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FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD: Soup is the new juice, BPA-free plastics still dangerous, and how to lose 160 lbs without dieting

by | Feb 5, 2016
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. 

This week soup is the new juice, BPA-free plastics still dangerous, and how to lose 160 lbs without dieting.

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.

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Foodist Approved: Grain-Free Tabouleh Salad

by | Jan 14, 2015
grain-free tabouleh

grain-free tabouleh

This grainless variation of a Lebanese classic was specially requested by Darya’s husband, Kevin. Kevin came across a tabouleh salad made with cauliflower instead of bulgur while on a work trip and has been craving it ever since.

Because just about everyone can benefit from more veggies and many of us are sensitive to grains, it seemed like a genius substitution.

I love how much the roasted cauliflower resembles couscous once pulsed a couple times in the food processor, only sweeter and fluffier. A definite keeper!

Tomatoes in the wintertime remind me of soggy cardboard—flavorless and mealy—so I used reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes. Of course come summertime, feel free to swap back in fresh cherry tomatoes.

Thanks for the inspiration, Kevin!

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How To Make Cauliflower Taste As Good As French Fries: Roasted Curried Cauliflower

by | Jul 30, 2012
Roasted Curried Cauliflower

Roasted Curried Cauliflower

I’ve resisted publishing this recipe for months because I was worried it was too simple for an entire blog post. But every time I cook it for someone (which I do all the time because it is so easy and delicious) they ask me for the recipe so they can try it themselves. Now I can just send them a link 🙂

What’s weird is that this is just roasted cauliflower, it couldn’t sound any less glamorous. But for some reason roasting cauliflower completely transforms it from a vegetable people are pretty sure they don’t like into something they just can’t get enough of.

The coolest part of all is that anyone (like ANY anyone) can make this. I like to add curry powder to mine, but you can play around with whatever spices you like, or just make it plain. The trick is to use a very hot oven, around 450-500 degrees. Covering the cauliflower for the first 15 minutes steam cooks it. Then when you remove the foil the high heat browns and caramelizes it, giving the cauliflower a slightly crisp texture and complex flavor that is irresistible.

It still freaks me out how good this recipe is.

Roasted Curried Cauliflower Recipe

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large cauliflower (or several small ones), ~2 lbs
  • Curry powder
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Break cauliflower into medium-small florets and place into large bowl or baking pan. Be sure the pieces are as evenly sized as possible, or they will cook unevenly. The smaller you make the pieces, the quicker they will cook and the more caramelized they will become, which I consider a good thing.

Drizzle cauliflower pieces generously with olive oil and season well with salt and curry powder. Distribute evenly in a single layer at the bottom of a baking pan. If necessary, use a second baking pan to be sure the pieces aren’t too crowded.

Cover the pans with foil and place into the oven. Roast, covered for 10-15 minutes. The cauliflower should be slightly soft and start looking translucent. If not replace foil and cook another 5 minutes.

When the cauliflower has finished steaming, remove the foil and toss with tongs. Continue to roast, stirring every 8-10 minutes until the tips of the cauliflower begin to brown and become crisp as pictured. Approximately 30-35 minutes.

Adjust salt to taste (you will probably need another sprinkle) and serve.

Have you ever tried roasted cauliflower?

Originally published July 21, 2010, and is widely considered my best recipe of all time.

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Farmers Market Update: January in San Francisco

by | Jan 29, 2012
Romanesco

Romanesco

January in San Francisco is apparently a zillion times nicer than summer. Sure we had some rain last week, but it was so warm, clear and beautiful today I actually went to the market in a summer dress. After last year’s summer of fog, this is was glorious.

Bay Bridge

Bay Bridge

I don’t know if this is global warming or what. It’s certainly strange to see tulips, usually a hallmark of spring that appears in early April or late March, on the last weekend in January. Hard to complain though.

Tulips in January

Tulips in January

Despite the sun, most of the produce is still fairly wintery. One of the reasons I love this time of year is that brassica vegetables (the leafy greens) are so delicious now that eating lots of them is an absolute joy.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

I can’t get enough kale, broccoli, and cauliflower. This weekend we got a bunch of cabbage, daikon and carrots to make a big batch of healthy, probiotics-filled sauerkraut.

Leeks, Cabbage and Daikon

Leeks, Cabbage and Daikon

And speaking of carrots, they and other root vegetables like turnips and radishes are as sweet as can be. My puppy Toaster has learned to prefer these amazing farmers market carrots (yes my dog loves vegetables, go figure) and will actually turn his nose up at the ones I get at Whole Foods. Such a snob!

