Fiery Onion Relish

March 19, 2013 § 1 Comment

The best things in life aren’t necessarily free. They are unexpected. The sudden burst of sunset as the day’s snowstorm pulls away. The street fair you happen upon while heading on an errand. The new friend you meet just randomly. You didn’t mean it, plan it, expect it—and then there it is and you’re incredibly happy with an unexpected smile. Really, it’s the best.

This recipe is like that. Unexpected and happy and the best. Well, maybe not the best best, but the unexpectedness of it pushes it right up there. It’s one of those recipes you find while you are on your way to something else. In this case I was in search of something new to do with sweet potatoes (I don’t want to burn myself out on Sweet Potato Wontons with Cashew Sauce ala Garum Factory). And while flipping through the pages that Sundays at the Moosewood Restaurant’s index told me to search, I just randomly and unexpectedly happened upon this relishy goodness.

I’m a fan of Moosewood’s sauces and relishes. Their Spicy Eggplant Relish (The New Moosewood Cookbook) is a definite go-to for me, as it their savory onion marmalade (Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites). This particular recipe was in the cookbook’s chapter on India—not a chapter I’d normally hang out in. Nor is something with the word “fiery” in the title a recipe I’d eagerly seek out. But I saw it, and I made it, using it as a condiment for today’s Roasted Eggplant on Whole Wheat Baguette. And it was unexpectedly delicious.

fiery onion relish

fiery onion relish

Fiery Onion Relish (from Sundays at the Moosewood Restaurant)

1 cup minced onion (use sweet onion if you want a mellow onion flavor)
4 tsp. lime or lemon juice (I used lime)
1/2 tsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne
salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir with a fork to mix well. Set aside for 30 minutes before using to blend flavors. The relish is meant to be spicy hot. The more cayenne, the spicier it is. Yields 1 cup and can be refrigerated for several days.

Spicy Tomato Soup

October 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

Normally, if you let produce sit around for awhile, bad things happen. Soft spots. Wilt. Mold. Eyes sprouting. Ooze. Fruit flies. Rot.

Okay, I’ll stop with the grossness.

But sometimes, if you let produce sit around, good things happen. Like what? Like ripeness, for one.

This time of year, you just never really know what’s gonna happen in the garden. And I speak specifically of the summer hangers on—the zucchini and yellow squash, the basil, the peppers, the tomatoes. Especially the tomatoes. Less sun, cooler weather means they take a way long time to ripen on the vine. And the frustrating part is a tomato could be green and happy one day, and then the next day it could be on the ground, fodder for the ants.

So, I pick them up and bring them home. Or I pick them when they’re just turning orangy. Or I pick one or two whenever I visit the garden, which is about twice a week this time of year.

What to do with green tomatoes? Orangy tomatoes? Let them sit on the counter—they’ll ripen. Kinda. Not a nice and juicy vine-ripening experience, but they’ll turn red. Ish.

Spicy tomato soup

The fixins.

colorful tomatoes

It's Tomato Christmas.

colorful tomatoes

Look at that tomato in the middle—it's like the Italian flag.

With a mix of tomatoes in all stages of ripeness, I turn to a recipe from Emeril Lagasse I pulled off the Food Network website. The original calls for pancetta and three different types of hot peppers – jalapeno peppers and Anaheim and pasilla chiles. And, it calls for just green tomatoes.

Is it spicy? Oh yeah, it’s spicy. Feel free to add a dollop of sour cream to cool it down. Me? I like to add a spoonful of pesto. Tomatoes and basil – a perfect match.

Spicy Tomato Soup(this is a double batch)

  • Spicy tomato soup

    Spicy Tomato Soup

    1 Tbs olive oil

  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced thinly
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5-6 hot peppers, whatever type you want to cook with, diced (I used jalapeno and Hungarian wax)
  • 3.5 lbs tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper

-Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Saute onion until just translucent – 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

-Add garlic, bay leaves, garlic, and peppers and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add tomatoes and stock, then adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste. Bring soup to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes or so, until the tomatoes are soft.

-Time to puree!! But remove the bay leaves first!! You can puree in batches in a blender. Or, we have an immersion blender that does a terrific job. Sure, you’ll get a bunch of tomato skins getting kinda caught in the blendery parts. Just remove, or put back into the soup—whatever your preference. If you’ve pureed in batches in a blender, pour the soup into a separate bowl.

-Add the lemon juice. Give it a taste. Spicy? That’s what it’s supposed to be.

Try with a bit of sour cream. Or shaved parm. Or the runny part of your stash of pesto. Be sure you have some crusty bread. You’re gonna want to sop up that goodness.

You know, this would be a great soup to make for the Homegrown Food Challenge. Luke, give this a try—I know you love spicy stuff!

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