Thursday, April 18, 2013

Roasted Tomato Soup and Barley Salad

With all of the birthday and holiday celebrations recently, I felt the need to mix in a couple healthier dishes this week to offset some of the indulgences.  After giving it some thought, I decided on two recipes to make this past Sunday night - roasted tomato soup for dinner, and a barley salad to bring for lunch during the week.  Since it's just the two of us, both of these recipes make enough for additional meals.  I am a huge fan of this, since that means that I get to have healthy, home-cooked dinners with my husband during the week without having to spend time cooking.

Both of these recipes are relatively low maintenance, but work best when planned in advance as they each require simmering for about forty minutes.  If you're like me, then you'll put these on the stove and continue on with other Sunday evening activities...perhaps catching up on your DVR?

{stove top buddies, ready for next steps}

I wish that I could claim these recipes as my own, but the soup is from the lovely Barefoot Contessa and is light, rather than creamy.  It is the type of soup that I crave when I am at the right Italian restaurant, and the type of soup that I can't help but order whenever I am at Tender Greens, which serves something similar.  Pair it with a side of crusty bread and some goat cheese, and you won't believe that you made it yourself.  Promise.

The salad recipe is one that I came across a while back, and is good when I want to mix things up from more traditional salads and quick restaurant food.  I usually eat it vegetarian-style, per the recipe (and this time with some splashes of hot sauce), but I can see this being really good topped with some grilled chicken.

Read on for the recipes, and consider making these (at least the soup) this weekend - you won't be disappointed!

Barefoot Contessa's Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

3 pounds ripe plum [roma] tomatoes, cut in half length-wise
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28 ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (about one bunch)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 quart chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Toss together the tomato halves, 1/4 cup olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper.  Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.  Note: I lined my baking sheet with foil first.

Towards the end of the tomatoes roasting: In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown.  Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock.  Add the oven roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes.  Use an immersion blender to blend to desired consistency.  Serve hot or cold.

Barley, Mushroom, and Dill Salad
Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

3 cups cooked pearl barley, tossed with 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar while warm
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
10 cremini or white button mushrooms, stems removed
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 carrots, grated
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh dill

To cook barley: Simmer 1 cup barley, 2 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, covered, for 40 minutes.  Makes 3 cups.

Heat a skillet over high heat.  Swirl in 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Cook mushrooms, cap sides down, for 5 minutes.  Let cool, then slice mushrooms.

Whisk together remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, red-wine vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Toss together mushrooms, barley, carrots, scallions, and dill.  Drizzle vinaigrette over top; toss to coat.

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