Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Salad


Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (durum, emmer, spelt, farina, farro, kamut, khorasan and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods. Cutting out gluten from your diet may seem like a difficult and limiting task. Fortunately, there are many healthy and delicious foods that are naturally gluten-free, such as

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish and seafood
  • Dairy
  • Beans, legumes, and nuts

There are also many naturally gluten-free grains that you can enjoy in a variety of creative ways. Gluten free flours are made from the grains below. Nut flours are ideal for making desserts. Many of these grains can be found in your local grocery store.

  • rice
  • cassava
  • corn
  • soy
  • potato
  • tapioca
  • beans
  • sorghum
  • quinoa
  • millet
  • buckwheat groats (also known as kasha)
  • arrowroot
  • amaranth
  • teff
  • flax
  • yucca
  • gluten-free oats
  • nut flours

A gluten-free diet is primarily used to treat celiac disease. I have friends who have celiac disease, so I have acquired several recipes I can make when they come over for a visit.


Carrot, Orange and Ginger Soup

Serve with gluten-free rolls and a salad.

6 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pinch dried red pepper (chili) flakes
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 orange (juice and zest)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)


Place a soup pot over medium heat for about 30 seconds. Add olive oil, red pepper flakes, onion and ginger and quickly sauté for 2 or 3 minutes or until the onion is translucent.

Add carrots, potatoes, broth, water, thyme and cardamom. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook until the carrots and potatoes are soft, 12–15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and purée the soup with a hand immersion blender until smooth.

Add orange juice, zest, salt and pepper to taste. Return the pan to the stove-top and heat through.


Spaghetti with Artichokes, Olives, Tomatoes and Capers

Serve with sautéed zucchini.

3 servings


  • 8 ounces brown rice spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups artichoke hearts in water, drained and quartered (about 1 ½ cans)
  • 1/2 cup pitted olives, drained and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for garnish


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti, stirring to prevent sticking. Cook al dente, 12–15 minutes.

While spaghetti cooks, place olive oil and garlic in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Saute until the garlic just begins to color, about 2 minutes. Add artichoke hearts, olives, capers, tomatoes and pepper, stirring to warm through. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Grate zest from the lemon and combine with the parsley, along with 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

When the spaghetti is done, drain and transfer to a warm serving dish.

Stir zest-parsley mixture into the hot artichoke mixture and pour over spaghetti. Toss thoroughly and serve at once, topped with freshly grated Pecorino Romano.


Paprika and Garlic Roasted Chicken

Roast chunks of butternut squash or fingerling potatoes in place of the sweet potatoes alongside the chicken, if you wish. Add a green salad tossed with an Italian vinaigrette.

4 servings


  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) roasting chicken
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch wedges


Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Place chicken on a rack in a 9 x 13-inch roasting pan. Quarter the apple and onion and place the chunks in the chicken cavity.

Stir oil, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper and garlic in a small bowl to form a paste. Rub paste all over the chicken and under the skin.

Roast chicken for 30 minutes. Add carrots and sweet potatoes and roast for 60 minutes or until juices run clear when a thigh is pierced with a knife.

Transfer to a serving platter and let rest for 15 minutes before carving. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.


Gluten-Free Meatloaf

Serve with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

Serves 8


  • Non-stick olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup rice crackers, crumbled
  • 1 yellow onion, 1/2 chopped and 1/2 thinly sliced
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 egg , lightly beaten
  • One 8 ounce can tomato sauce, divided
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free yellow or Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly coat a 9-inch loaf pan with cooking spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine beef, cracker crumbs, chopped onion, carrots, egg, 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce, mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan.

In a small bowl, combine remaining tomato sauce with the brown sugar. Pour over meatloaf and scatter sliced onion over the top.

Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake until cooked through and deep golden brown, about 1 hour. Set aside to let cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


Spiced Beef or Fish Steaks

Serve with oven roasted asparagus and rice pilaf. This recipe also works well with fish steaks, just substitute equal weight fish steaks, such as halibut, cod or swordfish, for the beef. Use the same procedures and seasonings as directed below.

4 servings


  • 4 (4-ounce) boneless beef tenderloin, sirloin or rib steaks, cut 1 inch thick
  • White rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper (chili) flakes
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves


Dust steak with the rice flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add steaks; brown on both sides until cooked, 3–4 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and keep warm.

Add ginger to the skillet; cook 30 seconds, scraping up brown bits. Add brown sugar, red pepper flakes and orange juice; stir to blend.

Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Return steak and juices to the pan.

Simmer until warmed through and sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme and serve.



Pecan Custard Pie

Serves 8


  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 cups pecan halves, divided
  • 1 tablespoon high heat oil (safflower, grapeseed or coconut oil)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups cooked, mashed butternut squash or pureed pumpkin
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk, almond milk or coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a deep 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a food processor, coarsely grind 1 1/2 cups of the pecans until pea-sized. Add oil and 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup. Pulse just until well combined then transfer pecan mixture to the prepared pie pan and press into the bottom of the pan; set aside.

