Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Salad

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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

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Lentil Chili

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

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Corn Muffins with Cheddar Cheese

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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

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Penne Pasta with Eggplant Sauce

4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

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Garden Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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

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Oven Baked Asparagus and Pepper Frittata

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

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Sautéed Garlic Spinach

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

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Braised Baby Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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

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Easy Hummus

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

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Mediterranean Salad

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

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Italian Marinated Seafood Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

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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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

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Mediterranean Salad with Sardines

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions

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.

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Grilled Fish Fillet Salad

6 servings

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

  • 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

Salad

  • 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

Directions

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.

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Shrimp & Arugula Salad

Grill extra corn to use in this salad.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

 


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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.

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Baked Apple Chips

Makes about 50 chips

Ingredients

  • 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

tongs

the oven set to 250 degrees F

Directions

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.

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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.

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Italian Focaccia Sandwiches

4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

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Chicken-Broccoli Cups

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions

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.

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Caprese Salad Pita Pockets

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

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Chocolate Cookie Thins

Makes about 48 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.


summerpastacover

Summer pastas should be simple and fresh, ideally made with vegetables straight from the garden or from your local farmers’ market. As the temperature rises, trade out heavier ingredients like braised meats or long-cooked sauces for fresh vegetables, bright herbs and seafood. One of the best parts of summer is the abundance of fresh produce. Perfect summer tomatoes need little work. Just toss them with fresh fettuccine and extra-virgin olive oil. Or try roasting cherry tomatoes with garlic and red onions and mixing it all with pasta, lemon juice and arugula. The great thing about summer vegetable sauces for pasta is that they require so little cooking. Here are a few recipes to get you started.

summerpasta1

 

Chicken and Vegetable Pasta

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced small
  • 2 zucchini, diced small
  • 2 cups chicken, cooked and diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 6 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions

Bring a medium-sized stockpot of salted water to a boil, and cook pasta al dente. Reserve a ½ cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta.

Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil, diced zucchini and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the diced tomato, lemon juice, cooked chicken and pasta cooking water. Bring ingredients to a boil; add spinach and cooked, drained pasta.

Stir ingredients and continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Stir in the chopped parsley. Serve hot, garnished with lots of Parmesan cheese.

summerpasta2

Tomato Linguine Sauté

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bunch fresh basil, hand torn
  • 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 pound linguine
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Wash the tomatoes. Dry the tomatoes; then core and cut them in half.

Use a spoon to remove most of the seeds. Chop the tomatoes coarsely.

Add chopped tomatoes to a colander, sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and let them sit so they can release some of their water (this should only take a half an hour and can be done ahead of time).

Combine drained tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and garlic in a large sauté pan. Warm this mixture over low heat. It should not be hot.

Cook pasta al dente. Drain.

Combine pasta and tomato mixture together in a serving bowl. Add fresh basil and Parmesan and taste for seasoning.

Serve with warm crusty bread.

summerpasta3

Pasta With Shrimp and Roasted Red Peppers

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds fresh peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion (1 small)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 fresh roasted red peppers, diced; for directions on how to make roasted red peppers, check this post
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh basil
  • 1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese (4 ounces)
  • 12 ounces dried penne pasta

Directions

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.

Rinse shrimp and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook and stir for a few minutes until the onion is tender.

Add crushed red pepper; cook and stir for 1 minute. Add roasted peppers, shrimp and wine. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.

Simmer, uncovered, about 2 minutes or until shrimp are opaque, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and cheese. Return to boiling; reduce heat.

Boil gently, uncovered, for 1 minute. Stir in basil.

Add the hot cooked pasta to the pan; toss gently to combine. Serve immediately.

summerpasta5

Pasta with Squash Blossoms

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow summer squash, sliced thin
  • 1 zucchini, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound short pasta
  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 7 squash blossoms, 4 sliced thin and 3 left whole
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced

Directions

Cook pasta al dente in boiling salted water. Reserve 1 1/4 cups pasta cooking water. Drain pasta.

Saute yellow squash and zucchini in olive oil in a large skillet over low heat until pale gold, about 8 minutes.

