Tag Archives: appetizer

Tomato Salad

This past spring I finally had the opportunity to join a CSA. For those of you not in the know yet, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It basically means at the beginning of the year (typically around March) you buy a share of a local farm and then each week you get to pick up your freshly grown produce. To be honest, the only downside I’ve found with being part of a CSA is that I don’t have a reason to visit the farmer’s market as often. I LOVE the farmer’s market. I actually remember the first time I visited the Saturday market here in CoMo. I was on the phone with my mom at the time and as I drove up and saw the market in all its glory I gave my mom the “I’ll call you back!” and hung up on her. I was that excited. Luckily, she doesn’t appear to have held it against me over the years.

Anyway, I have to plug the Root Cellar here. They were the only reason I was able to do it. I’ve wanted to join a CSA since about 2006 but could never fork up $400-$500 all at once to pay for a year’s worth of produce. Lucky for me, since the Root Cellar is a local grocer the put together their own CSAs from several local farms and are able to sell them on a weekly basis. This means that for $20 a week I get a TON of produce – all of which is local and most of which is organic. For example, this past week I got the largest eggplant I’ve ever seen, peaches, basil, greens, tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, summer squash and onions. Which leads me to the recipe…

…in a second. Lately I’ve been getting a lot of tomatoes and basil. Tomatoes are one of my favorite, favorite, favorite parts of summer. It’s like summer doesn’t really happen for me until I cut into the first truly red tomato of the year. I’ve been known to eat a pint of cherry tomatoes for lunch. Mmmmm. I digress. But even with that the tomatoes can pile up on me if I don’t eat them consistently. To help with that I’ve been making tomato salad as a way to use both them and the basil up. It’s super easy and I can use up leftovers in a lot of different ways. I’ll eat this on top of a bunch of greens as a salad, put it on top of a piece of fish or eggs, add in shrimp to make a quick lunch or mix in some pine nuts for a snack (what I was doing in the picture below). Here’s my recipe – though if you know me you know I don’t actually measure anything, which is why I don’t include any here. Sorry. You’ll live. And it will probably still taste good.


1-2 medium tomatoes, diced – I try to remove most of the seeds as well

1/2 small red onion very thinly sliced – or more considering your social situation

1-2 glugs olive oil – if you keep good olive oil in the house, now would be the time to use it

3-4 dashes (maybe 1 Tbsp) balsamic vinegar – fun fact:  it’s taken me at least 3 years to learn how to spell balsamic correctly

1-2 cloves garlic – or more considering your social situation

basil, chiffonade – lots! that stuff is GOOD!

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste – I don’t have anything to write here, I just wanted to be consistent


Put in bowl. Stir. Taste. Adjust. Eat. Repeat.

Other options:

  • jalapeño and cilantro instead of basil
  • add in mango
  • add in pine nuts
  • lime and avocado instead of balsamic and basil


Filed under Appetizers, Crazy Quick, Lunch/Dinner, Salads

White Bean Chili Dip

Hey, remember that one weekend that was like, several weekends ago? The one with the Superbowl and Usher jumping over Will.I.Am’s head and that new episode of Glee? Yeah, I made something for that. Took pictures too. And considering the constrictions on my free time these past few weeks those pictures miraculously made it onto my computer. And now, for all intensive purposes, it’s March! I mean, not really, but practically. I don’t really remember January turning into February other than I know it coincided with the massive amounts of snow we got here, which in turn meant work was shut down for two days, which in turn meant that all the projects that I had spread over 2 months were suddenly condensed down to 1 month.

I know what you’re thinking. How can 2 days cause an extra 4 weeks to disappear? Well it did, let’s leave it at that. I’ve been living the last several weeks in a perpetual state of ‘what day is it?’ Perpetual. Not “Gee, today feels like a Tuesday, doesn’t it? Fa la la la la.” *smiley face* More like, “Today is Tuesday. No…no wait…today is actually Thursday. I think. Wait. Ok, yes, today IS Thursday and tomorrow will be Friday and I’m pretty sure the day after that is Saturday but I’ll have to check my calendar first.”

For the moment, my internal clock thinks it’s Friday. It’s going to be miffed when it wakes up tomorrow and it’s Sunday and Saturday never actually happened. Or did it?

Not to say I’ve been miserable over the past month. Not at all. Things have been good, just busy in a disorienting sort of way. The fun part of my job is that I never do the same thing two days in a row and I have my hand in multiple different projects at all times. It never gets boring. The hard part of my job is that I never do the same thing two days in a row and I have my hand in multiple different projects at all times. It never gets boring. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…

Wait, scratch that last part.

Did I mention it was 70 degrees out the other day? People were having snowball fights in t-shirts and gym shorts. I went for a run and with each stride I kept reminding myself, “It’s February. It’s February. It’s February.” I mean seriously?!? I’m having enough trouble already folks!

Anywho…back to this dip thing.

A few days before Superbowl Sunday I was perusing Food Press and came across a white bean dip recipe, which reminded me of a chili-inspired variation on hummus I had been intending to do ever since I started making my own. Though it’s hard to get as many flavors into this dip as you can an actual bowl of chili it’s a nice mix up from your typical roasted red pepper hummus that can also appeal to your taco dip crowd. You’ll notice in my recipe below I excluded a number of measurements. As I’ve alluded to in previous posts, I’m a huge believer in tasting your food as you cook it and adjusting ingredients to your liking as you go. And since hummus is so forgiving when it comes to tweaking (and presents such a blank canvas to be filled in as you desire) I’m being down right obstinate and forcing any takers to figure out this one for themselves. I did list the ingredients in descending order by volume, but other than that I leave you with a spoon, a carrot stick or, most readily, your finger to figure out the rest. Enjoy!

White Bean Chili Dip


  • ~3 cups (or two 15-oz cans, rinsed) white beans such as cannellini, garbonzo, great northern or navy.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil (enough to help thin dip to desired texture)
  • Water (1-2 Tbsp as needed to help thin dip to desired texture)
  • Roasted red peppers, minced
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh garlic, minced
  • Ginger
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper


  1. In small skillet over medium heat add 1/4 cup olive oil. Once hot, but not sizzling, add in garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic begins to turn golden in color. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In food processor add in beans and puree with ~1 Tbsp of water or bean broth for 1 minute then slowly drizzle in red pepper infused olive oil until dip looks to be approaching your desired texture (use reserve olive oil and/or water/broth if needed).
  3. Open lid and (with the exception of the cayenne) add in your first guesstimate for spices. I recommend under-salting a bit at first since it’s harder to tone down an over salted dish than it is to add more salt down the line. Since cayenne is a very potent spice, hold on this until you get in the ballpark with the rest.
  4. Run the food processor for another 30 seconds. Open and taste. Add in what you want to taste more of. Repeat. Taste a little flat? Add salt. Taste a little bland? Add more chili powder, cumin and garlic. Want a more earthy taste and an extra punch of color? More paprika. Play around with the roasted red pepper and ginger, too, making sure to run the food processor for another 20-30 seconds between tweaks.
  5. Add the cayenne last, starting with 1/4 tsp – you can always add more. Adjust for your desired spiciness.
  6. Serve with toasted pitas, carrot chips, broccoli, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, bell peppers…

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Filed under Appetizers