Folklore states that cooks aboard Neapolitan ships invented marinara sauce in the mid-16th century after the Spaniards introduced the tomato from America to Europe. The original recipe was resistant to spoilage due to the high acid content of the tomatoes. This made it ideal for lengthy sea voyages hundreds of years before refrigeration methods were invented. Historically, the first Italian cookbook to include tomato sauce was Lo Scalco alla Moderna (The Modern Steward), written by Italian chef, Antonio Latini, and was published in two volumes in 1692 and 1694. This early tomato sauce was more like a modern tomato salsa.
Today, the sauce is usually made with tomatoes, garlic, herbs and onions. Its many variations can include the addition of capers, olives and spices and it is occasionally sweetened with a dash of red wine. This sauce is widely used in Italian-American cuisine, which has greatly diverged from its Old World origins.
Keep your freezer or pantry stocked and you’ll always be minutes away from a great, easy meal. Visit this link for my homemade marinara recipe or use your favorite brand.
For Breakfast or Lunch:
Marinara Baked Eggs
- 1 cup marinara sauce
- 4 eggs
- Shaved Parmesan cheese, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Warm marinara sauce; pour 1/4 cup into each of four lightly greased 6-ounce ramekins.
Top each with 1 egg. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the egg white is set and the yolk is thickened.
Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese. Serve crusty bread on the side.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered or sliced
- 3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper (1 medium)
- 1/3 cup finely chopped onion (1 small)
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1 ¼ pounds uncooked ground turkey breast
- Four ½ inch slices of Italian bread, toasted (optional)
- 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)
In a 3 1/2 to 4-quart saucepan, heat oil and add ground turkey. Cook until brown.
Add mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender.
Pour marinara sauce over all. Cover and cook on low-heat for 1 hour.
Heat the broiler
Pour stew into 4 individual ovenproof bowls. Top with a slice of bread and sprinkle each with mozzarella cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese begins to melt. Serve immediately.
You can also skip the bread and just top the hot stew with mozzarella cheese.
Pizza Stuffed Potatoes
- 4 medium russet potatoes
- Olive oil
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup pre-cooked additions, such as chopped bell pepper, chopped mushrooms, crumbled Italian sausage or chopped ham
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano or Italian seasoning
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 8 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Sliced olives, optional
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Scrub potatoes thoroughly with a brush; pat dry. Prick potatoes with a fork and rub with olive oil. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes or until tender.
Split each potato in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the flesh of each potato, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Place in a baking dish sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.
In a bowl mash scooped-out potato flesh; add 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 cup desired fillings and 2 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning.
Spoon 1/4 cup marinara sauce into the bottom of each shell; divide the potato mixture evenly among the shells. Sprinkle each potato half with 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake about 15 minutes or until heated through. Garnish with sliced olives, if desired.
Italian Style Pot Roast
- One 3 pound boneless beef chuck pot roast
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted and crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored and cut into thin wedges
- 3 medium carrots, cut in 2-inch lengths (1-1/2 cups)
- 1 large onion, cut into thin wedges (1 cup)
- 3 1/2 cups marinara sauce
- 2 cups hot cooked penne pasta
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
- Grated Parmesan cheese
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees F.
Trim fat from the meat.
In a small bowl, combine garlic salt, fennel seed and pepper; rub into the roast on all sides.
In a 5-quart Dutch Oven heat oil and brown the roast on all sides. Remove to a plate.
Place the fennel, carrot and onion in the bottom of the pot and and place the roast on top.
Pour the marinara sauce over the roast Bring liquid to simmer over medium heat, then place a large piece of foil over the pot and cover tightly with the lid; transfer the pot to the oven.
Cook, turning the roast every 30 minutes until fully tender and a meat fork or sharp knife easily slips in and out of the meat, about 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
Toss the cooked pasta with parsley and place on a serving platter. Slice the roast. Place the sliced pot roast slices and vegetables on the plate with the pasta.
Pour the sauce over all and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve.
Marinara Poached Chicken
Serve this dish with cooked pasta, mashed potatoes or couscous.
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- Salt & Pepper
- Grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil for garnish
Pour marinara sauce into a large, deep skillet with a cover; warm over medium heat.
Sprinkle skinless, boneless chicken breast halves with salt and ground black pepper. Add to the skillet and turn to coat in the sauce.
Heat just until beginning to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 10 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and a meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees F.
Top with grated Parmesan cheese and basil before serving.
This time of year I have many visitors and they often include my grandchildren. It is easy enough to plan meals that appeal to the grown-ups but not always so easy to prepare foods the children like to eat. Of course pizza is the number one favorite.
Here are some recipes that I have found that the young ones like and ask for again and again. These are delicious recipes with fats kept low and healthy ingredients added where they will be accepted.
Cheese Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce
- 2 cups blueberries
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup low fat cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, plus extra if needed
In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, lemon juice and honey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and syrupy, about 5 to 6 minutes; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, granulated sugar and a pinch of salt.
In a second bowl, whisk together the cottage cheese, milk and eggs. Add the cottage cheese mixture to the flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. In batches, drop large spoonfuls (about 1/4 cup each) of the batter into the skillet and cook until bubbles begin to appear in the center.
