Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: Salad

There are many secrets to making a great potato salad. Often people leave it to chance or just pick up some from the deli – this can be a hit or miss proposition, as we have all had the not-so-good deli version. Making your own will give you a taste for the very best and you will never want to settle for deli potato salad again.

Some tips for making great tasting potato salads:

Use waxy potatoes (i.e., fingerlings, red potatoes, Yukon Golds) instead of starchy potatoes (i.e., russet), if you want them to hold their shape when you toss the potatoes with the dressing.

Lighten up the dressing by using a mixture of reduced-fat mayonnaise and low-fat yogurt. The yogurt gives the salad a nice tang. Vinaigrettes are an excellent alternative to creamy dressings.

Another important tip is to leave the potatoes whole and cook them thoroughly. Drain well and set the potatoes aside, until they are just cool enough to handle.

While the potatoes are still warm, cut them into bite-sized pieces (it is not necessary to peel them) and toss with a little vinegar, pickle juice or lemon juice to infuse the potatoes with flavor.

Other flavor boosters without fat to add to potato salads are onions, chives, capers, olives, mustard, herbs or pickles.

Add some veggies: red bell pepper and celery are naturally low in calories and will give your salad appealing crunch and color.

Be creative and add some interesting, non-traditional ingredients. On warm summer days, these salads are perfect for dinner. 

Chicken, Red Potato and Green Bean Salad

4 servings

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Salad:

  • 1 pound small red potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound diagonally cut green beans
  • 2 cups sliced or cubed grilled or poached chicken (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 1 (10-ounce) package mixed baby salad greens (about 6 cups)

Directions:

To prepare dressing:

Combine first 8 ingredients, stirring well with a whisk.

To prepare salad:

Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon salt to the pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until the potatoes are almost tender.

Add beans and cook an additional 4 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender. Drain well.

Quarter potatoes. Place the potatoes, beans, chicken, onion and greens in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing; toss gently to coat. Serve without chilling.

Farm Stand Potato Salad

8 servings

Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon country-style Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

Salad:

  • 1 3/4 pounds fingerling potatoes
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions

Directions:

To prepare dressing:

Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

To prepare salad:

Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Add a little salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until tender. Remove potatoes from pan with a slotted spoon to a colander.

Add sugar snap peas and broccoli florets to pan. Reboil and cook 1 minute; drain.

Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Add a little dressing to the potatoes and let rest while you prepare the other vegetables.

Then, combine potatoes, peas, broccoli, bell peppers and green onions in a large bowl. Add remaining dressing; toss well.

Quick Potato Salad with Shrimp and Feta

4 servings

Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salad:

  • 5 cups small red potatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, cooked and peeled
  • 3 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 cup yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives

Directions:

To prepare dressing:

Combine dressing ingredients, stirring well with a whisk.

To prepare salad:

Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a microwave-safe dish; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Microwave at HIGH 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Place potatoes in a large bowl.

Add shrimp and 1 tablespoon dressing; toss gently to combine. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Add remaining dressing, lettuce, bell peppers, onion and cheese; toss gently to coat. Top salad with kalamata olives.

Lemon-Arugula Potato Salad

If you want to make this potato salad ahead, prepare the recipe without the arugula. Once the potato mixture is completely cooled, cover and refrigerate. Toss with the fresh arugula just before serving so the greens do not wilt or get bruised.

Add some grilled steak for a complete meal.

6 servings

 Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 7 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (about 3 small)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons stone-ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups loosely packed arugula

Directions:

Peel the potatoes, if you wish, and cut them into 1 inch pieces Place potatos in a medium saucepan; cover with cold, salted water to 2 inches above potatoes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and gently simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain potatoes.

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to the pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots to pan; saute 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Combine shallots, vinegar, mustard, lemon rind, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, stirring constantly with a whisk until combined.

Drizzle dressing over warm potatoes; toss gently to coat. Cool completely.

Add arugula to potato mixture; toss gently. Serve immediately.

Cobb Potato Salad

Great side dish for grilled entrees.

6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound baby red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions
  • Blue cheese vinaigrette, divided
  • 2 large avocados
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 6 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

Directions:

Make Blue Cheese Vinaigrette, directions below.

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water to cover 15 to 20 minutes or until tender; drain. Toss potatoes with green onions and 1/3 cup of the blue cheese vinaigrette; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours.

When ready to serve, peel and chop avocados; toss with lemon juice. Mix lettuce with avocado mixture and tomatoes and add a little blue cheese vinaigrette. Toss gently.

Arrange lettuce mixture on a large serving platter; top with the potato mixture and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. Sprinkle with bacon.

Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese, divided 
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy small skillet over medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons minced garlic and saute until golden, about 1 minute.

Transfer garlic mixture to blender. Add 1/2 cup blue cheese, white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon water, sugar, hot pepper sauce, salt, pepper and remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil; blend well.

Transfer vinaigrette to bowl. Mix in chopped basil and remaining 1/2 cup of blue cheese. (Vinaigrette can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

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Think beans are just for cold weather?

Think again. In a crispy cool bean salad, beans are lighter, yet still as filling.  This side-dish favorite can be prepared in countless ways. So pick your bean base from one of the choices below and then try one the recipes in this post:

Kidney: For a meatier main dish, mix these rich beans with barley, fresh green peppers and a can of tuna and then top with an olive oil and lemon dressing.

Black:  For a Tex-Mex style salad, simply mix beans with corn, tomatoes, green onions, fresh cilantro and top it all off with a sprinkling of lime juice and olive oil.

Green:  Crisp and garden fresh, green beans will give your salad lots of crunch. Toss them with cherry tomatoes, soft feta cheese and grilled corn. Add a lemon-mint vinaigrette to really bring out the flavors.

Pinto:  Make a spicy salad by mixing pinto beans with cherry tomatoes, pepperoncini peppers, onions, celery and fresh parsley. Toss in an herbed vinaigrette and add a splash of Tabasco for extra flavor.

Garbanzo:  A highly versatile bean, garbanzos are great mixed in couscous with roasted bell peppers, red onions, cucumbers and feta cheese. Toss in a honey-Dijon dressing to finish.

Beans are eaten around the world with all kinds of flavorings and accompaniments. Black beans, for example, seem well-suited to Mexican style salads, while the flavors of the Mediterranean—green beans, anchovies, basil, thyme and fruity olive oil—enhance creamy white beans. Indian flavors—cumin, ginger, yogurt and cilantro—are great for chickpea salads as are Middle Eastern flavors—garlic, parsley, olive oil and feta.

You can easily make these salads by opening a can or two of beans and mixing them with seasonings and your favorite salad dressings. However, 1 cup dried beans gives you 2-1/2 to 3 cups cooked beans and, with the exception of chickpeas which actually take well to canning, most beans suffer, becoming quite mushy when canned. When you use canned beans, you also miss a chance to add extra flavor to your salads. Including a few aromatic vegetables and seasonings in the pot when cooking dried beans is an opportunity to add depth and character to the final dish. If you do use canned beans, try a few brands to see which you like best. The organic ones taste better and usually have little or no salt. Just remember to always rinse canned beans well before using.

Most beans improve in flavor and texture when cooked a day in advance. If you plan to hold them for a day or so, refrigerate the beans in their cooking liquid once they’ve cooled. If kept at room temperature for too long, beans can sour and ferment.

To soak or not to soak?

Soaking dried beans in water overnight before cooking them has two benefits: most soaked beans cook faster—up to an hour less. Also, if the soaking water is poured off, the beans will be easier to digest because you’re leaching out and pouring off the oligosaccharides that cause gas.

If you are not good at planning ahead, there’s a quick-soaking method. Cover the beans with water and bring them to a boil. Boil for two minutes and then let them soak for an hour off the heat, drain, and then add fresh water and continue cooking.

Many people believe dried beans last forever. In fact, very old beans and those that have been stored in hot, humid conditions might never soften even after hours of cooking. Yet it’s almost impossible to tell the age of dried beans. If you have a good market that goes through beans quickly, you’d do well to buy them there. Heirloom beans are available by mail from small growers.

To salt or not?

A major debate exists in the culinary world on whether adding salt or acids to beans slows down the cooking time or toughens the beans.  Cook’s Illustrated did a study and concluded that salt has no effect on cooking time or bean texture. Furthermore, they suggest that for maximum flavor, it’s actually essential to salt your beans at the beginning rather than the end of of cooking. Also, when soaking beans, Cook’s Illustrated says that by using salt water, the bean will cook up with softer and more pliable skins.  

Tomato sauce, wine, lemon juice and vinegar, however, do prevent the starch on the inside of the bean from swelling and becoming tender. These ingredients can be added to bean salads, but not until the beans are fully cooked and soft. And speaking of acidic ingredients, don’t dress cooked beans until the day you are serving the salad. Though the beans need some time to absorb the flavor from the dressing, too much time in contact with the acidic ingredients—and this includes yogurt—will make the beans mushy.

