Monday, May 08, 2006

Tomato Mush and Radish Clippings?!

Baby food and garden clippings for dinner? Has it all come down to this?!

No, the nieces and nephews are not joining us this evening, even though at 1, 2, and 3 years old, they would seem to be the more appropriate dinner guests for the menu. Although little kids tend to eat more dirt and stones than actual garden clippings.

And no, we are not so short on time that we are forced to open tiny jars of Gerber for dinner (strained peas, anyone?). Well, actually we may be, but still…

Apparently Pappa translates to mush- as in baby food – in Italian. Making Pappa al Pomodoro tomato mush. Sounding, at least, something like tomato baby food.

When you have left over bread – especially a whole uncut loaf that somehow slipped past the ever chomping jaws of teenage boys unscathed, you can either make some German style Knoedel - .i.e. dumplings, or something like Panzanella or the closely related tomato bread soup.

I would have liked to make the bread dumplings, or Semelknoedel in the Bavarian dialect, but as mentioned yesterday, this was a tough week. And a good dumpling really requires a good accompanying meat with its associated gravy to make any sense. Note that to me, the dumpling is the main course, the meat and gravy being the necessary accompaniments. But that will have to wait for another day when there is more time.

Much quicker, and despite the somewhat mushy appearance, very flavorful, is Pappa al Pomodoro – or tomato bread soup, apparently a Tuscan (i.e. Italy) tradition. Maybe a little unusual the first time due to the texture, but delicious none the less.

The ‘soup’ is a tomato base thickened with bread chunks, flavored with basil, garlic and tarragon. The bread soaks up all the moisture in the soup, resulting in a thick mushy consistency that has a lot of flavor. And since a whole loaf of bread is packed in there, along with some good vegetables, it makes a reasonable light dinner when some protein is added alongside, such as chicken, or sausages.

The recipe is from the Food Network, by Chef Michael Chiarello.

Done in just 30 minutes (what am I here, Rachael Ray?!), it looks good, tastes good, and hits the spot without being too heavy.

On the side – a radish leaf (?!) salad (again with the ?!). You can tell we are really having a tough week here. No time to replenish the lettuce supply until tomorrow. So we ate the radish leaves. (We looked it up on the internet first to ensure they were even edible). Sometimes ya gotta be creative! Plus it turns out that the radish leaves seem to have more nutrition than the radish root. So another double bonus!

And not bad. The somewhat bitter taste of the radish greens made a good contrast to the sweetness of the tomatoes and bread, so they even sort of worked together. But still maybe better mixed with some other leafs that are a little sweeter. But not bad.

So a quick dinner, using up some things that were lying around getting old, and turning them into a meal that everyone really enjoyed. All in less time than it takes for you to watch this show….. (Sorry!)

Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello
Serves 4

10 hot Italian style raw sausages (we used some hot Sicilian chicken sausages from Trader Joe’s)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
Pinch salt
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
3/4-pound day-old Italian bread, roughly sliced
2 cups water
1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup tarragon leaves, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, optional
Grated Pecorino-Romano cheese

In a large frying pan, add ½ inch water and bring to a simmer. Poke holes in the sausages with a knife and add to the water. Simmer until all the water has evaporated, increase the heat, and fry th sausages until they are browned. Reserve.
In a 12-inch saute pan, heat the olive oil over a medium-high flame until hot but not smoking. Add the onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes, until onion is translucent. Add a pinch of salt. Add the chopped tomatoes and their juices and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook until the tomatoes begin to soften and break down, about 5 minutes.
Place the bread slices in a bowl and cover with 2 cups water. Tear the bread into rough pieces and add to tomato mixture. Add the remaining water from the bowl. Continue simmering until all the bread has absorbed as much liquid as possible, yielding a baby food-like consistency.
Stir in the basil. Season, to taste, with pepper. Add extra-virgin olive oil, if desired. Let the soup continue simmering for 10 more minutes, then serve immediately in warmed soup bowls with a few of the sausages on the side. Garnish, to taste, with Pecorino Romano cheese.

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Blogger Online Degree Adviser said...

Hi there, just wandering the blogosphere and I found your blog. I really enjoy how this all works.

This is one to watch.

Many thanks,

Marriott time shares

1:45 PM  

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