Whole30 Week 3: Vegan and Not-So Vegan

Asparagus & Fennel Soup by Amy Roth Photo

This week’s post is dedicated to Kenji Lopez-Alt, that test kitchen god (and managing culinary director at Serious Eats) whose recipes formed the backbone of the best meals I made this week. Only minor tweaks were necessary to make them Whole30-compliant; though I’m really starting to hate the word compliant, the adjustments seem to be coming to me naturally now. I’m still constantly hungry despite eating all the time and adding even more fat to my diet, but the cheese cravings aren’t constant, so I’m headed in the right direction. No tiger blood, either, but I always thought that was a long shot, anyway.

Lunch today was a fan-freaking-tastic soup of asparagus and fennel, found on Lopez-Alt’s Instagram feed. I took the basics and tweaked them a bit with what I had in the house and fell head over heels. I sautéed 1/2 large chopped onion with a small thinly sliced bulb of fennel and a finely chopped stalk of celery in olive oil until they were soft, then added one bunch of chopped asparagus (minus the tips, which I steamed) and half of a sliced russet potato and cooked them together for a few minutes. One quart of chicken stock, salt to taste and some simmering later, I blitzed the soup in my Vitamix and lunch was served. I love simple, seasonal recipes, don’t you? I may try to accentuate the fennel flavor next time with a splash of Herbsaint, but honestly found the soup to be perfectly balanced this way. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Cast Iron Steak & Vegan Creamed Spinach by Amy Roth Photo

A more substantial meal came in the form of a stovetop-cooked ribeye and vegan creamed spinach, which may sound like an odd combination, but hear me out. When you’re eating so much meat in one sitting (though not that much — Gil and I split the steak), there’s no need to go overboard with real creamed spinach. It’s just too much. And honestly, I found the flavors of this vegan dish much more pleasing and less muted than I do with the standard recipe. Blended cauliflower and almond milk form the base of the “cream” and are just brilliant at that job. I did add a little nutritional yeast for a cheesy tang, but otherwise cooked it according to the recipe.

The steak followed the Serious Eats recipe I use exclusively during winter, when the thought of standing at my grill would be enough to keep me from eating steak at all if not for this method of indoor cooking. I did use ghee instead of butter and could definitely taste a difference, but the steak was excellent anyway, so no complaints there.

I did have a couple of small cheats this week. When I couldn’t stand the thought of preparing one more meal, Gil whisked me away to a BBQ joint where I had smoked beef with a side of mashed potatoes that might have (probably) had milk and/or butter in them. I felt fine after, so no worries for me! Then, at a meeting I attended Tuesday, I had one Terra Chip which was The Best Thing I’ve Ever Tasted In My Life. I can’t even lie. Fried potatoes (though this was taro, I believe) are absolutely my trigger food and that chip was like a drug that left me wanting more. I don’t know where I got this self-control, but am very happy for it, because otherwise I’d be sitting on my living room floor covered in grease and crumbs.

Then again, Benny would probably take care of the crumbs situation. I haven’t really shared about it here, but we lost both Ru and Otis over the last two years, which was just heartbreaking. Ru left us only in December of last year, so we waited as long as we could, but finally adopted another greyhound just three weeks ago! He’s the sweetest little guy with a funny bark and a much bigger brain than Ru and Otis put together — it’s a little scary to watch him figuring things out. He’s still a little camera-shy, so no decent photos yet, but if you’d like to follow him on Instagram, he’s precocious and has his own account. And while you’re there, follow me, too! I try to post everyday, so there’s always something delicious to see.

I’m planning to end Whole30 a few days early next Thursday, when I’m going out to lunch with friends. We’re planning for dim sum and I don’t want to miss out on everything but steamed vegetables. But I’ll behave. Mostly. See you next week!

Lo Mein Noodles

Remember that love fest of a get together I mentioned in my last post? Well, Darcie has started blogging her recipes in anticipation of Chinese New Year, so I’d like to share her first post with you today. This one features stir fried noodles and vegetables, perfect for the new year, since long noodles symbolize life and prosperity.

Read all about it at Gourmet Creative.  And don’t forget to check out Robin and Sue, the wonderful food photographer and stylist duo who were such fun to play with for this shoot! Girl power!

Be sure to follow everyone on Instagram for daily food inspiration: @darcie_hunter, @robinmc, @smrags and @amyrothphoto.

