Winter is over (’bout dang time!). Spring produce isn’t quite ready (asparagus, I’ve got plans for you). But I’m already craving the familiar flavors of summer…tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and dill to name a few. Lately, I’ve really needed a hot-weather food fix. So I decided to seek solace in the comfort of my pantry and freezer. Last summer my dad taught me how to can tomatoes and pickles. This is a life skill no Bloody Mary-loving, spicy pickle-obsessed gal (or dude) should be without. It ranks right up there with knowing how to change a car tire (which I don’t) and knowing when to pull the pot off the heat before the sugar burns when making kettle corn (which I do!). Priorities, amiright?
Last summer, I also learned a super handy trick for freezing veggies without a vacuum sealer. I ended up freezing a ton of bell peppers, jalapenos, and banana peppers that way. So easy! Drying herbs was another wonderful preservation technique I used, and again, it’s super easy! You can either leave them on your counter in a paper bag to dry out or hang them upside down from their stem in a cool, dark place. Once dried, simply pull the leaves from the stem and crush them up (basil, mint, sage) or gently rub the stems to remove the leaves (thyme, oregano, dill); discard any tough stems. Store in an air tight container. You’ll notice a HUGE difference in flavor and aroma from what you get in the store.
This classic pairing of tomato soup with grilled cheese utilizes the veggies and herbs I preserved: canned tomatoes and spicy pickles, frozen green peppers and dried dill. Dill is grassy and bright and will wake up your winter-weary taste buds, which is why it’s in both the soup and the sandwich. The soup is simple and healthy and gets a dose of silky creaminess from the hit of cashew cream. The grilled cheese is tart, sour and pungent from the dill pickles and goat cheese. But those potent flavors are mellowed by the rich, melty, gooey cheesiness of the harvarti. And the best way to enjoy the two together? DUNK IT!
Food in jars (and baggies)
Dried dill…I wish you could smell this
Cashew cream is stirred into the blended tomato soup…totes vegan!
I love the speckles of dill
Combine creamy goat cheese with dried dill and cracked pepper
Put sides together and they’re ready for the grill…or pan
Gooey havarti, tangy goat cheese, and sour dill pickles
Creamy Tomato - Dill Soup with Dill Pickle Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwiches
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 quart whole tomatoes with juice
1 Tablespoon dried dill
1/3 – 1/2 cup cashew cream
salt and pepper
honey or agave nectar (optional)
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, green peppers and a couple pinches of salt and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 – 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute, then add tomatoes and dill, stirring and breaking up tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Using a handheld blender, puree soup to desired consistency (or transfer to a stand blender, puree soup, then return to pot). Stir in cashew cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 – 2 teaspoons of honey or agave nectar (optional). Serve with grilled cheese.
Dill Pickle Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwiches
8 ounces goat cheese, softened
1 Tablespoon dried dill
salt and pepper
havarti cheese, sliced
spicy garlic dill pickle slices (or your favorite type of pickle)
In a small bowl, stir together goat cheese and dill; add a splash of milk if goat cheese is too firm. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Lay pickle slices between two sheets of paper towel to drain. To assemble sandwiches, spread goat cheese onto each piece of bread, put pickle slices on one side, top with havarti cheese, then put other piece of bread on top (goat cheese should be on the inside). Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and toast sandwich on each side (pressed down with a plate and heavy jar or can on top), about 3 – 5 minutes per side, until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. Remove sandwich from pan and let rest for a few minutes before eating or cutting in half. Serve with tomato soup. Enjoy!