In the food processor, purée squash with eggs, soy milk, remaining 1/2 cup maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour filling over the pecan crust in the pie pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, finely chop remaining pecans. Sprinkle pecans along the outer edges of the pie and return to the oven for another 30 minutes, or until the filling is set and firm. Cool pie on a rack then transfer to the refrigerator to chill before serving.

For best results, chill the pie until very cold before cutting. Serve with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, if you like.


Italian Cornmeal Cake

Serves 8


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter , softened, plus more for the pan
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup full fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup ground almonds or almond meal/flour
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Sweetened mascarpone cheese and fruit for toppings


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch spring-form baking pan.

In a large bowl, beat butter until light and creamy. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Mix in ricotta, almonds, vanilla, orange juice and zest. Mix cornmeal with baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and fold into the batter.

Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until set and firm. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool. Cut into wedges and serve with a tablespoon of mascarpone cheese and seasonal fruit.



Yesterday we roasted chicken and today we have leftovers. So what can you do with the leftovers?

It makes sense for us to get smarter about fully using the food that we purchase. And that means getting smarter about leftovers.

Even a small amount of  leftover roast chicken can easily become another meal and there are numerous ways to do this without being boring. With leftover chicken in the refrigerator you can make convenient and versatile weeknight dinners,

Leftover chicken can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for three to four days, and in the freezer for about four months.  Just remember to plan your leftover meals ahead so that when you’re at the market, you can pick up the ingredients you’ll need.

How much meat from a 6-lb. roasting chicken?

Leftover Amount Yield
1 whole chicken 7 cups
1/2 chicken 3-1/2 cups
1 breast 1 cup
1 leg (thigh and drumstick) 1 cup

Make A Salad


Roasted Chicken and Romaine Salad

For 4 servings


  • 1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Leftover roast chicken (about 6 ounces per serving), sliced thin
  • 3 hearts of romaine, trimmed and torn into pieces
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices country-style white bread, each about ¾ inch thick
  • Additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and black pepper for garnish


Whisk the dressing ingredients until smooth.

Brush the bread slices with olive oil and toast on both sides in the broiler until lightly brown. Cut the bread into small cubes to make croutons.

Cut the chicken into thin slices and cut the bread into croutons. Place the romaine on serving plates and top with chicken and croutons. Serve right away with the dressing on the side.

Mix the romaine, chicken and croutons in a large salad bowl. Add the dressing and gently toss.

Divide the salad onto 4 serving plates and garnish with black pepper and cheese.


Make Chicken Soup


To make the broth:

After you cut all the meat off the chicken, use the bones to make broth. Place the bones in a large soup pot and add 4 quarts of water.Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 1 hour.

Place a colander or strainer over a large bowl. Pour the contents of the pot into it. Let the mixture cool. Pick through the bones and remove any meat; discard skin and bones. Add the meat to the broth; cover and set aside.

To make the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 7 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Additional cooked chicken and noodles, optional


Add the oil to the soup pot and heat over low heat. Add the onions. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the mushrooms, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Add the salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper and parsley. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes more or until the carrots and celery are almost softened.

Add the broth and chicken mixture to the vegetables in the soup pot. Taste for seasoning and bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add cooked noodles and extra cooked chicken, if desired.

Make A Pasta Dish


Chicken Lasagna Rolls

6 servings


  • 6 dried lasagna noodles
  • One 8 ounce package reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
  • 1 ½ cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1/2 of a 10 ounce package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup bottled roasted red sweet peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup marinara pasta sauce


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a  3-quart rectangular baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain noodles and cut each noodle in half crosswise; set aside.

For the cheese sauce:

In a medium mixing bowl beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Slowly add milk, beating until smooth. Stir in Romano cheese and chives.

For the filling:

In a medium bowl stir together 1/2 cup of the white sauce, the chicken, broccoli, roasted red peppers and black pepper. Place about 1/4 cup of the filling at an end of each cooked noodle and roll. Arrange rolls, seam sides down, in the prepared baking dish.

Spoon the remaining white sauce over the rolls. Top each roll with some marinara sauce. Cover with foil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until heated through.

Make A Sandwich


This sandwich can also be grilled in a panini press. You can also add a slice of your favorite cheese to each sandwich.

Chicken Focaccia Sandwich

6 servings


  • One round 8 inch tomato flavored focaccia bread or sourdough bread
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups sliced roasted chicken
  • ½ cup roasted red sweet peppers, drained and cut into strips


Using a long serrated knife, cut bread in half horizontally. Spread cut sides of the bread halves with mayonnaise..

Layer basil leaves, chicken and roasted sweet peppers between bread halves. Cut into wedges.

Dinner Entrée


Roasted Chicken Stuffed Zucchini

Yield: 2 halves


  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ cup finely diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons red bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small minced garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil or parsley
  • ½ cup leftover roast chicken, chopped
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons shredded  mozzarella cheese


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut both ends off the zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out most of the inner flesh, taking care to leave the shells (zucchini skin) intact. Chop the zucchini flesh.

