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For the Love of Food

by | Jul 31, 2015
For the Love of Food

For the Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

If you’ve been hanging around the blog lately you may have noticed something a little different. You might not have been aware of it at first, but after awhile you found yourself smiling a little at what a pleasant experience you’re having.

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve removed all banner ads from Summer Tomato. Woo hoo!

I’ve never been a fan of display ads (I’m sure you don’t love them either), but I thought they were a necessary evil to pay for the cost of running a popular website (if I told you how much I spent last year you’d choke on your organic green juice). But now that Foodist Kitchen is so popular I had the luxury of removing all 3rd party advertising––and it feels so good.

I do everything I can to make Summer Tomato your most trusted source for health advice andgive you the best experience possible. Removing banner ads was the final barrier to making sure that 100% of the things you see on Summer Tomato is foodist approved. As you can tell, I’m super happy about it 🙂

This week soybean oil is worse than saturated fat, the FDA takes on sugar, and a new taste sensation is identified.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Read the rest of this story »

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Healthy Dessert Recipe: Sautéed Bosc Pears With Toasted Walnuts & Balsamic Reduction

by | Oct 31, 2012
Bosc Pear With Toasted Walnuts and Balsamic Reduction

Bosc Pear With Toasted Walnuts and Balsamic Reduction

“Darya, my biggest problem is…I have a sweet tooth. Are there any recipes or desserts you suggest?”

One of the hardest things about transitioning to a healthy diet is cutting down on sugar. I definitely remember this from my own experience.

Luckily this difficulty is temporary.

The longer you go without sugar, the less you want it. In fact it has taken me awhile to reply to this question because I have not been motivated to make dessert in such a long time.

I eat sweets on occasion, but almost always these situations are circumstantial: a friend’s birthday, a favorite restaurant or other special occasion. And I am only excited about the experience if the dessert in question is profoundly exquisite. (In San Francisco, this is way more common than it is in most places.)

What this all means is I rarely find reason to seek out and/or make dessert.

But after creating this recipe, I may reconsider. This dessert is incredibly delicious, and not unhealthy at all. I thinly sliced some bosc pears and briefly sautéed them in butter with cinnamon. I reduced some balsamic vinegar for a semi-sweet topping, but otherwise did not add any sugar. I garnished the pears with toasted walnuts and shredded basil.

This recipe also works with other firm fruits such as apples, peaches and strawberries, all of which are available this time of year at the farmers market.

Sauteed Bosc Pears With Toasted Walnuts, Balsamic Reduction and Basil

Ingredients:

Bosc Pear

Bosc Pear

  • One bosc pear, cored and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 tsp butter
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • 1/4 c. walnuts
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 5 basil leaves, chiffonade into strips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, core and cut bosc pear into 1/4 inch slices.

Place balsamic vinegar in small sauce pan and gently heat until simmering. Allow to reduce, swirling occasionally until reduced to 25-30% volume, about 10 minutes. Reduction should be dark and thickened. Test by seeing if it coats the back of a spoon (and tastes good). Do not over reduce.

While vinegar is reducing, place walnuts on a cookie sheet and put in oven. Toast walnuts, turning once or twice for 6-7 minutes. Do yourself a favor and set a timer. It is very easy to burn toasting nuts. I set the time for 3 minutes, toss the nuts, then reset for another 3 minutes. Remove nuts from oven, allow to cool, then coarsely chop.

Heat butter in a pan on medium heat until it begins to foam. Add pear slices and sprinkle with cinnamon. Cook gently until slightly tender, about 3 minutes on each side. Turn with a thin spatula.

Place pears on a plate and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Sprinkle on chopped walnuts and basil. I didn’t try it, but I bet this would be awesome with gorgonzola and port (or other dessert wine).

Try it and let me know what you think!

Do you ever cook fruits for dessert?

Originally published October 12, 2009.

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Farmers Market Update: Summer Tomatoes!

by | Aug 14, 2011
Gigantic Tomato

Gigantic Tomato

This is by far my favorite time of year to go to the farmers market, it’s truly amazing. (If you’re interested in joining me next week, there are still a few slots left in my two market tours, 8am and 10am).

More than any other time of year the market is overflowing with life and bounty. The fruits are sweet, juicy and abundant, making it hard to decide which delicate morsels to cradle into my bag and try to get home undamaged.