Add pasta, the reserved pasta cooking water, tomatoes, 4 sliced and 3 whole squash blossoms, cheese and oregano. Cook, stirring, until a sauce forms, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.

summerpasta6

Lemony Pasta Salad

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

Pasta Salad

  • 10 ounces bow-tie pasta
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 10 ounces (about 1 pint) mini heirloom, grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced into thin rounds
  • 3 ears corn on the cob, shucked
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 2 tablespoons slivered fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients: lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, garlic, mustard, salt and red pepper flakes; set aside.

Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the sliced tomatoes, corn kernels, crumbled feta, toasted pine nuts, basil and mint.

Pour the dressing over the pasta and mix well. Serve at room temperature.


grilledvegcover

What could be easier than making your entire meal on the grill? Cook vegetable side dishes alongside your main course for a quick summer meal. Here are some of my favorite vegetables to put on the grill.

Eggplant

Slice eggplant into planks (1/4” thick) and give them a quick dip in a marinade before putting them on the grill. A combination of balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil and olive oil is a good marinade for eggplant.

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers can be cooked two ways. Leave them whole and let them cook until charred all over for peeling, or cut them into chunks and grill until just blackened around the edges but still crisp.

Tomatoes

The flavor of tomatoes can vastly be improved by grilling. Cut them in half crosswise and place them cut-side down on an oiled grill. After three or four minutes turn them over and add a teaspoon of basil pesto. Cook for another three to four minutes then serve.

Zucchini

Zucchini is another vegetable made more delicious by a quick marinade before grilling. You can even use the same balsamic-basil marinade that you use for eggplant and vary the herbs for a different taste

Onions

The onions sharp and pungent flavor transforms into mellow and sweet on the grill. Cut the onion crosswise into half-inch slices and then run a skewer through it. Grill over medium rather than high heat to keep the outside from burning before the inside is cooked.

Corn

I do not leave corn in the husk for grilling because I don’t like the taste that charred husks leave on the corn. Simply brush with melted butter or olive oil and grill to get a charred effect. If you do not want charring, wrap in foil and grill.

Potatoes

Par-boil small potatoes until they are just about cooked through. Then thread them onto skewers and finish them on the grill. If you have some russet potatoes and a little time, make smoked potatoes. Build a fire for indirect grilling and add a handful of wood chips or chunks. Rub the potatoes with a little olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Put them right on the grill and close the lid. Do not wrap them in foil. After 45 minutes to an hour the potatoes will be done (test like you would a baked potato).

Asparagus

Asparagus in season are hard to beat no matter how it is prepared, but just give them a few minutes on the grill and you have something even better. Make a little garlic aioli to dress the spears after they’re grilled for a delicious side dish.

grilledveg1

Grilled Summer Squash, Onions and Tomatoes

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 medium zucchini and/or yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup red and/or yellow grape tomatoes

Directions

For the marinade: In a 3-quart rectangular baking dish, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, garlic, oregano, and salt. Add zucchini and onion, stirring to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Lightly coat a grill pan with cooking spray. For a charcoal grill, preheat a grill pan on an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 15 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove zucchini and onion from marinade and place in the grill pan. Reserve marinade.

Grill vegetables for 5 to 6 minutes or just until tender and lightly brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomatoes. Grill about 1 minute more or until tomatoes are heated through.

For a gas grill, preheat the grill. Reduce heat to medium. Preheat grill pan as directed. Add vegetables as directed above. Cover and grill as above.

Remove vegetables from the grill pan. Place on a serving platter. Drizzle reserved marinade over the vegetables. Toss to combine.

grilledveg2

Grilled Corn Salad

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 ears fresh corn on the cob
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite Italian salad dressing
  • 2 cups shredded fresh spinach
  • 2 cups red and yellow tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh oregano or basil
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh oregano or basil leaves

Directions

Husk and silk corn. Brush each ear of corn with some of the Italian salad dressing. Place corn on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender, turning often. (Or place brushed ears in a shallow baking pan; bake in a 425 degree F oven for 30 minutes, turning once.) When cool enough to handle, cut kernels from the cobs (you should have about 2 cups kernels).

