Delicious Last-Minute Tomato and Onion Confit

Lamb Chops with Tomato Onion Confit 1 1686x1198My son, Mike, is a talented cook, and during our family’s summer vacation, he and I teamed up to prepare the evening meals. Often we went to the market, chose what looked good, and decided how we’d use if after returning home. That was certainly the case with a colorful tomato and onion confit we whipped up one night.

A cache of plump, ripe summer tomatoes, a mound of garlic heads, and a bag of onions, were the inspiration for a simple but vibrant tomato and onion garnish. We chopped the onions into large pieces, sautéed them until golden, and then added tomatoes and a hefty accent of pressed garlic. Cumin, turmeric, and cayenne pepper added heat and color to our mélange. We served this quick confit with couscous and grilled Moroccan merguez sausages (easily found in France where we were staying). Back home I substituted lamb chops marinated with the same spices used in the confit with equally delicious results.

This confit is quite versatile. It would make a fine partner to seafood such as grilled shrimp or halibut steaks. Try it as a delectable garnish to beef or lamb burgers topped with melted goat cheese. Put it in pita pockets along with sliced leftover roast chicken, shredded romaine, and some diced ricotta salata or crumbled feta for a terrific sandwich.

Lamb Chops with Summer Tomato and Onion Confit Tomato Onion Confit
1 1/2 lbs Roma or plum tomatoes
2 medium large onions
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp kosher salt
Generous 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper plus more for a spicier taste
3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and pressed through a garlic press (see note)

8 loin lamb chops, about 3/4 to 1-inch thick (5 to 6 ounces each)
2 1/4 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp kosher salt
Generous 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

4 cups cooked couscous 

1. For the confit, quarter tomatoes lengthwise, and scrape out and discard seeds and membranes. Cut each quarter into 1-inch pieces. Halve the onions through the stem ends and peel. Cut each half lengthwise into 1/2 inch wedges. Cut wedges into 1/2 -inch pieces to yield 3 cups. (Save extra onion for another use.)

2. In a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil until hot. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until onions are golden and translucent, 8 to10 minutes. Add the cumin, turmeric, salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes and the pureed garlic, and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until the tomatoes are hot. Season the mixture with extra salt and cayenne if desired. (Confit can be prepared 1 day ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat, stirring.)

3. For the lamb, combine the cumin, turmeric, salt, and cayenne pepper in a shallow nonreactive dish. Whisk in the olive oil. Toss the lamb chops in the mixture until coated well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 6 hours. Remove and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.

4 When ready to grill, arrange a rack 4 to 5 inches from heat source and prepare grill for a hot fire. Grill chops until rosy pink inside, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

5. Serve the lamb chops with mounds of couscous topped with tomato onion confit. Serves 4.

Note: If you don’t own a garlic press, put the garlic cloves in a mortar and pound with a pestle, or place them on a chopping board and smash them with the side of a large, heavy chef’s knife. Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2014

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