Roasted Tomato Sauce

I have wanted to try this recipe for sometime. Just yesterday, I picked up my first box of produce from a local organic co-op and in this weeks box there are Roma tomatoes! I can’t let these go to waste and I know I wont use this many in a week. What better way to use these than to make a homemade pasta sauce? I do need to buy about another pound at the store, but that’s ok – I still wanted to try this.

This was really tasty and I’m glad I went with my “doctoring-up” instincts or this wouldn’t have had enough flavor for us. I didn’t add the red pepper flakes while I cooked the sauce so my spice-a-phobic daughter wouldn’t have something extra to complain about. It’s like pulling teeth to get her to eat anything! We all enjoyed this with roasted garlic bread, which is obviously not pictured…it was that good! I will have to make it again sometime and make sure I keep my hands off until I get a picture. I used my go to garlic bread recipe on half of this loaf and used an entire bulb of roasted garlic in place of the chopped. It was unbelievably good – a little too good because I couldn’t help myself from eating three pieces! I joked that I was “carbo-loading” for the gym tomorrow. I haven’t indulged like that in a whole month 🙂 These are destined to be “repeat offenders” – thanks for reading, enjoy!

Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce – heavily adapted from Dishing the Divine

  • 2 pounds tomatoes, cut into large dice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • sprinkle of teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 8 ounces shell pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano

Preheat oven to 425.

Chop your tomatoes into bite-sized chunks. Layer the tomatoes on a sheet pan that has sides. Add olive oil, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. Mix well. Roast for 25 minutes or until tomatoes are bubbly and browning in spots, stirring once or twice. Set aside.

In a large skillet set to medium heat pour in about a tablespoon of olive oil and add the diced onion. Cook until slightly caramelized then add your roasted tomatoes to the skillet. Stir to combine and add vodka, cook for 5 more minutes. If you prefer a smoother sauce, blitz the mixture with your stick blender. Add in Pecorino Romano cheese over top and toss in chopped basil – taste for seasoning. Set aside.

Put a large pot of water to boil, and add a generous amount of kosher salt to the pot. Add your pasta and cook according to package directions. Before you drain the pasta, reserve about two cups of the pasta water. Add the drained pasta to the sauce, stir to combine, add the pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce. Serve with roasted garlic bread and a green salad.

Roasted Carrot and Red Lentil Soup

I’ve been kind of obsessed with finding a carrot soup recipe because I’m on the lookout for healthy, vegetarian lunches and dinners. I’ll admit it doesn’t look appetizing at all – but it’s the taste that counts! 😉 This is a mix of a few different recipes I found – but it’s mostly a huge experiment of flavors. I added a little of this, and a little of that which resulted in a peppery, thick soup. I know it’s not my most favorite thing I’ve ever made, but it’s pretty good. I’m not the best at whipping up meals off the top of my head, but I’m getting more adventurous. Thanks for reading 🙂
Roasted Carrot and Red Lentil Soup – adapted from The Wednesday Chef
  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • fresh orange juice ( I used about 1/4 of one orange), to taste, optional
  • cilantro leaves
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups vegetable stock

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay the carrots in a roasting pan and toss with 3 tablespoons oil. Season with the salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. Turn the carrots, add the onion and roast 15 minutes, until the carrots are brown and tender. When carrots are cool enough, cut them in bite-sized chunks.

2. Heat up a large soup pot over medium, add the carrot-and-onion mixture, cilantro leaves and the dry seasonings. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then stir in the lentils. Add the stock and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the lentils are falling apart. Squeeze in your orange juice, add more cilantro and check for seasoning and serve.

Roasted Vegetables over Bulgur

Lunch…I’m not always great at lunch. It’s usually leftovers, sandwiches or salads. This is more work, but I get at least 3 meals out of it. I chopped up some zucchini, summer squash, cremini mushrooms, tossed a handful of baby carrots and grape tomatoes on a baking sheet.  Use whatever veggies you love to roast, drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper over all. Bulgur cooks really quickly and by the time all the vegetables were finished roasting I had a really healthy lunch ready to be enjoyed. This was surprisingly good! I knew I would love the roasted vegetables, but the bulgur was cooked in plain ‘ol water with a pinch of kosher salt added. It has a nutty flavor and a meaty texture and keeps you feeling full longer because of all the fiber and protein. I felt full for hours but didn’t feel bloated. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Roasted Vegetables Over Bulgur –

