Roasted Tomatoes with Rosemary and Peanuts

22 Sep

I know this recipe might sound quirky… but it’s probably because it was “invented” by one of my quirkiest friends, Yanelis.  While we were in Paraguay, we were assigned a different day to lead the kitchen and design a menu for all of us who were traveling together.  This was one of Yanelis’ creations on his menu…

This dish was so popular that Yanelis actually made it 3 times…  well the third time I actually was the one who made them, using macadamia nuts instead of the peanuts.  And to be honest, I like them both (but maybe a little bit more the macadamia version)…

This is easy and delicious and will impress anyone when served at a table.  I usually plan for 2-3 tomato halves per person.  Or maybe 2 whole tomatoes per person so you make sure there’s enough for all.  I know I served myself seconds each and every time we made these.  Check them out.

Roasted Tomatoes with Peanuts and Rosemary

ROASTED TOMATOES WITH ROSEMARY AND PEANUTS

8-10 Roma tomatoes  – make sure they’re organic, without wax on the outside
¼ cup honey
¼ cup water
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs dried rosemary
½ cup raw peanuts
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
 
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400F.
  2. Half all the tomatoes and take off a very thin piece off the “bottom” of each tomato half, to make sure they stand and do not topple on top of each other when they’re roasting.  Place in a roasting dish cut side up one next to the other.
  3. Season tomatoes liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Sprinkle dried rosemary on top of tomatoes.
  4. In a large measuring cup measure the oil, honey and water.  Whisk well to combine and drizzle over the tomato halves.
  5. Roast in oven for about 45-60 minutes.  The tomatoes will cook, but maintain their shape.

 

Serve was a simple but tasty side dish…  I just liked them on top of whole grain rice and a salad.

Roasted Tomatoes with Rosemary, Honey and Macadamia Nuts

Roasted Tomatoes with Rosemary Honey and Macadamia Nuts

 

Pasta with Marinated Tomato Arugula Salad

15 Sep

This is my attempt to update one of my classic go-to recipes, Pasta with Marinated Tomatoes.

Lately I’ve been splurging on all the different varieties of tomatoes available in the market so I mix the best, most colorful tomatoes I can find and marinate them with arugula and even sometimes baby fresh spinach to make for a great un cooked, wilted salad pasta that’s a whole meal in one bowl.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do…

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PASTA WITH MARINATED TOMATO ARUGULA SALAD

2-3 cups of tomatoes – cherry, grape, zebra, any kind of tomato you prefer…
3 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
6-8 fresh basil leaves or 1 tbs freeze-fried basil leaves
3-4 handfuls of baby arugula or baby spinach – or a combination of the two – somewhat chopped
2 ounces of goat cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
3 cups of dried pasta – I use quinoa penne pasta, and the amount should be enough for 4 people

 

  1. In a large bowl, add the tomatoes either halved or quartered, depending on their original size.  I halve the small ones and quarter the larger ones.  Add the smashed garlic cloves, drizzle olive oil and season with salt, pepper and basil leaves.  Mix well to combine.  Add the arugula leaves and toss again.  The olive oil and juices of tomatoes will wilt the arugula a bit… that’s our goal.

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2.  While the tomatoes and arugula marinate and wilt, cook the pasta according to the packages direction.  Remember to salt the water well before adding the pasta to the water.

3.  Toss the tomatoes and arugula once in while the pasta cooks… it should take about 10-12 minutes.  I usually turn the stove off after 12 minutes, cover the pot and leave it covered for about 5 minutes more.  The pasta will turn out perfect every time and you save 5 minutes of electricity each time you make pasta…

4.  When pasta is done to your liking, drain the water saving a bit of pasta water.  I usually just don’t drain it completely… and leave some water in the bottom of the pot.  Return the pasta to the pot you cooked it in.

