Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: vegetable

 

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When you become a member of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), you purchase a “share” of vegetables from a regional farmer. Weekly during the growing season in your area, your farmer will deliver that share of produce to a convenient drop-off location in your neighborhood. CSA members pay for an entire season of produce upfront and shares usually include 7-10 types of vegetables; enough for a family of 2-3 people.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer. The farmers receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow and the farmers have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow. The consumer gets to eat fresh picked food with all the flavor and vitamin benefits, learn more about how the food is grown and develop a relationship with the farmer who grows the food.

Jeta farms

Jeta Farms

My CSA is Jeta Farms, a family owned and operated farm located in Elberta, Al. They offer a variety of vegetables and some specialty and heirloom varieties. They do not plant GMO vegetable crops. I pick up my share on Saturday mornings and the produce is truly fresh and delicious. As soon as I get my share home, I start planning the week’s menu.

See the photo at the top of the post for last Saturday’s share, which included: a dozen ears of corn-on-the-cob, 2 eggplant, 4 plum tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, a package of blackberries, 2 large bell peppers, 4 patty pan squash, a pound of Italian green beans, a sack (about 5 lbs) of potatoes, lots of zucchini and yellow squash.

I was able to create a whole week’s worth of meals using these vegetables. All the herbs used in the recipes come from my garden.

  • Sunday: Grilled Italian sausage, 2 grilled corn on the cob (from the corn share) and potato salad (from the potato share)
  • Monday: Eggplant-Tomato Bake (recipe below) and sautéed zucchini (from the zucchini share) over Orecchiette pasta
  • Tuesday: Stuffed peppers (recipe below) and cucumber (from the cucumber share) salad 
  • Wednesday: Grilled fish, grilled summer squash (recipe below) and potato salad
  • Thursday: Chicken Oreganata, Italian green beans (recipe below) and eggplant bake
  • Friday: Corn Chowder (recipe below) and hash-browned potatoes (from the potato share) with eggs
  • Saturday: Grilled shrimp, grilled patty pan squash (recipe below) and tomato salad
  • The blackberries became dessert; see the Blackberry Crumble recipe in my post on Using Summer Fruit
Potato Salad

Potato Salad

Hash Browns

Hash Browns

Eggs Over Hash Browns

Eggs Over Hash Browns

Orecchiette Pasta

Orecchiette Pasta

Here are some of the recipes I used for this menu.

Eggplant Tomato Bake

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Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/4” round slices (from the eggplant share)
  • 3/4 lb package fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 4 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4”slices (from the tomato share)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup Egg Beaters (refrigerated egg substitute)
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh or dried oregano

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Oil two baking sheets.

Dip eggplant slices in the egg substitute and then coat in the bread crumbs. Place the slices on the prepared pans and bake until brown, about 20 minutes, turning the slices over halfway through baking.

Oil a 13 x 9 inch glass baking pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with eggplant slices and add half the tomatoes and half of the cheese. Add another layer of eggplant slices, tomatoes and cheese. Sprinkle the top layer with oregano.

Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Stuffed Peppers

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • Fresh corn kernels, cut off 2 cobs from the corn share
  • 1/2 cup yellow squash, diced (from the squash share)
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 large bell peppers: halved and seeded (from the bell pepper share)
  • 4 heaping tablespoons of your favorite prepared BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Put a kettle of water on to boil.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the ground turkey until browned..
Add the chopped garlic, onion, corn and squash; stir and heat through. Season mixture with sea salt and pepper. Stir well to combine the flavors. Remove from heat. Add in the chopped parsley and cheese.

Coat a shallow baking dish that will fit the halved peppers with cooking spray. Stuff the halved peppers with the turkey mixture, pressing it in firmly. Place the stuffed peppers in the baking dish. Top each pepper with a spoonful of BBQ sauce.

Pour about an inch of hot boiled water into the bottom of the baking pan, around the peppers, and loosely cover the pan with a foil tent. This helps to cook the peppers. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the peppers are fork tender.

Grilled Summer Squash

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Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 lbs green and yellow squash, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick ovals (from the squash share)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Directions

Prepare a gas or charcoal grill fire.

