Oven-dried cherry tomatoes in olive oil
Makes about 2 cups
1 pound mixed bite-size tomatoes, such as grape or cherry tomatoes varying in size and color
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh oregano
One 3-inch sprig rosemary
6 basil leaves
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200 F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Rinse the tomatoes in cold water then dry them with paper towels. Use a serrated knife to cut each one in half and place in bowl; toss with the salt until evenly coated.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; spread the tomatoes on it. Dry for 1 hour in the oven, then rotate the baking sheet from front to back and dry for 1 hour. The tomatoes should look slightly dehydrated but still have a bit of moisture; think tomato raisins. Cool completely.
Transfer the oven-dried tomatoes and the herbs to a sterilized pint jar. Fill with the oil, making sure the tomatoes and herbs are submerged. They will be loosely packed.
Seal and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 month.
Ancho chili burgers with lime aioli
Makes 8 to 10 servings
For the burgers
4 dried ancho chilies, also known as poblanos, (2 ounces total) rinsed, stemmed and seeded
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 1/2 pounds ground veal
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
Mexican manchego or Monterey Jack cheese slices (optional)
Hamburger buns, for serving
For the aioli
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon finely grated zest and 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
For the burgers: Prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high. If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal; when the coals are ready, distribute them evenly over the cooking area. Use cooking oil spray to grease the grill grate and place on the grill.
Place dried chilies in small bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a blender, then add 2 tablespoons of the soaking liquid, onion and garlic. Puree until smooth.
Combine the ground beef and veal in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the chili puree, eggs, salt and pepper. Use your hands to shape the meat into 8 to 10 large patties.
Arrange the patties on the grill; cook uncovered for 5 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, make the aioli: Whisk together mayonnaise, lime zest and juice and garlic in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Place a slice of cheese, if using, on each hamburger a few minutes before the second sides are done. Transfer to buns for serving, along with the lime aioli.
Serves 2 as an entree, 3 to 4 as an appetizer
1 medium (about 10 ounces) zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch rounds
About 2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black or white pepper
Toss the zucchini and oil in a mixing bowl to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the rounds on racks in the dehydrator; set the temperature to 115 degrees. Dry for 25 to 45 minutes, or until light-colored patches of moisture disappear and they have achieved the consistency of al dente cooked pasta.
This technique also works with peeled butternut squash.
To make zucchini “ravioli,” start with an even number of the dehydrated rounds. Arrange half of them on a platter. Pipe a dollop of cashew or other nut cheese (see NOTE) or other savory filling at the center of each one. Top with the remaining rounds, pressing gently around the edges to form ravioli. Serve as hors d’oeuvres or with pesto or fresh tomato sauce.
NOTE: To make 1 cup of cashew cheese, soak 1 cup cashew pieces in water for 4 hours. Drain and rinse, put in a blender or food processor with 1 tablespoon miso (chickpea or white), 2 teaspoons chopped shallot, 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves, 1/4 cup chopped celery and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Covered, the mixture will keep in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 days.