Season the shells with sea salt and cracked black pepper and place on a foil lined baking sheet or in a glass baking dish that has been sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.

Add the oil to a skillet and heat on medium. Add the onion and cook 2-3 minutes. Add the bell pepper to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chopped zucchini flesh, tomatoes and basil. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the tomato starts to soften. Mix in the cooked chicken pieces to reheat and season everything to taste with sea salt, cracked black pepper, crushed red pepper and lemon juice.

Scoop the filling equally into each zucchini shell and sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the zucchini is fork tender.

FALL BRIDGE—By Leonid Afremov

FALL BRIDGE—By Leonid Afremov (

There is plenty of cool weather produce available in the fall that you can make into delicious, seasonal salads.


Apples are plentiful during the autumn months. For salads, choose varieties that are sweet and crisp. Popular salad apples include Red Delicious, Fuji and Winesap. Buy firm apples that smell fresh and have smooth skins.


It’s also the time of year to sample all types of pears. Select those with even color and a slight blush. Be careful when handling pears because they are delicate and bruise easily. Although there are thousands of known pear varieties in the world, there are a handful recognized especially for their superb flavor and fresh eating qualities, such as Bartlett, Anjou, Bosc and Comice.

Tip: To keep pear slices from browning, sprinkle them with lemon juice or serve them immediately after slicing.


Fresh cranberries are very tart and are usually sweetened before they go into a salad. Dried cranberries add beautiful color and sweet chewiness to salads.


Grapes are harvested when sweet and ripe, so look for plump clusters that are firmly attached to green stems. Once at home, refrigerate grapes until ready to use and then rinse with cold water, halve them and mix them into your favorite salad.


Fall beets come in red, pink, orange, yellow and white varieties, as well as a range of sizes. Both the bulbous root and the leafy stalk are edible. For salads, select small to medium beets with firm, smooth skin and no soft spots or punctures. Those with stems and leaves still attached are best. The foliage should be green and fresh-looking. Store beets, greens and all, in a produce bag in the coldest part of your refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Tip: Use disposable latex gloves from the drugstore when peeling beets. They’re thin enough to allow dexterity while protecting your hands from stains.


Fennel is available in the fall and adds a hint of fresh sweet licorice flavor to any salad. This aromatic plant is pale green with a celery-like stem and feathery foliage. Its root base and stems can be treated like a vegetable and baked, braised or sliced and eaten raw in salads. The greenery can be used as a garnish or snipped like dill to enhance many recipes. Fennel’s licorice-like flavor is sweeter and more delicate than anise and, when cooked, becomes even milder and softer than in its raw state.


The cabbage family is wide and varied: broccoli and cauliflower are members. Some of the best heads of cabbage for salads are the crinkled-leaf “Savoy” types, also sold as Napa, January King or Wivoy cabbage. These are thin-leafed, tender and mild. When choosing a head of cabbage, look for fresh, crisp leaves that are firmly packed; the head should feel heavy for its size.

Cauliflower and Broccoli

These vegetables are available year-round, but they are especially plentiful in the spring and fall. When buying cauliflower, select one that is white or creamy white in color, firm and heavy. Cauliflower may be stored for up to one week in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Keep it dry and any brownish colored portions may be trimmed away before cooking.

When shopping for broccoli, look for leaves and stems with dark green heads. Look for tender, young stalks that are firm with compact buds in the head. Yellow flowers in the buds or very rough bumpy heads may indicate the broccoli is past its prime.


Fall Spinach Salad

Serves 1



  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste


  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon chopped  pecans
  • 1/2 of an apple, cored and diced
  • 1 tablespoon diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons grated carrot
  • 1/4 of an avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic salad dressing, or to taste


Stir the balsamic vinegar and honey together in a bowl; slowly stream the olive oil into the mixture while whisking continuously. Season with salt and pepper.

Place spinach, cranberries, pecans, apple, onion, carrot and avocado into a salad bowl. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and toss to coat. Serve immediately.


Wild Rice, Kiwi and Grape Salad

4 servings


  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 kiwis, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans


Place broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add rice, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, or until tender. Drain excess liquid, cover and let cool.

Whisk together lemon juice, oil and honey in a small bowl until the honey is dissolved. Season with salt and pepper.

Place cooled rice in a salad bowl, along with kiwi, grapes and pecans. Add dressing, gently toss and serve.


Cabbage Salad – Waldorf Style

4 servings


  • 1/4 head savoy cabbage
  • 4 unpeeled apples, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 6 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Slice cabbage into thin pieces 1 to 2 inches long. Do not use the large ribs of the cabbage, as they are too strongly flavored for this salad.

In a large serving bowl, toss together the cabbage, apples, walnuts and celery.

In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, honey and salt. Mix with the cabbage salad  until evenly coated. Serve immediately.


Beet, Fennel and Apple Salad

4 servings



  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 medium cooked red beet, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, trimmed, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 medium crisp tart apple such as Granny Smith, cored and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, toss together the beets, fennel, apple and parsley. Add the dressing and mix gently to coat all of the ingredients evenly. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours. (If refrigerating, remove from the refrigerator and let stand 30 minutes before serving.


