Wednesday, September 16, 2015

VeganMoFo Day 16: Ode to the Tomato (with a supporting role by Mr. Eggplant)

Today's MoFo Prompt: "What's Your favorite late summer food?"
My favorite late summer food - hands down - is the tomato. Tomato Tomato Tomato!! I love tomatoes and everything with tomatoes. Tomatoes are great. I like them raw and cooked. We have a bunch of tomatoes growing in our driveway, and every time I go outside I stop and pick a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes and stuff them all in my mouth. Warm off the vine, with the sticky yellow tomato smell on my fingers... this is late summer perfection for me.

Mr VE&T is also a tomato fan, but his true late summer love is the eggplant. Luckily, these two flavors go very nicely together, just like me and Mr VE&T. As you may have noticed in other MoFo posts this year, we have been eating a lot of tomato + eggplant meals! We just recently had our 3rd wedding anniversary, and - with this MoFo prompt in mind, I made a wonderful eggplant dinner and then a wonderful tomato dinner. Celebrating two nights in a row, because why not? 

First up, the night before our actual anniversary, I made the Eggplant & Bread Crumb Fettuccine from Isa Does It. Big thanks to our friend Alana for remembering Mr. VE&T's love of eggplant and tipping us off to this recipe. Oh MAN it was incredible. I hadn't ever made this recipe before, but we both absolutely loved it. I already had a batch of homemade pasta sauce in the fridge, so this came together quite quickly. Alana suggested we use fettuccine rigate (fettuccine noodles with little ridges for extra sauce-grabbing potential). This dinner was super delicious, very filling, chock full of eggplant & tomatoey goodness, and was a total homerun. An instant new favorite!

giant skillet of eggplant glory

The eggplant for the pasta was sliced thinly and then browned on both sides before being tossed with bread crumbs. The book suggested browning them in a single layer, so that took us about 5 batches... I'm not sure how large Isa's skillet is if she can fit a large eggplant sliced in 1/4-inch half moons into a single layer!! ha ha. No worries, it was an easy work-around and still didn't take long. I'm just showing you this picture so you can see just how much eggplant went into the meal! Plus, how tasty it looks, all mixed up with those breadcrumbs!

Homemade Pico de Gallo Salsa

In the glory of late summer, when my garden is overloaded with deep red, dry-farmed tomatoes bursting with flavor... there are few things easier or more delicious than homemade salsa. Chop a few tomatoes, mince a jalepeno pepper*, mince a clove of garlic, add some chopped cilantro and a generous squeeze of lime juice... and a dash of salt. Perfect! I've made so many batches of salsa in the last couple of weeks, the whole thing takes 5 minutes from start to finish. I made a special anniversary batch for Mr. VE&T on our anniversary. It was quickly obliterated!

* did you know that you can freeze jalepenos? This time of year, when they are abundant at the farmers market, I always buy a whole bunch of peppers and just pop 'em in the freezer whole. Then, all winter long, any time I need a jalepeno, I just get it out of the freezer, run it under tap water for a second to thaw it a little, and then use it as I always would. Actually, I think they are a little easier to work with when they are frozen!

Ready to go in the oven

On the actual night of our anniversary, I made us our special pizzas. I make these pizzas at least once every year, and they are so delicious and so special, and they're something that we both really look forward to. I use the Viccolo Organic Cornmeal Pizza Crusts as the base. SO good. Then I crush a big garlic clove, drizzle on a little of my finest Pascarosa olive oil, and use my fingertips to spread the oil and garlic evenly across the pizza base. Next, I get a giant mound of fresh basil and julienne it very finely. Each crust gets a big handful of julienned basil spread evenly over the garlic+basil. Then, the best part, I love to take the time to carefully arrange cherry tomatoes from our garden into a pretty pattern. I enjoy this kind of process. On the very top is a sprinkle of my fanciest salt from Big Sur.

Out of the oven!

I used to always put the sliced tomatoes with the cut side down, but over time I realized that made the juices pour down and made the crust a bit soggier. So, nowadays, it's cut side up, which has its own beauty. I bake the pizzas for 25 minutes or so, until the crusts are golden and the edges of some of the tomatoes have started to cook.

total seasonal deliciousness

For me, this is pretty much as perfect as food can get. I really don't need anything fancier than this. A few delicious ingredients, at their peak of seasonal perfection, combined in harmony with one another. 

We had even more tomatoes with our dinner - a simple tomato, onion, cucumber, olive salad that was fresh and light and was a night balance with the pizza. 

our anniversary fruit salad & my special roaches-in-love plate

Any late summer produce post deserves a special nod to the glorious fruity bounty this time of year. It is just so abundant and so beautiful. Every thing in this bowl came either from the farmers market or from our own garden. How amazing. We wanted something sweet and special for our anniversary dessert, but we also wanted to feel healthy and summery. So, Mr. VE&T came up with the idea of a giant bowl of fruit salad. What fun! As it turns out it, we kinda went overboard, and it ended up taking us two days to finish this ginormous fruit salad... so actually our celebration went on for a bonus day! That's okay with us!


  1. You two are so sweet! Congratulations on your anniversary :)

  2. Anonymous9:17 AM

    All of this looks incredible, but those pizzas are breathtaking!

    Happy Anniversary!

    - S

  3. Oh my gawd, this all looks so good! I didn't think I was gonna miss summer food all that much, but now I'm not confident in that. Happy anniversary :)

  4. I'm in a monogamous relationship with my garden tomatoes!

    2) Those cockroach plates are the best thing ever!
    3) That pizza looks beautiful and delicious. Been loving my tomato plants this season!
    4) We grow all kinds of peppers — jalapenos, thai chiles, cayenne, ghost, and trinidad scorpion — and we freeze them every year. LOVE how handy it is to grab one from the freezer!

  6. I'd never have thought of freezing chillies! I love the simplicity of that pizza get can imagine the big flavours. Happy anniversary!

  7. eggplant is just so awesome and I love the tomato pizza. Happy anniversary :D

  8. Happy anniversary. :) The pizza looks amazing, so fresh and yummy.
    I LOVE that eggplant pasta dish from Isa Does It, but I remember thinking the same thing about skillet sizes when I was making it.
    Cockroaches deserve love as well.

  9. Happy anniversary Amey and Mr VE&T xx

  10. Happy Anniversary! I love to make that eggplant and breadcrumb fettuccine from Isa Does It, but I like to use zucchini and spaghetti with the same method! Those tomato pies look pretty spectacular!

  11. Anonymous5:25 AM

    Aww so sweet, celebrating love amidst so much bounty! Happy Anniversary :) <3
    and the cockroach plate -love for all!

  12. That pizza is truly beautiful! Happy anniversary!

  13. "my special roaches-in-love plate," hee!!

  14. Happy anniversary to you two!

    The food looks spectacular! Those pizzas are just so beautiful. I'll try that one day with the cut side up and not down, and I'l definitely check out that eggplant pasta dish from Isa Does It. I really haven't eaten my share of eggplant this summer, and that makes me sad.

    I had pasta with my homegrown tomatoes tonight though, but that's for another MoFo prompt.

  15. Those pizzas are gorgeous and sound delicious!


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