Fall is my favourite season, by far. I adore a brisk walk in the cool sunshine, the changing colours, Thanksgiving & Hallowe’en and of course, the bounty of Ontario produce!
Among my favourite veggies (or fruit if you’re one of those people) is the tomato. I could eat tomatoes cooked or raw…..sliced, diced, cubed or whole….cherry, beefsteak, heirloom, roma…
..really I love tomatoes.
Fortunately, approaching Fall is when all my friends, family and neighbours are trying to offload the outrageous abundance harvested from their own garden plants and I am always an enthusiastic recipient.
This year was no exception and we’ve received tomatoes from four different gardens. We also received an enormous payload of field cukes which we will be working on tomorrow.
When I receive a gardener’s offer, I feel duty bound to eat every last scrap of what they’ve provided. I don’t have a picky family, but they have their idiosyncrasies. So, it’s often a struggle to come up with a variety of ideas that fit all the variables. It’s even harder when you have one that won’t eat any cooked vegetable except corn or broccoli, one who has more allergies than I can count and one who
doesn’t care for ….. dislikes…. HATES tomatoes and mushrooms!
In an effort to use up the cukes and tomatoes, we made a simple yet delicious tomato/cucumber/onion/feta “salad” for dinner last night. It was truly delicious to those of us who enjoy those and the other opted for a PB sandwich, I think!
Today, I received a request for chicken for dinner and when I combined that with ingredients at home and this abundance of very ripe tomatoes: Chicken Cacciatore! Yummy!
Cacciatore is like an Italian stew for lack of a better description and something I’ve eaten many times; but never made myself!
Mushrooms are a key ingredient in this dish, but as the only mushroom eater in my family, I had to remove them from the plan and sub in more peppers and tomatoes. Even though they don’t necessarily change the overall flavour infusion, they do change the texture intensely, so if you enjoy mushrooms, definitely use them! (button mushrooms washed and left whole are the best for this)
My recipe is so simple it’s barely worth repeating but here you go:
- 1 Whole Chicken quartered (of course you can use pre-cut pieces!)
- 2 each Red & Green Bell Peppers
- 1 very large white onion
- 3 to 4 cups (before cooking) of diced tomatoes (mine were very red and ripe heirloom tomatoes)
- Fresh garlic (minimum 3 cloves fresh; 2 tsp minced)
- Fresh rosemary (3 sprigs)
- 1 tsp dried Basil
- 1 tsp dried Oregano
- couple of shakes each Salt & Pepper & Turmeric
- Olive Oil
- 2 to 3 tsp Paprika (I like Hungarian the very best!)
In one frying pan, I browned the cut up chicken in olive oil and garlic. When browned, I removed the chicken and put it aside. Using the same pan and the chicken juice/olive oil leftovers, I sauteed all of the veggies together.
As the tomatoes start to reduce it’s a little more like stewing the veggies, but you want this to happen! It was at that point I added all the other spices on my list. I only add the spices a little later so I avoid scorching them. Paprika, especially, is not tasty when scorched.
I kept the burner turned no higher than medium. The slower the cooking the better the flavour. I allowed this to stew for another 10 to 15 minutes before pouring the veg concoction into my covered casserole. I then layered the browned chicken pieces onto the top and for a final touch (presentation only, not taste!) I cut thin slices of green and red pepper to topple on top.
I think this was definitely an experiment that worked. Given the chance to do it again, I think I might try it in my crock pot and I will definitely add mushrooms!!
After all, they can pick them out if they don’t like them. 🙂
Keep experimenting! Danielle