Fall Fruit & Nut Salad

6 servings


  • 3/4 cup cashew halves
  • 4 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  • 1 (10 ounce) package mixed salad greens
  • 1 medium Bosc pear, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup halved seedless red grapes


In a large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast cashews until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove cashews to a dish to cool slightly.

Return skillet to medium-high heat, cook bacon strips until crisp on both sides, about 7 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Coarsely chop bacon.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the bacon, rosemary, brown sugar, salt, cayenne pepper and toasted cashews.

In a small bowl, stir together white wine vinegar, mustard and honey. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a large salad bowl, toss half the dressing with the greens, pear slices, grapes and sprinkle with nut/bacon mixture.

Serve with the remaining dressing in case anyone wants additional dressing on their salad.


Labor Day is the perfect time to host a season-ending cookout. Invite your friends and family to celebrate outdoors with this informal and relaxing Labor Day menu. Add some wine and beer and you are all set.



Lemon-Caper Dip

Serve this dip with your favorite cut up vegetables so your guests have something to nibble on while you grill the clams.


  • One 8 oz. container sour cream
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped, fresh dill, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon lemon peel, finely chopped, plus more for garnish


Combine sour cream, yogurt, capers, fresh dill and lemon peel. Mix well and refrigerate until ready to use. Top with additional chopped dill and lemon zest before serving.


Grilled Clams

This will be the easiest appetizer you have ever made. Grilled Clams are best made with small littlenecks (about 1 1/2-inches wide)

6 servings


  • 4 pounds clams
  • 1/3 extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Basil and parsley for garnish


To grill the clams:

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Place clams directly on the grill grates. Grill (no need to turn or rotate) until they open, 3–5 minutes. Transfer clams to a large mixing bowl, discarding any that are not open.

To prepare the sauce:

Mix olive oil, shallot, garlic, chives and parsley in a small bowl.
 Add lemon zest and mix until well combined; season with salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce over the grilled clams in the mixing bowl and toss gently to coat. Transfer to a serving platter, arrange attractively and top with basil and parsley.

Main Course


Grilled Vegetable and Sausage Pizza

Makes 6 individual pizzas


  • 3 small yellow and/or green summer squash
  • 2 medium red onions
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 small (6-inch) rounds of your favorite pizza dough (or use the recipe below that must be prepared a day in advance)
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon each fresh parsley, thyme and rosemary


Cut squash into diagonal slices. Cut onions and tomatoes into thick slices. Brush with olive oil.

Heat grill to medium-high.

Place vegetables on oiled grill grates over a medium-high heat (use a grill basket if you like); cook about 5 minutes, until vegetables are lightly browned and tender. Remove to a plate.

Place pizza stone on the grill. When hot, place dough rounds on the stone. Cook about 5 minutes, until the  bottoms are golden. Turn crusts over.

You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your grill. As the pizza rounds cook place them on a tray until it is time to put them back on the grill.

Distribute sausage evenly on top of each grilled crust. Top with grilled vegetables and cheese. Sprinkle fresh herbs on top.

Cover the grill. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the bottoms are browned and the toppings are thoroughly heated.

Pizza Dough for Grilling


  • 1 ¾ cups warm water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for coating dough
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups bread flour (high-gluten flour)


Combine warm water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir to combine. Let stand until the mixture foams, about 5 minutes. (If you use instant yeast, you do not have to proof it. Just mix all the ingredients together)

Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and flour. Mix, using the paddle attachment just until dough comes together, 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove bowl from the mixer, cover, and let stand 20 minutes.

Return bowl to mixer and knead dough, using a dough hook, until surface is smooth and it springs back when you poke it, about 5 minutes.  Dough will be very stiff.

Roll dough in a ball, put it in a clean bowl, and brush lightly with olive oil.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature at least 4 hours before you plan to use it.

Place dough on a board. Knead it just enough to punch the air out. Divide it into six pieces. Flatten each piece into a disk on a cutting board and cover with a cloth until you’re ready to use them.


Italian Greens with Prosciutto, Gorgonzola and Pepperoncini

6 servings


  • ¼ lb prosciutto (8 to 10 slices), cut into 1/8-inch strips
  • 4 cups bite-size pieces mixed salad greens
  • 1 cup bite-size pieces arugula
  • 1 small head radicchio, cut into thin strips (1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup of your favorite red wine vinaigrette
  • ½ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (2 oz)
  • 6 pepperoncini peppers (bottled Italian pickled peppers), drained and cut into thick rings


In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook prosciutto over medium-high heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium. Cook 5 to 10 minutes longer, stirring frequently, until prosciutto becomes crisp. Drain on a paper towel.

In a large bowl, place salad greens, arugula, radicchio and vinaigrette; toss to coat. Sprinkle with prosciutto and cheese. Garnish with pepperoncini peppers.