In a large bowl, combine corn kernels, spinach, tomatoes and the 2 teaspoons snipped oregano or basil. Add remaining Italian salad dressing; toss to coat. Spoon corn mixture into six small mugs or bowls. Sprinkle individual servings with Parmesan cheese. Garnish with oregano or basil leaves. Makes 6 servings.

grilledveg3

Chili-Roasted Potatoes

Here is another way to grill potatoes.

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fingerling potatoes or round red potatoes
  • Half of a 16 ounce package (about 2 cups) frozen small whole onions, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions
Wash and dry potatoes. Quarter the round red potatoes, if using. Cut any large fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise, if using.

Place a 24 x 18-inch sheet of heavy foil on a flat surface. Place potatoes and onions on foil. Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with salt, chili powder, paprika and pepper. Bring up two opposite edges of the foil; seal with a double fold. Fold remaining ends to completely enclose the potatoes, leaving space for steam to build. Wrap with a second 24 x 18-inch piece of heavy foil to insulate.

Heat grill to medium. Grill the packets for 45 to 60 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, turning packet every 20 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 8 (2/3-cup) servings.

grilledveg4

Grilled Eggplant Rolls

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggplant
  • About 1/3 cup olive oil for brushing the eggplant
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 recipe for Basil Pesto, click here for my homemade recipe
  • 1 cup Tomato (Marinara) Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram leaves

Directions

Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.

Trim the eggplant and cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices, discarding the first and last slices from each one; you should have about 16-18 slices.

Lay the slices on a baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. Place over the hottest part of the grill, in batches and cook, turning once, until soft and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes on each side; return the slices to the baking sheet as they are done.

Season the eggplant slices on both sides with salt and pepper and arrange the slices on a work surface with the narrow end of each slice toward you.

In a small bowl, mix the ricotta cheese and pesto until smooth and well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place about 1 tablespoon of the mixture on the narrow end of each slice of eggplant and roll up, not too tightly, like a jelly roll. Set aside.

Heat the tomato sauce and spoon the sauce onto a rimmed serving platter. Arrange the eggplant rolls seam side down in the sauce and sprinkle with the marjoram leaves.

grilledveg5

Grilled Vegetable and Mozzarella Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 medium Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 1 medium yellow sweet pepper, seeded and quartered
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 recipe Balsamic Vinaigrette, see below
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • One 10 ounce package Italian mixed salad greens (romaine and radicchio)
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh basil
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks
  • Snipped fresh basil

Directions

Place tomatoes, zucchini, sweet pepper, and onion in a large resealable plastic bag set in a shallow dish. Pour the Balsamic Vinaigrette over the vegetables in the bag; seal bag. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning bag occasionally.

Drain vegetables, reserving vinaigrette.

For a charcoal grill, grill vegetables on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals.  Grill sweet pepper and onion for 7 to 10 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning once. Grill zucchini for 5 to 7 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning once. Grill tomatoes, skin sides down, about 5 minutes or until soft and skins begin to char.

For a gas grill, preheat the grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place vegetables on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as directed. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board; cool slightly.

In an extra-large bowl combine salad greens and basil. Add reserved vinaigrette; toss to coat. Arrange greens on a large platter. Cut grilled zucchini and sweet peppers into bite-size pieces. Arrange grilled vegetables and the cheese on top of greens. Sprinkle with snipped fresh basil.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar or regular balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In a screw-top jar combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, brown sugar, salt and black pepper. Cover and shake well.


FESTIVAL-OF-JOY By Leonid Afremov

FESTIVAL-OF-JOY By Leonid Afremov

Fresh seasonal produce and temperatures above normal are reasons to fix a satisfying salad for dinner. Most greens are great sources of folate and of vitamin C, which promotes healthy skin and a healthy immune system. Popular salad additions, such as tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and bell peppers, provide an abundance of vitamins.