In a colander, toss the squash with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and drain for 30 minutes; transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, put the basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1/4 cup of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor and purée until smooth.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, boil the balsamic vinegar until syrupy and reduced to about 2 tablespoons., 8 to 10 minutes.

Mix the squash with the remaining 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Grill, turning once, until golden and tender, 8 to 12 minutes.

Arrange the squash on a platter, dot with the pesto and balsamic syrup. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.

Italian Flat Green Beans With Tomatoes and Garlic

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb Italian flat green beans, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 3-inch pieces (from the green bean share)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, cut into very thin slices ( a 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tomato, cut into 1/2-inch dice ( 8 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 6 -8 basil leaves, cut into chiffonade ( stacked, then rolled tightly and cut into very thin strips)

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and cook for 5 minutes. Drain immediately.

While the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a medium sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the garlic slices, distributing them evenly. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the slices become almost translucent and start to brown on the edges; be careful not to let the garlic burn.

Add the diced tomato and salt and pepper to taste, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, so that the tomato is heated through. Add the cooked green beans and heat through for 1 to 2 minutes; mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Transfer to a serving dish and top with the basil, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Corn Chowder

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Ingredients

  • 8 corn on the cob from the corn share
  • Corn Stock, see below
  • 1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups) 
  • 2 large carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 ribs celery, diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced 
  • 1 yellow squash, diced (from the squash share)
  • 2 lbs potatoes, diced (from the potato share)
  • 1 teaspoon seafood seasoning (such as Old Bay)
  • 2 fresh whole sprigs of thyme 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (1 can) evaporated whole milk

Directions

Cut the corn kernels from the 8 cobs and reserve the corn and cobs separately. Place the corn cobs and 4 quarts water in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and immediately reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the cobs and discard.

Add half the reserved corn and all the vegetables to the soup pot and return the broth to a boil; reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

With an immersion blender, puree the soup right in the soup pot. Add the seasonings, remaining corn and milk. Heat on low for about 15 minutes or until the corn is tender.

Grilled Patty Pan Squash with Italian Salsa Verde

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4 servings

For the salsa verde:

  • 1 large garlic clove, halved, 
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 anchovy fillet, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (tightly packed) parsley leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper

For the squash:

  • 4 small to medium patty pan squash from the squash share
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Combine the garlic, salt, anchovy fillet and capers in a food processor. With the motor running add the olive oil with the parsley and blend to a purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If serving within a few hours, allow to sit at room temperature. Otherwise, refrigerate and allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Prepare an outdoor grill.

Slice the patty pan squash in half horizontally and coat with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Grill the squash for about 5 minutes on each side or until they are tender all the way through.

Transfer the squash to a serving platter. Top each one with a teaspoon or two of the salsa verde and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

About these ads

Homemade vegetable broth is easy to make and great to have in your freezer to create nutritious meals in a pinch. A cornerstone of many vegetarian dishes, a good vegetable broth can be the base for risottos, soups and stews. Freeze homemade vegetable broth, so you have it on hand in various proportions to use in your everyday cooking. You can even make vegetable broth easily using leftover scrap pieces of vegetables, including onions, celery, carrots, herbs and a variety of greens. While homemade vegetable broth will stay safe to eat indefinitely, freezer storage of the broth beyond two to three months can impart some off flavors in the finished dish.

Vegetable broth should be slightly cooled before packing into bags, containers or jars for storage. Allow broth to cool no longer than an hour before using a ladle to pour it into your storage containers. If you are using an upright storage container, be sure to leave an inch of headspace to accommodate for expansion. Seal the containers, jars or bags and label them with the date and name of the item. Cool completely in the refrigerator before arranging the vegetable broth containers in the freezer.

Freeze broth in containers of many sizes. Go for a mix of quart, pint and half- pint jars, containers or bags and be sure that whatever you are using is freezer-safe. Some wide-mouth canning jars are labeled as freezer safe and are a good choice for storing vegetable broth. For smaller portions, fill an ice cube tray full of vegetable broth, freeze it, remove the cubes and store them together in a freezer-safe bag. Using freezer-safe bags is also a good way to save space; fill them up, seal them and lay them flat in your freezer.