Turn the pancakes and cook 1 minute more; repeat with the remaining batter and add additional oil if needed.
Serve with the blueberry sauce.
Cinnamon French Toast
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 8 slices hearty sandwich bread
- Vegetable oil
- 1 cup vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Combine sauce ingredients and refrigerate until serving time.
Beat eggs, yogurt and cinnamon in a wide shallow dish until blended.
Cut each slice of bread into 3 sections. Soak the bread pieces in the egg mixture, turning once.
Coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with vegetable oil; heat over medium heat until hot.
Place as many bread pieces as will fit in the skillet or on the griddle and cook over medium to medium-low heat until golden brown and no visible liquid remains, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
Repeat with any remaining bread pieces. Serve toast with dipping sauce.
Spinach Mac & Cheese
Serve with fresh fruit.
Makes 8 servings.
- 8 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups low fat milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 8 oz. shredded cheddar
- 3 oz. Velveeta Light cheese, cut into thin strips
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 3 tablespoons Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Boil macaroni two minutes less than the package directions.
While pasta cooks, whisk together flour and 1/2 cup milk in a small bowl. Pour remaining 1 1/2 cups milk into a large saucepan and heat over low. Once milk is slightly warmed, turn heat to medium-low and add flour and milk mixture, stirring constantly until thick. Reduce heat slightly and add butter, cheeses and salt. Cook until smooth, about 5 minutes. Stir in spinach.
Drain macaroni, then combine with the cheese mixture, stirring thoroughly.
Divide macaroni mixture among eight small ovenproof dishes. Place baking dishes on a baking sheet.
Sprinkle breadcrumbs lightly and evenly on the top and bake 25 to 30 minutes.
Ham and Cheese Calzones
Serve with vegetable sticks.
- 1 pound package refrigerated pizza dough (for 1 crust)
- 1/4 cup mild mustard
- 8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
- 8 ounces sliced deli ham
Preheat the oven to 400 degree F. Line a baking sheet with foil; lightly grease the foil.
On a lightly floured surface, roll or pat the dough into a 15 x 10-inch rectangle. Cut dough in half crosswise and lengthwise to make 4 rectangles.
Spread mustard over each rectangle. Divide half of the cheese among the rectangles, placing cheese on one half of each rectangle.
Top with ham and then the remaining cheese. Brush the edges of the dough with water.
For each calzone, fold dough over filling to the opposite edge, stretching slightly if necessary. Seal edges with the tines of a fork.
Place calzones on the prepared baking sheet. Prick tops to allow steam to escape. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
- 1/2 pound chicken breast tenders (fingers), about 8
- 1/4 cup refrigerated egg substitute
- 3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Olive oil cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Coat a 9”x13” glass baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
Place chicken fingers in a shallow dish and pour the egg substitute over them. Rotate and coat all the fingers.
Place bread crumbs in another shallow dish and dredge fingers in the crumbs.
Place coated chicken in the prepared baking dish in a single layer. Drizzle fingers with the olive oil.
Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees F. Turn fingers over and bake 15 minutes more.
Serve with the ranch dip, if desired.
Healthy Ranch Dip
- 1/2 cup low fat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup low fat buttermilk
- 1/4 cup olive oil mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper
Whisk together all the ingredients and chill.
Spaghetti with Basil Pesto
This dish is second to pizza in our house.
- 2 cups of basil leaves packed tightly in a measuring cup
- 2 peeled garlic cloves, cut in pieces
- 1/4 cup pignoli or walnuts
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup of very good extra virgin olive oil
Place the garlic, nuts, salt and pepper in the processor and pulse a few times. Add the basil leaves and with the processor running, add the olive oil slowly.
Process until the mixture becomes a paste. Pour the sauce into a pasta serving bowl and set aside.
Cook 1 lb. of spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente. Just before you drain the pasta, remove 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and set it aside.
Add the drained pasta to the serving bowl with the pesto and add 2 tablespoons of butter, the pasta water and 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Mix well.
Garnish with freshly grated black pepper. Serve.
- 1 pound of your favorite pizza dough
- 1 pound sliced mozzarella cheese
- Pizza sauce, recipe below
- Dried oregano and fresh basil
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Spread the dough to the edges of an oiled pizza pan.
Layer the sliced cheese on top of the dough.
Spread some pizza sauce on top.
Sprinkle with oregano.
Bake the pizza for about 20 minutes until lightly brown and crispy. Garnish with fresh basil.
5 Minute Pizza Sauce
- One 28 oz. container diced Italian tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped basil
- Dash of red pepper flakes
Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and add the garlic. As soon as the garlic begins to sizzle, but before it takes on color, add the tomatoes. Turn the heat to high, and as soon as the sauce begins to bubble, turn the heat back down to medium low.
Season with salt and pepper. Add the red pepper flakes and the basil. Cook for another minute of two and remove from the heat.
Want your children to be healthy – start with healthier food.
Providing healthy food in school and at home and educating children, parents and school staff about the importance of good nutrition and exercise definitely leads to improved the health.
At home, try to serve healthy meals and have healthy snacks available, such as apples, yogurt, whole grain cereals and cut-up fresh veggies in the refrigerator.