Lo Mein | Amy Roth Photo

Mushroom Miso Soup

What a momentous weekend! I’m so inspired after seeing my sisters from around the globe march in unity, demonstrating that women’s rights are human rights. It’s the beginning and much work still needs to be done by all of us, but I’m ready to hit the ground running.

I spent Friday with three amazing women, having a food photo shoot/play date. Darcie, my collaborator last month on the 2016 Advent Calendar, headed up the project with delicious Chinese recipes inspired by her years in Shanghai. We’ll be sharing those in a future post, so check back with us for the Chinese New Year. Joining us were Robin & Sue, a talented food photographer/stylist team who live close enough that we can do this sort of thing with a nice frequency. I’ve worked in places where you always had to watch your back and it was just exhausting (and frankly, no way to live), so what a relief it is to have made a career where we can hang out and talk shop, build each other up, and collaborate rather than compete.

Instead of putting away all of my props and backgrounds after the shoot like a normal, tidier, person would, I kept them out to play a bit more over the weekend. It started with a couple of setups that didn’t quiiiite work out, but then I chose to photograph David Tanis’s Mushroom Miso Soup from the NY Times Cooking newsletter on Sunday, mainly because it sounded light and delicious and I wanted it for lunch.

It did not disappoint. I added shredded savoy cabbage and mustard greens to the pot to boost the nutrients and add a little bulk, and it made for a very satisfying meal. The broth was flavorful, but very subtle after three days of eating foods with a pungent punch. Next time, I’ll mellow out my diet a bit before indulging.

Chive Blossom Vinegar

Eight years ago, Gil and I were newlyweds enjoying our first summer together in this house. We started decorating and renovating — projects that continue to this day — and I tried my hand at gardening, not realizing in that rush of excitement over having a yard that we barely get enough sunlight for grass, let alone tomatoes. But I have managed to grow many pots of herbs on our second-floor bedroom deck over the years. They require almost no maintenance beyond a good dousing during dry spells, but the lowest maintenance herb of them all (and thus, the closest to my heart) is my chive plant, which still returns every Spring and still delights me when it does.

Chive Blossoms, Jar | Amy Roth Photo

That first summer, I learned that chive blossoms are edible, and sprinkled them liberally over green salads, potato salads and omelettes for a hint of onion flavor and a dash of color, but never thought to do anything more than garnish with them until just last month. I follow David Leite of Leite’s Culinaria on Facebook, where he posted a link to his chive blossom vinegar just as my blossoms were coming in, so that became my latest project.

Chive Blossoms in Jar | Amy Roth Photo

Though my single plant produces more chives than we can consume in a season, the amount of blossoms it yielded was only enough for a tiny jar of vinegar. Still, three weeks later, I can assure you that the volume is sufficient and should last a while. The vinegar is the pink of a deep rosé and has a pungent, savory-sweet aroma that can really get your juices flowing, culinarily-speaking.

Chive Blossom Vinegar | Minimally Invasive

I’ll try it in a vinaigrette the next time I make a salad, but today, I used it to perfume and season a kale and spinach pesto, which I tossed with zucchini noodles for a Paleo take on pasta.

Zucchini Noodles with Kale Pesto | Minimally Invasive

There’s no recipe for this dish since my pesto changes each time I make it; I just throw things into my food processor and adjust the seasonings before tossing it with my base of choice. Today, I broke out my spiral vegetable slicer on the first zucchini of the season (thanks, Bialas Farms!), simply salting the noodles lightly and letting them drain in a colander until it was time to dress them. For the pesto, I tossed a little of this and a bit of that into my food processor: a handful of spinach and two handfuls of dinosaur kale, some chopped, toasted almonds, grated Parmesan cheese, a few chives, a hit of basil-infused olive oil (a delicious indulgence from Olive That in Montclair), extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of sugar to balance the kale’s earthiness, a pinch of salt, lemon juice and a splash of the chive blossom vinegar. It sounds like a lot of cooking when the ingredients are listed that way, but it really wasn’t. It took all of 10 minutes to throw everything together and sit down to a really satisfying lunch.

Of course, you can make this without the chive blossom vinegar this summer because it’s probably too late for you to indulge, but please give it a try next year. This vinegar is a wonderful way to enjoy those spring blossoms for an extended season.