Frozen Tortoni Cups


  • 3/4 cup crushed amaretti cookies, divided
  • 3 cups of your favorite ice cream
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons flaked coconut, toasted
  • 6 maraschino cherries


Beat the heavy cream with the powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.

Spoon 1 tablespoon crushed cookies into each of 6 custard dishes or large foil cupcake liners.

Spoon a 1/2 cup of ice cream into each cup, spreading to form an even layer.

Top each layer with 1 tablespoon of crushed cookies, then the whipped cream and some coconut.

Cover loosely with waxed paper and freeze 1 hour or until firm.

Let stand at room temperature 5 minutes before serving. Top each dish with a cherry.


Eating less meat and more grains, beans, fruits and vegetables means you’ll be consuming fewer calories and less saturated fat. People who eat less meat are healthier, less prone to cancer, especially colorectal cancer, and suffer from fewer heart problems. Another benefit is that you’ll save money. Meat costs more per pound than most foods and it can be challenging to serve healthy meals on a budget.

Committing to a 100% vegetarian diet isn’t necessary to achieve the health benefits that vegetarians enjoy. There aren’t specific guidelines to exactly how much meat to cut out to achieve these benefits, but cutting back even slightly is a positive change. A national health campaign known as “Meatless Monday” promotes cutting out meat one day each week, but you could try meatless lunches during the week for the same effect. Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable diseases and it can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like freshwater and fossil fuel.

How to make veggies taste good:

Go big when it comes to seasoning your veggie-friendly food. Fresh herbs are great but try something besides rosemary and thyme. Hearty roasted root vegetables are the perfect blank canvas for experiments using dried spices. A blend made with shallot, onion and garlic, adds lots of flavor to vegetables. Like things hot? Try Aleppo pepper, a spicy-sweet pepper. Don’t be shy with the sauces, either. Harissa is a spicy and aromatic chile paste that’s a widely used staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. Harissa added to yogurt brings the heat and then the yogurt calms it down. This sauce is delicious drizzled over roasted carrots. Or, use a herb-packed vinaigrette made from parsley, tahini, lemon and garlic. Choosing in-season produce at the peak of ripeness ensures that the color will be rich the taste will be fresh and flavorful.

Dinner One: Lentil Chili and Corn Muffins with Cheddar Cheese

veggie night1

Lentil Chili

Serves 8


  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 (16-ounce) package brown lentils (about 2 1/4 cups lentils)
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to brown, about 6 minutes.

Stir in garlic and chili powder and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add lentils, tomatoes and broth.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes or until lentils are almost tender.

Uncover and cook 10 minutes longer. Stir in parsley, salt and pepper and serve.


Corn Muffins with Cheddar Cheese


  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups grated aged cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Butter 12 standard muffin cups or use cupcake liners.

Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cayenne pepper in a bowl.

Whisk together buttermilk, egg and butter in a separate bowl.

Add buttermilk mixture to the cornmeal mixture and stir just until combined. Gently fold in 1 cup of cheese and the corn kernels.

Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle tops with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Bake 15 to 17 minutes, until golden and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove muffins from the tins and cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

Dinner Two: Penne Pasta with Eggplant Sauce and Garden Salad


Penne Pasta with Eggplant Sauce

4-6 servings


  • 1 medium to large eggplant, trimmed and diced (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • One 28 – ounce can Italian-style tomatoes, undrained
  • One 6 – ounce can Italian tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine or beef or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • 4 cups hot cooked penne pasta (about 8 oz. uncooked)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves, roughly chopped


Peel eggplant and cut eggplant into 1-inch cubes.

Heat the oil a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the eggplant and a generous pinch of salt and allow to cook, shaking and tossing occasionally, until the eggplant is brown and softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon, cover with foil, and set aside.

Add the onions and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, salt and red chili flakes.

Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Once the tomatoes have softened, gently break them apart with a potato masher. Then add the wine and water and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes.

Add the cooked pasta, parsley and eggplant, cover, and heat over medium until hot. Stir in basil and olives, season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with pignoli and Parmesan cheese.


Garden Salad

4 servings


  • 1 cup torn romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 3/4 cup torn curly endive
  • 3/4 cup baby arugula
  • 1 small red, green and/or yellow bell peppers, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup red or yellow grape, pear or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small carrot or half of a large carrot, thinly shaved
  • 1 ounce cheddar cheese, finely shredded (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup Homemade Salad Dressing (recipe below)


In a large bowl, combine romaine, spinach, curly endive, arugula, bell pepper strips, red onion, and cherry tomatoes. Top with carrot and cheddar cheese. Toss with the dressing and serve.

Homemade Salad Dressing


  • 1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


In a blender, combine broth, vinegar, honey, paprika, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and salt.

With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil through the hole in the lid and continue blending until mixture is emulsified.

Cover and chill for up to 1 week. Makes about 3/4 cup.