After cooking the beans and letting them cool in their broth, strain them and mix them with summertime ingredients, such as basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn and chiles from the farmers’ market. These salads are good for a light lunch along with some bread—crusty Italian with white bean salads, warmed tortillas with the black beans or and pita with chickpea salads.

Consider experimenting with a pot of cooked beans to create your own salad. Try some of the recipes below for a different side dish to add interest at your next BBQ. These recipes also make use of the many fresh vegetables that are available this time of year.

Basic Method For Cooking Dried Beans

Use this basic method to cook any type of dried bean, including cannellini, kidney beans, chickpeas, and more. 1 cup dried beans yields about 3 cups.

Ingredients:

2 bay leaves

2 cloves garlic, smashed

2 to 3 sprigs fresh herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, or flat-leaf parsley)

1 to 1-1/2 cups dried beans, sorted through, rinsed and soaked

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

Wrap the bay leaves, garlic,and herbs in cheesecloth and tie with twine. Put the beans in a large pot and cover with water by 2 inches (about 2 quarts). Add the herb bundle and the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the beans are tender but not splitting and falling apart, 1 to 2 hours depending on the type and freshness the of beans. Cannellini and kidney beans take about 1 hour and 15 minutes; chickpeas may take up to two hours. Best way to tell is to taste one of the beans. Check occasionally to be sure the beans aren’t boiling and that they are covered with liquid; add water if needed. Discard the herb bundle.

Black Bean Salad

Serves 4 – 6.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 small jalapeño, seeded, deveined and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 -3 big handfuls baby salad greens, well washed and dried
  • 3 cups cooked black beans
  • 1/4 cup feta, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Directions:

Making the dressing: I use an immersion blender – but a blender or food processor will work just as well. Combine the lime juice, vinegar, honey, jalapeño, salt, garlic and mustard. Puree and add the olive oil and puree again until everything comes together. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Set aside until you are ready to serve the salad.

Just before you are ready to serve the salad, gently toss the salad greens with a small amount of the dressing. Arrange it on a platter. Now toss the beans and most of the almonds with the remaining dressing. Arrange the beans on top of the salad greens and finish by sprinkling with the remaining almonds and the crumbled feta cheese. 

Bean Salad with Walnuts and Pecorino Cheese

If you can find yellow wax beans use half green and half yellow.

6 servings

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons Sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil

Salad:

  • 1 ½ lbs green beans, trimmed
  • 8 cups (packed) torn arugula leaves
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh savory leaves or fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half
  • 2 ounces semi-firm sheep’s-milk cheese (such as pecorino romano), shaved with vegetable peeler

For dressing:

Whisk shallot, vinegar and mustard in small bowl. Gradually whisk in both oils. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature and re-whisk before adding to the salad.

For salad:

Cook green beans in large pot of boiling salted water just until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer beans to colander and cool.

Combine beans and arugula in large bowl. Toss with dressing. Transfer salad to serving platter; sprinkle with walnuts, olives, herbs and pepper. Top with shaved cheese.

Chickpea Salad with Yogurt Dressing

Serves four to six

If you use canned chickpeas in place of dried, don’t cook them. Add the turmeric and salt to them (but not the onion or bay leaves) and continue with the recipe as directed. Toast the whole spices in a heavy-based skillet just until fragrant; crush them with a mortar and pestle or grind them coarsely in a coffee grinder dedicated to spices.

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, well rinsed (soaked and drained), or 3 cups canned (see note above), rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut in half
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 small potatoes (about 8 oz. total)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
  • 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
  • 1 medium-size hot green chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint

Directions:

In a deep, heavy-based pot, cover the chickpeas with 6 to 8 cups cold water. Add the turmeric, bay leaves, yellow onion and 1 tsp. salt. Over high heat, bring to a boil; reduce to a gentle simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Cover and cook until the beans are tender, about 90 minutes; let cool in the broth.

In a heavy-based pot, cover the potatoes with salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until tender, about 20 min. Drain. When cool enough to handle, peel and cut them into small cubes.

In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and sour cream. Add the ginger, cumin, fennel and chile. Mix well.

Drain the chickpeas, discarding the onion and bay leaves. In a serving bowl, combine the chickpeas, potatoes, cucumber and red onion. Mix in the yogurt dressing, cilantro and mint. Combine well. Let sit for 15 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve at room temperature.

Make Ahead Tips ; The beans can be cooked a day ahead (in fact, the flavor and texture will be even better). Cool the beans to room temperature, then refrigerate them in their cooking liquid; bring to room temperature  and drain before assembling the salad.

Warm Kidney Bean Salad

Try this bean salad as a side with barbecue pork or grilled chicken.

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2 — (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup green pimento-stuffed olives, sliced in half

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add oregano, vinegar and beans. Cook over low heat until beans are warm.

Remove from heat and stir in salt, parsley and olives. Serve warm or at room temperature.

White Bean and Baby Zucchini Salad

White-Bean Salad with Zucchini 

White beans add heartiness while chopped zucchini adds crunch to this vegetarian salad.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 pound zucchini (about 2 small), trimmed, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 4 ounces green beans, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal (3/4 cup)
  • 2 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions

In a medium bowl, place cannellini beans, zucchini, green beans, Parmesan, basil, lemon zest and juice and oil; season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Note: Small zucchini are sweeter than larger ones, especially when used raw.

Green Bean Salad with Prosciutto

4 to 6 servings

The flavor of Prosciutto di Parma, the most famous of the Italian hams, makes a delicious addition to this summery salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally in half
  • 1 medium summer squash, cut in matchsticks (about 2 cups)
  • 6 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced and cut into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper

Directions:

Steam beans in steamer basket over boiling water until crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Empty into a colander and cool.

Drain well, pat dry with paper towels and transfer to a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.

 


Salads are no longer the bowls of lettuce and tomatoes of yesterday. Today’s modern salads are full of zest and flavor and are often served as meals in and of themselves. Some of the most diverse salads are those that come from Italy. Authentic Italian spring salad recipes provide light, flavorful alternatives to heavier meals and bring a little taste of Old World Italy to your dining table, often with ingredients that are already in your kitchen.

A classic insalata mista (salad of mixed greens) often combines a variety of whatever salad ingredients are freshest and in season. Romaine and other Italian lettuces, Belgian endive, arugula, radicchio, dandelion greens, very young radish tops, sorrel leaves, chive flowers or fresh young herb leaves (oregano, basil or thyme) are a few of the possibilities.

Italian Salad Making Basics

Greens should be loosely wrapped in damp paper or cotton towels and refrigerated until shortly before the salad is to be prepared. Using wooden utensils will help avoid bruising tender greens.

Extra virgin olive oil is always the most essential ingredient and that is usually simply combined with white or balsamic vinegar or lemon, which is especially common in the central southern region of Italy. Only in the last generation or so have Italians begun to explore more elaborate vinaigrettes and dressings.

In any discussion of salad dressings, there are just a couple of things to keep in mind: Always apply the dressing just minutes before serving it, otherwise, the vinegar or lemon will wilt the lettuce leaves. Only dress the amount of salad you intend to eat. You can store the rest in the refrigerator with a wet kitchen towel on top of it. (Tupperware is perfect for storing salad; just be sure the lettuce is thoroughly dry.) If you have any leftover salad dressing, most can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days or more.

Another very important thing to remember before applying whatever dressing you choose, is that it is crucial that you thoroughly dry the lettuce after you’ve washed it; there is nothing worse than a salad with soggy lettuce. If you use a spinner-which is a really great invention-after the first spin, be sure to stop and turn the lettuce. Sometimes the leaves act as a kind of a screen, impeding the water from actually being expelled. If you spin and turn the lettuce a couple of times, you can be sure to enjoy a crisp salad later.

For most green salads, the serving bowl and individual salad plates should be chilled slightly, while the dressing should be at room temperature.

Lemon Dressing

Classic Italian Vinaigrette

Yield: About 1 1/2 cups

Make this dressing up to a week ahead. Add it sparingly to greens along with cracked black pepper.

Ingredients:

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt to taste
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cracked pepper

Directions:

Combine lemon juice, vinegar and salt in small bowl or jar. Stir to dissolve salt. Whisk in olive oil. Let stand 10 minutes. Add pepper add additional salt, if desired.

Spring Salads

One of the most flavorful of traditional Italian spring salads is also one of the easiest to prepare. Insalata Caprese is a light, savory salad made from tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, olive oil and seasonings. To prepare: slice four large, ripe tomatoes into slices 1/4 inch thick. Slice 1 pound of fresh mozzarella cheese into 1/4-inch thick slices. On a large platter, place tomato and mozzarella slices along with fresh basil leaves in intermittent layers. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Before serving, sprinkle with cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste. Serve cold.

