Thursday, August 28, 2014

Slow Roasted Romas and Olive Oil Poached Tuna Salad

This Sunday at at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, you can look forward to a selection of pastured chicken, lamb, and pork cuts from Fair Valley Farm, handcrafted vegan hazelnut cheese from Avellana Creamery, and beautiful fresh cut flower bouquets from Tiger Lily Art CompanyGood Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm will have the following offerings:  

corn on the cob (make corn and tomato salsa for fish tacos)
cantaloupes, peaches, and Italian prune plums (for Zwetschgenkuchen)
Gravenstein apples from SLO farm (make some roasted apple sauce)
lots of tomatoes, including cherries and flats of roams (slow roast, below)
sweet and hot peppers of all kinds peppers (pick up some spicy ones for these lettuce wraps)
eggplants and broccoli (try this roasted eggplant and broccoli salad)
green and yellow beans and potatoes (make a Salade Nicoise, below)
tomatillos (try this slow cooker pork and beans
daikon radish, fennel, and cucumbers (make pickles)
baby beets, carrots, and kohlrabi (try grilled)
crookneck squash, summer squash, and zucchini (grill with falafel)
cabbage (green, red, savoy) (make this Chinese cabbage with vinegar)
radicchio, chard, kale, lettuce, including bagged mix 
garlic and fresh herbs (basil, oregano, sage, thyme) and home-grown lemon grass

Preserves, Beans, and Grains
From Sweet Creek Foods:
Dill Pickles, Chili Dill Pickles, Bread 'N Butter Pickles, Pickle Relish
Blueberry, Strawberry, Blackberry, and Raspberry Fruit Spreads
Enchilada Sauce and Salsa
From SLO Farm: Applesauce
Assorted beans and grains from Camas Country Mill

Be sure to savor the end of summer this Labor Day weekend with a trip to the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market for some pretty tomatoes and flowers, and perhaps a stop at Eugene City Bakery for coffee and treats. Labor Day weekend is also a good time to devote to preserving some of summer's bounty for the winter months ahead.

This past weekend I slow roasted about six pounds of Sweeter Farm roma tomatoes, a project that requires very little effort (halve the tomatoes) but lots of time (10 to 12 hours at 200 degrees C) and is best undertaken overnight, meaning that you awaken to intense tomato fumes and a craving for an English breakfast. These tomatoes can be frozen for addition to pasta sauces, bean or grain salads, pizza, and wintertime BLTs, but we already made major inroads into our stash before I could freeze any of them. They proved to be especially tasty as a bed on which to layer olive oil poached fresh Oregon albacore tuna for a fancy Salade Nicoise. You can't see the roasted tomatoes in the photo below, but they are doing their job infusing the fish with extra flavor from below. I'll be picking up another flat of roma tomatoes this weekend for additional Labor Day projects.

Slow Roasted Roma Tomatoes
about 6 pounds of tomatoes for two large baking sheets 
Wash the tomatoes and slice them in half. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet, spread out the oil over the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle on a generous pinch of salt. You could also scatter over some fresh herbs such as thyme or marjoram and a few whole cloves of garlic. Arrange the roma tomato halves snuggly on the sheet. I arranged them cut side down, which let them stew in the olive oil, but I've also seen recipes that put them cut side up, which would dry them out more and caramelize them a little. I fit about 3 lbs of tomatoes per large baking sheet. Slow roast them at 200 degrees for 10-12 hours. This works well if you do it overnight, although the delicious roasted tomato smells may wake you up early in the morning. Cool them and freeze them in freezer bags for use in salads, pasta dishes, pizzas, BLTs, etc.

Olive Oil Poached Tuna
fresh albacore tuna (about 4 ounces per person)
olive oil
salt and pepper
4 peeled garlic cloves
sprigs of fresh herbs such as thyme and marjoram

Slice the tuna into 1 1/2 inch cutlet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and allow the fish to warm up to room temperature. Arrange the tuna pieces into the smallest saucepan that will hold them in a single layer and then pour over enough olive oil to cover the fish. Add the garlic cloves and herbs, submerging them as well. Bring the oil to a gentle simmer over low heat. You can monitor the temperature of the oil with a kitchen thermometer, and it should not get above 150 degrees. Cook the tuna for about 10 minutes or until desired opacity, then turn off the heat and remove the tuna from the oil. Smash the garlic cloves into the oil and allow to cool. Strain the oil and reserve. This fragrant oil can be refrigerated for a week and used in salad dressing (see below) or in a sauce such as a quick puttanesca made with slow roasted roma tomatoes.

Slow Roasted Romas and Olive Oil Poached Tuna Salad
slow roasted roma tomatoes (recipe above)
olive oil poached tuna (recipe above)
green and yellow beans, trimmed and boiled until just tender (about 4 minutes)
small potatoes boiled until cooked through
lettuce leaves, washed
cherry tomatoes
hard boiled eggs (add to cold water, turn off heat when water boils, let sit 6 minutes, drain)
salt and pepper
1/3 cup strained olive oil from the tuna poaching
3 Tbsp sherry vinegar

On a large platter, arrange a layer of slow roasted roma tomatoes. As soon as the tuna is poached, place it on the layer of roma tomatoes to infuse the flavors. Around the edges of the platter, arrange lettuce leaves, potatoes, beans, and halved hard boiled eggs. Scatter the cherry tomatoes over the tuna. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. When you are ready to serve, whisk together the oil and vinegar and pour most over the perimeter lettuce, beans, and potatoes and a little over the central fish. Enjoy with fresh bread.

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