Colorful Carrots

Colorful Carrots

It’s also a great time for fennel.

Fennel

Fennel

For those of you still obsessed with my winter squash recipe, unfortunately they’re getting harder to find. That is, unless you prefer delicata the size of a watermelon.

Organic Winter Squash

Organic Winter Squash

All in all it was a lovely day. Happy winter!

Yellow Oyster Mushrooms

Yellow Oyster Mushrooms

Today’s purchases (~$20):

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Farmers Market Update: Autumn

by | Oct 16, 2011
Winter Squash

Winter Squash

Alright Mother Nature, you win. It’s autumn now and I’ll accept it, even if San Francisco only had about five days over 80 degrees this year. I don’t need summer when I have produce like this.

Thompson Grapes

Thompson Grapes

Bring on your autumn grapes. Grapes have never been my favorite fruit, but they are so sweet and crispy this year I can’t resist them. I like wine too, and harvest is soon. Grapes are ok with me.

Flame Grapes

Flame Grapes

I’ll take your apples too. These heirloom varietals don’t taste anything like the overly sweet fujis I grew up with. These apples remind me of what I’ve always wished apples tasted like whenever I have apple cider.

Autumn Apples

Autumn Apples

And these little wickson apples, the size of golf balls, are as complex as a glass of wine.

Wickson Apples

Wickson Apples

Of course I don’t mind the sweet white pomegranates, with their pink seeds and delicate flavor. They aren’t as sour as the red ones are this early in the season, and the seeds aren’t nearly as tough and woody.

White Pomegranates

White Pomegranates

I finally gave in and got some brussels sprouts too. Sure I used to hate them, but once I learned the secret to cooking these little guys they became a welcome guest on my dinner plate. I’m especially fond of the smaller sprouts like the ones I found today, because they are almost never bitter.

Early Brussels Sprouts

Early Brussels Sprouts

With Halloween approaching not even the winter squash offend me, but these days I eat them instead of carve them.

Sugar Pie Pumpkins

Sugar Pie Pumpkins

Yes I’ll miss summer—or at least the idea of it. I’ll miss the peaches and plums.

Peaches

Peaches

I’ll revel in the last of the figs and melons.

Brown Turkey Figs

Brown Turkey Figs

Maybe if I’m lucky you’ll give me a few more weeks of eggplant.

White Eggplant

White Eggplant

Perhaps the sweet peppers will last until my birthday next month.

Sweet Peppers

Sweet Peppers

Or maybe the spicy ones will?

Hot Peppers

Hot Peppers

What always breaks my heart most is the tomatoes. I can live a few months without strawberries, but the tomatoes really get me. Everything is better with a dry-farmed early girl tomato on it. It will be hard to see them go.

Organic Cherry Tomatoes

Organic Cherry Tomatoes

But I love my cauliflower. (Pretty much everyone loves my cauliflower). And it will keep me company as fall rolls in and winter approaches.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

I’ll embrace your root vegetables as they sweeten in the cold.

Beets and Carrots

Beets and Carrots

I’ll give you some time on the persimmons though, I don’t think they’re quite ready yet.

Hachiya Persimmons

Hachiya Persimmons

Today’s purchases (~$40):

  • Heirloom kabocha squash
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Red Russian kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Wickson apples
  • Daikon
  • Ginger root
  • Garlic
  • Dahlias

Is your farmers market still running?

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Farmers Market Update: Thanksgiving Leftovers

by | Nov 28, 2010
Romanesco and Sweet Potatoes

Romanesco and Sweet Potatoes

Is Thanksgiving the official end of autumn? Because it sure feels like it.

The farmers market felt very different today than it did just a few weeks ago. Most of lingering summer vendors have finally packed up their wares for the winter. The only autumn fruits left are apples, persimmons, pears, quince and a few grapes. Luckily, citrus is poised to jump right into its place.

Fuyu Persimmons

Fuyu Persimmons

Hachiya Persimmons

Hachiya Persimmons

Naturally the weekend after Thanksgiving few people opted to visit the farmers market in the rain. These are my favorite days at the market, since it’s so quiet it is easy to talk to vendors and discover new things. A calm day at the market is a rare and wonderful treat.

Autumn Citrus

Autumn Citrus

There are a few special items available right now that will only be around for a little while. Feijoa, or pineapple guava, are delicious little green fruits that grow locally this time of year. I also found someone selling fresh ginger roots, stems and all.

Ginger Root

Ginger Root

Pineapple Guava

Pineapple Guava

Now is also a great time to get fresh seasonal nuts like walnuts and chestnuts.

