Is it Winter Already!?

On Tuesday Oct. 25, 2011, we received our first snow.  The Denver metro area was supposed to get 8-14 inches.  After snowing all night on Tuesday and most of the day Wednesday, Boulder ended up receiving around 10 inches total.  One of my greatest friends, Holly, was working in Boulder in the beginning of this week so Electra and I decided to invite her to our weekly Wednesday homemade meal.  Also joining us was my awesome roommate Katie and her boyfriend Adam.

This week our dinner was inspired not only by the cold weather but also by both our fruitful gardens and our recent time in Italy.  The cold snowy weather reminded us of soup so that’s where we started.  Both of our gardens produced an incredible amount of tomatoes.  Since the cold weather pretty much ruined all the plants outside, the tomatoes used in this soup were the last of the year.  Good thing we had tons to spare for the soup!  In addition to a tomato soup we also made delicious paninis.  Electra was in charge of buying the ingredients for the paninis and it was clear she had Italy in mind.  She bought really nice mozzarella, Mediterranean herb gouda, prosciutto, and salami (see below for additional ingredients).

We adapted a recipe from Food Network for the soup and then created the Italian-inspired paninis.  Electra was busy creating her awesome Halloween costume so Holly and I essentially took over the cooking. Holly was a great help and it was a fantastic way to spend the evening!

Roasted Tomato Soup

  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (we had all different shapes, sizes, and variety from the two gardens as well as a few from grocery store)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • splash of heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  After washing tomatoes, slice the big ones into quarters, the medium-sized ones in half and keep the little ones whole.  Make sure to cut out the cores.  Spread out tomatoes, red pepper, garlic cloves, and onions onto a baking tray.  We ended up using 3 trays.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for about 30 minutes or until caramelized.  We roasted them for about 35 minutes and they were a little too roasted.

Veggies ready for roasting

After roasting remove from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot.  Add the vegetable stock, bay leaves, and butter.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third.

Roasted tomatoes

Tomato Soup simmering

Wash and dry basil leaves and add them to the pot.  The recipe calls for an immersion blender but we didn’t have one so instead we transferred everything from the pot into a food processor.  It took three transfers to complete all of the blending.  Make sure to remove the bay leaves before blending the soup. The soup was then transferred back to the stock pot.

Blending the soup

Return soup to low heat, add cream to get the desired creaminess.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Blended soup simmering

Italian Paninis

  • Rolls (we used herb covered ciabatta)
  • Cheese (we had two types, mozzarella and Mediterranean herb gouda)
  • Genoa salami
  • Prosciutto
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

Assemble the sandwiches as desired.  We ordered them from bottom to top: mozzarella, meats, tomatoes, basil, gouda. Mix together some balsamic vinegar and olive oil and brush on to the inner top slice of bread.

Panini layering
Layering the meat
Ready to be grilled

Next, to turn the sandwiches into paninis we used a griddle and panini press.  Start by placing the griddle on two burners over medium heat. Fitting as many sandwiches you can on the griddle, leave them sitting there for about 30 seconds.  Then put the press on top of the first sandwich, leaving it there for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute, then flip the sandwich. Continue this process until both sides of the panini have been pressed twice (making a criss-cross pattern).

Grilling paninis!

For the rest of the photos from this evening, please see the photo album.

Thanks so much Holly!