The most classic version of Italian spring salad contains fresh ingredients such as grated Parmesan cheese, fresh garlic and black olives. To prepare: in a medium-size bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of water, one clove of roasted and finely minced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of dried, crushed oregano. As you whisk the combination, slowly add 4 teaspoons of olive oil. Set the mixture aside. In a large, separate bowl, combine 4 cups of mixed spring salad, one medium yellow bell pepper cut into thin strips, one fresh red onion cut into rings and 1/4 cup of fresh black olives. Toss salad until well mixed and then top with dressing mixture. Before serving, season with fresh ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese. Serve cold.

Insalata Primavera is a light, but hearty salad that will easily substitute for heavier dishes for warmer weather lunches or suppers. To prepare: in a large bowl, combine 18 cooked, yet still firm, asparagus spears that have been chopped into 2-inch pieces, 1/2 pound of fresh green beans that have been cooked and cut in half, six cooked and sliced artichoke hearts, three large peeled and diced tomatoes and 1 thinly sliced peeled cucumber. In a medium-size glass jar, combine 2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup of your favorite white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped basil and salt and pepper to taste. Place a lid on the glass jar and shake vigorously until mixed well. Drizzle the dressing over the salad before serving. Serve cold.

Arugula Salad with Salami and Pecorino Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 clove garlic, pounded to a paste with a pinch of salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice; more as needed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed
  • 4 large handfuls arugula, about 5 oz, washed and dried
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 oz piece of stick salami, cut into 1/8- to 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 oz aged Tuscan Pecorino cheese, cut into 1/8- to 1/4-inch dice

Directions:

Combine the garlic and vinegar or lemon juice in a small bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes. Whisk in the oil. Taste and add more salt or vinegar, if necessary.

Just before serving, use a mandolin to thinly slice the fennel. In a large work bowl, combine the shaved fennel with the arugula, salami and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss with just enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the greens.

With a delicate hand, transfer the salad to a platter or individual serving plates, making a fluffy pile of greens. Sprinkle the salami and cheese that have fallen to the bottom of the bowl on top. Serve immediately.

Tortellini Salad Italiana

Ingredients

  • 2-9 oz packages fresh cheese and spinach tortellini (refrigerated, prepared according to package directions)
  • 2 cups yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh small mozzarella cheese balls (bocconcini), halved
  • 1 cup tomato vinaigrette dressing, recipe below
  • 1/2 cup prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 12 cup basil, thinly sliced
  • black pepper, fresh cracked

Directions:

Combine prepared pasta, bell peppers, cheese, vinaigrette, prosciutto, tomatoes and basil in medium bowl. Sprinkle with pepper. Refrigerate for 1 hour

Tomato Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups fresh tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
  • 4 tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves
  • 4 tablespoons chiffonade basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley leaves
  • 2 minced shallots
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

In a nonreactive mixing bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, herbs, shallots, lemon juice and 1 1/4 cups olive oil. Mix to combine and season with salt and pepper.

Warm Bean Salad With Fresh Herbs and Olives

An excellent side dish to meat or fish. Also good with shrimp added to the salad.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked and drained white beans (or canned). If made from dried beans, save about 1/3 cup of cooking liquid.
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • Scant 1/3 cup bean cooking liquid, water or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 large fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces or chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Place the beans in a medium nonstick skillet and set aside.

Prepare herb mixture. Combine olive oil and garlic in a small skillet and cook on low heat until garlic is soft, about 3 minutes.

Increase heat slightly and add rosemary and thyme. Cook until the herbs begin to sizzle- do not let garlic burn.

Add the bean cooking liquid (or other stock) and olives, increase heat and boil for two minutes. Remove from heat.

Scatter the parsley and basil over the beans in the other skillet. Pour the dressing over them and cook over medium-high heat until the liquid is almost all absorbed by the beans.

Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Italian Seafood Salad with String Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound shelled and deveined large shrimp
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 pound cleaned squid, bodies cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rings, tentacles halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 pound bay scallops or quartered sea scallops
  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 1/2 pounds small clams scrubbed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pound mixed yellow wax and green beans, ends trimmed, beans cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons shredded basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic and cook, stirring, until the shrimp turn a light pink, about 1 minute. Transfer the shrimp to a platter. Add the water to the skillet and cook over high heat, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour the pan juices into a bowl and wipe out the skillet.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet. Add the squid and scallops. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to the platter.

Pour the reserved pan juices from the bowl into the skillet and cook over high heat, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the mussels, clams and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of garlic and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over high heat until the shells open, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels and clams to a large bowl; discard any that do not open. When the shells are cool enough to handle, remove the meat and add it to the platter.

Pour any accumulated shellfish juices into the skillet and bring the liquid to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Pour the liquid into a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and the remaining olive oil and let cool. Stir in all of the seafood and let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the beans until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and cool under running water; pat dry. Add the beans, basil, tomatoes and parsley to the seafood salad. Season with salt and cayenne and serve with lemon wedges.


Ultimate Chicken Wing

Go team! Game day is the perfect time to gather friends and family to cheer on your favorite team. But who wants to be running in and out of the kitchen between plays to check the oven? The key to this menu is that it’s full of delicious recipes that can be prepared ahead of time, so you can enjoy the game too!

Since the TV will be at the center of the party, set out the food as a buffet. Include snack mixes, nuts and fresh vegetables for nibbling. Serve an assortment of beers and soft drinks. Decorate with team banners, streamers and plates and napkins in your team’s colors.

Game Day Party Tips

Even though game day parties are usually pretty casual, being organized and one step ahead of the game will ensure that you have as much fun as your guests. Here are some hints to help you strategize.

As with all parties, any menu items that can be made ahead will help ease the pressure on the day of the event. Dips and spreads are always good options, as are chilies and barbecue-type meats.

If children are part of the party crowd, create a kids’ zone with kid-friendly finger foods and activities to keep them busy.

Place ice-filled buckets or containers around the house to hold drinks rather than storing them in your refrigerator. It gives the party more of a tailgate feel, plus it frees up valuable space in the refrigerator and keeps folks from congregating in the kitchen. If it’s cold where you live, consider keeping drinks in a cooler on the porch or in the garage. If you want to serve a warm drink, keep it in a thermal coffee carafe so it stays hot.

If you know that some of your guests won’t necessarily be that “into” the game, you might set up a separate area for them to socialize and enjoy themselves.

Use a few slow cookers to keep things like party meatballs, chili and cheese dips warm during the course of the afternoon or evening.

Game Day Party Menu:

Pesto, Tomato, and Provolone Bruschetta

 Ingredients:

 Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400° F

Slice baguette into 16 – 1/2″ thick slices and toast under the broiler, or in the oven at 400° F until toasted. Remove from oven and spray one side of each slice with olive oil cooking spray.

Slice each tomato into 4 slices. Top each slice of toast with 1 teaspoon of pesto, a slice of tomato and a piece of cheese.

Bake on the top rack of the oven for 2 to 4 minutes or until the cheese melts. Serves 16.

Tuna Dip

6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 6-7-ounce can Italian tuna, packed in extra virgin olive oil, drained and reserved
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil reserved from the tuna can
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 small lemons)
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon capers, washed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh-cut vegetables (celery, radishes, carrots), for serving

 Directions:

Place the tuna in a blender or food processor and pulse to break it up. Turn on low speed and add the olive oil, lemon juice, onion, parsley, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper, one at a time, until they are thoroughly combined and the mixture is smooth.

Place in a small bowl and serve with the fresh-cut vegetables on the side.

Italian Shredded Chicken Sliders

 Ingredients:

  • 5 large boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups homemade or store bought marinara sauce
  • 20 small slider buns
  • 1/2 pound shredded mozzarella
  • Basil leaves for garnish, optional

 Directions:

Heat the sauce in a large saucepan and add the chicken breasts and seasonings.

Braise the chicken on low for an hour or until the chicken is very tender.

Remove the breasts from the sauce and place in a bowl. Shred the chicken with 2 forks.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Layout out the slider buns and top with 1/4 cup of the chicken. Top with shredded cheese. Place sliders in the broiler until cheese melts, about 3-4 minutes. Garnish with basil.

Italian Bean Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of white beans, drained
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 red onion finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes chopped
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Directions:

In a serving bowl combine beans, red onion and sun dried tomatoes.  Mix carefully.  Combine olive oil, vinegar and seasonings in a small container and pour over beans.  Mix well.

Serve at once or refrigerate for serving at a later time. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley just before serving

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

20 Servings

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar or 2 tablespoons sugar alternative
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat butter, melted (Smart Balance)

Filling:

  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1 package (8 ounces) fat-free cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar or equivalent sugar alternative
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 20 walnut halves, toasted

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine cracker crumbs and sugar; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom of a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheeses and sugar until smooth. Beat in the pumpkin, flour, pie spice and vanilla. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Pour over crust.

Bake at 325° for 35-45 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Cut cheesecake into 20 bars; top each with a walnut half. 


