Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Try the "Love Apple" Menu for Valentine's!

When the tomato arrived into Europe it was slow to catch on, the red color became associated with poison. However the French and Italians dismissed this myth and the tomato became known as poma amoris or pomme d’amour. It subsequently became known as a symbol for the aphrodisiac qualities of food and was labeled as the Love Apple. Every cook knows the way to the heart is through the mouth, so we have created an easy-to-make, tempting and light three-course Valentine’s Day dinner that includes several tomato-based foods.

Start with antipasti with our sun-dried tomato spread and a green tomato jam. Next, enjoy the primo with a heart-warming tomato sauce served over farfalle made from durum wheat. Finish the delectable meal with dolce served with tomato jam with grappa. The Love Apple is the secret ingredient to the heart, so there’s no need for cupid’s arrow! Adding The Scrumptious Pantry’s sweet and savory tomato ingredients of love to your romantic Valentine’s Day dinner is guaranteed to woo the apple of your eye.

The “Love Apple” Menu

Antipasti: Heart-shaped crostini with Roberta’s Sun-dried Tomato Spread (or Roberta’s Eggplant Spread) served with cheese nibbles with Barbara’s Green Tomato Jam as a condiment

2/3 cup cream cheese
1/3 cup Roberta’s Sun-dried Tomato Spread (or 1/3 cup Roberta’s Eggplant Spread)
Cosimo’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil “Premium Blend”, as needed
1 loaf of bread, cut into heart shapes (use a cookie cutter to make heart shapes)

Method: 1) Mix cream cheese and sun-dried tomato spread (or eggplant spread). 2) Spread mixture on breads hearts. 3) Drizzle with olive oil.

Cheese nibbles: Serve aged sheep cheeses, Parmeggiano-Reggiano, Grana Padana or fresh mozzarella. Break chunks of cheese out of the Parmeggiano or Grana using the tip of a knife. Cut aged sheep cheeses first in slices and each slice in to three triangle shaped bites. Cut mozzarella in slices and cut each slice in four bite-size pieces. The mozzarella also can be briefly grilled on a slice of bread in the oven, with a layer of green tomato jam between bread and cheese! Serve condiments on the side in small dessert bowls or shot glasses with small spoons. You also can use honey or Cosimo’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil as cheese condiments.

Primo: Carlo’s Durum Wheat Pasta with heart-warming tomato sauce

1/2 bag (9 ounces) of Carlo’s Durum Wheat Pasta—Farfalle
1 garlic clove, slightly crushed
3 tablespoons Cosimo’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil “Blend”
1 chilli pepper, small
1 ½ lb. canned and diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Roberta’s Sun-dried Tomato Spread
2 teaspoons Guido’s Balsamic Dressing Sauce

Method: Note: Tomato-based sauces are more flavorful after simmering at least one hour. They can also be made a day ahead to enhance its flavor and save time on Valentine’s Day. 1) To make the sauce, in a frying pan, heat crushed garlic glove in olive oil until the garlic is slightly browned. 2) Take garlic out of oil, add one small hot chilli pepper and tomatoes. 3) Add the sun-dried tomato spread. Sauce should simmer on medium heat for at least one hour. (Note: If a meat sauce is preferred, add 8 ounces of ground beef, 3 ounces of finely chopped prosciutto and 3 ounces of finely chopped bacon. Brown meats in olive oil before adding the tomato and chilli pepper) 4) Bring salted water to boil for the pasta. Do not add oil to the water. 5) Add pasta to the boiling water. When the pasta is almost al dente (after 9 to 10 minutes), drain and put the pasta in the pan with the sauce. (Note: Do not rinse the pasta because you will wash away the starch needed to have the sauce stick to the noodle.) 6) Add balsamic dressing sauce and let stand for two minutes. Serve on warmed plates/bowls.

Dolce: Ricotta with Barbara’s Tomato Jam with Grappa

½ pound (8 ounces) fresh ricotta
1 shot glass of grappa, dark rum (aged for a minimum of 7 years) or pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of sugar
Barbara’s Tomato Jam with Grappa, as needed (or another jam of your choosing)
Nutmeg, freshly ground, as needed.

Method: 1) Mix ricotta, sugar and grappa/rum/vanilla until well combined. 2) Spoon mixture into small glass bowls (or tall shot glasses). 3) Top with a thin layer of tomato jam with grappa. 4) Garnish with freshly ground nutmeg.

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