Fresh Chestnuts

Fresh Chestnuts

Fresh Walnuts

Fresh Walnuts

One of my favorite things about the approach of winter is all the delicious winter veggies that are on the horizon. Vegetables tend to be overshadowed by the abundance of sweet berries and stone fruits in the summer, but in the winter vegetables are really the stars of the show. The cold stresses the veggies, causing them to condense their flavors and natural sugars.

Pumpkins and Padrons

Pumpkins and Padrons

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

Brassica, also known as cruciferous vegetables, are truly special this time of year. Examples of brassica are broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, etc. Root vegetables (like fennel and potatoes) and winter squash are also awesome right now. I included my favorite cauliflower recipe in this year’s Thanksgiving feast.

Winter Squash

Winter Squash

Fennel

Fennel

In the late fall I’m particularly excited about the Brussels sprouts that you can sometimes find still on the stalk. If you have never liked Brussels sprouts, try giving them another chance this year. Make sure you get very fresh ones (on the stalk if you can find them) from the farmers market, and buy the smallest ones you can find. Then try this recipe for Brussels sprouts with walnuts and bacon and come back and tell me what you think. Even Toaster likes Brussels sprouts.

Toaster With Sprout

Toaster With Sprout

Brussels Sprouts Stalks

Brussels Sprouts Stalks

Last but not least, now is your chance to get Super Mario sized porcini mushrooms. Fresh porcini are a delicacy, and worth experimenting with if you can get your hands on them.

Giant Porcini

Giant Porcini

What are you eating this weekend?

If you would like to share your own local farmers market with Summer Tomato readers please click here.

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: End Of Summer

by | Oct 3, 2010
Bronx Grapes

Bronx Grapes

End of summer is always a confusing time in San Francisco, because it is inevitably the nicest weather we’ve had in the city since early May. For the first time all year we pull out our shorts and sandals, while the rest of the country is whining about humidity and getting their pumpkins ready for halloween. It happens every year.

The local produce plays these tricks on us as well. Right now we’re seeing the best of the summer’s fruits. The peaches are perfect, the melons magnificent, the plums spectacular. And of course we’re now getting perfect summer tomatoes.

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

Perfect Summer Tomatoes

Perfect Summer Tomatoes

Summer vegetables are equally as awesome. The eggplants, peppers, corn and squash are impossible to ignore with their bright colors and lovely aromatics.

Peppers

Peppers

Eggplants and Peppers

Eggplants and Peppers

But the signs of fall are no longer subtle here in San Francisco. Not only are grapes and apples some of the best fruits available this month, but pomegranates and pears are here as well.

First Pomegranates

First Pomegranates

Winter Banana Apples

Winter Banana Apples

We’re also seeing brussels sprouts and winter squash.

Cauliflower and Broccoli

Cauliflower and Broccoli

First Brussels Sprouts

First Brussels Sprouts

Without a doubt this is one of the best times to eat in San Francisco, but it won’t last long. Get it while the gettin’s good.

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: Best Of Spring

by | May 2, 2010

Spring Broccoli

Spring Broccoli

Everything I’ve ever wanted out of springtime I found at the farmers market this weekend. The sun was bright and warm and the produce was lush and colorful. I was in heaven.

Finally the strawberries are sweet and abundant. Pea shoots, shelling peas and sugar snap peas are everywhere. And…(wait for it)…the first pimentos de padrón have arrived!

Pimentos de Padron

Pimentos de Padron

Organic Strawberries

Organic Strawberries

Padróns are small Spanish peppers that are usually cooked briefly in hot olive oil and sprinkled with course sea salt. They aren’t spicy, except when they are. About 1 out of every 10 peppers is blistering hot, so be sure to have a crusty baguette nearby to soothe your mouth if you ever try them. The bread is also useful for sopping up the delicious oil that becomes flavored with the cooked pepper juices. I adore padróns.

The broccoli and cauliflower were particularly nice looking this week. I ended up getting two different kinds of broccoli, but after seeing this picture I regret not bringing home some cauliflower as well.

Gorgeous Cauliflower

Gorgeous Cauliflower

One thing I did get for the first time this week was some baby fava beans. I like the baby ones because they don’t require shelling, the pods are tender enough that you can eat them whole. I like to roast them with garlic, capers, anchovies, kalamata olives and tomatoes. Yum. Just look how tender and fuzzy these little guys are.

Baby Fava Beans

Baby Fava Beans

I’m also excited that we’re starting to see tomatoes and avocados at the market together. Mexican food FTW! The tomatoes are even starting to look pretty good.