Dinner Three: Oven Baked Asparagus and Pepper Frittata; Sautéed Garlic Spinach and Braised Baby Potatoes


Oven Baked Asparagus and Pepper Frittata

6 servings


  • 1 lb asparagus, trimmed
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut asparagus at an angle into two-inch pieces and blanch in boiling hot water to cover about two minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in an ovenproof skillet with a cover. Add bell peppers and cook until soft, but not browned, about 7 minutes. Stir in onion and  asparagus pieces; sauté for 1 minute. With a slotted spoon remove the vegetables to a large mixing bowl.

Whisk chopped parsley, salt and pepper with the beaten eggs. Stir in cheese and mix with the sautéed vegetables in the mixing bowl.

Coat the inside of the skillet with the softened butter. Pour the egg mixture into pan. Bake, covered, until the eggs are just firm, about 35 minutes. Remove cover; bake until top is lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Divide into six wedges and serve.


Sautéed Garlic Spinach

Serves 4


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, thickly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Thick strips of zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 pounds spinach, cleaned, thick stems discarded
  • Freshly ground pepper


In a small saucepan, stir together the olive oil, garlic, chili pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir in the lemon zest. Bring the oil to a gentle simmer over low heat and cook until the garlic begins to brown slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the oil infuse for 1 hour. Remove the lemon zest with tongs and discard.

In a large skillet a large heat the infused oil and add some of the spinach and cook over moderately high heat until wilted. Add the remaining spinach until it is all wilted..Season with additional salt, if needed and serve.


Braised Baby Potatoes

Serves 4


  • 16 small red or new potatoes, halved
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves


Place the potatoes, chicken stock, olive oil, salt and black pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and place in a serving bowl. (I save this broth for soup or cooking other vegetables at a later time.)

Add the lemon zest and basil. Toss well and serve

Dinner Four: Mediterranean Salad with Hummus and Pita


Easy Hummus


  • One 15-ounce can of no salt added chickpeas, drained, 1 tablespoon of the liquid reserved
  • 1 small garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for top
  • Pinch of sweet smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


In a food processor, combine the chickpeas with the liquid, garlic, lemon juice and tahini and puree to a chunky paste. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the paprika and puree until smooth. Season the hummus with salt and drizzle the top with olive oil and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with Pita bread.


Mediterranean Salad


4 servings

  • 1/2 cup bulgur (not quick-cooking)
  • 1/4 of a medium head green cabbage, cut into 1”-thick wedges, then very thinly sliced crosswise (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 sweet onion (such as Vidalia), finely chopped
  • 2 cups assorted small tomatoes, halved, quartered if large
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped flat leafed parsley
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt


Place bulgur in a large bowl and add 3/4 cups boiling water. Let soak until softened and water is absorbed, 40–45 minutes.

Mix bulgur, cabbage, onion, tomatoes, mint, oil, lemon juice and Aleppo pepper in a large bowl to combine; season to taste with salt.

Do Ahead: The salad (without oil and lemon juice) can be made 4 hours ahead. Toss with oil and lemon juice just before serving.


My favorite seafood market on the Gulf Coast.

My favorite seafood market on the Gulf Coast.

It’s a great time of year to enjoy some fresh seafood. Whether you buy it fresh from the counter at your favorite market, catch your own or buy it frozen, seafood is a great addition to your summer menu. Make salad your main course by adding some grilled fish to it. Include lots of leafy greens (choose from spinach, arugula, romaine or mixed baby greens) and add tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber and diced onion. Top your salad with a tasty homemade dressing.


Italian Marinated Seafood Salad

Serves 6


  • 3/4 pound sea scallops
  • 1/2 pound medium unpeeled shrimp
  • 1/2 pound fresh mussels
  • 1/4 pound calamari rings
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups mixed salad greens
  • Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste


Bring a large pot of water to boiling. Add scallops, shrimp, mussels and calamari to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain.

Peel the shrimp and remove the mussels from their shells.

Place cooked seafood and olives in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, parsley, chives and red pepper flakes. Chill for 1 hour.

Divide salad greens onto 6 plates or salad bowls. Spoon seafood over greens. Garnish with slices of lemon and red onions. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Lentil Salad with Grilled Salmon

You can use canned salmon but for really good flavor, grill extra salmon one night so that you have leftovers for this salad.

6 servings


  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup cucumber,seeds removed and diced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • Two 15-ounce cans lentils, rinsed, or 3 cups cooked brown or green lentils (see cooking note below)
  • 12 oz leftover grilled salmon fillet or 1 ½ cups flaked canned salmon


Whisk lemon juice, dill, mustard, salt and pepper in a large serving bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil. Add bell pepper, cucumber, onion, lentils  toss to coat. Let marinate for at least one hour or chill until ready to serve. Place leftover chilled salmon on top of the salad or flake and mix in with the lentils just before serving.

Cooking Note:

To cook the lentils: Place in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until just tender, about 20 minutes for green lentils and 30 minutes for brown. Drain and rinse under cold water.