If your child’s school does not offer physical activity and nutrition education programs, contact the principal or the school board to find out if changes can be made to these programs. Check the lunch program for healthy options for your child and if, you are not satisfied with what they offer, give your child a lunch to take to school. At the same time, try to get the school to offer healthy options for those who want them.
The good news is that as long as you provide a wide variety of nourishing foods, your child’s diet will balance out over time. Here are some healthy foods that are as good for you and your children as they taste.
A perfect finger food for tiny eaters, blueberries usually go on to become life-long favorites. They are packed with vitamin C for immune health and fiber that can help keep kids regular. Berries of all kinds may help combat allergies, as well
Fresh blueberries are always a favorite with children. Add them to smoothies, pancakes, muffins, desserts and even salads.
The darker the bean, the more nutritious it is, elevating black beans to the top of the superfood list. Their protein and fiber content help balance blood sugar and provide growing bodies with long-lasting energy. One cup of black beans also supplies about 20% of your child’s iron needs for the day.
Black beans can be added to chili, pureed into a dip with garlic, tomatoes and herbs or mixed with scrambled eggs.
Eggs provide high-quality nutrition at an affordable price and are a great source of choline, an often overlooked but essential nutrient for brain and nervous system development. They’re also high in protein and are a good dietary source of vitamin D.
Since eggs can be added to virtually any baked good, chances are your kids are already enjoying them. Look for muffin and pancake recipes using several eggs, and experiment with omelets and frittatas. Popular combinations include: zucchini and basil, onions and potatoes, and tomato, mozzarella and ham.
Spinach is another highly nutritious food and is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K for optimal immunity and bone health. It’s also high in iron, several B vitamins and boasts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties making it a winner for heart and eye health.
If your child likes the flavor of pesto, replace half of the basil in the recipe with fresh spinach. Use as a sandwich spread, pizza topping or pasta sauce. Frozen chopped spinach is perfect for adding to meatballs or meatloaf.
Keep on trying different foods Don’t assume that your kids will never like something, if they’ve tried it once and dismissed it. Tastes change over time.
After School Snacks
Apple Snack Wedges
- 2 medium apples
1 cup Rice Chex (or other healthy crispy cereal), crushed
1-1/2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
Core apples; cut each into six wedges. Pat dry with paper towels.
In a small shallow bowl, combine the cereal and brown sugar. Spread cut sides of the apples with peanut butter; roll in cereal mixture. Serve immediately.
Strawberry Mango Smoothie
- 1 cup low fat milk
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1-1/2 cups halved fresh strawberries
1 medium mango, peeled and chopped
4 to 6 ice cubes
- 1 tablespoon sugar
In a blender, combine all ingredients; cover and process for 30-45 seconds or until smooth. Stir if necessary. Pour into chilled glasses; serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.
Peanut Butter Granola Mini Bars
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dried cherries or cranberries
- 1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
In a large bowl, beat the peanut butter, honey, egg, oil and vanilla until blended. Combine the oats, brown sugar and salt; add to the peanut butter mixture and mix well.
Stir in the dried fruit and chips. (Batter will be sticky.)
Press into a 13-inch x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350°F for 12-15 minutes or until set and edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into 24 bars.
Lunch Box Ideas
- 1/4 cup hummus
1 whole wheat tortilla (8 inches), at room temperature
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 carrot, cut into thin strips
- 1/4 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
Spread hummus over the tortilla; top with spinach. Place chicken, carrot and red pepper strips in a row near the center of the tortilla; roll up tightly. If desired, cut crosswise into slices. Wrap securely or pack in an airtight container; and refrigerate until serving. Yield: 1 serving.
Lunch on a Stick
- Cheddar or Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
Whole wheat bread slices, cut into 1-inch pieces
Sliced deli ham and/or turkey, cut into 1-inch strips
Seedless red or green grapes
- Wooden skewers (5 to 6 inches
Cut cheese into 1/4-inch slices. Thread a skewer with 1 piece of cheese, bread, ham or turkey, tomato, lettuce and grape. Repeat the order again on the skewer. Make 3 more skewers.
Let children be creative and place their favorite healthy ingredients on a skewer. Yield: 4 servings.
Bean Dip & Chips
- 1/4 cup fat-free canned refried beans
1 tablespoon salsa
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 minced scallion
- 1 ounceh ealthy tortilla chips, (about 10)
Combine refried beans, salsa, cilantro and scallion (if using) in a bowl. Serve with tortilla chips.
Healthy Dinner Options
Parmesan Chicken Nuggets
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup Italian seasoned panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Marinara sauce
Place butter in a shallow bowl.
Combine the panko crumbs, cheese, garlic powder and salt in another shallow bowl.
Dip chicken in butter, then roll in crumbs.
Place in a single layer on two 15-inch x 10-inch x 1-inch baking pans.
Bake at 375°F for 15-18 minutes or until no longer pink, turning once. Serve with marinara sauce, if desired.
Pizza Meatloaf Cups
These are great to reheat for a quick dinner on soccer night.
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces each) shredded mozzarella cheese
- Additional pizza sauce
In a large bowl, combine the egg, pizza sauce, bread crumbs and Italian seasoning. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well.
