Spaghetti with Raw Tomato Sauce and Chunky Parmesan Crumbles

Kumato Tomatoes 3

 “High-tech tomatoes. Mysterious milk. Supersquash. Are we supposed to eat this stuff? Or is it going to eat us?”
Annita Manning

A very lazy Sunday dinner indeed if you don’t bother with a “real” cooked tomato sauce and just take advantage of what the fresh vegetable stands and Farmers markets still have on hand this time of year. Since it was just me I didn’t have to worry about anyone asking me to cook the sauce and especially since the tomatoes were nice and sweet. With simple additions of a clove or two of grated garlic a little homemade tomato paste that I had previously made and frozen in small containers, fresh herbs, and finally chunks of parmesan cheese. All in all for that dinner dish I had boiling water and pasta cooking time invested and one simple tool, a box grater to cleanup along with the pasta pot, my bowl and utensils.

Raw Tomato Sauce (2)

Good nibbles with a glass of wine before dinner, a fresh fig from my one and only tree and little bites of Parmigiano Reggiano and a couple of crostini spread with anchovy butter then topped with grated provolone to have with the spaghetti…easy dinner and perfect for a summer treat of fresh tomatoes.

Fresh Figs

Anchovy Butter Crostini

Raw Tomato Sauce

Fresh Raw Tomato Sauce-stir it all together in a large bowl and add hot spaghetti (enough for two), top with cheese/pepper flakes and serve.
freshly grated or small chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano
2 large fresh tomatoes, cut in half and grated with a large hole grater
fresh herbs, thyme leaves, oregano, basil
salt and pepper
pinches of red pepper flakes
2 cloves of grated garlic
1/2 cup store-bought tomato passata if you can find it, puree or homemade tomato paste-not the canned stuff!


Panko, Parmesan & Pretzel Chicken Cutlets


mem18[1] 2

“I don’t have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. Every time we hear, watch, or read the news, we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world.” – President Ronald Reagan

 Panko,Parmesan, Pretzel Cutlets 3

Something a little different for me in the breading department  I mixed about 1 cup of panko crumbs, a couple of tablespoons of parmesan cheese and crushed pretzels for thin chicken cutlets to be breaded in the 3 step method, boy were they nice and crispy.   I also seasoned the flour with pepper, but no salt since the pretzels and the cheese were salty.  Finished, they needed no additional salt for my taste buds.  Squeeze a bit of lemon over the lightly sautéed cutlets.

Majorcan Vegetable Stew (2)

A big pot of Majorcan braised vegetables (stew) was the perfect side dish for one night with the intention of having again, but reheated with seasoned white beans over a gentle smoky fire on the grill.   Serve over toasted garlic slices of rustic bread.  Traditionally the recipe says “brown bread”, but I just went with what I had and like.

The vegetable dish comes together easily once you have all of the vegetables cut, sliced and chopped with a cooking time of about 30 minutes and is pretty basically seasoned with salt, pepper, smoked paprika,  bay leaf and parsley and finished with a few shavings of Manchego cheese.

Majorcan Vegetable Stew 2nd day

Very nice and satisfying, it is a great next day dish to which I will added cooked seasoned white beans and some spinach or chard…nice side to reheat on the grill alongside the Spanish BBQ ribs.  Grill additional bread slices to go with the vegetables.

Recipe adapted from The New Spanish Table


6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus ¼ cup for finishing the stew
12 ounces bakery whole wheat bread dried sliced about ¼ inch or the same amount of rustic grilled bread rubbed with garlic
1 large sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Maui), quartered and sliced thin
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 medium sliced leek, white and light green part halved and sliced
6 garlic cloves, sliced and an additional 3 cloves sliced
6 fat scallions , trimmed and cut into 1 inch lengths
1 bay leaf
1 small hot chili pepper
6-8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch lengths
3 ½ cups coarsely chopped green cabbage (about 1/2 large head)
2 cups small cauliflower florets (about 1/4 small head)
2 large tomatoes, seeded, chopped
1 package frozen quartered artichokes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
4 teaspoon sweet paprika, preferably Spanish smoked paprika*
1 cup chopped parsley + 2 tablespoon
1 ½ cup + water or vegetable broth
Oil-cured black olives
Sliced radishes


Heat 6 tablespoons oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Add onion, leek and sliced garlic and cook stirring, until softened, but not browned.  Add bell pepper, cabbage, string beans, and scallions and cook stirring, until cabbage wilts, 5-7 minutes, adjusting the heat so that the vegetables don’t brown.  Add paprika and stir for a few seconds.  Add the bay leaf, chili pepper, tomatoes, and 1 cup water or broth and raise the heat to bring to a boil.  Place crumpled parchment paper directly over vegetables, reduce the heat, cover with lid and simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir in artichokes, cauliflower, and 1 cup parsley, and ½ cup water or broth and return to simmer.  Season with salt to taste, cover the stew again with waxed paper, and cook, covered, over very low heat, until vegetables are very soft, 25-30 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, place the chopped garlic and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and a large pinch of salt in a mortar or mini chopper and mash or process into a paste and finally adding in the remaining olive oil.