Native to the East Indies, endive and escarole were introduced into Egypt and Greece at a very early period and references to them appear in early history accounts.  Escarole is a member of the leafy chicory family, widely cultivated in England from at least the 1500′s and is a popular green in Sicilian cuisine. The plants were, eventually, brought to America by colonists.

Endive is closely related botanically to chicory and the two names are sometimes incorrectly used as synonyms. Escarole is another name for a type of endive with broad leaves and  “endive” is used to designate plants with narrow, finely divided, curly leaves. Equally confusing are the two types of endive plants that you will see in your produce aisle. These greens are used raw in salad, or may be cooked like spinach. The slightly bitter flavor adds zest to a mixed salad.

French Endive

Endive-Frisee

Chicory

The outer layers of the escarole plant are dark green but after peeling back a layer, it will reveal a slightly lighter shade of green. Each layer will reveal a slightly lighter shade of green, and as the leaves lighten in color, the bitterness will also significantly lessen. What this means is that in preparing a dish, one can use different layers of escarole in order to achieve a particular taste that one wants.

Few young people, these days, have ever heard of escarole and I wonder how many have ever tasted this leafy green. In the world of Italian-American foods, escarole may be second only to Sunday “gravy.” Escarole finds itself in soups, in recipes with beans and in stuffed versions. A very important use of escarole has been for a New Year’s Day soup, a soup that most Italian Americans called “Straciatella,” which means something like “rag soup.” The name comes from the way the greens and the beaten egg swirl about shapelessly in the chicken broth. Then, there is escarole and beans, one of my grandfather’s favorites.

Purchase and Care of Escarole

Choose firmly packed heads with unblemished leaves. Crispness, freshness, and tenderness are essential factors of quality. Wilted plants, especially those that have brown leaves, are undesirable, as are plants with tough, coarse leaves. Such leaves will be excessively bitter. 

How to Store: Wrap escarole in paper towels and store in an unsealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to four days.

What are the health benefits of Escarole?

Escarole is rich in many minerals and vitamins, especially folate.  A 1/2 cup serving of escarole provides 36 mg of folate.

Escarole is a good source of vitamin B complex, A, C, and K.

Escarole is high in fiber and is also an optimum source of minerals: potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, sodium, manganese, zinc, phosphorus, and selenium.

Escarole is fat free, low in carbohydrates and calories. It can be added to any diet plan and 100 grams of fresh leaves will only be around 17 calories

Escarole is enriched with a good amount of antioxidants that are derived from Vitamin A and beta-carotene. Vitamin A is also an essential vitamin for vision, healthy hair and glowing skin. Consumption of natural greens also protects from lung and oral cavity cancers.

So next time you are in the produce aisle, pick up a head of escarole and make one of the following recipes.

Sauteed Escarole                                                                                                                                                                    Sautéed Escarole with Raisins, Pine Nuts, and Capers recipe

Serves: 4

Italians incorporate an abundance of vegetables into their diet. This is a very typical and simple preparation of a traditional vegetable. Serve as a side dish with your favorite entrée or a pasta with a hearty tomato sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 2 heads escarole, about 1 3/4 lbs
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pine (pignoli) nuts
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

To prepare escarole:

Cut out the core of each head, then cut leaves into bite-sized pieces. Rinse leaves several times in cold water until all dirt has been rinsed off. Drain escarole of as much liquid as possible prior to sautéeing.

Combine olive oil and garlic in a large sauté pan and heat together over medium heat until the garlic begins to lightly brown. Be very careful not to burn garlic as it will turn bitter. Remove the garlic with tongs and discard.

Add the pine nuts, raisins, capers, and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the pine nuts are golden and the raisins puff, about 1 minute. Add the escarole, increase the heat to medium high, and cook, tossing often, until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Cover the pan for a few minutes so that escarole can braise in its own liquid and lose some of its bitterness. Uncover and let liquid evaporate. Escarole is finished once it is tender (approximately 5 to 6 minutes). Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving bowl.

Escarole and Beans

This dish is best served with warm crusty Italian bread.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large heads escarole, torn into bite sized pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

Wash escarole well in several changes of water

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add garlic and cook for one minute. Mix in escarole, turning to coat with oil. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, or until tender.

Pour in beans and chicken broth, and simmer until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley; simmer 10 minutes more.

Escarole Salad

Using marmalade in a dressing allows you to put a little sweetness into a salad without adding additional sugar. Orange Marmalades range in flavor and texture, so your dressing will vary, depending on which sort you choose. Some are more sweet, others more bitter. Use the marmalade you like best.

 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lukewarm water
  • 1/2 pound small button mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 4 ounces escarole (inner leaves are good for this dish), torn into bite-sized pieces (about 4 cups)
  • 4 ounces baby spinach (about 4 packed cups)
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • Flaky coarse sea salt

Directions:

Make the base for the dressing: In a small saucepan, combine the shallots, oil, 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt and a generous pinch of pepper. Heat over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are very soft and just lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium heatproof bowl and let cool to room temperature.

When the shallots have cooled, add the marmalade plus the orange zest, the vinegar, lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon each fine sea salt and pepper. Whisk well to combine, then whisk in the lukewarm water.

In a large serving bowl, combine the escarole and spinach. Add the dressing and toss. Season to taste with crushed flaky coarse sea salt and pepper, then add the mushrooms and walnuts. Gently toss to combine and garnish with extra orange zest, if desired.

Caponata-Style Escarole With Fish Fillets                                                                                                                          

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless salmon fillets, (6 ounces each) other firm white fish fillets
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 large head of escarole (about 1 1/2 pounds), cored and coarsely chopped (about 10 cups)
  • 10 anchovies (about 3 ounces), drained and coarsely chopped
  • 10 oil-cured black olives, halved and pitted
  • 2 tablespoons salted capers, well rinsed
  • Flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish

Directions:

Thinly slice off both ends of one lemon. Cut into 8 thin slices. From remaining lemon, squeeze 2 tablespoons of juice into a bowl.

Heat oil in a large saute pan. Add the garlic to the oil and cook over moderate heat until deep golden, about 2 minutes; discard the garlic. Add the escarole to the pan along with the anchovies, olives and capers. Cook, stirring constantly, until the escarole turns bright green and wilts, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange salmon or other fish fillets on top; season with salt and pepper. Place 2 lemon slices on each fillet. Cover, and cook until salmon is opaque throughout, about 15 minutes.

Transfer salmon to a plate. Stir lemon juice into escarole mixture. Serve fish over the escarole and garnish with parsley.

Mediterranean Rice-Stuffed Escarole

Stuffed Escarole

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey breast
  • 1 large head escarole (1 1/4 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (pignoli)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 3 tablespoons chopped rinsed capers
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten  or 1/4 cup egg substitute   
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in the upper third of the oven.

Quarter escarole, lengthwise, leaving base attached, and rinse well. Cook in a medium pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 4 quarts water) 6 minutes. Drain and cool.

Meanwhile, bring 1 quart water to a boil with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a medium saucepan. Add rice and parboil, uncovered, 10 minutes (rice will not be tender). Reserve 1/2 cup the cooking liquid, then drain rice in a fine sieve.

Cook pine nuts in 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until pale golden, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until it begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add beef and brown. Add peppers, raisins, capers, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until raisins begin to plump, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add rice. Cool slightly, then stir in egg and 1/4 cup cheese.

Cut off and discard base from 1 escarole quarter, then gently spread leaves to create a 4-inch-wide area. With base end nearest you, place one fourth of rice mixture in center of bottom half of one escarole quarter. Fold base of leaves over rice, then fold in sides and roll up rice in escarole. Put, seam side down, in a 2-quart flameproof shallow baking dish, then repeat with remaining escarole and stuffing.

Drizzle with reserved rice cooking liquid and remaining tablespoon of oil, then sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake until rice is tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove foil and turn on broiler, then broil 4 to 6 inches from heat until cheese is browned, 4 to 7 minutes.

 


Fall is about leaves changing and weather cooling. As fall comes around, you want to bring in all there is to love about the autumn season, including your food. Whether you are serving up a salad course before dinner or looking for a recipe for a potluck dinner, an autumn-inspired salad can be a nice touch.

Spring and summer means fresh crisp salads. Just because fall is here doesn’t mean you have to settle for limp lettuce, tired tomatoes or crunchless cucumbers. Make your salads with fall vegetables and fruits to reflect the bounty of autumn. Or look to your pantry for canned and dried staples that you can add to salads along with herbs, vinegars and oils.

Autumn Vegetables

Pumpkin, carrots, squash, beets, and Brussels sprouts are just a few vegetables that appear on the produce stands in autumn. With the exception of carrots, most have to be cooked. Roast the vegetables to bring out their sweetness. ( For how to oven roast vegetables, see post: http://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/05/07/vegetables-on-the-side-no-butter-please/). Dress with an apple cider vinegar dressing and serve at room temperature. Sliced raw carrots, cooked beets and blanched parsnips make a colorful autumn vegetable salad. Blanch cauliflower in boiling water for a few minutes, then plunge into ice water. Break off florettes and toss with walnut oil, chopped walnuts and white wine vinegar.