Divide among 12 greased muffin cups; press onto the bottom and up the sides. Fill the center with cheese.
Bake at 375° F for 15-18 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink.
Serve with additional pizza sauce, if desired. Or cool, place in freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months.
To use frozen pizza cups: Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Heat on a microwave-safe plate on high for 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 1 dozen.
- 2 medium carrots
1 medium green bell pepper
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups marinara sauce
2 cups part skim milk ricotta cheese,
2 cups (16 oz) shredded part skim milk mozzarella cheese, divided
3 oz grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
- 8 oz lasagna noodles, no boil
Chop carrots, green pepper and onion.
In a skillet, saute the vegetables in oil. Stir in the 2 cups of marinara sauce to heat it through.
In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt and egg.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread 1 cup sauce mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish coated with olive oil cooking spray.
Layer 1/2 each, uncooked lasagna noodles, cheese mixture, sauce,. Repeat layering, and top with remaining cheese.
Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.
Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes.
- 88 Unexpected Snacks Under 100 Calories (greatist.com)
Eating a healthful lunch can help control blood glucose, hunger and weight. Lunch is a chance to keep you full until dinner and fit in some important food groups. Get more mileage out of your lunch by including fiber from whole grains and protein from low-fat dairy products and other lean protein sources.
Build a Balanced Lunch
Studies show people who tote their meals with them weigh less, eat more healthfully and spend less money.
When compiling your midday meal, remember this simple formula, even at home: whole grain + dairy/protein +vegetables = healthy lunch.
Include whole grains for the starch portion of your meal. You’ll get hearty satisfaction from grains with all their fiber and nutrients intact. This will be your main carbohydrate source.
The dairy/protein digests more slowly than carbohydrates, helping you feel satisfied and adding staying power to your lunch. Vegetables add color, flavor and antioxidants to your meal.
If you love sandwiches, use a variety of whole-grain breads, pitas and wraps. Choose lean fillings like sliced eggs, tuna fish, cheese or lean meats. Then add interest to your sandwiches with assorted greens, fresh basil, sliced cucumbers, onions, pickled peppers and tomatoes.
But sandwiches are far from your only option when you’re brown-bagging it. Last night’s dinner, anything you enjoy at home can, be packed up and eaten for lunch. In fact, you might want to make extra food for dinner, so you’ll have leftovers to bring for lunch. Leftovers are the perfect food to pack and take for lunch because you can control the portions and calories in the meal to insure it will be nutritious, filling and delicious.
For example, pack the leftovers from last night’s casserole into a reusable container that can be microwaved at the office. Add some carrot, celery and pepper strips for a hearty and satisfying lunch. To take this idea a bit further, try cooking in bulk. On the weekend, make a big pot of chili, chicken noodle soup or rice and beans and freeze into individual portions that are ready to take to work in a flash.
Keep it cold. For safety’s sake, pack lunch with a reusable ice pack.
Pasta Lover’s Lunch Salad. Make the salad with lean meat or fish, some cubed or shredded cheese (for protein), lots of vegetables to boost fiber and nutrition and use whole wheat or whole-grain pasta. Toss everything together with a vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil or canola oil. Pack into individual lunch containers.
Mediterranean Pita Pocket. Fill a whole wheat pita with homemade or store-bought hummus, tabbouleh and sliced cooked chicken. All you need is a piece of fruit to round out the meal.
Fruit and Cheese Plate. Fill a divided plastic container with assorted cubes or slices of cheese and easy-to-eat fruit, such as apple and pear slices, grapes, berries or melon. Add some whole-wheat crackers to your lunch.
Everything Is Better on a Mini Bagel. Whole-wheat bagels are a wonderful foundation for sandwiches that stand up to being in a backpack or desk all morning. Start with two mini bagels. Add tuna, smoked salmon, oven baked turkey or roast beef. Top it off with cheese, fresh tomato, onion and Romaine lettuce. Two mini bagels can supply 6 grams of fiber to the meal.
Enjoy Lunch Salads. A plastic container can hold the makings of a delicious salad lunch. For a Cobb salad, fill it with spinach or chopped dark green lettuce, chopped hard-boiled egg, shredded cheese, lean ham or turkey. Or toss in the ingredients for a chicken salad: dark salad greens, shredded chicken, shredded carrots, sliced green onion and toasted sliced almonds. Pack the dressing separately and add it to the salad just before eating.
Lunches at Home
Include more whole foods and choose lunch items with higher amounts of fiber and nutrients (like calcium, protein and vitamin C). Include fewer processed foods such as cookies, chips and snacks, which have higher sodium, added sugar and saturated fat.
Spicy Poached Eggs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
- 1 hot pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 5 large eggs
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and peppers. Stirring occasionally, cook until the onion starts to turn translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, paprika, oregano, cayenne and salt. Add the tomato mixture to the skillet with the onions and peppers and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Make 5 hollows in the tomato mixture and carefully crack the eggs into each hole. Cover and cook until the eggs set, 5 to 7 minutes. Serve hot with a small whole wheat roll.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained well
- 1 (9-inch) pie crust (homemade or store-bought)
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 cup low fat milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon dried dill
Heat oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 6 minutes.