O'Henry Peaches

O'Henry Peaches

Sea of Strawberries

Sea of Strawberries

We’re finally entering late summer, which means all the best summer tomatoes are finally here. The dry farmed early girls are my favorite, because they’re easiest to get home and amazingly sweet and rich in flavor.

Early Girl Tomatoes

Early Girl Tomatoes

But today I was also blown away by these giant heirloom tomatoes. They were as big as pumpkins!

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

While we’ve had sweet peppers for several weeks now, the spicy chilies are just starting to appear. I got some jalepenos, but I’m excited to see Thai chilies are available as well.

Thai Chilies

Thai Chilies

Eggplants, my gateway vegetable, are also a late summer delicacy. As a former eggplant hater, I find that the long thin plants are easier to work with and often taste better than their rounder cousins. The light purple color of these were particularly striking this week.

Eggplant

Eggplant

Late summer is also the time for corn, which not coincidently pairs exceptionally well with all the above vegetables. I love it raw off the cob or pan cooked quickly with summer squash and peppers. But I’m going to experiment with some new techniques using the ones I bought today.

Corn

Corn

Summer Squash

Summer Squash

Of course cooking is more fun with the abundance of summer herbs. This time of year I always have cilantro, dill and basil on hand.

Fresh Dill and Cilantro

Fresh Dill and Cilantro

If you love basil, look around your farmers market for vendors that sell it with the roots attached. You can bring it home and put it into a vase with water. I’m still using one I bought several weeks ago with one of my market classes. Just be sure to change the water 1-2x per week, and that the plant has access to light. I tried keeping some in my kitchen but it always wilted in one day if I didn’t move it near a window.

Rooted Basil

Rooted Basil

This is also my favorite time of year for salads. I make a big one most days for lunch, and the huge variety of greens like spinach and radicchio help mix it up and allow me to make something that tastes different every day. I love how the bloomsdale spinach is so deeply colored that it almost looks blue.

Radicchio

Radicchio

Bloomsdale Spinach

Bloomsdale Spinach

Fresh legumes including peas, green beans and shelling beans are staples in my kitchen this time of year as well.

Cranberry Shelling Beans

Cranberry Shelling Beans

Though I don’t talk about it much, melons (particularly the heirloom varieties I often find at the market) are a completely different experience when I get them directly from farmers. The rich complexity of the smell alone is intoxicating, and the flavor is nothing like the typical honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon I’ve had from the grocery store.

Watermelon

Watermelon

Lastly, the grapes are finally here. They’re particularly sweet and crisp this year, which is how I love them.

Red Flame Grapes

Red Flame Grapes

Today’s purchases (~$55):

What did you find this week at the farmers market?

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Farmers Market Update: SF Basil

by | Aug 1, 2010

We’re going to do something a little different this week.

Those of you who have been following me on Twitter or daryapino.com (redesigned site and moved to Squarespace!) know I’ve been really sick this past week. It’s weird, I haven’t been sick in years and years.

Anyway, being bed-ridden makes it tough to go to the farmers market and I didn’t have enough time to get a guest blogger from another city. Instead I’m going to share with you an article of mine that was recently published in Edible San Francisco, SF Superfoods: Basil. It’s about basil, so it’s kinda farmers markety.

I’m only giving you a little teaser here, but head over to read more about how to store and use basil, and the best places to find, eat and drink it here in SF.

SF Superfoods: Basil

by Darya Pino

Stroll through a farmers’ market at the height of summer and you’ll be tantalized by the sweet perfume of basil. This pungent herb brings a taste of the garden to summertime dishes around the city. Basil’s intoxicating aroma comes from several different essential oils, many of which show up in other herbs, including mint, clove, and anise. The unique scent of each basil variety—there are over 20—is represented by a specific ratio of its different aromatic components.

WHAT IS IT

Basil is most commonly associated with Italian cuisine, but is also a popular herb in Southeast Asia. Sweet Italian basil is bright green, usually has large leaves, and has a sweet, clove-like flavoring. Genovese basil is the most popular cultivated variety, particularly for making pesto, the traditional sauce of Genoa. Thai basil can be recognized by its smaller leaves and purple stems. It is more pungent and has stronger notes of anise and mint than does sweet Italian basil. Thai basil is popularly used in Thai stir fries, curries, and the Vietnamese noodle soup pho.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Basil packs one of the biggest antioxidant punches of any plant, boasting levels of phytochemicals much greater than found in most other herbs or even spinach and broccoli…

SOURCING AND STORAGE

Sweet Italian basil can be found at local farmers’ markets during the summer…

AT HOME

Some of the best basil dishes are the simplest…

EATING OUT

The restaurant Farina has perfected a classic Genovese pesto…

Continue reading…

I hope all of you are having a lovely weekend and are in better health than I am. Tell me what you got at the farmers market this weekend (Flickr links welcome) and I’ll live vicariously through you.

xoxo

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Farmers Market Update: First Cherries!

by | May 9, 2010

First Cherries

First Cherries

There were cherries today! The first stone fruit of the season finally arrived, and they were surprisingly delicious. I had trouble focusing on much else.