Fall Fruits

Fall fruits are ideal for savory salads. Waldorf is a prime example, a combination of apples, raisins, celery and walnuts in a mayonnaise dressing. Consider a fruit slaw of bright red crisp apples, complemented by a citrus juice dressing with added cayenne pepper for a touch of spice instead of mayonnaise. Pears are mellow and at their peak in the fall. Combine sliced pears with bleu cheese, sliced almonds and baby spinach leaves. Try a red grapefruit, avocado, jicama and butter lettuce salad. The avocado melts into the grapefruit juice, so no dressing is required.

Pears

Pears are a traditional fruit of the autumn season. Since pears are plentiful during the fall, you can purchase them at reasonable cost. Create a sautéed pear salad with warm nuts and a cider-vinegar dressing. Use fresh pears paired with celery, white cheddar and a warm dressing for a crunchy pear salad. Pair green lettuce with warmed walnuts, fresh pears and a maple vinaigrette dressing for a more traditional salad.

Apples

Just like pears, apples are in abundance around the fall season. You can use apples fresh, sautéed or baked for autumn salads. A salad does not have to contain lettuce to be considered a “salad.” Pair sautéed apples with toasted pecans and apple cider vinaigrette for a warm, tangy and sweet salad. Pair cheddar and fresh apples together with walnuts for a crisp and refreshing salad. Another idea is to try fresh spinach, pomegranates, diced fresh apples and walnuts together with a pomegranate vinaigrette. See dressing recipe below:

Pomegranate Vinaigrette Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pomegranate juice*
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon good-quality aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

* Be sure you’re buying 100% pomegranate juice, as some juices advertised as pomegranate juice are a blend of apple or grape juices with a small percentage of the more expensive pomegranate juice. POM is an excellent brand, but there are also other brands that are pure pomegranate juice.

Directions:

In a small stainless steel or non-reactive saucepan over high heat, boil the pomegranate juice until reduced to 1/3 cup, approximately 9 or 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

While still warm, stir in the sugar, salt, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil; set aside to cool.

Yields 1 cup vinaigrette.

Nuts and Beans

With autumn comes the use of spiced nuts and legumes. Common nuts and legumes in the fall season are pecans, walnuts, pine nuts and lentils. Create a warm lentil salad with fresh spinach, pecans and sharp cheddar cheese. Use toasted nuts to top off a salad for a crunch. Toasted walnuts and pecans are suitable in both savory and sweet salads, and they work best when paired with fresh fruit or a fruity vinaigrette.

Dressings and Vinaigrettes

A salad is not a salad without a dressing or vinaigrette (an emulsion of oil and vinegar with herbs and spices). Fall vinaigrettes and dressings should be warm and rich in flavor. Use maple syrup to create a maple-balsamic dressing that has a bite of mustard and a sweet accent.  When in a hurry, create a quick vinaigrette using apple cider vinegar, mustard powder, extra-virgin olive oil and salt. Adjust portions according to taste and tartness.

Cider Vinaigrette Recipe

Yield: 3/4 cup

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons grainy mustard
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:

Boil cider in a small heavy saucepan until reduced to about 1/3 cup, 12 to 15 minutes.

Whisk together reduced cider, shallots, vinegar, and mustard with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined.


Broccoli Salad With Gouda

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onions
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds ( or pine nuts)
  • 6 -8 ounces Gouda cheese, cut into 3/4-inch cubes ( smoked or regular)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt, to taste

Directions:

Cook broccoli in boiling salted water for 1 minute. Drain well.

Combine the broccoli with onion, tomatoes, nuts and cheese.

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, sugar, pepper and salt; pour over salad mixture and toss to coat.

 

Parmesan Celery Salad

Ingredients:

  • 8 large celery stalks and celery leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini or garbanzo beans, heated
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • sea salt or celery salt
  • reserved celery leaves

Directions:

Slice the celery stalks quite thinly – 1/8-inch.

In a small bowl, make a paste with the olive oil, lemon juice, and Parmesan. Set aside.

In a large bowl toss the heated beans with the olive-Parmesan mixture. When well combined, add the celery, raisins, and most of the almonds. Toss once more. Taste and add a bit of salt if needed. Serve in a bowl or platter topped with celery leaves and remaining almonds.

Serves 4-6.

Apple Turkey Salad

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces cooked turkey breast, cubed
  • 1/4 cup chopped apples
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup Fruit and Nut dressing, recipe below ( or your favorite)
  • sliced or chopped nuts of choice

Directions:

In a medium bowl, gently stir together, turkey, apple, celery and shallot.

Pour dressing over chicken mixture.

Toss gently to coat.

Serve on lettuce leaves, sprinkle nuts of your choice over.

 

Dressing for Salads with Fruit and Nuts

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or any citrus juice
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

 Directions:

Whisk together the vinegars, lemon juice, mustard, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the oils. Taste and adjust seasonings.

 


 

Tomato Chickpea Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 (19 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed ( garbanzos)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 tomatoes, cut into large dice
  • 1 cup chopped cucumbers
  • 6 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup cubed swiss cheese ( or feta, mozzarella, Cheddar or Monterey Jack)

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

Directions:

Salad: In large bowl, combine chickpeas, parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, onions and cheese.

Dressing: Whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic and seasonings.

Toss dressing with salad ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

 

Chicken and Pear Salad over Arugula

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken breast, roasted and sliced
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese salad dressing, low-calorie, see recipe below
  • 3 pears, sliced
  • 2 bunches arugula
  • Walnuts

Directions:

Place pears in medium bowl; toss with salad dressing. Add arugula; toss again. Arrange arugula salad on 4 plates.

Divide chicken slices and place on top of salad. Sprinkle with walnuts.

 

Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing

Adapted From EatingWell: March/April 2007, The EatingWell Diet (2007)

Makes 1 1/4 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk, or nonfat milk
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar, or white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, (1 ounce)

Directions:

Whisk mayonnaise, buttermilk (or milk), yogurt, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until smooth. Add cheese and stir, mashing with a spoon until the cheese is incorporate

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Stir before using.

 

 

 


Although its botanical name Prunus Persica refers to Persia because the Persians introduced the fruit into the Western world, peaches actually originated in China, where they have been cultivated since the early days of Chinese culture, circa 2000 BC.  Peaches were mentioned in Chinese writings as far back as the 10th century BC and were a favored fruit of kings and emperors. Currently, the history of the cultivation of peaches in China has been extensively reviewed, citing numerous original manuscripts that date back to 1100 BC.

Its English name derives originally from the Latin malum persicum, “Persian apple”, which became the French pêche and peach in Middle English.

The peach was brought to India and Western Asia in ancient times. Peach cultivation went from China, through Persia, and reached Greece by 300 BC. Alexander the Great introduced the fruit into Europe after he conquered the Persians. Romans began cultivating peaches in the first century AD. Then it was brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers in the 16th century and, eventually, made it to England and France in the 17th century, where it was prized and considered a rare treat.

Although Thomas Jefferson had peach trees at Monticello, United States farmers did not begin commercial production until the 19th century, mostly in the Middle Atlantic States.  California today raises 65 percent of the peaches grown for commercial production in the United States, but the states of South Carolina, New Jersey, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Washington also grow a significant amount. Italy, China, India and Greece are major producers of peaches outside of the United States.

Some Peach Facts:

A freestone peach is one where the flesh separates easily from the pit. When the fruit is cut in half, the pit can be removed by hand. It may even fall out if you tip the cut fruit over.

Clingstone peaches have flesh that clings to the pit. When the fruit is cut in half, it is very difficult to separate the two halves because the flesh sticks to the pit.

Peaches are a favorite fruit for snacking, for cereal, and for pies and jams. Peach ice cream is a summer favorite. Ripe peaches also freeze well for later use.

You can ripen peaches by placing them in a brown paper bag for two to three days. Sliced, fresh peaches should be tossed in lemon or lime juice to prevent browning.

You can do a variety of things with peaches.

Baked – Peach cakes, peach cobbler, and peach pastries

Pureed – Make peach chutney, peach salsa and peach sauces.

Poached – Peaches can be poached in sugar syrup to make a variety of desserts.

Sliced – Use for salads and desserts

Boiled – Cut the peaches and boil to make jams and marmalades.

How to peel peaches:

Step 1
Place peaches in a large pot of boiling water for 10-20 seconds or until the skin splits.

 

Step 2
Remove with a slotted spoon. Immediately place in an ice water bath to cool the peaches and stop the cooking process.

Step 3
Use a paring knife to peel the skin, which should come off easily. If stubborn areas of skin won’t peel off, just return fruit to the boiling water for a few more seconds.