Make a batch regularly to replenish your supply and ensure that you always have some on hand. Thaw vegetable broth in the refrigerator overnight. Or run cool water over the bottom of the container, remove the frozen broth and heat it in a saucepan. Once thawed, use vegetable broth within three to four days for best quality and safety.

This vegetable broth recipe has a delicate flavor and is ideal for making light soups. Something you may want to make this week before all the rich food appears.

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Use this broth to make the soups below. Don’t add salt. Salt can be added when you use the broth to make a soup recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium yellow onions, sliced in chunks
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced in chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced in chunks
  • 1 leek, sliced in chunks
  • 1 bulb garlic, halved
  • 1 medium potato, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs parsley

Directions

Place all ingredients and 1 gallon water in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook 2 hours, then strain and discard solids. Strain once more through a fine mesh sieve. Cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Stir before using if broth separates. Freeze in smaller containers for use with a soup recipe.

Vegetable Broth From Scraps

It’s a shame to waste food and you really don’t have to ? Just get yourself some large freezer bags and start saving virtually everything to make great vegetable broth. Basically you don’t have to throw away the top of a bell pepper, just toss it in a freezer bag, stem and all, to eventually add them to your broth pot. Use the end of carrots or celery that may be going bad soon, just cut them all into 2 inch pieces and add them to your freezer bag collection. Spinach, red cabbage, potato peels, parsley stems or whatever, don’t throw anything away.

1. Place a large freezer bag of vegetable scraps and seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic, bay leaves, herbs, etc.) in a large pot and cover completely with water.

2. Bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour, two is better.

4. Then, strain out the vegetable pieces and your broth is ready for use or freezing.

Vegetarian Pasta e Fagioli

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cups collard greens (or greens of choice), chopped
  • 1/2 cup homemade or store bought marinara sauce
  • 1 – 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade vegetable broth
  • 1 can Borlotti beans (or beans of choice) drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb small pasta shells
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Sauté garlic and onion with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot until onions are translucent, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add parsley and collard greens, cover and cook until completely cooked down, about 10 minutes.

Add beans, tomato sauce, tomatoes and vegetable broth. Bring to boil and simmer 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring 6 quarts water to boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Cook pasta 2 minutes less than the package directions. Drain and pour pasta into soup mixture. Stir to mix well. Simmer 10 minutes.

Serve hot drizzled with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over the top of the soup.

Chick Pea Soup with Spaghetti

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. spaghetti, broken into thirds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 15 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 1/2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

Sauté onions and rosemary with oil in a large pot over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 additional minutes. Stir in chick peas and broth.

Bring mixture to a boil, season with salt and pepper and then reduce the heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cut spaghetti and cook until spaghetti is al dente. Garnish with parsley.

Winter Corn Chowder

Ingredients

  • 2 (10-ounce) packages (or 4 cups from a larger bag) frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium zucchini, (about 1/2 pound) diced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons

Directions

Put 2 cups of the corn and the milk into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over  medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and zucchini and cook, stirring until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups of corn and the broth and bring to a boil. Add the pureed corn and the diced tomatoes and cook until warmed through, but not boiling. Add the salt and season with pepper. Serve garnished with the basil ribbons.

Acorn Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 acorn squash, halved, seeds removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Garnishes: yogurt or shredded cheese or croutons and sliced chives

Directions

Preheat oven 400 degrees F.

On a baking sheet, roast the acorn squash, cut side down, until soft, about 45 minutes. Scoop out the squash flesh and set aside.

In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Saute carrot, apple and onion until soft. Season with ginger and allspice. Add the squash and the broth. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and puree with a hand-held immersion blender. (Alternatively, in batches, puree in a blender or food processor and return to the pot.)

Remove from the heat, ladle the soup into serving bowsl and top with garnishes of choice. Serve with warm bread, if desired.