Grain-Free Tabbouleh Salad

Things have been moving a little slow at the junction this weekend, though not from any laziness on my part. See, my ass is broken. Not broke — though the money situation could always be better — but brokEN. I had the bright idea of taking a 5 1/2-mile hike with Gil and the boys last Friday morning to take advantage of the wonderful hiking trails and lakes we have around here. And it was a perfect day, honestly; a cool breeze was blowing, the sky was clear and blue and we only passed a few people and their dogs in the two hours we were out. Otis was a very good boy throughout, barely paying attention to the first three dogs we passed, but then (dunh, dunh, DUNNNNHHH!) along came number four. We’d just passed him without incident and I was praising Otis for being such a gooood boooy, when the other dog barked and Otis just lost it, as he tends to do when that happens. Being a big, slinky greyhound, he managed to trip me and I came down hard on my back and bruised my tailbone in the process. Ouch. So now I have a preview of what it’ll be like in 40 years when I’m puttering around the house and groaning whenever I bend over or get up from a seated position. Oh, the indignity!

He’s SO lucky he’s cute.

Otis B. Driftwood | Amy Roth Photo

Ru was fine, being a pretty chill dog until someone approaches our house or thunder/fireworks disturb him.

Rufus T. Firefly | Amy Roth Photo

But back to food. I’m sure you can imagine that I haven’t really felt like cooking much all weekend. But I do have this new weekly posting schedule and a variation of tabbouleh salad has been worming its way into my mind lately, so I decided to suck it up and do some chopping!

Gluten-Free Tabbouleh | Minimally Invasive

We’ve gotten tabbouleh so wrong for so long here in the U.S. that it may seem odd when you proportion things correctly. It’s supposed to be a parsley salad with a little bit of bulgur wheat instead of the other way around. And even though the bulgur wheat is barely there, it’s still wheat, so I started brainstorming gluten-free substitutions. Quinoa was the first thing to come to mind, but I knew it wouldn’t have the right texture, so I let my mind roam and came up with the idea of using chopped, roasted chickpeas. They’re one of my favorite snacks — crunchy yet chewy, and I figured they’d hold up pretty well, even sitting overnight in leftovers.

While I won’t know how the leftovers held up until tomorrow, I have to tell you that it was so good for dinner tonight, I’m surprised there was anything to pack into the refrigerator.

Gluten-Free Tabbouleh Salad

Dietary Diabetic, Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish, Salad
Misc Serve Cold
Roasted chickpeas make a delicious substitute for bulgur wheat in this gluten-free version of tabbouleh salad.

Ingredients

Roasted Chickpeas

  • 1 can chickpeas (drained, rinsed and patted dry with dish towel)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoon sumac
  • 1-2 teaspoon aleppo pepper
  • 2 pinches kosher salt

Tabbouleh

  • 1/4 cup roasted chickpeas (finely chopped)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes (quartered lengthwise and chopped into small dice)
  • 1 Medium cucumber (peeled, seeded and chopped into small dice)
  • 5 green onions or scallions (trimmed and very thinly sliced)
  • 3 bunches flat leaf parsley (large stems removed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (toasted, then ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (finely ground)
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt (to taste)
  • sumac (to taste)
  • aleppo pepper (to taste)

Note

Adapted from Anissa Helou's recipe at David Lebovitz.com and Paula Wolfert's Mediterranean Grains and Greens.

Sumac is a spice with a tart flavor that can be used in place of lemon. It goes well with meat, fish, and hummus, so don't be shy about picking up a big bag. If you have trouble finding it locally, you can order from Kalustyan's or World Spice Merchants.

Directions

ROASTED CHICKPEAS
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a small baking pan, combine chickpeas, olive oil and seasonings, and toss to combine.
Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
Cool to room temperature, then finely chop 1/4 cup of the chickpeas for the salad. Reserve the rest for another use.
TABBOULEH
Put diced tomatoes and cucumbers in a mesh strainer set over a bowl to drain away some of the excess liquid.
Gather as much parsley as you can in your hand, and slice it into thin ribbons with a very sharp knife. Place sliced parsley in a large bowl.
Add sliced green onion, drained tomatoes and cucumbers, and chopped roasted chickpeas to the sliced parsley. Season with cumin and black pepper and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Toss gently until well mixed.
Taste the salad and adjust seasonings by adding more sumac, aleppo pepper, salt and/or pepper, if you like.

Asparagus and Fresh Garlic — It MUST be Spring

Gluten-Free Spring Dining

UPDATE: Congratulations to Sarah Cordes, winner of the cookbook Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan! 