Mediterranean Salad with Sardines

4 servings


  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 large cucumber, cut into large chunks
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons sliced Kalamata olives
  • Two 4-ounce cans sardines with bones, packed in olive oil and drained (see cooking note below)


Whisk lemon juice, oil, garlic, oregano and pepper in a large serving bowl until well combined. Add tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, feta, onion and olives; gently toss to combine. Let marinate for at least an hour.

At serving time, divide the salad among 4 plates and top with sardines.

Cooking Note:

Look for sardines with skin and bones (which are edible) as they have more than four times the amount of calcium as skinless, boneless sardines. If you’re lucky enough to have fresh sardines available in your market, try them in place of the canned sardines. Lightly dredge them in salt-and-pepper-seasoned flour and sauté them in a little olive oil.


Grilled Fish Fillet Salad

6 servings



  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes (5-6 medium), scrubbed and halved
  • 1 1/4 pounds green beans, trimmed
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound halibut or striped bass or your favorite fish fillet (see cooking note below)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 large head tender lettuce
  • 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup sliced pitted  Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley


To prepare the vinaigrette:

Using a fork, mash the garlic with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl to form a coarse paste. Whisk in 5 tablespoons oil. Add 6 tablespoons orange juice, vinegar and mustard; whisk until well blended. Taste and season with more salt, if desired. Set aside at room temperature.

To prepare the salad:

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander. When cool enough to handle, slice and place in a shallow bowl. Drizzle with 1/3 cup vinaigrette; set aside.

Add beans to the saucepan and  bring to a boil; cook until the beans are bright green and just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain well. Place in a medium bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette.

Combine lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oil, salt and pepper in a sturdy ziplock plastic bag; shake until the salt dissolves. Add fish and marinate for up to 20 minutes.

Heat a grill to medium-high and preheat for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to medium. (For a charcoal grill, wait until the flames subside and only coals and some ash remain—flames will cause the oil on the fish to burn.) Oil grill rack.

Grill the fish, turning once, until browned and just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side for halibut; 3 to 4 minutes per side for bass.

Arrange lettuce leaves on a large serving platter. Arrange the fish (whole or flaked into large chunks), potatoes, green beans and tomatoes on top. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette. Garnish with eggs, olives, parsley and pepper to taste.

Cooking Note:

Fish that flakes easily requires a delicate touch to flip on the grill. If you want to skip turning it over when grilling, measure a piece of foil large enough to hold the fish and coat it with cooking spray. Grill the fish on the foil (without turning) until it flakes easily and reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.


Shrimp & Arugula Salad

Grill extra corn to use in this salad.

4 servings


  • 12 cups loosely packed arugula leaves
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn if large
  • 1 1/2 cups leftover grilled fresh corn kernels, (from about 2 ears)
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons grainy mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, (21-25 per pound), peeled and deveined, tails removed if desired
  • Homemade croutons made ahead and cooled, (see recipe below)
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup Asiago or Parmesan cheese, shaved


Sprinkle shrimp with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, turning from time to time, just until they turn pink and are opaque in the center, about 3 minutes. chill in the refrigerator.

Combine arugula, basil, corn and tomatoes in a large salad bowl.

Whisk 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.

Add to the arugula mixture along with the croutons.

Whisk the dressing again and drizzle over the salad; toss to coat. Divide the salad among 4 plates. Grind black pepper over the salads and sprinkle with cheese.

Homemade Croutons


  • 3 pieces of good quality Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

On a large baking sheet, spread out the bread cubes in one layer.

Evenly sprinkle the Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt over the bread cubes.

Then drizzle the olive oil over the top.

Using your hands, toss to combine thoroughly and then spread back into one even layer.

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden brown. The croutons will harden as they cool.



Packing lunches can be a rushed chore for parents and unhealthy items might get mixed in. Children have particular tastes and often balk at new, healthy foods, so the key is to keep the foods interesting and not too different from what they usually get. If your child returns home with half of their lunch uneaten because they don’t like something then use a few ”tricks” in creating their lunches.

Chips are crunchy and a fun snack, but lack nutritional value. The beginning of the school year is also the start of apple season, so substitute apple chips.

Use Greek yogurt that is full of protein and sweeten it lightly with honey to make a parfait. Layer fruit and granola with the yogurt to make something delicious that your children will love.

Unless your child is training for the Olympics, chances are they don’t need a sports drink every day. Curb their cravings for this sugary beverage with colorful flavored water.

Chocolate treats are very tempting for lunches. They’re individually wrapped and easy to throw in a backpack. Instead of the high sugar option, try healthy chocolate cookies. They pack the same great chocolate taste, but also have fiber and fewer calories.

Stop older kids from wanting to eat out by packing them a delicious wrap. They hold up well without refrigeration and you can tuck in some vegetables without them knowing. Drizzle Caesar dressing (or your child’s favorite dressing) over chicken inside a wrap for a tasty lunch that won’t have your children heading off for fast food.

If kids help pack their lunch, they’re more likely to eat it! On nights you have a bit more time, have them choose which piece of fruit or what type of bread they want and let them assemble their lunch.