5.  Remove the garlic cloves from the marinated tomatoes/arugula mixture and add it to the pasta.  Toss well to combine.  Add the goat cheese in small pieces to help it melt with the heat of the pasta and pot.  Season with grated parmesan cheese and a small drizzle of olive oil, if you prefer…

 

To me this is one of the most satisfying lunches… and it’s great to eat on the days when I train.  It has complex carbs and delicious veggies with some protein from the quinoa pasta and cheeses.  Mmmmmmm…  I might make myself this today again.

Cocina Abierta new vegetarian menu in Condado

12 Sep

I’ve told you about Cocina Abierta… a super cool restaurant owned by a former neighbor of mine, Martin Louzao. Martin is an awesome chef, one with a former vegetarian girlfriend. I would like to think that based on her insistence or my insistence on her asking if several of their dishes were truly vegetarian, that he decided to create a Vegetarian Menu in his new location in Condado.

Cocina Abierta is not a vegetarían restaurant… we still have a great opportunity for Vegetarian Fine Dining in Puerto Rico. But Martin has certainly captured my attention developing new dishes and adapting several true and tried favorites to create a vegetarian tasting menu fit for celebrations, to take vegetarian friends when they travel to Puerto Rico and when you want to enjoy truly good cooking overall.

If you ignore the smells of grilled steaks coming from the kitchen… you will find Cocina Abierta has a great ambiance and atmosphere. Their menu is divided into ACTS, like a play, but we only ordered from the Vegetarian side concert. I took my friend Andrew, who was visiting Puerto Rico for work. Aside from the Yoga Center cooking, he had not had the chance to experience fine dining in Puerto Rico.

We ordered:

Baby Arugula Salad with Almond-Stuffed Dates and Caramelized Onions

Cocina Abierta - Vegetarian Menu Salad

Eggplant Mignon over a bed of Curried Couscous

Eggplant Vegetarian Dish

Ricotta Gnocchi with Blue Cheese and Arugula

Cocina Abierta Vegetarian Menu

Gelatos – Salted Caramel and Strawberry Flavors

Cocina Abierta Vegetrian Menu

OMG!!!!   What an awesome experience we had!!! We shared everything because we wanted to taste as many things we could… I would have ordered another salad just for me… not because the serving was small, but because it was so delicious.

The Eggplant Mignon is something I would rarely order in a restaurant, yet I was very surprised to taste the flavors of India in a very refined manner, suitable for the Western taste buds. I am not too fond of Indian cooking and I enjoyed this very much…

The gnocchi are so rich and delicious… it was a good thing we shared. Because if not, I would have eaten the whole thing by myself and would have been counting the amount of calories for days.

The gelatos were spectacular, in particular the salted caramel one… with pieces of caramel inside. It was heaven on a plate. I may just go back and sit at their Dessert Bar just to have the salted caramel ice cream. Move over Mango Sorbet from Hagen Dasz, there’s a new frozen dessert in town!!!

I want to thank Martin and the whole Cocina Abierta team for a wonderful evening… our waitress Mari Carmen was a joy and made our dining experience all the better. When you have someone serving you who’s super excited about the food… it gets you excited too. We were very happy and Andrew even mentioned he might return again when his next business trip takes him back to San Juan.

I am glad I have an alternative to offer friends and people who ask on tour FB page – “Where can I eat in PR if I am vegetarian???” There’s no need to suffer or put your lifestyle aside if you’re traveling to Puerto Rico.

Why am I a Vegetarian??

10 Sep

This is a post for all you readers who live in Puerto Rico…

This Sunday, September 14 the Centro Cultural Yoga Devanand is celebrating one of its signature Vegetarian Dishes Festivals…   presenting over 10 different vegetarian dishes completely karma-free to show how delicious vegetarian lifestyle can be. Kinda like the same thing I try to do here in KarmaFree Cooking.