Add spinach and stir until spinach is dry, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Place pie crust in a 9-inch Quiche dish or pie pan. Press into the pan, sealing any cracks. Crimp the edges.
Mix flour with Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over bottom of the crust, followed by the crumbled feta cheese. Top with spinach mixture.
Beat eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg in large bowl to blend. Pour over spinach.
Place pie pan on a baking sheet and bake about 50 minutes or until the top is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly. Cut in to wedges and serve.
Chicken Salad with Apple and Basil
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 4 scallions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
- 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Pound it to an even thinness between pieces of plastic wrap.
Place the chicken in a large, wide saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1/2 inch. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until no trace of pink remains, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the lime juice, vinegar and brown sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the scallions and apples and toss.
Drain the chicken and pat it dry. Dice the chicken and add it to the apple mixture along with the peanuts, basil and remaining salt and pepper. Toss and divide among individual plates.
Lunches For Work
Taking a healthy lunch to work is one of the simplest ways to trim your budget. Most people think nothing of spending $10 or so for a restaurant lunch, but over the course of a month — or a year — the expense can really add up.
Beyond the cost savings, most meals packed at home are healthier than foods from restaurants or fast food counters. When we eat out, we’re often faced with huge portions and fattening extras — like the french fries that routinely come with sandwiches. But when you pack lunch at home, you can control your portions and choose healthier ingredients.
Tuscan Tuna Wrap
- 4-5 ounces tuna packed in olive oil, drained
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons chopped black olives
- Dash of salt and pepper
- 2 whole-wheat wraps
- 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
Break up the tuna in a mixing bowl and mix in the parsley, lemon, oil, tomatoes, olives, salt and pepper. Divide the mixture between the wraps, top with spinach leaves and roll up. Wrap the sandwiches tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Pesto Turkey Sandwich
If you would like a little crunch in your sandwich, add a slice of cooked turkey bacon.
- 2 teaspoons prepared pesto
- 2 slices pumpernickel bread
- 2 ounces sliced turkey
- 2 romaine lettuce leaves
- 4 slices tomato
Spread pesto on the bread. Top 1 bread slice with turkey, lettuce, tomato and top with the remaining bread slice. Place in a large plastic sandwich bag.
Corn & Black Bean & Mango Salad
Make ahead salad to pack for lunch. Serve with healthy toasted corn tortillas.
- 2 1/4 cups frozen corn, defrosted and drained
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups shredded red cabbage
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1/2 cup minced red onion
- 1 mango, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (pignoli)
- Lime wedges for garnish
Whisk lime juice, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the corn, beans, cabbage, tomato, mango, parsley and onion; toss to coat. Sprinkle nuts on top. Refrigerate in lunch containers with a lime wedge.
- Quinoa salad (dashofcreativity.wordpress.com)
- Cabbage Pear Salad French Dressing (skinnyfiberblog.wordpress.com)
- lunchbox life: egg salad on whole grain bread (bungalowkitchen.wordpress.com)
- Tacos (thediabetickitchen.wordpress.com)
- Salad in a Jar (dolcendiana.wordpress.com)
- Black Bean and Avocado Salad (closetandkitchen.wordpress.com)
- Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad (beingmrsgardom.wordpress.com)
- Apple-Fennel Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette (cathweber.blogspot.com)
Eggs are one of nature’s most nutritious foods. They are a very nutrient-dense food because they provide a significant amount of vitamins and minerals (14 in total), yet only contain 70 calories. Eggs make a valuable contribution to a healthy, balanced diet. They provide protein, vitamin A, riboflavin and other vitamins and minerals. The yolk contains all the fat, saturated fat and cholesterol in an egg. Eggs are an excellent source of high-quality protein and are far less expensive than most other animal-protein foods.
Yet, though they’re incredibly easy to make and the ingredients are usually at hand, many of us hardly ever think of preparing eggs for lunch or dinner. Perhaps that’s because eggs have gotten such a bad rap. They do contain dietary cholesterol. However, scientific research has made it clear that saturated fat — mostly from full-fat dairy products and red meat — is really the villain behind rising blood cholesterol levels. Although eggs contain a significant amount of cholesterol, they need not be excluded from the diet. Including protein-rich eggs in your meals and snacks helps sustain your energy level and curb hunger, cravings and unhealthy snacking. Protein is the most filling nutrient. It helps control the rate at which food energy (calories) is absorbed by your body.
Try to find eggs that are not mass produced from caged chickens. Healthier cage-free chickens produce yellower, more flavorful eggs, and your recipes will taste better for using them. Eggs are sold in standard sizes: small, medium, extra-large and jumbo. Most recipes call for large eggs but, if a recipe doesn’t specify, assume it means large. In recipes that don’t call for a lot of eggs, substituting one size for another is usually not a problem. However, as the number of eggs increase, the difference in the amount will become pronounced.
