Thursday, 22 September 2011

Tomato soup, grilled cheese pita, and spinach salad



This tomato soup recipe is one I have not had in years; I used to make it when I first moved to Vancouver, back in a time when I had not yet stopped eating meat. I remember eating a lot of chicken fingers and Lipton Sidekicks in those days. I was always so proud of myself when I made this soup though, which quickly became a staple. The recipe comes from a cookbook that I believe I found on a discount sale shelf at the university bookstore called International comfort food. The soup is not fancy but it is so - perfect.

The pita dough used in this recipe was made the day before; I made half of the pitas last night and put the leftover dough in the fridge. When I got home from work today, I took the leftover dough out of the fridge and split it into 4 rounds. While I made the soup, I let the dough warm up on the counter. While the soup was simmering I rolled out the rounds. Below is the pita recipe from start to finish but you can make the dough the night before, let it rise for 30 minutes then cover tightly and place in the fridge overnight.

A final note: you can use any flour combination you want but after making pitas and naan bread on a regular basis I can assure you that the organic whole wheat pastry flour (I find it at Whole Foods) really makes an okay pita taste amazing. So it is worth seeking it out. I have the Chubby Vegetarian to thank for that little baker's secret.



Grilled Cheese Pitas
Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1.5 - 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 - 2 cups mixed cheeses (gouda, parmesan, mozzarella)
  • Fresh basil, thyme and italian parsley
Directions
  1. Dissolve honey and sprinkle yeast onto warm water. Add 2 cups of the flour (1 all purpose, 1 whole wheat pastry) and salt, mix well then slowly keep adding flour and working the dough until you have a smooth sticky ball. Knead for about 8 minutes. 
  2. Let pita dough rise, covered, for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat broiler and place oven rack in middle of oven. 
  4. Divide dough into 8 rounds
  5. Roll out pitas using a lot of excess all purpose flour (depending on how sticky the dough is). 
  6. Cook two pitas, under broiler, for 1 - 2 minutes (under cook). 
  7. Top one pita with cheese, season with salt and herbs (see picture below) then stack a second pita on top. Place back under the broiler for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned.
  8. Cut into wedges and serve with homemade tomato soup (recipe below)
Note: The amount of cheese depends on how many pitas you make; I made 2 sandwiches using about 1.5 cups of cheese.



Tomato soup
Makes about 2 large bowls or 4 small cups of soupIf you are using tomatoes that are not ideally ripe, have thicker skin or lots of seeds you might want to remove the skin and seeds. I usually use roma tomatoes which have more delicate skin and less seeds. Tomatoes on the vine have worked well for me but have more skin and seeds in the final soup.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tomatoes roughly chopped (romas or heirlooms work best)
  • 1/2 medium onion roughly chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp sugar or honey
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh basil, thyme and italian parsley
Directions
  1. Warm oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion, garlic cloves and tomatoes and stir until softened slightly and bubbling.
  2. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes on medium-low heat
  3. When everything is softened (see pictures) take off of heat and let cool
  4. Process until smooth in food processor or blender
  5. Add back to pan, reheat, stir in wine, honey and season with salt and pepper. 
  6. Garnish with fresh herbs and a drizzle of oil; serve with grilled cheese pitas and a simple salad (below).


Strawberry, Goat Cheese and Spinach Salad
Ingredients
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Fig goat cheese
  • Avocado
Balsamic Dressing
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 - 3 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • sprig of thyme 
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions
  1. Shake dressing well in a sealed jar and let flavours meld 
  2. Chop and mix desired amounts of spinach, strawberry, avocado, goat cheese
  3. Drizzle dressing on top of salad just before eating

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