Tag Archive for Tomatoes

Black Rice with Cilantro

You all have heard about my friend Kayla by now. She’s my taste-tester friend (and an amazing local jazz singer) who I also work out with. On occasion, we will go for a run and then treat ourselves to the most incredible lunch in Atlanta at Breadwinner Cafe. Any time we eat there, Kayla orders their black rice salad. I had never seen or heard of black rice before Breadwinner.  Eventually, she convinced me to try the black rice salad and I have to say that it was AH-MAZING!!! Since I’m always looking a cooking challenge, I decided to try and make black rice with cilantro. It is by no means a substitute to Breadwinner’s black rice salad, but it’s an amazing dish you can make at home!

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 10 min; Cook Time –  30 min. 


1 c. black rice

3 roma tomatoes, diced 

2 fresh jalapeños, diced

1 avocado, cut into cubes

1 bunch fresh cilantro

4 limes

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. salt

Preparing Black Rice with Cilantro:

Cook the rice according to directions. While the rice is cooking, dice your tomatoes, jalapeños, and cut your avocado. Put them in a bowl. Add fresh cilantro (no set quantity on this, it’s all about taste), the juice of 4 limes. Add the cooked rice, cumin and salt. Mix well. Chill. 

Spicy Black Rice


Feta Cheese Salad

Feta Cheese Salad

Feta Cheese Salad is another recipe from Olives, Lemon and Za’atar. This is definitely a dish that is right up my alley! It’s a great compliment to any piece of chicken or lamb. Lay off the onions if you don’t like them…it won’t mess too much with the overall flavor of the dish. 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 15 min.


1 pound of feta cheese, cut into 1/2 in. cubes (please splurge on GOOD feta for this)

8 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 c. fresh oregano, chopped

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 1/2 lemons or to taste

Sea salt to taste

1 smal red onion, sliced into thin rings, optional

Preparing Feta Cheese Salad:

In a medium serving bowl, combine the feta and tomatoes with oregano and red pepper flakes. Stir in oil, lemon juice and salt. Gently toss to combine. Taste and adjust the lemon juice, oil and salt to taste. 

Feta Cheese Salad

Important Tips:

If you are buying crumbled feta in a plastic container, make another dish. In order for this to be as good as it is supposed to be, you really need some GOOD QUALITY feta! It’s worth it. I promise. 

Meal Ideas:

The options for feta cheese salad are endless. A few of my favorite ideas are 1) as a side dish to chicken kabobs 2) in a piece of warm pita bread 3) over lettuce to make a more “traditional” salad and topped with chicken kabobs…this is actually the best way, in my opinion!


Roasted Tomato and Tarragon Soup

Martha Stewart's Roasted Tomato and Tarragon Soup

As you can tell from the last couple of weeks, I’m trying to make a new soup at least once a week. It’s cold and soup warms you quickly from inside out. As I was looking at recipes, I found Martha Stewart’s Roasted Tomato and Tarragon Soup and decided to give it a try. I’ve never been a huge fan of tomato soup because I’ve always thought it was too thin. This was actually the prefect consistency! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 15 min; Cook Time – 90 min.


4 pounds plum tomatoes, halved
2 medium yellow onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more for thinning
2 tablespoons fresh chopped tarragon

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Emersion Blender

Preparing Roasted Tomato and Tarragon Soup:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss together tomatoes, onions, garlic and oil; season with salt and pepper.

Arrange vegetables in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.

Martha Stewart's Roasted Tomato and Tarragon Soup

Bake until tomatoes are deep brown in spots and onions are soft, 45 minutes.
Transfer vegetables and all juices to a large dutch oven or heavy pot. Add chicken broth and bring to a rapid simmer.

Martha Stewart's Roasted Tomato and Tarragon Soup

Cook until slightly reduced, about 25 minutes.
Using an emersion blender, puree until smooth. (If you don’t have an emersion blender, working in batches, puree in a blender and return to pot).

Martha Stewart's Roasted Tomato and Tarragon Soup

Stir in tarragon and season with salt and pepper. If necessary thin with additional chicken broth. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

Martha Stewart's Roasted Tomato and Tarragon Soup

Meal Ideas:

This soup is delicious on it’s own, but I’m not going to lie…a nice toasty grilled cheese is a great compliment!


Lentil Soup with Fresh Herbs

Lentil Soup with Tarragon and Thyme

Lentil soup with fresh herbs is the kind of thing that you eat and you think to yourself “I am eating a bowl full of health.” There is no guilt in this soup whatsoever and it is absolutely amazing. Of course, you do need to like lentils otherwise this soup isn’t for you! If you’re not into kale or leafy greens, just don’t add that ingredient…the soup will still be delicious without it! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 15 min; Cook Time – 1 hour


1 T. olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 T. fresh tarragon, chopped

1 T. fresh oregano, chopped

1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped

1 tsp. sweet paprika

5 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

7 c. vegetable broth

2 c. lentils

2 bay leaves

2 c. kale, torn into bite sized pieces (or other leafy green of your choice)

 1 1/2 tsp. salt

Fresh ground pepper

Preparing Lentil Soup with Fresh Herbs:

Preheat a large pot over medium heat and add oil.

Lentil Soup with Tarragon and Thyme

Sauté the onion and carrots for about 8-10 minutes or until onions have browned. Add the garlic, tarragon, thyme, oregano and paprika.  Sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the vegetable broth, lentils, bay leaves, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 45 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Discard bay leaves. Stir in kale until it wilts. 

