Okay, so I’m a little late on the tomato train. We know that in Michigan the peak season for the tomato is August and September, but with October having only just begun, I’m confident you can still round up a few latecomers at your local farmer’s market. The globular bounty pictured below was gleaned almost entirely from southeastern Michigan farms, save for the avocados. So if your appetite for tomatoes has not yet been satisfied, gather an armful of the stuff and try out the sophisticated yet hearty soup and sandwich combo described here (in excessive pictorial detail, of course).
For the tempeh:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers
8 ounces of tempeh, cut into 1/3-inch thick strips
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Whisk together the first five ingredients (I know the adobo sauce is kind of a wild card but I managed to find a can at my tiny, down-the-street grocery store).
Pour 1/3 of the marinade into a baking dish large enough to hold the tempeh in a single layer. Arrange the tempeh strips in the dish and pour the remaining marinade over the top, making sure all surfaces are coated. Cover and keep refrigerated for a couple hours. (Note: I doubled the recipe, thus the excessive amounts of tempeh in the picture.)
For the roasted tomatoes:
3-4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
While the tempeh is marinating, roast the tomatoes. Arrange the tomato slices on a large baking sheet, making sure the sheet is rimmed. Mix together the olive oil, sugar, and salt and pour this mixture over the tomatoes. Gently toss so that all the slices get coated. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or so.
After the tempeh has marinated long enough, heat a large pan over medium-high heat and cook the tempeh slices for a few minutes on each side. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the sandwiches.
To assemble the sandwiches:
romaine lettuce or whatever leafy green you’d like
2 large avocados, mashed
a nice white, sharp cheddar, sliced
8 slices of hearty whole grain bread, toasted
Take one slice of toasted bread and slather with a layer of mashed avocado. From this foundation, build your sandwich with the leafy greens, the tomato slices, the cheese and, of course, the tempeh. Finish the sandwich off with another avocado-slathered bread slice. Thanks to 101cookbooks for this recipe!
roasted eggplant and tomato soup
8-9 round tomatoes, stem point removed, quartered
1/2 lb carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
10 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
2 medium eggplants, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 cup sour cream
a few sprigs of parsley, for garnish
Preheat oven to 425°F.
First, have some nice friends from Boston peel your garlic cloves for you.
On one rimmed baking sheet, toss together tomatoes, carrots, garlic, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread out on the baking sheet in a single layer, with the tomatoes cut sides down.
On another rimmed baking sheet, toss together the eggplant, chickpeas, curry powder, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread out in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Place both sheets in oven (tomato mixture on the top rack). Roast until tender, about 45 minutes, tossing the mixtures halfway through. Smile real big when removing from the oven.
Using tongs, peel off and discard the tomato skins (I struggled with this, but my sister was pretty good at it. Just approach the task with confidence and you should be fine). Purée tomato mixture (including the juices) in a blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large pot. Stir in the eggplant mixture; thin with 3 cups water. Add sour cream.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley if you’re feeling snazzy. Thanks to Simply Recipes for this recipe!
the bonus recipe: yellow sweet potato fries with rosemary
Last Saturday morning, like every Saturday morning, I arrived at the People’s Food Co-op at 5:30AM to begin my day of work. Right on schedule, the Tantre Farm delivery truck pulled in with its freshly harvested treasures. Call it coincidence, call it serendipity, but on this particular morning, the truck was carrying a box of yellow sweet potatoes, a tuber I had previously been unfamiliar with. While stocking the shelves a short while later, my coworker launched into passionate praise of the yellow sweet potato, claiming with complete confidence that this spud cooked up into the best fries.
I couldn’t pass up this (literally) golden opportunity, so I chose five or so appetizing ones and hauled ’em over to Annie and Andrew’s kitchen with the rest of my groceries. Even with my limited experience with sweet potato fry creation, I can testify that my coworker was right. Sliced and sprinkled with oil, rosemary and some dashes of salt, then cooked in the oven on a cookie sheet for 20 or 25 minutes, these taters proved impossible to resist. Plus they made a perfect side dish to the soup and sandwich.
This Sprout Diaries dinner was extra-excellent because it was shared with such fine people. Liz and Patrick joined the core Sprout diners (Annie, Andrew and I) at the table, having driven a very large van from Grand Rapids to Ann Arbor (Patrick’s journey, however, began even further away, in his Massachusetts hometown). Ruth and Brent also joined us, though their travels consisted of only a few blocks. Special thanks to Ruth, Liz, Patrick and Annie for their fantastic sous-chefing!
Both the sandwich and the soup were well-received by the table, with clean plates and full stomachs serving as my proof. The TLT–though somewhat time consuming–was hearty enough to satisfy any carnivore, and the soup was the perfect combination of comfort with a kick. And the fries, oh the fries: those were sinfully delicious. As always, let me know if you give any of the recipes a try, and happy October!