Friday, February 4, 2011

Tomatoes and Garlic and Capers, Oh My!

Hi friends! I have been gone from the cooking and blogging realm for far too long (a fact I am painfully aware of!), but I am very excited to be jumping back in. For those that don’t already know, I have been hard at work on a new sort of baking project for the past few months- and it’s not a Sourdough starter... Yes, that’s right, I’m working on a baby!

Oh, hey baby!

Kyle and I were over the moon when we found out that we would be expecting our first child in July of this year, and had kept the news on the hush until we made it home to visit family and friends over the holiday season. Now that I am settling comfortably into my second trimester stride, my energy and appetite have both shot back up, and I am looking forward to getting back into the kitchen and working on some tasty ideas that have been bouncing around in my head!

With that news out of the way, let’s get down to the food. You'll have to be kind to me as I get back into the culinary groove, since I have been away for some time, and it usually takes me a little bit to get the creativity flowing again, so bear with me! After a couple of busy months of traveling, visiting friends and family, holidays and intermittent nausea battles, I was very excited to have a little quiet time at home last weekend. With all the traveling and being out of the apartment that we’ve done recently, the fresh produce was pretty much non-existent, so it took a few shopping trips/lists to get the kitchen up and running. For those that don’t live in the area, the weather has been terrible as of late, with weekly snow & ice storms that leave much to be desired, and have me craving warm & comforting food.

While out on one of my re-stocking adventures at the market, I spied veal cutlets on sale and quickly began throwing together ideas in my head. Roasted tomatoes and garlic scream comfort to me (see my opus to their awesomeness here), so I quickly put together a dish in my head that would be simple to make, and had leftovers that could be used again. I was super satisfied with the results, and found it to be equally comforting when used over the veal as well as when tossed with pasta. It’s not a wildly imaginative recipe, but it was a good first step back into cooking for me, and has already left me mulling over more new ideas in my head that should make their way here very soon.

My portions for the tomato “sauce” are for two servings, so if you’re like me and eating solo, you can save the 2nd half to be used for pasta later in the week. If you’re looking to have more leftover tomatoes or looking to feed a slightly larger crowd, you can easily double the amount called for.

Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Capers for Meat & Pasta

For Roasted Tomatoes:

- ½ pint organic grape tomatoes
- 5-6 cloves of garlic, skins intact
- ½ Spanish red onion, sliced thick
- 8 Large oil cured black olives
- 1 Tblspn of capers
- ¼ cup(ish) Good olive oil
- Sea salt & cracked pepper to taste
- 1 Tspn crushed red pepper (optional)
- 6 Fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly lengthwise

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an oven-proof pan or Dutch oven just large enough to hold ingredients, combine tomatoes, garlic, onion, olives and capers, and toss with olive oil until well coated. Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Place pan in oven for 53-50 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to pop, garlic has taken on rich caramel color, and onions have browned.

For Breaded Veal Cutlets (works well for chicken too!):

- Veal cutlets of medium thickness, pounded lightly (1 for each person, depending on size)
- ½ Cup all purpose flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
- 1 Large egg, beaten
- ½ Cup panko bread crumbs seasoned with salt, pepper & a little dried oregano
- 2-4 slices of fresh mozzarella
-Olive oil

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat with a little olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Using the breading “assembly line” technique discussed here, dredge veal cutlets through flour, egg and panko, and place breaded cutlets directly into pre-heated pan (if cooking for more than 2 servings, do this in batches, as over-crowding your pan will cause an uneven distribution of heat, and cutlets will not brown as well). Cook cutlets 4-5 minutes per side, or a bit more depending on thickness, until cooked through and golden brown on the exterior. Remove fully cooked cutlets and place in an oven proof baking dish.

To Assemble:

When tomatoes have fully roasted, remove from oven, switch oven off and turn on broiler to high. Transfer tomato mixture to the same pan used for sautéing veal and lightly sauté tomatoes over medium heat (this will help break up the roasted tomatoes a bit, creating a more saucy texture). While sauce heats, top each cutlet with a few slices of fresh mozzarella, place under broiler and broil until cheese is brown and bubbly. Remove from oven and transfer to serving plate. Spoon tomato mixture over cutlets, and top with fresh basil. Serve with a simple green salad and a loaf of rustic bread for a hearty meal.

Using Leftover Sauce for Pasta:

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Drop in pasta & cook, following package directions. While pasta cooks, heat up leftover sauce in a small skillet, adding a little water, wine or chicken stock to loosen it up a bit. Once pasta has cooked, drop into skillet with sauce and toss to coat. Finish with a little grated or shredded parmesan and fresh basil. If you’ve got some leftover cooked off chicken breast, sausage, or really any protein, dice up and heat in with the sauce- it’s a great addition!