Monday, August 18, 2008

Gluten-Free Recipes : Garden-to-Plate #2

We are busy putting more of our gluten-free garden production to use, and the big project of recent is the mass preparation of a very versatile tomato, onion, peppers, basil, and garlic "base" recipe that we use for many additional recipes that I will be discussing here later, including:
  • homemade gluten-free pasta sauce, which is essentially just a cooked-down thicker version of the "base", plus any additional
  • eggplant recipes
  • pumpkin and squash recipes
  • and many more gluten-free diet recipes that can extend and build upon the core ingredients featured in today's recipe
The primary ingredient in this gluten-free recipe is tomatoes. Tomatoes comprise the bulk of this "base" recipe, and as such the recipes makes for a great way to use up a substantial pile of tomatoes - and our garden is lately producing a very nice pile indeed. In addition, we were lucky enough to find a farm close by in Amish country where they had an abundance of tomatoes for the dirt cheap price of 22-cents/pound! I couldn't believe it when I saw the price of $6.50 for a 30# box. Car Trunk: FILLED :)

So, we augmented our own garden's production with 120 pounds from the Amish farm. This has led to a great deal of cooking the past few days, but the end results are well worth the effort, as we freeze the product of our base recipe and other derivative recipes for consumption all year round. This saves a fortune when compared to buying tomatoes and vegetables off-season!

The recipe itself is quite simple. Just start by placing the following items in a nice big aluminum roasting pan (we used heavy recyclable ones that we easily cook a roast a few batches in before they they wear out - I recommend this method to save all sorts of cleanup time):
  • tomatoes,
  • sweet green peppers and/or red peppers
  • Hungarian peppers or another medium-warm pepper (if you desire a bit of spiceyness and added zest)
  • some olive oil in bottom of pan
  • a bit of cooking spray to coat the tops of veggies with
  • Note: the onion, garlic, olive oil, basil will be prepared stove top in a cast iron pan where we will caramelize those ingredients to add all sorts of flavor to this recipe.

Place those tins of tomatoes and peppers into the oven at a high temperature where they will roast nicely. We've chosen to bake them at 460F for 1/2 hour or a bit more, and we look for a bit of browning / bubbling to occur on the surface of the tomatoes and peppers. Don't be concerned much with a few blackened areas on the vegetables, any overly-burnt areas will easily peel away after you remove these from the oven and let them cool a bit. In fact, a bit of browning of the tomato skins and pepper skins tends to add additional flavor to your recipe.

While the tomatoes and peppers roast, it is a great time to work ahead a bit and move onto the part of the recipe that is done stove-top. As I mentioned earlier, we prefer to infuse additional flavor and complexities into our recipe by caramelizing the onion, garlic, and basils in a bit of olive oil in a cast iron frypan. This is done at a rather high temperature, and doesn't take too long, though it does require you to flip the ingredients around to prevent burning.

After the roasted vegetables are done and cooled enough to work with, you simply move them into a large pot (as pictured at the beginning of this gluten-free blog entry) where you can work with them. At this point, you can optionally cut out any portion of the vegetables you do not want (like the tomato-stem regions, pepper-stems and/or seeds, etc). This is totally up to you. I certainly recommend removing the pepper stems, but I personally don't notice the cooked tomato-stem-base areas if left in the recipe.

Now, if you are adding some flavor to your sauce with various warm or hot peppers, now is the time to decide whether you wanted just an accent, or if you are really going for some spice. If you want an accent only, I defintely advise removing the seeds from the hot peppers at a minimum, since those can tend to really pack a punch.

Basically, you are now just going to get your hands wet (in tomato sauce) as you use a knife or kitchen scissors to chop up the cooked and roasted vegetables to the consistency you desire. When you have the tomatoes and peppers as you like them, go ahead and add the caramelized garlic, onions, basil, and perhaps any optional salt and herbs to your liking. Your gluten-free tomato, pepper, onion, garlic, and basil "base recipe" is now complete.

I will be putting this gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free (heck, it is vegan!) recipe to use a few times in coming gluten-free blog entries. I find this recipe to be an amazingly versatile and portable starting point for all sorts of other kitchen creations. And, this is a very HEALTHY GLUTEN-FREE DIET recipe to say the least. We are always looking for great ways to balance our diet out with fresh fruits and vegetables, and it is always nice when a recipe can be used many times over to achieve this goal. Enjoy, and more to come soon.


Vittoria said...

Very similar to the method my Italian Nonna (grandmother) taught me, that she learned from her mother. YUM!

Lynn Barry said...

WOWoh I am mucho IMpressed guys are the bomb when it comes to gardening, cooking and baking...BRAVO!

Mike Eberhart said...

Lynn, thanks for such kind words. You certainly always make our day when we read your comments :)

Vittoria, I'm glad we are doing things like the Italians would teach, especially since we are not Italian (though we sure enjoy Italian foods!) Thanks for stopping by.

peterbronski said...

Your tomatoes are gorgeous! The sauce sounds delicious indeed. If you're looking for a non-sauce way to use some of those excess tomatoes, try slicing them and making a margherita pizza. My wife and I posted a recipe on our GF blog, No Gluten, No Problem, here:

Cheers, Pete

Cookie baker Lynn said...

What gorgeous tomatoes! I'm so jealous. I couldn't grow any this year and am missing them so.

Wheatless Foodie said...

I like the idea of making a "base" out of garden produce to use later.

Mike Eberhart said...

I sure wish everyone could raise their own tomatoes - fresh is definitely best. Thanks for stopping by and leaving such nice comments.

We just finished cooking up all the tomatoes from the weekend, and now we have another 25+ pounds from the garden in just the past 4 days... more cooking, but it really pays off all year round. Time to put these to use, and I have some quick and simple recipes coming soon.

Gluten Free...licious! said...

Hi, Mike

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I just glanced at yours and it looks yummy! Next week when the kids go back to school, I will read the whole thing!

Yes, I'm enjoying this August! I'm originally from FL so I dread the winters here :(. So I try to be out in the sun every minute!


Lisa :)

Amy Green said...

I love the detail included in this post. The educational value is incredible. Also, I share your philosophy about having a healthy, gluten-free balanced diet. I eat as much fruits and veggies as I can and limit the gf baked goods. I feel better when I eat this way.

I buy en masse, too, when I find a great deal. My most recent was strawberries - I bought 15 pounds and made jam. Loved every minute!