Most people think of salads as a first course or a side dish served with dinner. However, by adding some great toppings like grilled steak, poached chicken, boiled eggs or cold shrimp you can take any salad and turn it into a meal. Moreover, salad doesn’t always have to be about leafy greens either — many are made with beans or grains like quinoa, bulgur, barley or farro. You can vary a salad’s flavor by changing the dressing or vinaigrette. Add some crunch to your salads by adding some fresh, raw sweet corn cut off the cob, or toasted nuts or homemade croutons. Now you have a great dinner.

dinnersalad1

Steak Salad with Blue Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. flank or skirt steak, trimmed and cut in half
  • 4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced crosswise in 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 6 oz. baby greens (6 packed cups)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)

Directions

Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat or prepare a medium-high (400°F) gas or charcoal grill fire. Oil the grill grates.

In a baking dish just large enough to hold the steak, combine the Worcestershire sauce and 2 teaspoons olive oil.

Add the steak and turn to coat both sides.

Combine the vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the 1/4 cup olive oil.

Season the steak with salt and pepper and grill, turning once, 3 to 5 minutes total for medium rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes.

Toss the greens, onions and tomatoes with just enough of the vinaigrette to coat lightly and divide the mixture among 4 serving plates.

Slice the steak across the grain and arrange both over the greens. Sprinkle the blue cheese over the salad, drizzle with additional dressing and serve.

dinnersalad2

Italian Rice Salad

6 servings

Ingredients

  • Garlic Vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • 3 cups cooked, slightly warm basmati rice (directions below)
  • 1 cup chopped red, green and/or orange sweet bell pepper
  • One 6 ounce jar quartered marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup pitted olives, halved
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • Mixed salad greens, mesclun or torn romaine
  • Fresh basil leaves

Directions

Prepare the Garlic Vinaigrette; set aside.

To cook the rice:

Place 1 cup uncooked basmati or long grain white rice in a fine mesh sieve. Run cool water over the rice for several minutes; drain well.

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water to boiling. Slowly add the rice and return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from the heat and let cool about 15 minutes. Makes 3 cups.

In a large bowl, combine rice, bell pepper, artichokes, red onion, olives and capers. Stir vinaigrette and drizzle over the rice mixture; toss gently to coat.

Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Serve rice salad on a bed of salad greens and garnish with basil.

Garlic Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, parsley, vinegar, sea salt, black pepper, basil, oregano and garlic. Makes about 3/4 cup.

dinnersalad3

Asparagus and Shrimp Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice plus 1/3 cup
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 3-4 oranges
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 cups torn mixed salad greens
  • 2 oz. sliced prosciutto
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions

Directions

Remove a 1/2 teaspoon of zest from one of the oranges. Peel oranges. Working over a bowl, cut oranges into sections and dice them; reserve 2 tablespoons and 1/3 cup of the juice. (If necessary, add additional orange juice to make the 1/3 cup.)

In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups water to boiling. Add shrimp; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 to 2 minutes or until shrimp are opaque. Drain in colander. Rinse with cold water; drain again and pat dry with paper towels. Transfer shrimp to a bowl. Add orange peel and the 2 tablespoons orange juice; toss gently to coat.

In a covered medium saucepan, cook asparagus in a small amount of boiling water for 4 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain in colander. Rinse with cold water; drain again and pat dry with paper towels.

In a small bowl, whisk together the 1/3 cup orange juice, the oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine shrimp, asparagus, diced oranges, prosciutto, greens and green onions. Pour dressing over all; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

dinnersalad4

Mediterranean Chicken Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Lemon Dressing, recipe below
  • 12 ounces chicken tenders
  • 8 cups mixed baby greens
  • One 16 ounce jar pickled mixed vegetables (giardiniera), drained and blotted dry with paper towels
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup homemade croutons (directions below)

Directions

For the croutons:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Remove crusts from 2-3 hearty country bread slices. Brush bread on both sides with olive oil. Cut bread slices up into small cubes.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 15 minutes or until browned. Let cool.

Brush 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing on the chicken tenders. Lightly sprinkle with black pepper.

Heat a grill pan over medium high heat; add chicken. Reduce heat to medium. Cook 5 to 7 minutes, turning once or until no pink remains. Slice chicken tenders in bite-size chunks.

In a salad bowl toss together the greens, chicken, giardiniera, olives, feta cheese and remaining dressing. Top with croutons and serve.