Eggs sold in supermarkets in the US are packed in cartons with the USDA shield on them indicating that they came from a USDA-inspected plant. Though not required, most egg cartons contain a “sell by date” beyond which they should not be sold. This date cannot be 30 days beyond the packing date. The USDA does require that egg cartons display the ‘pack date’, which is the day that the eggs were washed, graded and placed into the carton. You can find this date embedded in code on the side of the carton. The first 3 numbers, usually preceded by the letter ‘P’ indicates the plant number where the eggs were packed. The last 3 numbers is a 3-digit code that represents the consecutive day of the year, starting with January 1 as 001 and ending with December 31 as 365.
Egg products you see at the store may include whole eggs, egg whites and egg yolks in frozen or refrigerated liquid, and dried forms available in a number of different product formulations like cake and cookie mixes, as well as specialty egg products. Specialty egg products can include pre-peeled hard-cooked eggs, egg salad, pre-cooked omelets, egg patties, quiches, scrambled eggs, fried eggs and others. When purchasing egg products, look for containers that are tightly sealed and packages that are unopened. Although egg products have been processed, it is important to follow all cooking instructions on the packaging to ensure maximum safety. Buy refrigerated eggs and store them in your refrigerator as soon as you get home from the market.
After shell eggs reach home, it is very important to refrigerate them at a temperature of 45 °F or below. Keep the eggs in their carton and place them in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not in the door. Storing eggs in the refrigerator door could lead to temperature fluctuations that can lead to bacteria growth. Eggs may be refrigerated 3 to 5 weeks from the day they are placed in the refrigerator. The sell-by date will usually expire during that length of time, but the eggs are perfectly safe to use. Liquid egg products should be kept refrigerated at all times and consumed within two to six days from the date of purchase. Once liquid egg products are opened, they should be used immediately.
However, even under refrigeration, eggs slowly lose carbon dioxide, which causes the egg to lose moisture and enlarges the size of the air space between the egg and the shell. The combination of these changes makes an old egg a lot easier to peel than one that is fresh. So the best guarantee of easy peeling hard boiled eggs is to use older eggs.
It may be tempting to stop at a fast food drive in for lunch, but why do that when you can make a quick and delicious meal with eggs? If you’ve got eggs, you’ve got options.
Italian Egg Sandwich
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 large egg
- 2 slices Italian bread or 1 English muffin
- 2 slices tomato
- 1 slice fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon basil pesto
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Lettuce, optional
Heat oil in a small saute pan with a lid. Crack egg into a small bowl and pour into the pan. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Cook for 2 minutes, turn egg over and place a slice of mozzarella cheese on top. Place lid on the pan to melt the cheese and remove the pan from the heat.
Toast bread or muffin, if desired. Spread pesto on the bread.
Place egg on top of bread or muffin bottom and top with sliced tomato, lettuce and bread.
Potato Hash with Fried Eggs
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/4 salt
- 1 cup water
- 8 fresh sage leaves, divided plus extra for garnish
- 2 Vidalia or sweet onions, chopped
- 8 large eggs
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sweet potatoes and toss until coated in the butter, then add water and sage leaves. Bring water to a simmer and cook potatoes, uncovered, until the water has almost evaporated and the potatoes are fork tender, about 10 minutes. If there is any excess water in the pan, remove it with a large spoon and reserve.
Continue cooking potatoes, scraping pan frequently with a spoon, until crusty brown, about 10 more minutes. Add a tablespoon of the leftover cooking liquid or fresh water, if the potatoes stick or begin to scorch.
Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook, adding water as necessary when the pan gets dry, until deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer onions to the pan with the potatoes.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the empty skillet and cook the eggs, 4 at a time, to your preference.
Place potato and onion mixture in the center of 4 plates and top each plate with 2 fried eggs. Garnish plates with sage leaves.
Baked Asparagus & Cheese Frittata
- 2 tablespoons fine dry breadcrumbs
- 1 pound thin asparagus
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/2 cup water
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 5 large eggs
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese of choice
Preheat oven to 325°F. Coat a 10-inch pie pan or ceramic quiche dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, tapping out the excess.
Snap tough ends off asparagus. Slice off the top 2 inches of the tips and reserve. Cut the stalks into 1/2-inch-long slices.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add water and the asparagus stalks to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until the asparagus is tender and the liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes (the mixture should be very dry). Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the vegetables in an even layer in the prepared baking pan.
Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add ricotta, parsley, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper; whisk to blend. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables, gently shaking the pan to distribute. Scatter the reserved asparagus tips over the top and sprinkle with cheese
Bake the frittata until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Winter Vegetables with Egg
You should figure about 8 ounces of roasted vegetables per serving.
For the vegetables:
- Small carrots scrubbed and trimmed
- Small parsnips, peeled and trimmed
- Brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
For the mustard sauce:
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
One fried or poached egg per serving
In a large heavy skillet over medium high heat oil, brown the vegetables and cook them until tender and caramelized. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove to a bowl.
Add shallots to the skillet and saute until softened. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in olive oil and mustard; stir. Return vegetables to the skillet and mix thoroughly.
Top each serving of vegetables with a fried or poached egg.
Italian Eggs Over Polenta
- 1 (16-ounce) tube of polenta, cut into 12 slices (picture below)
- Olive oil
- 2 cups homemade or store bought tomato-basil pasta sauce
- 1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese
Arrange polenta slices on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Brush tops of polenta with olive oil. Broil 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated and beginning to brown.