How to make peach puree:

Yield: Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peeled and chopped fresh peaches or 1 cup frozen
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Directions:

Process peaches, sugar, and 1 tablespoon water in a blender 1 minute or until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl; cover and chill until ready to use.

Peaches can be used across the entire menu:

As an Appetizer Cocktail

                                                                                                                                       

Peach Mojitos

Yield: Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups coarsely chopped peeled ripe peaches (about 1 pound)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime rind
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 large limes)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed mint leaves
  • 2 cups white rum
  • 4 cups club soda, chilled
  • Crushed ice
  • Mint sprigs (optional)

Directions:

1. Place peaches in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Press peach puree through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard solids.
2. Combine lime rind, lime juice, sugar, and mint in a large pitcher; crush juice mixture with the back of a long spoon. Add peach puree and rum to pitcher, stirring until sugar dissolves. Stir in club soda. Serve over crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.

As An Appetizer Course:

Crostini with Peaches and Blue Cheese                                                                                                                                                                          

Yield: Makes 18

Ingredients:

  • 18 thin baguette slices
  • Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled peaches , chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Brush baguette slices with olive oil; place on a baking sheet. Broil until toasted and crisp. Cool completely.
  2. Toss peaches gently with vinegar. Top crostini with peaches and blue cheese. Sprinkle with pepper. Broil until cheese is hot, soft, and very lightly browned.

As A Salad Course:

Grilled Peach-and-Mozzarella Salad                                                                                                                                           

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  •  5 Freestone peaches
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 (6-oz.) package baby arugula, thoroughly washed
  • 3/4 pound fresh mozzarella 1/4-inch slices

Directions:

  1. Peel and chop 1 peach. Cut remaining 4 peaches into 1/4-inch-thick rings. (Cut peaches inward from sides, cutting each side just until you reach the pit. Lift the rings off the pits in one piece.)
  2. To make dressing: Process chopped peach, green onions, and the next 6 ingredients in a food processor 10 to 15 seconds or until smooth. Add oil, and pulse 3 to 4 times or until thoroughly combined.
  3. Heat grill and grease grates. Brush both sides of peach rings with the peach dressing.
  4. Grill peach rings, covered with grill lid, 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until grill marks appear.
  5. Mix arugula and basil and arrange evenly on 4 plates. Alternately layer  grilled peach rings and  cheese slices over greens on each plate.  Drizzle with remaining peach dressing.

As an Entree Course:

Grilled Chicken with Georgia Peach Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 chickens (2 1/2 to 3 pounds each), quartered, with backs removed
  • 1 recipe Georgia Peach Barbecue Sauce, recipe follows below                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Remove the backbone, split the breasts, and remove the legs and thighs in one piece. Or you can just buy chicken quarters.

Directions:

Marinate the chickens in 2/3 of the barbecue sauce for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Prepare your grill for direct heat and indirect heat.

Lay the chicken pieces skin side down on the hottest side of the grill in order to sear the skin side well. Grill for 5-10 minutes, depending on how hot the grill is (you do not want the chicken to burn). Once you have a good sear on one side, move the chicken pieces to the cooler side of the grill, or, if you are using a gas grill, lower the heat to medium low. Cover the grill and cook undisturbed for 20 minutes.

Turn the chicken pieces over and baste them lightly with the barbecue sauce. Cover the grill again and allow to cook for another 30 minutes. Repeat, turning the chicken pieces over, basting them with sauce, covering, and cooking for another 20 minutes.

You can check to see if the chicken is cooked with a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each chicken piece. Look for 165° for breasts and 170° for thighs.

If the chicken isn’t done, turn the pieces over and continue to cook at a low temperature. If you prefer, you can finish with a sear on the hot side of the grill. To do this, put the pieces, skin side down, on the hot side of the grill. Allow them to sear and blacken slightly for a minute or two.
Serve with barbecue sauce on the side.

Georgia Peach Barbecue Sauce

Yields about 4 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon onion salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 2 cups ketchup or 1 cup ketchup and 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 cup peach, purée, see recipe in this post
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter or Smart Balance Blend, cubed and well chilled

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the butter. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. With a whisk, blend in the butter cubes, a couple at a time, until incorporated.

As A Dessert Course:

Peach Upside-Down Cake                                                                                                                                                                       

If you would like to make your own low-fat caramel sauce instead of using a store-bought product, I have included the recipe from Eating Well Magazine below.

Yield: 9 servings (serving size: 1 cake piece, 1/4 cup frozen yogurt, and 2 teaspoons caramel syrup)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups thinly sliced peeled peaches (about 1 1/2 pounds), see how to peel peaches in this post
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup sugar (or Domino Light or Truvia for Baking)
  • 1/4 cup butter or Smart Balance Blend, softened
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • Vanilla fat-free frozen yogurt
  • Fat-free caramel sundae syrup, warmed, recipe below

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Spoon into a 9-inch round cake pan coated with cooking spray.
  3. Place 2/3 cup sugar and the next 4 ingredients (2/3 cup sugar through egg) in a large electric mixer bowl; beat at medium speed until well blended (for about 5 minutes).
  4. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring well with a whisk.
  5. Add the flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition.
  6. Spoon batter over peach mixture in pan. Bake at 350° F for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Place a plate upside down on top of cake, and invert onto plate. Serve warm with frozen yogurt and the caramel syrup.

Low Fat Caramel Sauce

From EatingWell:  September/October 1991
This quick caramel sauce is made lighter with evaporated fat-free milk and uses molasses to give it rich flavor.
Makes 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup regular sugar or 1/2 cup Domino Light or Truvia for Baking
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup nonfat evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar and water in a small, heavy-bottomed pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. After the mixture comes to the boiling point cook, without stirring, until the syrup turns amber, about 15 minutes. (Take care not to burn it.) Remove from heat and cool for 2 minutes.
  2. Using a wooden spoon, stir in butter. Gradually stir in milk. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, until the caramel has dissolved, about 1 minute. Stir in molasses and vanilla. Serve warm.

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze in small portions. Warm slightly before serving.

 


Now it’s hot. The kind of hot that forces you to sit still, preferably under a ceiling fan, sipping a cold drink. You can almost hear the grass growing taller and the air conditioner spending money. Everyone slows down. It’s so hot you don’t want to cook – not for anybody! But you still have to eat! At least with the recipes below, you won’t have to turn the oven on.

Menu 1

Omelet with Summer Vegetables

This satisfying entrée for one or two is good for any meal, from breakfast to dinner. Serve with fruit or the salad below.
1-2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil plus cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 large egg whites plus 1 large egg or you can use ¾ cups egg substitute
  • 2 tablespoons shredded cheese of your choice

Directions:

Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray and add the olive oil. Add corn, zucchini and onions to the pan; sauté 4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove vegetable to a bowl.

Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, water, pepper, egg whites, and egg, stirring well with a whisk. Return skillet to heat. Pour egg mixture into pan; cook until edges begin to set (about 2 minutes). Gently lift the edges of the omelet with a spatula, tilting pan to allow the uncooked egg mixture to come in contact with the pan. Spoon the corn mixture onto half of the omelet; sprinkle the corn mixture with cheese. Loosen the omelet with a spatula, and fold in half over the corn mixture. Cook 2 minutes or until the cheese melts. Carefully slide the omelet onto a plate.

Baby Greens with Oranges

Blood Oranges are attractive in this salad when they are available in your area.

Makes 4 (1-1/2-cup) servings.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups mesclun or other mild salad greens
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 thin slices red onion, separated into rings
  • 1 cup orange sections
  • 3 tablespoons mixed country olives or regular kalamata olives
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Place greens in a large salad bowl. For dressing, whisk together olive oil, orange juice, and vinegar in a small dish. Pour dressing over greens, gently tossing to mix.
Divide mixture into servings and top with onion rings, orange sections, and olives. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Menu 2

Linguine With Fresh Herbs

6 servings

This is a lean pasta dish, filled with flavor as well as color. Serve as a main entree with the Caprese Salad (recipe below).

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from cubed Italian or French bread, including crust, coarsely ground in food processor
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth, low-sodium canned
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped Italian parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
  • 1 pound linguine

Directions:

In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and toast until golden, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl.

In same skillet, heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil over low heat. Add red onion and saute, stirring frequently, until soft but not brown, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until soft, about 30 seconds. Stir in chicken broth and simmer until heated. Season with salt and red pepper flakes.

Transfer mixture to a pasta bowl, and add basil, mint, parsley and thyme. Stir to combine.

Cook pasta in 6 quarts salted boiling water until al dente. Drain pasta, transfer to pasta bowl, and toss with herb mixture. Sprinkle toasted bread crumbs on top and serve.

Frugal Tip:  I keep a zip bag in the freezer and add any leftover pieces of bread I have from dinner.  When I need fresh breadcrumbs, I can pour out the amount needed and process them into crumbs.