It feels like an eternity since I’ve had fresh, local asparagus, so I didn’t waste much time this morning getting it from the refrigerator to my belly. Heaven to me is asparagus with a sunny-side up egg, so I riffed on that to come up with a breakfast I’ll enjoy until the season marches on.

Duck Egg Yolk with Buttered Miso Asparagus | Amy Roth Photo

This took me about 10 minutes to get on the table, including prep time, so you might want to give it a try on a busy weeknight when you’re tired but just can’t face ordering in again. The asparagus would make a nice side dish on its own, but as we all know, nearly everything tastes better with an egg on top. And if you have access to duck eggs (like I do, from Edgwick Farm), DEFINITELY sub that for the standard chicken egg. The rich, sunny yolk does beautiful things to the garlicky miso coating the asparagus. I’m so sad I didn’t pick up two bunches of asparagus last Saturday; now I’ll have to wait another week before making this again.

If you’ve been here before, you may notice that I’m trying a new recipe feature from GetMeCooking. Starting with this post, recipes will be printable and uniformly formatted with information about ingredients that may trigger common food-related allergies. Someday, I’ll have the entire site updated and indexed all the way back to 2006, but I think this is a good start. Any thoughts or suggestions for making it even more user-friendly?

Also, just a reminder that I’m giving away a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table, an essential cookbook filled with stellar recipes written in her easygoing, encouraging voice. You have until this Friday at 11:59pm ET to register using the entry form at the end of this post. Good luck to you!

And happy asparagus season, if it’s springtime in your neck of the woods!

Buttered Asparagus with Miso and Fried Egg

Serves 1
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 5 minutes
Total time 10 minutes
Allergy Egg, Milk
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Enjoy Spring's first and finest (IMO) dish — buttered miso asparagus with a fried duck egg.

Ingredients

Asparagus

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2-3 teaspoons yellow miso
  • 1 teaspoon garlic (chopped)
  • 1 bunch asparagus (woody ends snapped off)

Sunny-Side Up Egg

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg (duck, if you have it)

Note

This recipe works with fat, woody asparagus. I haven't tried it yet with delicate, slim stalks, but when I do, I probably won't cover the pan because they won't have to cook for quite as long. 

Directions

FOR THE ASPARAGUS
In a pan large enough to hold the asparagus in one layer, combine water, butter, miso and garlic. Stir over high heat until miso and butter have melted into the water.
Add asparagus, bring to a boil, and cover. Lower heat to medium and steam for two minutes, then remove lid and cook until liquid has evaporated. Keep an eye on the asparagus at this point, because miso will burn if you're not careful. Asparagus is ready when it's crisp-tender; test it by inserting the tip of a knife into the fattest part of the stalk. It should slide in easily, but the asparagus should still be firm. Serve immediately with fried egg.
FOR THE SUNNY-SIDE UP EGG
Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a small nonstick pan over medium heat. When butter stops bubbling, crack the egg into the pan. Add 1 tablespoon water and cover. Cook until whites are set, but yolk is still runny. Serve over buttered miso asparagus.

Pop-Tarts for All You Adults Out There

Concord Grapes | Minimally Invasive

There’s something about Concord grapes that makes my toes curl. Until a few years ago, my only experience with them was in the form of Welch’s Grape Jelly, and I’ll admit that whenever I pop a Concord grape into my mouth, memories of Welch’s spread on buttered, crustless bread (thank you, Maw-Maw) come flooding back. I tried my hand at a grape focaccia a couple of times with decent results, but I wanted to focus on something more obviously dessert-y this time and ended up with hand pies and a LOT of leftover jam.

I won’t lie — making grape jam from scratch is a big pain in the ass because you have to pop the grapes from their skins, cook the pulp, then remove the seeds, but it’s worth the trouble (and the purple-stained fingers if you forget to wear gloves). Sweet, tangy and dusky all at once, it bears little resemblance to industrialized jelly and is just the thing to set off a flaky, buttery crust. Get the jam recipe at Apt. 2B Baking Co.