Here are some ideas for healthy lunchbox snacks that most children like:

  • Single portion-sized cups of unsweetened applesauce or fruit without added sugar.
  • Trail mix made with cereals, nuts, pretzels, dried fruit or raisins, and a few chocolate chips.
  • Reduced-fat cream cheese spread on whole wheat crackers.
  • Individual serving-sized packages of low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese or yogurt smoothies.
  • Carrots and celery sticks with dips made from yogurt or low-fat sour cream.
  • Whole grain bagels topped with cream cheese-vegetable spread.
  • Air-popped popcorn flavored with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
  • Cheese cubes or sticks and seedless grapes make a delicious side dish for sandwiches or wraps.
  • Cold strips of grilled chicken with a honey mustard dip.
  • Dried cranberries or cherries are a sweet alternative for kids bored with raisins.


Baked Apple Chips

Makes about 50 chips


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large apples or 3 small ones (such as gala, braeburn or fuji)
  • Cinnamon, optional

You will also need:

baking sheets lined with parchment paper

a saucepan to make the simple syrup in

a mandoline or a sharp knife and a cutting board


the oven set to 250 degrees F


Make the simple syrup:

Pour the two cups of water and sugar into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Stir it once it comes to a boil to make sure there’s no sugar stuck to the bottom of the pan and it’s all dissolved.

Once the liquid is clear, turn off the heat and let it sit.

Set the oven to 250 degrees F.

Use a mandoline or a sharp knife. Start from the side of the apple and slice off the rounded side of the apple. Then cut the apples into 1/16 inch slices.

Keep going right through the center of the apple. At this stage don’t worry about coring them or the seeds.


Use a paring knife or your fingernails to remove any seed fragments, stems or fuzzy bits from the apple. The core will soften in the warm syrup.

Place the apples in the simple syrup and soak for 10 minutes. Stir a few times during the soaking period.

Using tongs, lift the apples, one by one from the syrup, shake off the excess and place them on the parchment lined baking sheets.

Don’t overlap them, but try to get as many on the baking sheets as you can. Flatten them as you go  Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon is using.

Place one baking sheet in the middle of the oven and the other right below that.

Cook them for a half hour and then rotate the trays so the top one is on bottom. Cook for another half hour and check. Depending on your oven, both sheets might be done. If they’re done, they should be golden brown and crisp.

If they’re not, give them 10 or 15 more minutes and check again, continuing to do so until they’re done. Keep in mind that they will harden up a bit once you take them out of the oven.

Apple chips will last a few months, it they are around that long.


Italian Focaccia Sandwiches

4-6 servings


  • 5 slices bacon
  • 1 (8-ounce) round loaf of focaccia bread (6-8-inches in diameter)
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced turkey
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese
  • Thinly sliced tomato


Cook the bacon in a heavy large frying pan until crisp. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.

Cut the focaccia bread in half and spread the pesto over both sides of the bread.

Cover the bottom halves of the focaccia with turkey, provolone, tomatoes and bacon, spreading equally.

Cover with the top half of the focaccia, pesto side down.

Cut the sandwich into 3-4 inch squares. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap.


Chicken-Broccoli Cups

4 servings


  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup light ranch salad dressing
  • 1 ½ cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken or turkey
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh broccoli
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)


In a small bowl combine yogurt and salad dressing.

In a medium bowl combine chicken, broccoli, carrot and, if desired, nuts. Pour yogurt mixture over the chicken mixture; toss to coat.

For individual lunches, divide chicken mixture among four plastic cups. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours.


Caprese Salad Pita Pockets

4 servings


  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cucumber
  • 3/4 cup mixed tender salad greens
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 large whole wheat pita bread rounds, halved crosswise


In a medium bowl toss together tomatoes, cheese cubes, cucumber, salad greens, basil, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.

Spoon tomato mixture into pitas. Wrap each pita half in plastic wrap and chill.


Chocolate Cookie Thins

Makes about 48 cookies.


  • 1 1/4 cups chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (about 6 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, American-style or Dutch-process
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped slivered almonds


Line 3 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Grind chocolate in a food processor using on/off pulses until coarsely ground. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer and add cocoa, ½ cup granulated sugar, baking powder and salt; stir until blended on a low setting.

Add eggs, honey, oil and vanilla and beat on medium speed until combined.

Beat in all-purpose and whole-wheat flours; then fold in cranberries and nuts until thoroughly incorporated. The dough will be stiff.

Divide the dough into quarters. Roll each quarter into a 9-inch-long “log.” Divide the log into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.

Place on prepared cookie sheets and refrigerate until very cold, about 1 hour.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F.

Place remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar on a small plate. One at a time, dip the top of each ball of dough into the sugar; place, sugar-side up, about 2 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.

Coat the bottom of a wide glass with cooking spray, then dip it into the sugar. Flatten the balls with the glass to make cookies about 2 1/4 inches in diameter, dipping the glass into the sugar between each cookie and spraying it as needed.

Bake the cookies on the center rack, one pan at a time, until just firm to the touch, 8 to 13 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool. Repeat with remaining pans.

These cookies store well in the freezer.

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