Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes from Mooney Farms: Mediterranean Chicken Pasta Salad

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red tomatoes on green When  I was growing up in Vermont,  we eagerly awaited our fresh garden tomatoes like most people look forward to Christmas.   The growing season is so short in New England that many of  the tomatoes in our garden would still be green when the first frosts began.  My father would experiment with different ways to “save the tomatoes”.   If they couldn’t ripen on the vine, they might ripen on our sun porch…so we could have boxes of ripening tomatoes in the house during the early fall.

My husband has equally vivid memories of growing tomatoes.  His father grew tomatoes and lima beans for forty years on acres of farmland in Huntington Beach, California.  The land where he drove a tractor,  not far from the beach, is now covered  with housing developments  and serves as a vacation destination for surfers and beach lovers.

tomatoes by Andrew Fogg

There is nothing like a fresh vine-ripened tomato in season! Photo by Andrew Fogg used under Creative Commons License

 

The  delicious vine-ripened flavor of garden tomatoes  can be preserved for use all year round when the tomatoes are dried in the sun.  One California farm family has built their business on the heritage of their Italian grandmother,  whose home dried tomatoes were a family tradition.

drying tomatoes at Mooney Farms

Photo from Mooney Farms

The inspiring  story of how the Mooney family transformed their  farm to become the largest producer of sun dried tomatoes in the United States is worth reading.  Check out their website, “Like” their Facebook page or  visit their brand new visitor’s center and tasting room in Chico, California .  I admire the commitment to quality and healthy natural  ingredients that can be found in their products, first introduced at farmers’ markets and now available in supermarkets.  They even have gift baskets available for sale on their website...what a wonderful gift to give or receive!

Mooney Farms products

Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes packed in extra virgin olive oil or in soft dry-packs

Recently Mooney Farms sent me  a box of Bella Sun Luci products to review after I attended  Camp Blogaway.   I love that their sun dried tomatoes are available  two ways:  packed in extra virgin olive oil or in soft dry-packs with herbs or peppers.   The zip-lock  soft packs are perfect for snacks or picnics.  We have enjoyed adding them to scrambled eggs  for breakfast or  as a topping for crackers and cheese to enjoy with a glass of wine.  Of course,  sliced avocados are delicious with sun dried tomatoes!   Chop up a few sun dried tomatoes to add a Tuscan flair to avocado dip!

sun dried tomatoes with zesty red peppers

Soft, tender sun dried tomatoes with zesty red peppers

Last week I tried one of the recipes that came in in the package from Mooney Farms… Mediterranean Chicken with Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomatoes.  After removing the julienne-cut tomatoes from the jar,  I seared boneless skinless  chicken breasts in the olive oil and herbs from the jar, so nothing was wasted.

seared chicken breast

The seasoned olive oil from the jar of tomatoes gave the seared chicken a beautiful color and flavor.

Then the chicken went into a casserole with the sun dried tomatoes, chopped artichoke hearts,  feta cheese, mayonnaisse, garlic, green onions, and seasoning.   Mediterranean Chicken with Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomatoes  was easy to make and smelled divine as it was baking.

rotini pasta

In our family we never know how many people will be showing up for dinner, so when the Mediterranean chicken had finished cooking I chopped it up into smaller pieces.     I  cooked some tri-color rotini pasta and mixed the creamy sauce and the chicken into the pasta,  adding more artichoke quarters,  black olives,  fresh basil and avocado on the side.

warm Mediterranean chicken pasta salad

Mediterranean Chicken with Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomatoes makes a delicious warm pasta salad

It was a delicious warm salad and I enjoyed it before leaving for choir rehearsal.    The left-overs went into the fridge,  so the rest of the family could have  the chilled salad later in the evening  after they came in from working in the avocado grove.   The next day,   I heated up the rest of the pasta with that delicious sauce and served it with some parmesan cheese on top.    The sun dried tomatoes add that concentrated gourmet tomato flavor,  and knowing that they come from another California farm family makes them even more special in our kitchen.  I love that  Mooney Farms has already added Italian herbs, basil or zesty red pepper to the tomatoes.   The fewer ingredients I need to use, the easier it is to get supper on the table!

Mooney Farms sun dried tomatoes

Bella Sun Luci sun dried tomatoes

The Mooney family is a three-generation California farm family who love working together to preserve their family heritage and ensure the future of agriculture in California.    I want to thank Mooney Farms for sending me  their products to try, and can heartily recommend these top quality sun-dried tomatoes.   I’m looking forward to sharing more recipes using Bella Sun Luci products with you!

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8 Comments

  1. Mimi,
    I so enjoy reading your articles. You are so multi talented. Your music, choir director, writer and photographer. Not counting the usual stuff like wife, mom and good friend.
    AD

  2. Nicely done, Mimi! You made me hungry at 7:30 AM for pasta. As always, I enjoyed reading your blog….you are extremely talented!
    Have a great weekend,
    LdN

  3. Hi Mimi! Chico! My gosh that’s in my neighborhood…must go visit as I do love sun dried ‘matoes. Your photography sure makes me hungry!
    Linda C Smith recently posted..Art and Photography – a conversation with California Photographer Bill HackettMy Profile

    • I may take a road trip and come up there to see it too! Wouldn’t it be fun to get together? I’m glad you like the photos, as you are an artist and see things that I don’t. I’m just beginning to learn. I do know that I love COLOR!

  4. Mimi,
    Your pictures are so awesome. I just wanted to grab the tomatoes and have a snack. Thanks so much for your recipes. They look delicious. My dad used to grow beefsteak tomatoes in New York when I was growing up and we just waited for them to get ripe.
    Emilie

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