Grilling vegetables is not difficult. With so many possible vegetable choices and recipes, the biggest challenge is narrowing them down to just a few special recipes that take advantage of the outdoor grill flavor. Many different kinds of vegetables can be grilled with great results. Beets become sweet on the grill. Potatoes get crisp on the outside and stay sweet and moist on the inside. Carrots and onions caramelize.

Select vegetables that are firm and that can hold up to slicing and grilling. Slice them in large, thick (at least 1/4-inch) sections, since small pieces can easily fall through the grid and into the fire. Cut zucchini lengthwise or on a long diagonal, for example. If you plan to prepare a recipe that calls for smaller pieces, try grilling them on skewers or wrapping them in foil packets. Vegetables such as peppers can simply be grilled whole, then peeled and sliced.

Soak vegetables in cold water for about 30 minutes before you grill them to keep them from drying out. Pat dry.

Because vegetables lack fat, they need oil, liquid, or some sort of marinade to prevent them from burning and sticking and to keep them moist. Brush vegetables with oil (preferably vegetable oil because it has a high smoke point) or a flavored oil mixture, such as a salad dressing or your own mixture of oil and herbs or other seasonings. Marinate the vegetables for at least 30 minutes before grilling.

White wine, oil, garlic, onion and celery salt make a good marinade, as do beer, oil, garlic and cloves. Lemon juice also makes a good base for a grilling marinade. Try pineapple juice, soy sauce, lemon juice and garlic for firm vegetables. Orange juice, turmeric, ginger, garlic and lemon zest make a light marinade for summer squash or softer vegetables.

Consider the texture of the ingredient to determine marinating time. Mushrooms, summer squash, and tomatoes may need only 30 to 40 minutes to marinate. Tougher ingredients, such as, sliced carrots or potatoes can marinate for a couple of hours.

To further prevent food from sticking to the grill and to aid in cleanup, spray the grid with nonstick cooking spray before heating (never spray into the fire) or wipe the grill rack with oil before you start cooking.

Special equipment is minimal. A special grill top basket is useful to keep small veggie foods from falling into the fire. Metal or wood skewers are useful for making kebabs that are easily rotated on a grill. (Wood skewers should be soaked in water for at least 30 minutes prior to threading the vegetables so they won’t burn on the grill.) Heavy-duty foil is the best type to use for lining grills or for wrapping food in packets for grilling.

Some Popular Vegetables For The Grill

Asparagus: Cut off ends. Soak in water for 30 minutes to an hour. Pat dry and brush with olive oil. Place on grill, turning every minute. Remove when tips start to turn brown. You can add some extra flavor to asparagus by mixing a little sesame oil in the olive oil before you brush them.

Bell Peppers: Cut through the middle of the pepper top to bottom. Remove stems, seeds and whitish ribs. Brush lightly with oil and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Corn on the cob: Gently pull back the husks but don’t remove. Remove the silk and cut off the tip. Soak in cold water for about 30 minutes. Dry and brush with butter. Fold the husks back down and tie or twist the ends. Place on the grill for about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn oten to avoid burning.

Eggplant: Cut lengthwise for smaller eggplants or in disks for larger eggplants. Soak in water for 30 minutes. Pat dry, brush with oil and grill 2-3 minutes on each side.

Garlic: Take whole bulbs and cut off the root end. Brush with olive oil and place cut side down over a hot fire. Grill garlic bulbs for about 10 minutes or until the skin is brown. Use to flavor other grilled vegetables or meats.

Mushrooms: Rinse off dirt and pat dry. Brush with oil and grill. 4-5 minutes for small mushrooms, 6-8 minutes. Use a grill basket for small mushrooms.

Onions: Remove skin and cut horizontally into 1/2 inch thick slices. Brush with oil and grill 3-4 minutes on each side. Use a wide spatula to turn onion slices, so they do not fall apart.

Potatoes: There are many ways to grill potatoes. You can do them whole for a baked potato. Rub with oil. Wrap in aluminum foil and grill 35-40 minutes, turning occasionally. Or, cut into thick wedges, brush with olive oil and grill until browned.

Tomatoes: Cut in half, top to bottom. Brush with a light coating of oil and grill cut side down 2-3 minutes.

