FRUGAL LOCAVORE RECIPES – TOMATO GRATIN AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP by Locavore Gal

Green City Market’s locavore challenge has once again inspired me to try new dishes with my favorite local ingredients. This year, in the interest of frugal locavorism I feasted on lots of rustic, hearty fare like bean salad with black turtle beans from Breslin Farms, a big pot of simple cauliflower soup and poached Kinnikinnick eggs on Crumb toast. But, the winner of the week was discovered when I was forced to rustle up dinner with little more than the last of my juicy overripe tomatoes and a heel of bread. This inexpensive dish was a real hit. It was inspired by a recipe in ‘Cold Weather Cooking’ by Sarah Leah Chase.

TOMATO GRATIN
Serves 2

3 tablespoons olive oil or sunflower oil
2 cups diced stale crusty bread
3-4 cups diced juicy tomatoes
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Optional – 1 garlic clove & 1 sprig of thyme or basil

-First I fried 2 cups of stale diced bread cubes in a little Wisconsin sunflower oil.
-Once the cubes were browned I added a few cups of diced juicy tomatoes.
-I have some thyme growing in a pot at home and had a garlic clove on hand so they were chopped and added to the pan at this point along with a some salt and pepper. That said, with flavorsome local tomatoes you can skip the garlic and herbs and still enjoy a knockout result.
-I cooked the tomato and bread mixture for 5 minutes and then poured it into a shallow baking dish and baked it for 30min until the top was brown and the juicy tomatoes had bubbled up nicely.
The end result was delicious served warm alongside a small mixed leaf salad.

The cauliflower soup was just as simple and will become a locavore staple of mine beyond the challenge. This recipe is lightly adapted from Paul Bertolli’s ‘Cooking by Hand’.

CAULIFLOWER SOUP
Serves 8

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (6 ounces), sliced thin
1 head very fresh cauliflower (about 1-1/2 pounds), broken into florets
5 1/2 cups water, divided
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

-Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sweat the onion in the olive oil over low heat without letting it brown for 15 minutes.
-Add the cauliflower, salt to taste, and 1/2 cup water. Raise the heat slightly, cover the pot tightly and stew the cauliflower for 15 to 18 minutes, or until tender. Then add another 4 1/2 cups hot water, bring to a low simmer and cook an additional 20 minutes uncovered.
-Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender to a very smooth, creamy consistency. (I used an immersion blender instead). -Let the soup stand for 20 minutes. In this time it will thicken slightly.
-Thin the soup with 1/2 cup hot water. Reheat the soup. Serve hot, drizzled with a thin stream of extra-virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.

I hope you’ve also discovered some delicious new staples this week and enjoyed your own frugal locavore success stories!

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