Luckily despite my excitement I still had enough wits about me to grab some heirloom tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella. The mission: caprese salad. The verdict: awesome. Yep, the heirloom tomatoes are finally tasty.

Sugar Snap Peas

Sugar Snap Peas

Basil

Basil

Peas and fava beans are huge at the farmers market right now: sugar snap peas as well as snow peas and English shelling peas.

The asparagus season is peaking right now, so be sure you get your fill in the coming weeks.

Asparagus

Asparagus

I also found a rare delicacy today, green almonds. Though they were more developed and less sweet than I remember them from last year, it was still exciting to see them and I’ll definitely be trying them again this season.

Kumquats

Kumquats

Green Almonds

Green Almonds

And aren’t kumquats pretty?

Do you have cherries yet at your farmers market?

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: What’s the point?

by | Jun 28, 2009
Green Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes

Healthy eating starts with fresh, seasonal produce, preferably from your local farmers market.

Years ago when I started my column at Synapse and began advocating seasonal vegetables as the best path to health, one of the most common questions I got was, “How do I know what’s in season?”

In response to this I wrote my first Farmers Market Update, and this has become one of the cornerstones of Summer Tomato.

There are many reasons I write these updates every week, but occasionally it is important to step back and make sure my objectives are met with each post.

Here are the main goals I aim to achieve with my Farmers Market Updates:

Education

As mentioned above, I hope that by reading these Farmers Market Updates you will get a feel for what is in season. Even if you are shopping at your local supermarket, seasonal produce is your best bet.

Follow along to get a general idea of what you should be eating this time of year.

Inspiration

For me just seeing the beautiful vegetables, fruit and other goodies at the farmers market makes me want to spend the rest of the weekend in the kitchen–and I’m not exactly the domestic type. With Farmers Market Updates I hope to inspire you to find your own local markets and look for the best seasonal produce you can find.

Going to the farmers market is by far the best part of my week and I wish you could all experience it with me. I realize not everyone has the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market to wake up to on Saturday mornings, but your own farmers market is still better than anything you will find at a big chain store.

There is nothing like spending a little time with the local farmers that grow the food you eat. Every meal you prepare with these ingredients is special, even if it isn’t exotic.

Demonstration

I’m the first to admit that cooking can be scary and the thought of it overwhelming. Most of us were never taught how to use a stove, let alone poach an egg. But we are extremely proficient at using Google to help us figure things out, right?

Cooking is no exception.

I make a point of finding things at my farmers market that I do not know how to cook. Why? Because exploring new foods is one of the most important things in making healthy eating fun and enjoyable. You can even rediscover foods you think you don’t like by buying them at the height of season and learning to cook them properly.

I promise, liking things is more fun than not liking things 😀

I try to convey this sense of adventure in my Farmers Market Updates. This week, for example, I bought all the flavors I associate with Thai food even though I do not have a specific recipe in mind. I also purchased some lemon cucumbers simply because they looked cool.

You do not need to know how to cook something before you buy it. Vegetables are cheap, just get what looks good and figure the rest out later. Email me if you need suggestions!

———-

Farmers Market Update

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Brown Turkey Figs

Brown Turkey Figs

Summer officially started this week in San Francisco (according to me). With melons and figs popping up all over the place, there is no way I can keep sitting here and telling you it is springtime.

Woohoo!

Thai Basil

Thai Basil

Purple & White Peppers

Purple & White Peppers

Summer tomatoes are already fabulous, summer squash are as sweet as can be (especially the yellow Zephyrs!) and who knew there were so many kinds of cucumber? Green garlic has morphed into the bulbous “fresh garlic.” Green beans are starting to appear and there are 2 kinds of basil. Not one, but two!

Darya is happy.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Fresh Garlic

Fresh Garlic

Check out my first Farmers Market Update video from my new apartment. It is just under 3 minutes.

Today’s Purchases:

What did you find at the market this week?

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