wrong about this but that is what I hope is happening !!)

Snap the frozen beans in to 1 inch or 1 and half inch long pieces and place these in a steaming basket/container. Bring a large quantity of water in a sauce pan to boil, add the wheat berries and cook them till they are soft enough for you. As the wheat berries cook, steam the beans till they are soft (but not so much that they are easily squashed; they will cook well before the wheat berries are done) on top of the same saucepan.

In the meanwhile put all the other ingredients except the salt in a large bowl. When the beans are done, cool them and  add them to the bowl, sprinkle some salt on top and mix everything well.

Drain the wheat berries when they are done, allow them to cool (else I tend to think the heat will soften the tomatoes too much, making the salad kind of mushy) and toss with all the other ingredients.

This is light and delicious, a great salad any time of the year.  Noor and I love it with cherry tomatoes instead of the regular kind. Grated carrots work well too.

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Filed under Picnic Food, Quick Meal Ideas, Salads, Versatile Accompaniments

Tomato, Ham and Cream Sauce for Pasta – A recipe to mark Mother’s Day 2009

It is Mother’s Day – fete de les meres – in France tomorrow so Shri took us out for dinner today to a  restaurant in Golfe Juan, overlooking the old port and all the boats docked there.

Thank you, Shri, Indira, Noor, for a very nice evening  🙂 The walk back along the port from the restaurant to the car park was wonderful; it was a full moon night and the sea looked really pretty.

The chef at the restaurant was good enough to give me a fairly detailed recipe for the delicious pasta that Noor had.

We all really liked the sauce and it isn’t one I had tasted before. So I decided to go up to the chef -a very young guy- and ask for the recipe.

Here’s what he told me as he took a short pause from putting the finishing touches on a pizza he was about to put in to the oven;  I’ll refine the quantities when I make this sauce myself.

He said “make the usual kind of tomato sauce – some onions softened in olive oil with a bit of laurier, then add some meat (it was little cubes/chunks of ham in the version we had today), cook everything for a little while, then add just a little bit of white wine(he moved his hand in this quick motion which made me imagine him pouring out a tablespoon or 2 from a bottle), let it evaporate, then add tomatoes, and let it all cook for some time (he said an hour but I guess that would depend on the quantity of tomatoes). Finally add a little cream and simmer the sauce for a couple of minutes”.

This should taste good with chicken as well, or diced aubergine for a vegetarian version.

The other interesting thing that happened was that Indira- I think inspired by the neat arrangement of rice, vegetables and salmon on my plate –  told us that one of things she might also want to do in university – apart from studying dance (we talked recently about the concept of university and how being a professional of any sort typically requires some years of study in university) – is to learn to be a chef.

I asked if we could eat free at her restaurant once she is a Cordon Bleu chef so she said yes, but only the first time – after that I believe we’ll have to pay on subsequent visits (though she mentioned a generously discounted sum) !

She seems to be taking our Finance 101-type talks seriously.

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Filed under Dips,Chutneys,Sauces,Spreads, Easy One Pot Cooking

Tomato, Pumpkin & Broccoli Soup

When we arrived at our friend Jenny’s home for lunch one Sunday not long ago, I saw that she had made broccoli and Stilton cheese soup to serve as a first course to the parents.

It struck me then that all this time as I have tried to introduce broccoli to my family’s diet – unsuccessfully, as none of us have managed to develop a taste for it -I have never considered adding broccoli to soup. I usually just steam it to add to either salads or pasta and once in desperation even cooked it as a  subzi ( the way one makes cauliflower in India) after I ate it in this form at my sister-in-law’s home.  All those attempts having failed to endear this vegetable to us, I had resigned myself to the fact that this is one healthy vegetable our family would have to do without.

But soup with broccoli seemed like an intriguing new idea so I requested that Jenny serve some to the children too, as I wanted to see if my girls would take to this vegetable better in this form.

As it turned out, the girls didn’t exactly love it. They finished it mainly because I told them it would be impolite not to do so. But, significantly, they did not turn up their noses at it completely either, which encouraged me to think that I could probably get away with blending broccoli in to soup too, camouflaged among other vegetables.

So that is what I have done more than once since that Sunday, and the soup I made for dinner yesterday was the nicest of those recent attempts. The girls actually said that they liked it, until I spoilt it somewhat by telling them, feeling rather smug, that one of the vegetables in the soup was broccoli. Indira immediately started to look like she wasn’t pleased at being duped, and said,  “So that’s what those tiny green bits are !” in a somewhat vexed voice.

But I do believe they’ll eat it readily enough again;  they did like it sufficiently until the moment of truth.