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

4 servings
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly-ground black pepper and salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

Alternate fresh mozzarella slices with sliced tomatoes, overlapping, in a circular design on a serving plate.
Tear fresh basil leaves and sprinkle liberally over the slices. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Just before serving, drizzle with top-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Menu 3

Chicken and Pepper Stew

This dish can also be cooked in your Slow-Cooker (about 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high).

Serve with Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes and Green Salad.

Frugal Tip:  Bell peppers are in season now, so take advantage of their lower price. I buy extra peppers, slice them into thin strips and place them in freezer bags for the winter months. Frozen peppers work very well in casseroles or omelets or in sauces.

Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken thighs or legs, skinned
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds (4 large) mixed green or yellow or orange or red bell peppers, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1-28-ounce container Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil or fresh basil leaves sliced thin

Directions:

1. Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, and brown the chicken pieces, in batches, on each side for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl or plate.
2. Turn the heat down to medium. Add the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze, until the onions begin to soften. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and sweet peppers, a bit of salt and the garlic, and cook, stirring, until the peppers begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir together until the tomatoes begin to bubble and smell fragrant, about 5 minutes.
3. Return the chicken pieces to the pan. Cover and cook 25 to 30 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring at regular intervals and turning the chicken pieces over so that the ingredients don’t scorch and the chicken cooks evenly. The peppers should be very soft and the chicken quite tender. Add  oregano, basil and freshly ground pepper; taste and adjust the salt.

Olive-Oil Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold  potatoes
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup skim milk or buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks. In a large saucepan, cover potatoes with cold water by 2 inches and add 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil; cook until potatoes are very tender and easily pierced with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain; transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Using a potato masher or fork, mash potatoes with olive oil and milk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with more olive oil before serving, if desired.

Menu 4

Italian Bean Salad With Tuna

Frugal tip:  Early in the week, grill fresh tuna fillets for dinner and include an extra half a pound to cook and save for this recipe later in the week.

Serves 4.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. fresh cooked tuna
  • 2 cans of low sodium white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 red onion finely minced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano 
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
  • Grilled Italian Bread slices

Directions:

In a large non metallic bowl combine all the ingredients, and mix well.

You can serve this dish right away or refrigerate for two to three hours and serve with the grilled bread.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley just before serving.

Menu 5

Steak Salad with Tomatoes, Peppers, Sweet Onions and Balsamic Vinaigrette

4 Servings

Ingredients:

For the balsamic vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the grilled steak:

2 top sirloin steaks, about 8 ounces each

For the green salad:

  • 8 cups romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, rinsed and sliced in half
  • 1 green bell pepper stemmed, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced Vidalia onion

4 small whole grain crusty rolls

Directions:

For the balsamic vinaigrette:

Place the shallots and vinegar in a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Continue whisking and slowly add the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

(This can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)

For the grilled steak:

Preheat the grill to medium-high.

Season the steaks with salt and pepper.

Grill the steaks on both sides until it is cooked as you prefer, about 5-6 minutes per side for medium and depending on the thickness of the steak. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board to rest for five minutes. (The steak can be grilled in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)

For the green salad:

Slice the steaks into thin strips and place them in a mixing bowl. Add the tomatoes, bell pepper and onion slices and half of the balsamic vinaigrette.

Place the romaine lettuce in a separate salad bowl and toss it with the remaining vinaigrette. Arrange the steak, tomato, bell pepper and onion mixture on top. Serve with a roll.

Tropical Sherbet

Last-Minute Tropical Sherbet

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups cubed mango or 1 (12-ounce) package frozen mango chunks 
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 (6-ounce) carton lemon low-fat yogurt 
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest

A common question today is : “What should I eat to be healthy?”

Here are some “tried-and-true” meal planning tips:

  • Entree. Here’s where you can put the dietary guidelines to work for you. Plan on fish twice a week and at least one meatless meal. You’re almost half-way done. For the remaining meals, plan one that’s fast and easy to cook, one big family-type meal and one meal based on leftovers. Remember that a serving of meat is only about the size of a deck of cards. The rest of the plate will be filled with other good things.
  • Vegetables. Begin to fill in vegetables according to the entree. Look for colorful ones and plan some variety throughout the week. Get out of the rut of the too familiar rotation of cooked peas, corn and green beans. How about sugar snap peas, broccoli or beets? Instead of the same old iceberg lettuce, how about spinach, tomato slices or shredded carrots?
  • Whole grains. Think of all the options: brown rice, barley, whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain bread or rolls, couscous, barley, and kasha You can cook whole grains ahead and use leftovers the next day — especially in soups and salads.
  • Fruit. It’s not just for dessert anymore. Fruit can be a topping, a salad, a sauce, stuffed into chicken, and grilled or broiled on skewers. Think frozen bananas, grapes or berries for those hot nights.
  • Beverage. Water is perfect. Other good choices include low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice and a glass of wine or beer.
The following menus are formed around stuffed chicken breasts because chicken is a good dinner choice due to its versatility and popularity. The menus show you how to build a meal around this delicious entree.  I would, however, encourage you, if at all possible, to buy organic chickenChicken is one of the best places to spend your organic dollars, according to a 2006 “Consumer Reports” study. If you’re resolved to eat a healthier diet, consider the benefits of organic chicken and add it to your shopping list.
Yesterday’s health news is another reason to look for organic chicken in your supermarket. A growing number of medical researchers say more than 8 million women are at risk of difficult-to-treat bladder infections because superbugs – resistant to antibiotics and growing in chickens – are being transmitted to humans in the form of E. coli.  The Food and Drug Administration says 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are fed to livestock and even healthy chicken to protect them from disease in cramped quarters. It also helps the chickens grow bigger and faster. http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/superbug-dangers-chicken-linked-8-million-risk-women-122809803–abc-news-health.html.
While health news recommendations can be confusing from report to report, it is standard industry practice to regularly use antibiotics in livestock production.  It is important for consumers to be aware of what goes into the production of their foods, so they can make wise purchase decisions.
Look for this label to be certain you are purchasing organic chicken:

Menu 1

Two-Cheese Stuffed Chicken

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced plum tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 6 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 cup part-skim, shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 4 boneless, skinless medium chicken breast halves (about 1.5 lbs)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning 
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Directions:
1. Heat oil over medium heat in a nonstick skillet. Add onion and cook, stirring until onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Stir in tomatoes and garlic. Add spinach, cover, and cook for about 3 minutes until spinach is soft. Remove from heat.
3. Let mixture cool slightly; stir in Mozzarella and Parmesan.
4. Heat oven to 375°F.
5. Beginning in the center of the thicker end of the breast, insert a small knife horizontally, stopping about 1 inch from the opposite end. Open incision to create a wide pocket and pack 1/4 of the filling mixture into each breast.
6. Season chicken with Italian seasoning blend and place in 13″x 9″x 2″ baking dish.
7. Pour broth over chicken. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
8. Keep warm until served.

Brown Rice Pilaf With Hazelnuts                                                                                                                               

4 Servings

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 large mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 3 tablespoons (2 ounces) coarsely chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Alternate: Replace the hazelnuts with walnuts, pine nuts, or pecans.

Directions:

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the mushrooms and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushroom liquid evaporates, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the rice and nuts and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, thyme, and lemon peel. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes. For best results, avoid stirring the rice while it cooks. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

Radicchio Salad

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 pounds radicchio, cut in 1-inch shreds
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

Put the fruit in a small bowl and pour the vinegar over them. Let soak for 15 minutes. Pour the fruit and vinegar over the shredded radicchio in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with the salt. Toss well to coat the salad with the dressing.

Menu 2

Chicken Breasts With Lemon and Basil Couscous

Stuffed Chicken Breast:

Ingredients:

  • 4  (about 1 1/4 pounds) medium skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves
  • 1/4 cup (about half 4.4-ounce package) light garlic-and-herb spreadable cheese
  • 1/4 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 8  whole fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, extra-virgin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Lemon and Basil Couscous:                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, extra-virgin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarse

Directions:

  1. Prepare Stuffed Breasts: With tip of knife, cut each chicken breast from a long side, keeping knife parallel to surface of breast, to form a deep pocket with as small an opening as possible.
  2. In small bowl, combine cheese, peppers, and basil. Spread 1/4 cheese mixture in each chicken pocket. Rub outside of chicken with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Prepare Lemon & Basil Couscous: In 2-quart saucepan, add oil, salt, pepper, and 1 1/3 cups water and bring to boiling over high heat; stir in couscous. Cover saucepan; remove from heat and let stand at least 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, place chicken on grill over medium heat and cook 12 to 15 minutes or until juices run clear when thickest part of the breast is pierced with tip of knife, turning over once.
  5. To serve, add basil and lemon juice to couscous, and fluff with fork to mix well. Spoon couscous onto 4 dinner plates and arrange chicken on top.