Lentil Soup with Tarragon and Thyme

Important Tips:

Fresh herbs really are the key to this soup. It will be good, but not amazing with dried ones. 

Roasted Okra and Tomatoes

Roasted Okra and Tomatoes

Like a true Southerner, I love okra! A friend of mine (other than Melissa) has a beautiful garden. The other day, she gave me a bunch of okra and tomatoes. She had told me that she recently made stewed okra and tomatoes for her husband and it was delicious. Fast forward a couple of days…the kids are starving when they get home from school, and I had about an hour to get them fed, make sure homework was done, and out the door to volleyball practice. I wanted a little something to eat, but not what I was making the family. I looked at the fresh produce sitting in my basket and thought, “Let me try roasted okra and tomatoes!” This dish really could not have been easier to make or more delicious to eat!!

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 5 minutes; Cook Time – 20 minutes


Fresh Okra, desired amount, cut in half lengthwise

1-2 plum tomatoes, diced

Olive Oil

Slavo Salt, or you favorite seasoning salt

Preparing Roasted Okra and Tomatoes:

Preheat oven to 425 Degrees. Put okra in a large mixing bowl. Add just enough olive oil to coat the okra and add a few shakes of Slavo Salt. Mix well and put on baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, put the tomatoes in a small mixing bowl. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the tomatoes and add a bit of Slavo Salt. Mix well. Add the tomatoes to the okra and roast for 5 minutes. That’s all!!! 

Important Tips:

Make sure you don’t cook the tomatoes and the okra together the whole time. If you do, the tomatoes will be very mushy and watery!



Corn, Tomato and Zucchini Salad

When you are cooking a lot of heavy food for a meal, it is nice to have something light that also tastes really good. For the 4th of July, I was cooking a lot of BBQ. I had both BBQ ribs and pulled pork and both of those are pretty fatty and really heavy. Add baked beans and mac ‘n’ cheese and everyone is going to feel so full they won’t enjoy the rest of the evening. So, lighten’ it up!

Here is a great and simple salad using fresh from the garden ingredients.

Level of Difficulty:Easy
Time Required:Prep Time – 30min

Ingredients for 8-10 people:

5 ears of corn

1 pint of grape tomatoes, cut in half

1 large zucchini, diced

Juice of 3 limes

3 T Olive oil

1/2 red onion, finely diced

2 jalapenos, finely diced

salt, pepper, chili powder, cayenne to your taste

Preparing Corn, Tomato and Zucchini Salad:

Cut the corn off the cob and place in a small pot with about 1/2 cup of water. Place on high and stir a couple of times until the corn turns a bright yellow, maybe 4-5 minutes. Remove, drain and let cool.

While that is cooling, cut your tomatoes, zucchini and jalapenos. You can then juice your limes, add the olive oil and spices. Add in the corn and stir together. Give it a taste and add spices to meet your liking but remember that cayenne usually gets hotter after it has a chance to blend.

Serve cold with all your favorite summertime meals. Delicious!

cold picnic salad


I varied this from a Food Network recipe I saw that called for cucumber. I did not have any cucumber so I added the zucchini instead. I think it tasted better but nothing wrong with cucumber!

Tomato Bacon Bites – Mini BLT Explosions

mini BLT appetizer

For Baconfest The Sequel, Denise asked me to do some items on the ‘lighter’ side just in case everything was uber bacon heavy. I opted for a traditional spinach salad with hot bacon vinaigrette and these little tomato bacon bites. I don’t know what they should be called but I usually describe them as mini-BLT explosions in your mouth, even if there is no ‘L’.

These things are always a hit but I will admit…they are a complete pain in the A#* to make. The key is to make them for a small crowd. I’ve done them twice. Once for 70 people and this time for about 30 people. This is great if you do for less than 10. Count on at least 4 tomatoes per person so do the math and you’ll quickly understand why they are a pain but oh so good!!

Level of Difficulty:Difficult (just because of time)
Time Required:Prep Time – depends on how many; Cook Time – 15 minutes

Ingredients for 10 people:

1/2 pound of bacon

40 grape or small cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

2 T horseradish

2 T chopped chives plus more for garnishing 

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Patience….that’s it. See if you can find a can on Amazon. Good luck.

Preparing Tomato Bacon Bites:

Cook the bacon and try not to eat any of it. I always cook a pound of bacon when I’m cooking it because I have no will power over fried pork belly….another one of my ‘issues’.

bacon and tomato

Now for the fun part. Make a teeny tiny cut to remove the top and the bottom of the grape tomato. You will use the top cut to remove the insides for stuffing and the bottom so that it stands up.

mini BLT

Then, using a small knife or some kitchen gadget of your choice, cut the insides of the tomato out. You are not trying to hollow out the entire thing, just enough room to stuff it with a bit of the bacon filling. I usually squeeze a bit to help get the seeds and tomato water out.

tomato bacon bites

Turn the tomatoes upside down on a towel as you complete them to let them drain. You don’t want all the tomato water in your bite.

mini BLT

After all the tomatoes are hollowed out and are drying, you can mix the filling together. Take your cooked bacon and chop it relatively fine (it has to fit in that little hole). Place in a bowl and add the mayo and Greek yogurt and horseradish and chives. Stir and give it a taste. Add more horseradish or salt and pepper if needed. You can even add a shake or two of hot sauce.

Now, use a small spoon and try to stuff the mixture in the tomatoes. Set on a platter and add some chives for garnish.

bacon tomato bites