Friday, March 19, 2010

You say...wait, what? with Tortilla Bake recipe

I've had these pictures saved up for a while now and keep forgetting to post them. Has everyone seen this new "Kumato" thing in their local grocery store? It's apparently the New Tomato. I'm not entirely sure what its virtues are supposed to be. It's darker and has green and brown combined with the red of a normal tomato.

I read somewhere a while back that the insides of tomatoes--the slimy seedy part--has zero nutritional value and adds nothing to the flavor of anything, so I've gotten into the habit of scraping it out of my tomatoes before I cook with them. Generally it works to just cut the tomato in half and use a spoon to get the gross part out, and it also makes for a much nicer-looking end product.

I think the best part of the Kumato is that, when chopped, it looks like a pile of congealed blood. I want to think of them as 'blood tomatoes' because blood oranges are oranges that look sort of like blood, so why shouldn't tomatoes get the same credit?

Aaaaaanyway. Mike bought a package of the Kumatoes just to eat and see what they were like. He said they didn't taste any different from a normal tomato--or at least, not different enough to justify the expense. But at some point the Stop & Shop we go to had them on the 'reduced produce' rack simply because they'd somehow gotten out of their packaging, so they were very inexpensive and I figured I'd experiment with them. I didn't end up doing anything exciting, but I used them instead of tomatoes the next time I needed tomatoes in something, and that was a wonderful tortilla bake that I found on (surprise) Recipezaar. It was quite delicious, and amazingly fast--I usually assume that I'll be spending at least an hour in the kitchen, but this didn't take long to throw together and the time in the oven doesn't require me paying any attention to it.*

RECIPE: Black Bean Tortilla Bake
(Adapted from Recipezaar)

3 cloves of garlic, finely minced (or Zoom'd)
1 small onion, diced
3 small Kumatoes (or tomatoes), diced
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin powder
8 oz. salsa (the fresher kind in the plastic container is so much better than the kind in jars)
1 (16 oz) can black beans
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
12 small corn tortillas (you'll layer them in an 8 or 9 inch square--if you wanted, you could use large tortillas and cut them to size)
Shredded cheddar cheese (I use Cabot Seriously Sharp and I think it's just about as good as cheddar gets)--you'll probably want a lot
Sour Cream (optional)

1. Chop or mince everything that needs chopping (the garlic, onion, kumatoes/tomatoes, and green onion.)
2. Heat some olive oil (probably about 2 tbsp) in a pan (or use cooking spray or butter or whatever your preference is). Toss in the chopped ingredients (garlic, onion, ku/tomatoes, green onion), the chili powder and the cumin. Saute until onion is tender and begins to clear.
3. Add the salsa and allow to cook for 5 minutes. While this is cooking, chop the cilantro if you haven't yet.
4. Add the beans and cilantro. Stir.
5. Spray a square baking pan, 8 or 9 inches. Layer the pan in the following order: 4 tortillas to cover as much of the pan as possible. Half the bean mixture. A third of the cheese. 4 more tortillas. The rest of the bean mixture. Half the remaining cheese. Four more tortillas. The rest of the cheese. (Honestly? You can screw around with the layering if you want. If you want bean mixture underneath your top cheese layer, then use a third each time instead of half. This is just how I did it, and it came out nice.)
6. Bake at 350 degrees (did you preheat the oven? I bet you didn't) for 20 minutes, covered (with tinfoil). Remove tinfoil and bake another 10 minutes uncovered, until the cheese is bubbly and delicious-looking.
7. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Cut into 4 or 6 pieces (I recommend 4 if you're serving this alone and 6 if you have other food to go with it).
8. Try to a piece out of the pan in-tact. Fail. Top with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of fresh cilantro to try to make it look pretty, because it fell apart when you pulled it out of the pan. (The rest of them should come out fine, but that first one is tough.) Enjoy!

I don't know exactly why I find onions in a pan with spices so pretty. Something about it is just refreshing. And it smells SO good, especially when one of the spices is cumin (which is quickly becoming a new favorite, though I'm not sure it'll ever beat out cinnamon).

This is just about when I started getting excited--everything looked so tasty in the pan!

We foolishly cut it into six pieces. After each eating one, we decided to split a third because we should have just cut it into four pieces to begin with. These were the ones left over after we'd finished devouring the others.

I think this would be delicious with shredded chicken mixed in somewhere, so if you've got leftover chicken, pull it into small pieces and add it to the pan with the salsa. Yum. (A grocery store rotisserie chicken is really easy to pull apart and get a 'shredded' consistency--just don't use a strongly flavored one unless it would go with Mexican-style food!)

As for the kumatoes, I really don't think they added any special flavor that normal vine tomatoes wouldn't have added. Perhaps they have some wonderful nutritive values that I'm not aware of, but for now I'll be sticking to the normal red tomatoes that we all know and love.

*Doesn't require. That doesn't mean I won't sit there in front of the oven with the oven light on and observe its progress. Yes, I actually do this, and yes, I enjoy it. Watching cheese melt is fun!

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