Zucchini and Yellow Squash: Slice into 1/2 inch pieces. Brush with oil and grill 2-3 minutes per side. They can also be cut down the middle into halves and grilled.

The following grilled vegetable recipes will make great sides for your next barbecue.

Grilled Ricotta Basil Tomatoes                                                                                            

Ingredients:

  • 6 round large tomatoes or 12 small round tomatoes
  • One pound of ricotta cheese
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 12 small, whole basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

 Directions:

Preheat your grill to medium and grease the grill grates with oil.

Combine the ricotta cheese, whole egg, parsley, marjoram, chopped basil and garlic, mixing well.

Rinse the tomatoes and cut into halves. Scoop out the seedy pulp, leaving the outer flesh and skin of the tomatoes intact. If using small tomatoes, do not cut in half, just hollow out the center of each tomato.

Coat the tomatoes lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon some of the ricotta filling into each tomato half.

Place the stuffed tomatoes directly on the grill grate, making sure they are placed securely between the grates.You can also place the tomatoes in a grill top basket.

Grill for five to ten minutes over medium direct heat, until the filling has firmed up and you see some bubbling around the tomato edges.

Insert whole basil leaves into the filling of each tomato and serve immediately.

Grilled Sweet Potato Fries

3-4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

Set up your grill in a 2-zone configuration, one side hot, the other side cool.

Peeling isn’t necessary, but you can do it if you prefer. Cut potatoes into halves lengthwise and then into thick fries. Place in a large bowl. Drizzle the oil over the top and toss to coat.

Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle over potatoes. Toss to coat.

Lay fries on the grill so they’ll get horizontal grill marks and close the lid. Cook about 3 minutes, or until potatoes have brown grill marks on one side. Turn the potato fires over. Cook and turn until all sides are marked. 

Potatoes are done when easily pierced with a fork. You may need to move the fries to the indirect-heat side, if they’re not done after good grill marks are formed.

Grilled Summer Fresh Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 1 each yellow, orange and red pepper
  • 18 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 18 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette, divided (recipe below)

 Directions:

Heat grill to medium-high heat.

Cut each pepper lengthwise in half. Remove and discard seeds.

Make the filling: Combine the chopped tomatoes, chopped basil and 2 tablespoons of the Balsamic dressing,

Fill each half with some of the tomato filling and, then, top each pepper half with mozzarella cheese.

Grill 8 to 10 minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender.

Place peppers on a platter and drizzle with remaining dressing.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

 Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard and garlic. Add the oil in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 3/4 cup

Grilled Artichokes                                                

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 small artichokes, trimmed and halved
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Salt to taste
  • Spicy Lemon Aioli, recipe below

Directions:

Preheat grill and oil the grill grates.

Cut lemon in half and squeeze out the juice into a bowl. Save for later. Cut lemon into quarters.

Boil artichokes in water with 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, lemon quarters and thyme. Cook until artichokes are just tender (about 20 minutes).

Remove from the water and set aside for about 5 minutes, allowing them to dry.

Brush with olive oil and place on the grill cut side down. Grill for about 3 minutes or until they start to brown. Turn and grill for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with the reserved lemon juice and salt.

Serve with the Spicy Lemon Aioli, if desired.

Spicy Lemon Aioli

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Whisk together all ingredients and season to taste.

Grilled Zucchini-and-Summer Squash with Citrus Splash

4 servings

 Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons grated orange rind
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 3 oranges)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 red onions
  • 4 zucchini, each halved lengthwise (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 4 yellow squash, each halved lengthwise (about 1 pound)
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

 Directions:

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Peel onions, leaving root intact; cut each onion into 4 wedges. Add onion, zucchini, and yellow squash to bag.

Seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning bag occasionally.

Prepare grill and oil grill grates.

Drain vegetables in a colander over a bowl, reserving marinade. Place vegetables on a the grill and cook for 8 minutes or until tender; turn and baste occasionally with the reserved marinade.

Place the vegetables on a serving platter; sprinkle with the basil. Serve the vegetables with any remaining marinade.