Fest Platos Veg Sept 1A

 

The activity will start at 10:30AM with the Ofrenda de Amor, where we give God or the Supreme Being (however you prefer to call the higher power) in gratitude for all the blessings we receive each day.  It’s a practice taught at the Centro Yoga Devanand since its inception over 30 years ago, teaching how to be grateful without asking anything in return.  Afterwards, there will be a 30-min group meditation, followed by the short lecture “Why am I Vegetarian?” given by a group of Yoga Center members who will share their reasons and journey within the vegetarian diet and lifestyle.  It’ll be fun because you’ll be able to ask them anything you have on your mind about living as a full-time vegetarian in Puerto Rico.

To close out the activity, the greatest vegetarian buffet ever!!!!  With 10+ vegetarian dishes to choose from… or not to choose from, because certainly you can eat a little bit of everything – from salads and soups to natural juices and several desserts too!!  The donation for the activity is $15, which is much more economical than going out for lunch at any restaurant in San Juan.

I am planning to donate one of the dishes for the buffet… I am still deciding on what to make.    So if you would like to taste delicious vegetarian fare and meet me in person in the process, go by Centro Cultural Devanand on Sunday and you’ll be certain to have a great time with all of us.

If you need any additional information, please write me right here in the comments section or you can call the Centro Cultural Devanand at 787-273-0236.  And if you’re on Facebook, please click on GOING at the event page.  Hope to see you there!!!

Make My Food Famous – a new culinary competition featuring Puerto Rican hostess, Monti Carlo

29 Aug

Monti from MasterChef Season 3 fame is at it again in the kitchen… this time she’s helping other home cooks, just like herself, to get their signature dishes be part of a Michelin-starred restaurant menu.

Make my Food Famous

In the new show Make my Food Famous, Monti hosts and judges 3 home cooks get their food be part of the menu at David LeFavre restaurant, MB Post… in Manhattan Beach, California.  This is a BIG DEAL…  for Monti herself and the 3 home cooks participating.

MB Post Collage

Photos courtesy of MB Post Restaurant http://www.eatmbpost.com

Monti, a fellow Puerto Rican, a self-proclaimed home cook who made her living as a radio-show host came to fame because of her culinary talent in a TV show and now she gets to provide support and advice to these aspiring home cooks.  “Working in a commercial kitchen is NOT the same as working in your own home space.  I’m there to provide these people some support – because it can be really emotional and tough to be fighting for your dream.” candidly shares Monti.

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According to Monti, “This is a very rewarding process for all these home cooks.  Win it or not, all these people will have a much better idea of what they want and how to get there.” And Monti knows a little about how to fight for her dreams because after her participation on MasterChef Season 3, she came home to an eviction notice and little planning on what to do next.  But the Universe works in mysterious ways and now she’s back on TV with a series on the FYI network.

I asked Monti if someone vegetarian competing with a vegetarian dish would have a chance to win in Make my Food Famous and she gave me a resounding YES!!!!  Even though she’s not a vegetarian, she knows and believes a great dish can be vegetable-based.  For the last few months, Monti has also worked at Roy Choi’s new roof-top greenhouse restaurant, Commisary.  “If the work and thoughtfulness is put on a dish, any vegetable or fruit can certainly be the star.” says Monti with pride.  This new vegetable and fruit based restaurant is so popular that recently well-known vegan Natalie Portman and also singer John Mayer have been among its celebrity guests.

Commisary - Roy Choi

Photo courtesy of Commissary Restaurant

Make My Food Famous premieres on the FYI network this Sunday, August 31 @ 10PM.  Stay tuned to see if maybe one day I can try to make some of my signatures dishes into one of these vegetable-based restaurants too.  I am throwing that out into the Universe…

In the meantime, I wish Monti all the success in the world and to celebrate her new show I asked her what was the foods she missed most from our Puerto Rico and she mentioned quenepas, dulces de coco, pan sobao and chicharrones. I am not sure if I support the chicharrones part, but Monti, stay tuned to the mailbox because you may receive a nice little surprise in the mail – a care package courtesy of KarmaFree Cooking.

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