Bring sauce to a simmer in a large nonstick skillet with a cover over medium-high heat. Stir in spinach; cover and cook for 1 minute or until spinach wilts. Stir to combine.
Make 4 indentations in the top of the spinach mixture using the back of a wooden spoon. Break 1 egg into each indentation. Cover the pan, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until eggs are cooked to your liking. Sprinkle with cheese.
Place 3 polenta slices on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 egg and one-fourth of spinach mixture.
- Consumption of Eggs and Its Effect on Diabetes (diabetes.answers.com)
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- Fabulously Easy Party Food: Deviled Eggs (babescott.com)
- 5 Nifty New Uses For Egg Cartons (iplanethealthnews.com)
- Skinny Scrambled Eggs with Cheddar and Rosemary (purplehouseblog.wordpress.com)
Eggplant is a vegetable long prized for its beauty, as well as its unique taste and texture. Eggplant belongs to the plant family commonly known as nightshades and are kin to the tomato, bell pepper and potato. Eggplant grows in a manner much like tomatoes by hanging from the vines of a plant that grows several feet in height.
One of the most popular varieties of eggplant in North America looks like a pear-shaped egg, a characteristic from which its name is derived. The skin is glossy and deep purple in color, while the flesh is cream-colored and spongy in consistency. Contained within the flesh are seeds arranged in a conical pattern.
In addition to this variety, eggplant is also available in a cornucopia of other colors including lavender, jade green, orange and yellow-white, as well as in sizes and shapes that range from that of a small tomato to a large zucchini.
While the different varieties do vary slightly in taste and texture, one can generally describe eggplant as having a pleasantly bitter taste and soft texture. In many recipes, eggplant fulfills the role of being a complementary ingredient that balances the surrounding flavors. Eggplant is low in fat, cholesterol and sodium and contains nutrients invaluable for good health.
Shahla Khan, a senior adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of North Florida, discusses myths and facts about this fruit.
Myth: Eggplant is a vegetable.
Fact: While it’s generally thought of as a vegetable, eggplant is actually a fruit. The eggplant, aubergine, melongene, brinjal or guinea squash is a plant of the family Solanaceae. Eggplant is grown for its usually egg-shaped fleshy fruit and is eaten as a cooked vegetable. Some even consider it a berry.
Myth: Consuming eggplant causes insanity and can be poisonous.
Fact: Because eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, people thought the purple bulb variety was associated with the mandrake plant and was poisonous and, if you ate it, you would go insane. Some people also thought nightshade vegetables were harmful because they confused them with “deadly nightshade,” an inedible weed that’s also part of the Solanaceae family. Historically, deadly nightshade has been associated with witchcraft. When ingested in large amounts, it’s believed to cause convulsions or even death. But that has nothing to do with eggplant.
Myth: Eggplant always has to be salted before cooking to remove its bitter taste.
Fact: The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste. Salting and then rinsing the sliced fruit may soften and remove some of the bitterness. Some varieties of eggplant do not need this treatment, because they are far less bitter. The fruit is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and the salting process may reduce the amount of oil absorbed.
Myth: Eggplant contains some unhealthful compounds.
Fact: The health benefits of this nightshade fruit far outweigh any risks. Eggplants contain many nutrients that are invaluable to health. Potassium, manganese, copper, vitamins B1, B3, B6, folate, magnesium and tryptophan, to mention just a few. In addition to those nutrients, eggplants are low in sodium, fat and cholesterol and one cup of cooked eggplant has about 30 calories. Eggplants also contain phytochemicals that enhance health.
Myth: When purchasing eggplant, the bigger the better.
Fact: Smaller, immature eggplants are best. Their seeds will be softer and they are less likely to be bitter. Eggplants are very perishable and get bitter with age. They should have firm, taut, smooth and shiny skins. Once the skin starts to wrinkle or you feel and see soft brown spots, the quality of the eggplant has lessened. Large, oversize eggplants may be tough, seedy and bitter.
Source: University of North Florida’s Department of Nutrition and Dietetics.
How to Select and Store
Choose eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size. Their skin should be smooth and shiny and their color, whether it be purple, white or green, should be vivid. They should be free of discoloration, scars and bruises, which usually indicate that the flesh beneath has become damaged and possibly decayed.
The stem and cap, on either end of the eggplant, should be bright green in color. As you would with other fruits and vegetables, avoid purchasing eggplant that has been waxed. To test for the ripeness of an eggplant, gently press the skin with the pad of your thumb. If it springs back, the eggplant is ripe, while if an indentation remains, it is not.
Although they look hardy, eggplants are actually very perishable and care should be taken in their storage. Eggplants are sensitive to both heat and cold and should ideally be stored at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). Do not cut eggplant before you store it, as it perishes quickly once its skin has been punctured or its inner flesh exposed.
Place uncut and unwashed eggplant in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep for a few days. If it is too large for the crisper, do not try to force it in; this will damage the skin and cause the eggplant to spoil and decay. Instead, place it on a shelf in the refrigerator.
If you purchase eggplant that is wrapped in plastic film, remove it as soon as possible, since it will inhibit the eggplant from breathing and degrade its freshness.