Fraisage | Minimally Invasive

I read about the promise of a flaky, buttery and gluten-free pie crust at the new-to-me blog The Bojon Gourmet and couldn’t wait to get started. It uses a manageable blend of gluten-free flours, lots of butter, and the fraisage method of bringing the dough together to produce an extra-flaky crust. It’s pretty easy, too — you simply scrape your hand across a small portion of the dough on the board, then use a bench scraper to lift it into a bowl. Sure, your hands get a little messy, but when you’re making pie crust, you’re already committed to dough-covered hands, so what’s a slightly bigger mess? I didn’t try the crust without the fraisage method, so I can’t say how the two compare, but this was terrifically flaky, so there’s that. Read all about it at The Bojon Gourmet.

Gluten-Free Pie Crust | Minimally Invasive

FRAISAGE!

Hand Pie Assembly | Minimally Invasive

After it chilled in the refrigerator for a while, I rolled out the dough on a well-floured board with my well-floured hands and rolling pin and got to work crafting hand pies! I made mine about 3 1/2″ x 5″ and found them a little large to eat in one sitting. I’ll go smaller next time so I won’t have to wait for Gil to get home to share. A dollop of jam, some egg wash along the edges to seal the top and bottom layers, a quick crimp with a fork, and the pies were nearly ready to bake.

Concord Grape Hand Pies | Minimally Invasive

With the extra bits of dough, I made one goofy-looking sample pie (in the upper-right corner of the photo above) and some little dough balls which became a decorative cluster of grapes on the top of each pie (if you squint and use your imagination). That step wasn’t necessary at all, but if you’re making hand pies with multiple fillings, this would be a great way to differentiate the pies. After they were all sealed and decorated, I gave them one more quick brush with the egg wash before baking at 400°F for about 30 minutes. I didn’t want any extra sweetness, but if you do, you can sprinkle the tops of the pies with sugar before baking.

Baked Hand Pies | Minimally Invasive

Fresh from the oven.

Grape Hand Pie | Minimally Invasive

And that first bite…mmmm… They were tender, flaky and ever so slightly crunchy on the edges, with a hit of grape jelly that reminded me of a grown-up version of Pop Tarts in the very best way. It’s a bit of an undertaking, but we happily ate these for several days before vowing to lay off desserts for a while. It’s the natural order of things — indulge, repent, repeat.

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Amy Roth Photo

I also wanted to share my new portfolio/shop site at Amy Roth Photo with you! Until now, I’ve had a couple of portfolios in different places plus a shop on Etsy, but it all got to be too fractured for my taste, so I drank the Squarespace Kool-Aid this week and set up a new site where all of the disparate elements are integrated! I couldn’t be happier with the Squarespace experience, and managed to set this up in only one day, which, if you’ve ever set up a new website, you’ll recognize as practically unheard-of.

So now the PORTFOLIO and SHOP links at the top of Minimally Invasive point to Amy Roth Photo. Check it out and let me know what you think! I still have a little tweaking to do here and there, but it’s already miles better than what I had previously.

The shop has listings of food, nature, travel and pet photo prints, which I can now offer at different sizes. There’s also a growing digital download section, currently with nature-inspired background textures to use in your digital designs, but soon will have patterns to use in crafting, design or for printing, and holiday card designs that you can print yourself.

To celebrate the launch, I’m offering 20% off all shop orders over $20 (in other words, a sale on prints) through Sunday evening! Just use the code 20OFF at checkout.

Field to Feast: Spiralized Zucchini

Spiralizer with Zucchini | Minimally Invasive

Gluten-free pastas just don’t do it for me. If the taste is good, the texture is all wrong, and when the texture is passable, the flavor is blaaaaahhhhh. There are a few I’ll use in a pinch, but I usually skip them entirely in favor of spaghetti squash, which, of course, has its own problems (chief among them being its flavorlessness). So when I started seeing this spiralizer business everywhere from Bon Appétit to Fresh Tart, I placed an order within the week. I figured a bumper crop of zucchini was the perfect test for the machine and even with the shame of its single-use gadgetry hanging over my head, I’ll admit that I love it!

Zucchini Twirl | Minimally Invasive

I softened thick spirals of zucchini and summer squash with a hefty pinch of salt while I threw together a simple, punchy dressing for it, since the stuff isn’t exactly a flavor powerhouse. I fried thinly sliced garlic in olive oil until the slices were browned and crunchy, then drained the chips on some paper towels. In a small bowl, I mixed together some of the garlic oil, minced sun-dried tomatoes, fresh herbs and lemon zest, then topped the dish with wisps of Parmesan, garlic chips, Maldon sea salt and freshly grated black pepper. I was surprised to find the dish so filling but loved that it didn’t weigh me down, even with an oil-based dressing.