Cherry Tomato Cucumber Salad


Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 cup of chopped cucumber, peeled and seeded 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh, chopped oregano
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots or green onions
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Gently toss the tomatoes, cucumber, onions and oregano together. Mix lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and drizzle over vegetables.
Serves 4.

Menu 3

Chicken Roll-Ups

   

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 11/4 lb chicken cutlets
  • 4 slices lean ham
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup of Progresso Italian Panko crumbs  

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lay cutlets on plastic wrap, pound until thin. Fold ham and cheese and half and lay over the chicken. You can add basil, rosemary  or any herb of choice.

Start at the narrowest end of cutlet and the roll up. Secure with a toothpick or be sure to lay them seam side down once breaded.

Dip pastry brush in extra virgin olive oil and brush on chicken rolls. Quickly put the entire chicken roll into bowl of Panko crumbs and use your hand or a spoon to press crumbs firmly onto chicken roll.

Transfer the rolled cutlets to a  greased baking dish. Then, using a teaspoon, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over each chicken roll.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes in the middle of the oven. In the last few minutes switch your oven to “broil” and move your baking dish to the rack closest to heating element. In 1-2 minutes, the high heat will brown up the crumbs.

Broccoli with Orecchiette                                                                                                                                                                         

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta) or small shells, whole grain
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch (about 1 1/2 pounds) broccoli stalks, peeled and trimmed, stalks and florets, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon each coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions:

Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a colander to drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Set pasta aside.
Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; saute until golden, stirring to avoid burning, about 2 minutes. Add broccoli and reserved cooking liquid; cook, stirring, until broccoli is tender and bright green, about 3 minutes. Add the salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Add reserved pasta to pan, and toss well to coat. Transfer to four serving bowls; drizzle each with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, and garnish each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Menu 4

Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breast

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 6 oz low fat softened cream cheese
  • 12 sliced mushrooms
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 slices Proscuitto

Directions:

In a skillet, saute mushrooms in oil until browned on medium heat stirring often to avoid burning. Add shallots and cook for an additional minute. Mix with cream cheese.

Divide the filling so that you have enough for 4 breasts. Put filling in the middle and roll tucking in the side ends so that you will not have the filling spill out later.

Do the same with the rest of the chicken pieces.

At this point wrap with prosciutto ham to encase the roll. Place in a greased baking dish and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

Spaghetti with Roasted Zucchini

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz spaghetti, whole grain
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4 small zucchini (about 1 lb total), sliced 1/4 in. thick
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

Directions:

Heat oven to 425°F.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Toss the pasta with 1 tablespoon of the oil.

In a large bowl toss the zucchini, garlic, red pepper, remaining 2 tablespoons oil and ½ teaspoon salt. Add the Parmesan cheese toss to combine. Spread the zucchini mixture on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until the zucchini is tender and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

Toss the pasta with the zucchini mixture, parsley and lemon zest.

Menu 5

Chicken Roulade with Olives and Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons


Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 6 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained, and divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Preserved Lemon or lemon zest
  • 12 pitted Kalamata ripe olives, drained and divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Directions:

1. Combine breadcrumbs, 4 tablespoons capers, 1 tablespoon Preserved Lemons, 6 olives, and garlic in a food processor or blender, and pulse 10 times or until the mixture is coarsely chopped.

2. Place each breast half between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Divide breadcrumb mixture into 4 equal portions; spread 1 portion on each breast half, leaving a 1/4-inch border around the outside edges. Roll up each breast half, jelly-roll fashion, starting with short side. Secure with wooden picks or twine.

3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add onion to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until browned. Add wine; cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 1 minute), stirring often. Add remaining 2 tablespoons capers, 1 cup water, broth, juice, raisins, and turmeric. Quarter the remaining 6 olives. Add to pan; bring to a boil. Add chicken to pan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, turning chicken after 10 minutes. Serve chicken with sauce.

Roasted Red Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 12 small red potatoes cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Mrs. Dash® Garlic and Herb Blend, divided
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

Toss potatoes with olive oil and 1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash Blend in a bowl. Turn into a greased baking dish.

Roast in a preheated 400°F (200°C) oven for 30 minutes.

Increase heat to 450°F. Sprinkle with remaining Mrs. Dash Blend and continue to roast for 5 – 10 minutes or until tender and browned. Sprinkle with cheese just before serving.


Sauteed Fresh Green Beans 

In skillet with cover, add 1 small shallot sliced, 1 small garlic clove, minced, 1 cup low sodium chicken broth and 1 lb. trimmed fresh green beans.  Sprinkle with a little salt & pepper. Bring to boiling, lower heat to simmer, cover pan and cook until beans are tender.

Summertime and the living is supposed to be easy. That’s why the secret ingredient for a perfect summer day is simplicity: Sleep in, have breakfast on the porch, go hiking or biking and pack a picnic lunch. In the afternoon the neighborhood pool offers a chance to cool off. Dinner needs to be quick—put the main course on the grill along with vegetables from the local farmer’s market or make the side dishes below that are fast, healthy and easy to prepare.

Sauteed Zucchini, Peppers, and Tomatoes                                                                                       

Serve this with grilled meat or fish.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (about 2 medium) zucchini
  • 2 yellow bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Quarter zucchini lengthwise; cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Remove ribs and seeds from peppers; cut into 3/4-inch squares.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Citrus-Herb Grilled Vegetables                                                                                                                                     

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 small zucchini, each cut lengthwise into 4 pieces
  • 2 small yellow squash, each cut lengthwise into 4 pieces
  • 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, each cut lengthwise into 4 pieces
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, cut into quarters, each held together with a skewer
  • 1 small eggplant, each cut lengthwise into 4 pieces
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, stems removed

Directions:

1. In a bowl, combine oil, salt, garlic, oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley, pepper, lemon zest and juice. Put zucchini, squash, bell peppers and onion in a large ziplock bag and pour in half of marinade. Seal bag and shake to coat vegetables. Let stand for 3 hours at room temperature. Put eggplant and mushrooms in a separate ziplock bag, add remaining marinade, seal and shake to coat vegetables. Let stand for 1 hour at room temperature.  

2.To plan ahead: prepare the marinades and vegetables as described and refrigerate the bags overnight.  Follow grilling directions below.

3. Preheat grill to medium. When heated, oil grates. Place onions, bell peppers and eggplant on grill and cook for 10 minutes. Add zucchini, squash and mushrooms to grill and cook all vegetables about 15 minutes longer, turning halfway through.

4. Cut vegetables into smaller sizes for serving, if desired. Arrange on a platter and serve warm, or cover and chill to serve cold.

Salad Greens with Pears, Fennel and Walnuts                                                                                                            

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium pears, cored, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Divide the salad greens onto 6 plates. Scatter the fennel and pear slices over the greens. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and walnuts. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Add black pepper, to taste.

Tangy Triple-Bean Salad                                                                                                          

12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (9-10 oz) frozen lima beans
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can (19 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup snipped fresh basil
  • 1 Serrano chili peppers, seeded and finely chopped

Directions:

1. Prepare lima beans according to package directions. Transfer to a medium bowl. Set aside to cool.

2. For dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir in lima beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas, carrots and the chile.. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Transfer salad to a serving bowl. Stir in basil.

Fast Italian Cucumber Salad                                                                                                                          

Ingredients:
  • 3-4 Roma tomatoes (about 1-1/2 cups chopped)

  • 1 large red onion, diced

  • 2 cucumbers, diced

    Italian Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

  • 2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Directions:

Whisk Italian Dressing ingredients together in a large bowl. Add vegetables and stir.

Cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving. Can be kept in the refrigerator for several days.

Tomato and Mozzarella Burger                                                                                                                            

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 large ripe tomatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil, leaves picked

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 450° F.  Slice a thin piece from the bottom of each tomato so the tomatoes sit upright. Slice each in half horizontally.
2. Arrange the tomato halves, cut-side up, on a foil-lined shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet.
3. Drizzle the tomatoes with the oil. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Scatter the garlic over the tomatoes.
4. Roast until softened and warmed through, about 15 minutes. (Under ripe tomatoes may take 5 to 15 minutes longer.)
5. Meanwhile, cut the mozzarella into six ½-inch-thick slices. Using a spatula, sandwich each slice between 2 hot tomato halves. (The heat will melt the cheese slightly.)
6. Drizzle the tomatoes with any juices that collected in the roasting pan and serve with the basil.

Make it a meal: Serve the “burger” with arugula tossed with sliced fennel and radishes, toasted pine nuts, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Italian Coleslaw                                                                                                                                                                       

4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 green pepper, cut into matchstick slivers
  • 1 red pepper, cut into matchstick slivers
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cut into matchstick slivers
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 1-16 oz. bag coleslaw mix
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt

Directions:

In a large bowl with a fitted lid, combine onion, peppers, fennel and cabbage. Add oil, vinegar, and remaining ingredients.  Put lid on and shake until everything is evenly combined. Salt to taste. Refrigerate and serve chilled.



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