The recipe is much the same as for Indira’s favorite vegetable soup, except that here I replace the red pepper with broccoli.

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Tomato,Pumpkin & Broccoli Soup

1/2 a small head of broccoli

about 200 gms of pumpkin

1 leek

2 pods of garlic

3 medium-sized tomatoes

3 tablespoons of olive oil

salt to taste (I add about 1 and 1/2 tsps)

Separate the broccoli’s florets, then cut these  in to smaller pieces.

Peel and dice the pumpkin.

Wash and chop the tomatoes.

Discard the hard part of the leek, and finely chop the rest, after washing it carefully. Chop the garlic too.

In a pressure-cooker, warm the oil on a low heat and then add the leek and garlic. Sweat these down gently for 4-5 minutes, making sure not to let them  brown or burn.

Next, add the pumpkin and the broccoli, cover the cooker, and cook everything together for some time, turning frequently, till the vegetables start to glisten and look soft. Then add the tomatoes  and cook till the tomatoes start to break down.

Add the salt, about 500ml of water, and pressure-cook the vegetables till they are quite soft.

Blend the mixture, adding some boiled water if the soup seems too thick.

Stir in a  little unrefined brown sugar ( I added about 1 1/2-2 tsps) if the soup tastes too tart on account of the tomatoes.

A little touch of cream in each bowl is nice, too.

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Filed under Soups

Tomato and Basil Soup

We had soup for dinner this evening, because Noor has developed a cold.

I had picked up a large bunch of fresh basil yesterday because I wanted to use some for the soup today; they say this herb is beneficial when one has a cold.

It also, of course, adds the most amazing taste and aroma. Indira sniffed at her bowl as she sat down to eat and said “Ummm…I know, this has basil !!”

With french fries on the side, I had two content little faces at the table

tonight 🙂

Tomato and Basil Soup

3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 medium sized carrots, diced fine (optional)

1 large clove of garlic,roughly chopped

1 large leek, tough part cut off, and chopped fine

3 tbsp olive oil

salt to taste

1/2 of a large bunch of basil leaves, washed thoroughly

In a pressure cooker or a large casserole, warm the olive oil on a low heat and add the leek and garlic. Cover and cook till the leek is soft. Add the carrots if you are using them, cover again and cook for 6-7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the salt, and cook till the tomatoes start to break down. Add 2-3 cups of water, and cook everything together till all the vegetables are very soft.

When the contents of the cooker/casserole have cooled a little bit, add the basil leaves and blend everything together. Strain the soup through a sieve. If the soup seems too thick, add some boiled water and then let the soup simmer again for a few minutes.

You could add the basil a little bit at a time while blending the vegetables; this way you could decide how much of its flavor you are happy with.

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Rainy days are here again-Tomato Soup with coconut milk

Today has been one of those lazy days, when I have not wanted to do much of anything.

I was up until quite late last night, working, and managed to finish something that I had set for myself as a target for yesterday. That sort of makes me feel I can take things easier today.

So lunch for Shri and Noor today was just a sandwich (Actually, quite a yummy kind – built up with salad leaves, layered over with slices of tomato and mozzarella cheese, and a slathering of pesto on top, all packed in to a baguette or some nice olive bread that has been sliced through and has had some olive oil sprinkled over the insides), instead of the more effort/time intensive upma or poha that Noor would have liked.

When I opened the fridge to take out the cheese, I noticed that there were only 4 tomatoes left and so on impulse I decided that I’d make soup for dinner, one that uses coconut milk, and use those 4 tomatoes up before I bring a fresh lot tomorrow. Fortunately there is a little bit of the vegetable pasta salad left over from last night’s dinner, and a pizza in the freezer, so the soup will go nicely will all of that.

The rain that the colder weather and winds of the last 2 days presaged has started to come down in earnest during the afternoon, so they are  going to be quite happy to eat soup for dinner, I think, especially since it is one that they like.

Tomato soup with Coconut milk

4 large tomatoes

60 ml of coconut milk

1/2 tsp of grated ginger

2 tsp of sunflower oil

1/2 tsp of cumin seeds

Wash the tomatoes boil the tomatoes (whole) in a saucepan with 200 ml of water till they go quite soft.

After they cool down, take the skins off, and blend the tomatoes. Strain the puree through a sieve.

In another saucepan, warm the oil and add the ginger. Once it starts to turn pink (don’t let it brown/burn), add the cumin seeds, wait till their aroma is released, then add the strained puree. Season with salt, and let the puree boil for 5-7 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, a pinch of sugar if the taste is too sour and keep the mixture on the heat for only another couple of minutes.

Voila ! Doesn’t that seem quite simply done? And it is, really.

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