  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 small summer squash
  • 5-6 cremini mushrooms
  • handful of grape tomatoes
  • handful of baby carrots
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup of bulgur wheat, cooked to package directions
  • handful of baby spinach
  • zest of one lemon
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil. Clean and prepare your vegetables – slice zucchini and summer squash into coins, slice cremini mushrooms in half and discard stems. Toss baby carrots with a drizzle of olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes. Take the pan out, toss the carrots and add seasoned squash and mushrooms to the baking sheet, roast for another 10-15 minutes. Toss in the grape tomatoes during the last 5 minutes. Serve 1 cup of roasted veggies over one cooked up of bulgur tossed with baby spinach leaves for good measure, and sprinkle lemon zest over top of all. Enjoy!

Brined Herb-Crusted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy

Wow – this turkey was completely worth all the extra work it required. I have never had a more moist and flavorful turkey – we didn’t even need to drown it in the gravy! Speaking of the gravy – wow, what a great addition to such a tasty bird. Instead of using the leftover cup of apple cider, I used all chicken stock for the gravy. I think the apple essence was just right and not at all weird. Also, the cinnamon was a subtle addition and did blend well with all the other flavors. I was a little worried about the herb butter because I didn’t want the rosemary and sage combination to over power the meal – it didn’t. I am so happy with how it all turned out! This will most likely be my go to recipe for Thanksgiving turkey and it was the best that any of us had ever tasted. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Brined Herb-Crusted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy –

Brine –

  • 7 quarts water
  • 1 quart apple cider
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 head garlic, cut in 1/2 equatorially
  • 1/2 bunch fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 bunch fresh sage
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 (12 to 14 pound) turkey

Herb Crust –

  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh sage, leaves finely chopped
  • 3 sticks butter, room temperature
  • Kosher salt

Gravy –

  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 quart chicken stock, divided
  • 2 cups apple cider, divided
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Special equipment: butcher’s twine

To brine the turkey: Combine all of the ingredients for the brine in a large container. Add the turkey and let it brine in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

To prepare the turkey for cooking: Remove the turkey from the brine the night before roasting and pat it thoroughly dry with paper towels. Combine the rosemary, sage, and butter for the herb crust in a small bowl. Season, to taste, with kosher salt. Work the butter under the skin of the turkey and massage it into the breasts and the legs. Massage the bitter on the outside of the skin as well. Tie the legs together over the breast so they will protect it during cooking and help keep it moist and juicy.

Gravy preparation: Put the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, apples, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and thyme in a roasting pan and season with salt. Arrange the turkey on top of the veggies and refrigerate overnight UNCOVERED! Yes, that’s right, uncovered. This will help the skin dry out and become really brown and crispy. Make sure that there is no raw food near the turkey in the refrigerator. After refrigerating overnight, the turkey is ready to go in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Put 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup apple cider in the bottom of the roasting pan. Roast the turkey in the preheated oven until the skin gets really nice and brown, about 40 minutes. Lower the oven heat to 350 degrees F for the remainder of the cooking time. Baste the turkey every 30 minutes or so and add more stock to the roasting pan, if needed. Cook about 17 minutes per pound. Once it gets to the proper color, tent the turkey with aluminum foil to prevent it from getting too dark.

Remove the turkey from the oven when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the turkey registers 160 degrees F. Make sure that the thermometer is not touching a bone when doing the reading. When the turkey has reached the proper temperature, remove it from the roasting pan to a cutting board and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Strain all the veggies over a bowl to separate them from the stock/mixture. Discard the veggies. Skim off the fat and add it to the roasting pan. This is the fat for the roux. Put the roasting pan over 2 burners and over a low heat and whisk in the flour. Cook until the mixture looks like wet sand, about 4 to 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the remaining 1 cup apple cider, remaining chicken stock and the stock/cider mixture. Cook until the mixture has thickened and reached a gravy consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour into a serving pitcher or bowl.

Carve the turkey, transfer to a serving platter and serve with the gravy.

Cook’s Note: Don’t fight over the drumsticks.

Give thanks for such a great turkey!!!