Place with a layer of dried or grilled bread slices on the bottom of 11-12 inch casserole or baking dish, sprinkle bread lightly with salt and rush with some of the garlic-parsley mixture.  Spoon half of the veggies over the bread.  Top with another layer of bread, brush with remaining garlic-parsley mixture, spoon over remaining stew and its liquid.  Bake 10 minutes.  Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.  Invite guest to drizzle each portion with olive oil…

Serve stew from pot. Pass olives and sliced radishes alongside.





Busy Cooking Week Favorites

Three Horses Two Blankets

Louise Ellison: I see why they call this place Hell on Wheels. Rough men, loose women, whiskey, sin and guns.
Sean McGinnis: Do you not believe in a higher power?
Cullen: Yes, sir. I wear it on my hip.

This past week has been filled with good food and to start with a Saturday casual dinner party featuring Nantucket-style thick chicken chowder, cheddar biscuits, a lovely salad prepared by one of the guests and for dessert “birthday brownies” and ice cream.  No pictures/no time for photos except one of the birthday girl and I’m sure that she wouldn’t love her mug posted.  The chowder was adapted from Jasper White’s version in 50 Chowders a great dinner to make ahead then adding in the cream while reheating.  Serve garnished with sliced green onions and additional crispy bacon bits.   

 Chicken Chowder -Marti's Parti 2

Sunday we enjoyed a wonderful grilled porterhouse steak seasoned then marinated in a great chimichurri sauce.  Sides, grill roasted potatoes and a good old-fashioned wedge salad with a gorgonzola dressing. 

Porterhouse with Chimichurri-2

Monday, perky cheese stuffed baked chilies rellenos served with Spanish-style rice with tomatoes and green chilies, something about that dinner and watching “cowboys, Indians and railroad workers” (Hell on Wheels) and I think that Mr. Bohannon would have enjoyed the chilies, but of course he would have added a plate of beans and a thick steak and a plate of beans to the menu.

Chilies Rellenos III

I guess the most memorable dinner of the week for Michael was Tonkatsu (best pork chop according to him) a popular Japanese crispy “schnitzel” served with a very thick tangy sauce that Michael just loved.  Simple enough to make, the boneless center cut chops that I bought were on the thick side and I ended up pounding them down a bit after a couple of hours of brining.  The sauce was a simple blend of chili sauce (I was out of ketchup), Dijon mustard, the thick version of original Worcestershire sauce, and thick premium soy.  Little additions of sesame seeds, and splashes of mirin and Japanese sake were a couple of my add-ins. There are so many versions to explore pick one and make it your own…Michael says that this is his new “A-1”- style of sauce and not to waste a drop.

Tonkatsu with Sauce 2   Tonkatsu 2  Sesame Noodle Salad-Genius Food 52

My simple highlight of the week was of course the homemade sausage and a couple of loaves of homemade bread, while neither process were sooo simple it sure was rewarding comfort food.

Homemade Bread II     Sausage RES II

French Lentil Salad and Merguez Sandwiches
Salad of Lentilles du Puy –slightly adapted from David Lebovitz
About 6 servings
I cooked the vegetables separately as I do prefer them just tender and highly visible as opposed to mushy vegetables and since I didn’t have fresh fennel I added a couple of pinches of prepared fennel spice that I keep on hand.  A bit of fresh chopped tarragon and fresh parsley for garnish.  A last-minute thought for me was to serve over mixed baby kale with a fresh from NC orchards sliced with a drizzle of additional dressing. 

French Lentil Salad     Merguez Sausage II

For the lentils:  *Optional cook the vegetables with the lentils
1¼ cup (250 gr) French green lentilles du Puy
Water or vegetable broth to cover beans by 3-4 inches
1 bay leaf
all the tender celery inner leaves stems (remove after cooking)
a few springs of fresh thyme
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
1 bulb of fennel (optional), finely diced
freshly ground pepper

For the vinaigrette:
Note double the dressing and add about ½ teaspoon – 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard.

1 tablespoon red wine or sherry vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, peeled and minced

1. Rinse the lentils and remove any foreign matter.
2. Transfer the lentils to a large saucepan then cover with a copious amount of water, which should cover the lentils by at least 3-4 inches. Add the bay leaf and thyme.
3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, add a bit of salt, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are just tender, adding more water if necessary. Be sure not to overcook them.  I found my lentils a little underdone after the cooking time mentioned in the recipe, I just let them sit in the remaining hot broth off heat and they absorbed more of the broth and softened to my liking and still remained whole.
4. While the lentils are cooking, heat a few teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet and add the carrots, onions, and fennel (if using). Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently until tender. Set aside.
5. In a large bowl, mix together the ingredients for the vinaigrette.
6. When the lentils are done, drain them well, and then toss them in the vinaigrette with the cooked vegetables. Stir a few times to release the steam. Taste and season with more salt, pepper, and olive oil if desired. Remove bay leave and thyme sprigs.

Serve warm or at room temperature.
Cooked lentils will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. They can be reheated in a pan on the stove top or in a microwave.