Marinated Mushrooms

The mushrooms are a great side for grilled meats.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of small crimini mushrooms
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped fine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Preheat your outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.

Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp towel and trim the tips from the stems.

Juice and zest the lemons and combine with the olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Whisk the dressing thoroughly.

Lightly brush the mushrooms with a little of the dressing. Set the rest of the dressing aside.

Grill the mushrooms over medium-high heat for two to three minutes. Turn mushrooms over and grill another 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the grilled crimini mushrooms to the reserved dressing. Mix well.

Allow the mushrooms to marinate for about one hour on the countertop. You can make this recipe the day before and refrigerating overnight.

Bring to room temperature before serving.

Parmesan Garlic Corn                                                    

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears of fresh corn on the cob
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane grater
  • 1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian parsley

Directions:

Preheat grill and grease grill grates with oil.

Remove husks and silks from the corn. Combine grated garlic and butter in a small glass bowl.

Place bowl in the microwave for 10 – 15 seconds on high.

Grill corn until lightly charred and deep, bright yellow (about 15 – 20 minutes). Turning often to keep from burning.

Brush garlic butter over corn and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Italian parsley.

Crusty Grilled Onions                                                                                              

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 Vidalia onions or other sweet onions, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Directions:

Heat the grill to medium-high and grease the grill grates.

Pulse seasonings in the processor until thoroughly combined and place in a shallow bowl.

Brush onions on all sides with oil and coat in the seasoning mixture.

Place onions on the grill and cook until golden brown and a crust has formed, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and continue grilling until thoroughly cooked and crusty.

 


The one dish meal, while an inventor cannot be named, probably began life during prehistoric times, when whatever foods were available were thrown into a pot and cooked for the tribe’s dinner. Soups and stews made with harvested vegetables and hunted game were most likely the first one dish meals. As cooking processes advanced from an open fire to microwaves and convection ovens, the one dish meal has survived and thrives for busy families.

One dish meals provide the cook with a way of feeding the family without a lot of fuss. Because only one dish or pot is used in the preparation, after meal cleanup is quick. One dish meals also allow for the combining of various leftovers into a new meal that is fresh and appealing to eat.

Types of one dish meals can range from simple soups to elaborate meals, such as Beef Stroganoff or Italian Lasagna. Many one dish meals are considered to be comfort foods with macaroni and cheese topping the list. Pot pies, another popular one dish meal, are most often made with chicken or turkey and vegetable leftovers from previous meals. The crock pot revolutionized one dish meals with the idea that a busy cook could have dinner waiting to be served when returning home from work.

Most one dish meals usually combine a protein, one or more vegetables and a starch such as pasta or rice. These meals can be oven baked or cooked on the top of the stove. Since most meals are prepared by simply combining ingredients, one dish meals are a good way to introduce children to cooking.

One dish meals can be made to feed a single person or a crowd. Many pot luck meals include numerous one dish meals meant to serve a number of people. Casserole dishes that can be warmed up in minutes are a popular way to introduce yourself to new neighbors or help a friend who is ill.

Chicken in Mushroom Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds meaty chicken pieces (breast halves, thighs)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup frozen small whole onions
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine
  • 1 -14 ounce can low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and halved

Directions

Remove skin from chicken. Sprinkle chicken with salt and ground black pepper. In 12-inch skillet, cook chicken in hot oil over medium heat about 10 minutes or until golden brown, turning to brown evenly. Remove chicken.

Add carrot and onions to skillet. Cook about 5 minutes or until onions are golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add vermouth, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Return chicken to skillet. Pour broth over chicken; sprinkle with parsley, thyme, and rosemary.

Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 40 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, adding mushrooms during last 10 minutes of cooking.

White Bean and Sausage Stew

6 to 8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for serving
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cut into 3/4-inch thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 3 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans, rinsed and picked through
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 large rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste.

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Add the tomato paste and oregano to the pot. Cook, stirring, until dark golden, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beans, 8 cups water, salt, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer gently until the beans are tender, about 2 hours, adding more water if needed to make sure the beans remain submerged.