Tips for Preparing Eggplant
When cutting an eggplant, use a stainless steel knife as carbon steel will react with its nutrients and cause it to turn black. Wash the eggplant first and then cut off the ends.
Most eggplant can be eaten either with or without their skin. However, the larger ones and those that are white in color generally have tough skins that may not be palatable. To remove the skin, you can peel it before cutting or if you are baking it, you can scoop out the flesh once it is cooked.
To tenderize the flesh’s texture and reduce some of its naturally occurring bitter taste, you can sweat the eggplant by salting it. After cutting the eggplant into the desired size and shape, sprinkle it with salt and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes. This process will pull out some of its water content and make it less permeable to absorbing any oil used in cooking.
Rinsing the eggplant after “sweating” will remove most of the salt.
Eggplant can be baked, grilled, roasted in the oven or steamed. If baking it whole, pierce the eggplant several times with a fork to make small holes for the steam to escape. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (about 177 degrees Celsius) for 15 to 25 minutes, depending upon size. You can test it by gently inserting a knife or fork to see if it passes through easily.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large white onion, chopped fine
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 bay leaves
- 2 large eggplants, peeled and diced in 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 – 16 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 3/4 cup sliced drained pimiento-stuffed green olives (5-ounce jar)
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 small bunch parsley, stems discarded and leaves chopped
Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and bay leaves; saute until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add eggplant cubes; saute until cooked, about 4 minutes.
Add all remaining ingredients, except parsley. Simmer until picadillo thickens, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in parsley. Discard bay leaves. Serve with toasted pita or corn chips.
Grilled Eggplant Parmesan
This grilled-vegetable version of Eggplant Parmesan is much lighter than the fried kind.
- 1 large eggplant (1 1/2 pounds), peeled and sliced crosswise, 1/4 inch thick
- 4 large plum tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing vegetables
- 1/3 cup chopped green olives
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped oil packed Calabrian chilies or other hot chilies
- 1/4 cup finely shredded basil, plus whole leaves for garnish
- 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- Crusty bread, for serving
Preheat the oven to 450°F. and heat a grill pan.
Brush the eggplant and tomato slices with olive oil and season lightly with salt.
Grill the eggplant in batches over moderately high heat, turning once, until softened and lightly charred, about 4 minutes.
Grill the tomatoes, turning once, until lightly charred but still intact, about 2 minutes. (This step can be done early in the day)
In a bowl, combine the olives, chilies and shredded basil.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In the center, arrange half of the eggplant in a 9-inch square, overlapping the slices slightly. Top with half of the grilled tomatoes, olive mixture and cheese.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients, ending with the cheese.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 15 minutes, until bubbling and golden. Let stand for 10 minutes. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with crusty bread.
Pan-grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Salad
Serve at room temperature to allow the flavors to blend.
- 2 eggplants, thinly sliced lengthwise
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 4 small zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
- Mint leaves, to garnish
Sprinkle the eggplant slices with 2 teaspoons salt and let stand in a colander for 30 minutes.
Mix together the oil, vinegar and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat a ridged grill pan over high heat.
Brush the zucchini with a little of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook the zucchini, turning once, about 3 minutes, until tender. Transfer to a large bowl.
Rinse the eggplants and pat dry with paper towels. Brush the eggplants with olive oil and cook for about 5 minutes, turning once. Transfer to the bowl with the zucchini, add the dressing and mix.
Stir in the mint leaves. Let stand for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Broiled Eggplant with Pesto
Serves 2 to 4
- 1 large eggplant
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- Large bunch of basil
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 lemon, to serve
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the eggplant lengthwise in half, through the stalk. Using a small, sharp knife make a crisscross pattern across the cut surfaces to a depth of about 3/4 inch.
Brush with a little of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes. The flesh should be very soft.
Meanwhile, lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet, then remove from the skillet and cool.
Process the basil, garlic, pine nuts and salt and pepper to taste into a paste in a food processor. Add enough of the remaining olive oil to produce a loose-textured puree.
Mix in the cheese and spread the pesto over the scored surfaces of the eggplant. Broil until golden and bubbling. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 lb ground beef or turkey
- 1 onion, diced small (about 1 cup)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced small (about 1 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 ¼ cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/2 cup plain Panko bread crumbs
- 1 whole egg
- 2 small plum tomatoes, chopped
Cut the eggplant in half and scoop out the center, leaving enough flesh inside the skin, so that it holds its shape when baked.
Chop the eggplant that has been scooped out of the inside.
In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over low heat and saute the eggplant until very soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove to a mixing bowl.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet and saute the onion, pepper and garlic until tender. Add to the eggplant in the mixing bowl.
Salt and pepper the beef. Add the beef to the pan and saute until all of its liquid is evaporated and the beef begins to brown slightly. Add to the vegetables in the mixing bowl.
Mix together the cooked eggplant, vegetables, beef, herbs, 1 cup of the cheese, 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs, the egg and season with salt and pepper.
Fill the scooped-out eggplant halves with this mixture, dividing it evenly between the two halves.
Top with the chopped tomatoes, the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and the remaining 1/4 cup bread crumbs.
Place in an oiled baking dish and bake for 50 minutes.
Let cool briefly; cut each half in two and serve.
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