Lemon Dressing

3/4 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 large clove of garlic, squeezed through a garlic press
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Mix together the ingredients and set aside.

dinnersalad5

Pasta Salad with Tuna and Summer Vegetables

6 main-dish servings

Ingredients

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. campanelle or fusilli pasta
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 large cans or pouches of tuna in water

Directions

Heat a large covered pan of salted water to boiling on high. Add pasta; cook al dente.

Trim zucchini and squash, cut into quarters lengthwise, then cut into thin slices crosswise. Slice tomatoes in half. Slice olives in half and finely chop parsley.

In a large serving bowl, whisk vinegar, oil, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; stir in tomatoes.

Drain pasta well. Add to the tomato mixture along with the tuna, zucchini, squash, olives and parsley. Toss until well mixed. Chill before serving.


nocookcover

What do you do when it is getting close to dinner time but you just don’t feel like cooking? Maybe it has been a week of very hot weather or you had a tough day at work. Canned foods, deli ingredients, frozen fully cooked meat, such as chicken breasts, turkey cutlets, cooked shrimp and fresh summer produce can all be used to make excellent no-cook meals.

Of course, there are always salads and adding a few new ingredients will make them exciting again. Going a step further in using summer’s fresh produce means making gazpacho or other chilled soups — very refreshing plus easy to make.  Don’t forget about other raw foods as well. This is an ideal time to explore all the ways you can avoid heating up the kitchen.

Here are some ideas on what to fix on those days without heading to the nearest fast food restaurant.

nocook1

Tuna-Nectarine Salad with Pita

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
  • 12 oz canned tuna in water, drained
  • 4 ripe, yet firm, nectarines or peaches, pitted and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans
  • 2 whole pita breads, quartered

Directions

In a bowl whisk together Greek yogurt, buttermilk, mayonnaise and garlic powder until smooth. Stir in chives.

Add tuna and nectarines to the yogurt mixture; toss gently to combine. Spoon tuna mixture onto salad plates; sprinkle with pecans. Serve with pita bread.

nocook3

Cucumber Soup With Prosciutto Sandwiches

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped cucumber (about 2 medium)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallot
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives or basil, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 4 slices Italian country bread
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

Directions

In a food processor combine 1 1/2 cups of the cucumber, the buttermilk, yogurt, shallot, garlic, crushed red pepper and lemon-pepper seasoning. Cover and process until mixture is smooth.

Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the chives, balsamic vinegar and the remaining 1 cup cucumber.

Chill until serving time.

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with chives or basil.

Drizzle bread with olive oil and top with the prosciutto, dividing evenly. Serve sandwiches with the soup.

nocook2

Crab  Rolls

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound lump crab meat or chopped cooked shrimp, defrosted if frozen
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 radishes, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons celery leaves
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 hot dog buns, split
  • Pickles and low salt sweet potato chips, for serving

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the crab, mayonnaise, radishes, celery, celery leaves, apple, lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Dividing evenly, fill the buns with the crab mixture. Serve with the pickles and chips.

nocook4

Roast Beef Salad

Serve with bread sticks.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 small heads Boston (tender) lettuce, torn into pieces
  • 12 ounces deli roast beef, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 large tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions

Divide the lettuce, roast beef, tomato, onion, and blue cheese among four salad bowls.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle over the salad. Serve.

nocook5

Antipasto Plate

Serve with with fresh seasonal fruit.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 pound Provolone (or cheese of choice) cheese, sliced
  • 1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1/2 cup mixed Italian olives
  • 1/2 small loaf Italian country bread

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the chickpeas, roasted peppers, parsley, scallions, oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Serve with the cheese, prosciutto, olives and bread.

nocook6

Seasonal Fruit with Orange-Ricotta Cream

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup  ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup vanilla low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier), optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup quartered strawberries or whatever fruit is in season
  • 2 whole strawberries

Directions

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Spoon cheese mixture into a small bowl; cover and chill for 3 hours.

Spoon 1/2 cup quartered strawberries or other fruit into each of 2 small dessert dishes and top each with 2 tablespoons cheese mixture.

Garnish each serving with a whole strawberry or other fruit.



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