When the beans are tender, return the sausage to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into warm bowls and serve drizzled with additional vinegar and olive oil.

 

 

Vegetable Beef Soup

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 pound beef stew meat (such as chuck) or lamb stew meat (shoulder or leg), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 6 cups reduced-sodium beef broth or water
  • 1- 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 small parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, leaves included, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 12 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, plus more leaves for garnish
  • 8 sprigs fresh basil, plus more leaves for garnish
  • 1 large zucchini, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 ounces angel hair pasta (capellini), broken into small pieces (about 1/2 cup), or orzo, preferably whole-wheat
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and turmeric; stir to coat. Add meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and the meat is no longer pink, 4-5 minutes. Add broth (or water), tomatoes and their juice, parsnips, carrots, celery and saffron. Tie parsley and basil sprigs together with kitchen string and add to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the meat is tender, 45-50 minutes.

Stir in zucchini and cook, covered, until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add pasta and cook until soft, 6-10 minutes, depending on the type of pasta. Discard the parsley and cilantro sprigs. Season with salt (start with 1 teaspoon if you’re using beef broth; add more if you’re using water) and pepper. Serve sprinkled with parsley and/or basil leaves, if desired.

 

 

Oven Roasted Brisket and Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 1 lb. potatoes, quartered
  • 5 oz mushrooms, sliced (about 2 to 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 1/2 pounds lean beef brisket, trimmed, use the flat half
  • 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Spread onion slices and garlic on bottom of a non-stick roasting pan; top with carrots, potatoes and mushrooms. Arrange beef over vegetables.

In a mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, paprika, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and sugar; stir to dissolve sugar.

Pour tomato mixture over brisket and vegetables; tightly cover with a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Roast for 2 hours and then remove from the oven; uncover, stir and use pan juices to baste meat.

Return brisket to oven and roast for about 1 hour more, uncovered, basting every 15 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Serve meat and vegetables with sauce spooned over top.

Winter Vegetable Stew

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 cipollini onions (pearl onions can be substituted), peeled
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • One 1/2-ounce bundle of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, or oregano
  • One 2 1/2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 potatoes or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
  • 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Heat oil in a Dutch Oven over medium heat and add onions; cook, stirring, until golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Add stock and herbs; simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Add squash, carrots, potatoes and fennel; cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add green beans and cook, covered, about 5 minutes more. Remove cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid thickens, 10 to 15 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

 


When my children were young they loved pasta, as long as it was smothered in tomato sauce. It was a not a good dinner, in their estimation, if I added a vegetable or two. For this reason, I developed a marinara sauce with the addition of finely chopped vegetables, which has been a success in our family for many, many years. In fact, now that my children are grown, they make the sauce the same way. They are also more sophisticated as adults and enjoy the vast possibilities pasta can offer, even when they include vegetables.

Even though summer has past with its bounty of fruits and vegetables, there are still plenty of options for cooler days. Adding vegetables to pasta doesn’t have to be complicated or follow a rigid guideline. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your favorite pasta dish, even if the recipe doesn’t call specifically for vegetables. Try adding a vegetable you like to the dish, and see if they work well together.

What can you find at the fall Farmers’ Market?

Winter Squash One fall’s favorite vegetable, acorn squash, can be seen on seasonal menus across the country. Whether simply roasted with butter and sage or tossed with ricotta as a ravioli filling, acorn squash is versatile and simple to prepare, but has a limited season from October to December. Two other popular winter squashes include: spaghetti squash, a small, watermelon-shaped variety with a golden-yellow, oval rind and a mild, nut-like flavor and butternut squash with a soft inner flesh that tastes somewhat similar to sweet potatoes.

Brussels Sprouts, a diminutive member of the cabbage family, is available from late September through mid-February. Brussels sprouts hold up to almost any preparation, from oven roasting to braising and blanching.

Eggplant is a transitional berry (that’s right — it’s not actually a vegetable or even a fruit), and like most berries, peaks toward the end of summer and begins to decline in the fall. Look for firm eggplants with a shiny skin.

