Harvest on Parade

If you love vegetables, October is a great month for you. Everything from tomatoes to peppers to squash is in season and fresh produce literally overflows in roadside stands, farmers' markets and grocery stores everywhere.

Of course, with all of this lovely produce available, it's tempting to take full advantage of it all and use as much as possible in your menu planning. So if you want to move beyond spaghetti sauce with your tomatoes and stir-fry with your peppers, this article is just for you. Two simple recipes featuring the finest of the season's produce are presented, as well as simple substitutions or "tweaks" to make them brand new again when you're looking for something new.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

This simple recipe is the base for many delightful sauces, pizzas, and stew. If you want a smooth texture, pop the roasted tomatoes into a food processor. Otherwise, simply press them gently against the side of a saucepan with a spoon to break their skins to allow the tomato juices to work their magic!
  • 8 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the tomatoes into a resealable plastic bag; add the olive oil. Seal the bag and toss well to coat the tomatoes. Pour the tomatoes into a 9x13-inch glass baking dish. Roast the tomatoes for about 45 minutes or until the skins are softened and slightly darkened, turning once after about 20 minutes.

Remove the tomatoes and transfer them to a resealable glass jar. The tomatoes can be frozen for up to 3 months.

If you like, you can add 3-4 whole cloves of garlic with the tomatoes to get a touch of roasted garlic in the mix. Alternatively, you can sprinkle the roasted tomatoes with any desired seasonings before transferring them to the glass jar.

  • Yields: about 3 pints
  • Preparation Time: about 50 minutes

Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives

This richly-flavored dish takes advantage of a wide variety of vegetables. It's perfect when served in warm bowls with crusty bread -- a great fireside dinner.
  • 8-10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 T. Italian seasoning
  • 2 c. coarsely chopped tomatoes -- I like to use a 50/50 mix of fresh tomatoes and roasted tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. dry white wine
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 c. brine-cured black olives, pitted and quartered

In a large skillet, brown the chicken thighs in the olive oil over medium heat. After 5 minutes, add the onion and garlic. Continue cooking until the onion is tender, but not browned.

Transfer the chicken, onions and garlic to a slow cooker. Add the thyme, Italian seasoning, tomatoes, wine, salt and pepper; mix to combine. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on the LOW setting for about 7 hours or until the chicken is very tender. Add the olives to the stew and mix to combine just before serving.

If you like, you can omit the olives and add 1 cup of mixed vegetables (I like a combination of carrots, peppers and squash) with the tomatoes instead. You can serve this meal over hot cooked egg noodles.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: about 7 hours

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