Zucchini Pasta Top View | Minimally Invasive

The view from above.

Zucchini Ribbons | Minimally Invasive

I knew that the angel-hair setting would render zucchini into mush, so I tried the ribbons for the next dish. The dressing was even lighter than before, using oven-roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic with fresh herbs as the base with a few dollops of Edgwick Farm chevre tossed in for contrast. Salt & pepper naturally followed and I gobbled it up. There was only one problem: many of the tomatoes were lost to quality assurance testing before the dish was assembled.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Herbs | Minimally Invasive

But you really can’t blame me.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes | Minimally Invasive

The spiral slicer is nice for anyone on the Paleo bandwagon, but if you’re just interested in reducing processed carbs, you should consider giving this a try. I love that I can rejigger a dish and make it healthier with a big serving of vegetables added to my meal. I’ll be trying it out with lots of other seasonal produce from Bialas Farms, so stay tuned.

I bought the Paderno World Cuisine spiral slicer from Amazon; it was recommended by Bon Appétit and I liked that it offered three different settings for roughly the same price as other models. Cleanup was easy and I managed not to cut myself on the blades, so I give it two (unmarred) thumbs up!

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And if you’re still awash in tomatoes, dive right in to Kasha’s Cherry Tomato and Brie Galette. It looks spectacular! The things this woman cooks on the fly just amaze me.

Field to Feast: Paleo Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Go on, treat yourself to a slice of chocolate zucchini bread with your morning coffee. I won’t tell.

As ever, the recipe from Elana’s Pantry is perfect — moist, rich and delicious. I doubled the recipe and baked it in a regular-sized loaf pan, so that’s probably why it fell in the center, but the flavor was unaffected. And for a dessert as unassuming as zucchini bread, imperfection just adds to the charm, don’t you think?

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Have you read Kasha’s great recap of our Field to Feast posts yet? No? Well, grab another slice of zucchini bread and hop on over

Field to Feast: Homemade Tomato Paste

Happy Friday, everyone! Has this week felt terribly long to you? Maybe you just want to put your feet up this weekend, relax and enjoy some sun, and who could blame you if you do? But if you’re looking for a project, something that sounds impressive yet requires minimal effort — the best kind of project for lazy summer weekends — here’s a great one: homemade tomato paste. You may be wondering exactly why you should bother when little cans of the stuff are already so very, very cheap and so very, very convenient, but you’ll just have to believe me when I tell you that homemade is so much better than canned that it’s like a completely different animal. Or fruit. (You know what I mean. Don’t make me turn this car around.) It has a bright, zingy, concentrated (duh) tomato flavor without any of that tinny aftertaste we’ve all grown accustomed to after years of eating the canned variety. It’s a treat anytime you use it, but in midwinter when hot sun and bountiful produce couldn’t be farther away, it’s damn near a revelation.

But before you start, fortify yourself with a light salad because the kitchen will get hot while the paste is cooking and you won’t want to spend much time in there. And while you’re up to your elbows in tomatoes anyway, why not make them into your meal? I reworked the Roman Summer Salad with more of an emphasis on fresh tomatoes while they’re as perfect as possible. I started with a base layer of assorted, sliced tomatoes from Bialas Farms and drizzled them with olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Sliced Tomatoes | Minimally Invasive

Then I mashed together some anchovies and garlic in a mortar and pestle to make a paste. I scattered the paste across the tomatoes along with chopped capers, black olives, basil, parsley and goat’s milk ricotta, and devoured half the salad in one sitting.

Roman Salad Reprise | Minimally Invasive

But let’s get moving; you’re here for tomato paste! It’s a time-consuming process, but really very easy. You cook the tomatoes briefly, use a food mill to get rid of skins and seeds, then leave a sheet pan filled with the tomato purée in the oven until the water has evaporated and you’re left with a pan of brick-red loveliness. Just freeze the cooled paste in a thin layer in a Ziploc bag until you need a hit of summer.

I used bacon fat on the sheet pans instead of olive oil to give my tomato paste a smokey flavor, but it really isn’t necessary, just indulgent.

Tomato Paste | Minimally Invasive

I hope to get at least a couple more batches of paste put up for the winter. Rationing my one bag from last summer got me through April, but I’d like to put away enough this year to keep me going until next year’s tomatoes are in market.

Get the recipe for homemade tomato paste at Saveur. And have a great weekend!