Hass Avocado

Hass Avocado

Crazy Tomatoes

Crazy Tomatoes

I made the mistake last week of buying an organic avocado (it had slipped into the bin with conventional avocados and I hadn’t noticed) at my local market only to discover that it somehow tasted even better than regular avocados. I didn’t even think that was possible. Organic avocados are way more expensive, but I’m now forever ruined.

You also shouldn’t miss the fennel, lettuces, leeks, collards, chard and late season citrus.

Spring Citrus

Spring Citrus

Baby Fennel

Baby Fennel

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: First Asparagus!

by | Feb 21, 2010
First Asparagus

First Asparagus

I guess spring is here for real. Behold: asparagus!

And it didn’t come alone.

Every week I’m seeing more spring produce popping up as if it were, um, springtime.

Cardoons

Cardoons

Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads are baby fern shoots that show up at Far West Fungi for a few weeks or so every spring. Cardoons–a unique and unwieldy vegetable–are also a rare seasonal find. Neither of these make my top 5 vegetables list, but they are fun to play around with if you are feeling adventurous.

I admit I’m a little more excited about the artichokes that are appearing everywhere. The past few years I’ve fallen in love with the baby ones, but I enjoy artichokes of all sizes. And it looks like I’m not the only one.

Artichoke Slug

Artichoke Slug

Cauliflower is peaking in season right now and trust me, you don’t want to miss it. Try roasting cauliflower florets at about 450 degrees with a little olive oil, sea salt, curry powder and coriander. Cover it with foil for the first 15 minutes, then remove the foil and let it brown until tender. Stir every 10 minutes or so. So easy and ridiculously tasty.

You can also find cauliflower’s prettier and more delicate cousin, romanesco.

Romanesco

Romanesco

Cauliflowers

Cauliflowers

Eggs are also easier to find at the farmers market this time of year. Right now I am smitten with the ones at Marin Sun Farms. They aren’t cheap, but they will blow you away. And you won’t get Salmonella.

Blood Oranges

Blood Oranges

Marin Sun Farms Eggs

Marin Sun Farms Eggs

The citrus season is also booming. Blood oranges and navels are wonderful right now, while the cute little clementines are almost gone. Also be sure to grab some Meyer lemons to squeeze on your asparagus and artichokes.

And root vegetables are still awesome.

Beautiful Turnips

Beautiful Turnips

Is it becoming springtime at your market?

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: Hints of Spring

by | Jan 31, 2010
Tulips

Tulips

It’s still January, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure it is.

Here in San Francisco we’ve had virtually non-stop rain for the past 2 weeks. Technically this is good since we’ve had a drought, but I think all of us are anxious to move on to more fair weather.

What confuses me though is how this abnormally wet weather explains the early appearance of tulips and cherry blossoms? I have no idea. But they sure are lovely, aren’t they?

First Cherry Blossoms

First Cherry Blossoms

If you’ve been avoiding the farmers market because of the weather, now is the time to start going again. The flowers are blooming, the spring onions are appearing and yes, the sun is peaking out of the clouds today.

In many ways the beginning of spring is the most special time of year. After a long, cold and wet winter there is something magical about the time when life reminds us of its eternal cycle. Baby greens, delicate asparagus and sweet fruits will start appearing over the coming weeks and you definitely want to be there when it happens.

Fennel Bulbs

Fennel Bulbs

Organic Spring Onions

Organic Spring Onions

It’s hard to describe how exciting it is the first day the farmers market explodes with cherries. I can’t get enough of the Olsen Organic clementines right now (seriously, don’t buy them anywhere else), but cherries mark the beginning of a long and delicious season of stone fruits (fruit with pits).

But let’s stop daydreaming.

Blood Orange Slices

Blood Orange Slices

This week the stars of the market are cauliflower, broccoli and citrus. The kale and chard are also amazing. And for good measure I grabbed some Brussels sprouts since the season will be ending soon.

Purple Kohlrabi

Purple Kohlrabi

Organic Cauliflower and Broccoli

Organic Cauliflower & Broccoli

There is also still a beautiful assortment of root vegetables. I wish my photo skills could do justice to these breathtaking purple carrots.

Purple Carrots

Purple Carrots

I spent some time today talking about mushrooms with John Garrone of Far West Fungi. Far West Fungi has the most unique mushrooms and other foraged foods that I’ve found in San Francisco. They also have a farm where they grow mushrooms near Monterey Bay. Definitely visit their shop in the Ferry Building if you ever get the opportunity.

Nameko Mushrooms

Nameko Mushrooms

Mushroom Farm

Mushroom Farm

What did you find at the farmers market this week?

Today’s Purchases:

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