Carrots have long been considered a “cool weather” vegetable and are generally best in the late fall and early spring. Once thought of as a humble side dish, carrots have come into their own in recent years and are now widely available in their various natural hues, including red, purple, yellow and white.

Sweet potatoes are actually available year round, but are best in November and December. Sweet potatoes work well in both sweet and savory preparations, from mashed sweet potato to sweet potato pie. Not to be confused with yams, most sweet potatoes in the United States are characteristically orange, but can still be found in white and yellow varieties throughout the deep South.

Cauliflower may be grown, harvested, and sold year-round, but it is by nature a cool weather crop and at its best in fall and winter and into early spring.

Cabbage is more than just the base for your backyard-barbecue coleslaw. It adds texture to a tossed salad, makes a great topping for your taco and, when sautéed with apples and bacon, is the perfect accompaniment to roast pork.

Broccoli like many cruciferous vegetables, can be grown year-round in temperate climates, so we’ve forgotten it even has a season. But, like the rest of its family, it tastes best when harvested in the cooler temperatures of fall in most climates. Broccoli rabe (rapine) is a more bitter, leafier vegetable than its cousin, broccoli, but likes similar cool growing conditions.

Fennel‘s natural season is from fall through early spring. Like most cool weather crops, the plant bolts and turns bitter in warmer weather.

Winter Greens:  swiss chard has more substance than spinach and kale, like all hearty cooking greens, are less bitter in the cooler weather.

Mushrooms, while most mushrooms are available year-round, many are at their peak in fall and winter. The produce aisle routinely offers white button, portobello and, their younger sibling, cremini (also sold as “baby bellas”), oyster and shiitake mushrooms.

Try these vegetable based pasta dishes for a change of pace.

Bucatini with Mushroom and Roasted Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and then thinly sliced
  • 2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 1/2 pound button mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • Flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • 8 ounces uncooked bucatini

 Directions:

Preheat oven 425 degrees F.

Place a large skillet on the stove top with the extra-virgin olive oil and the sliced garlic, spread out the garlic so it is in an even layer in the oil. Slowly brown the garlic stirring until golden all over, 4 to 5 minutes.

Place the tomatoes on a cookie sheet and pour garlic and olive oil from the skillet over the tomatoes. Season with some salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 8 to 10 minutes or until the tomatoes start to burst.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, salt and cook bucatini according to package directions. Drain pasta.

In the same skillet that was used to brown the garlic, add the mushrooms and shallots. Let them cook for about 4 minutes, then add the thyme sprigs and season with some freshly ground black pepper, continue to cook for another 5 minutes stirring a few times. Add the white wine and cook until it has almost completely evaporated. Salt to taste and stir to combine.

Remove the stems of thyme and add the roasted tomatoes with their cooking juices from the baking sheet and the parsley and stir to combine. Add cooked pasta,mix well and garnish with cheese.

Pappardelle With Greens and Ricotta

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound greens, such as swiss chard, kale or broccoli rabe, stemmed and washed well
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, to taste, minced
  • 3/4 cup skim ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 pound pappardelle or fettuccine

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the greens (you may have to do this in two batches). After the water returns to a boil, boil two to four minutes until the greens are tender. Using a deep-fry skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the wilted greens to a bowl. Do not drain the hot water in the pot, as you’ll use it to cook the pasta. Cut the greens while in the bowl into bite size pieces. ( I like to use kitchen scissors for this.)

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. Add the garlic, cook for about a minute just until fragrant, and stir in the greens. Toss in the hot pan for about a minute, just until the greens are lightly coated with oil and fragrant with garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.

Place the ricotta in a large pasta bowl. Bring the greens cooking water in the large pot back to a boil, and add the pappardelle. Cook al dente. Ladle 1/2 cup of the cooking water from the pasta into the ricotta and stir together. Drain the pasta, and toss with the ricotta, greens and cheese.

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 8 ounces uncooked tube-shaped pasta
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (Wondra dissolves instantly)
  • 2 cups reduced-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Italian Fontina cheese
  • 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, rosemary, and pepper. Place squash on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with salt mixture. Bake at 425°F for 45 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Increase oven temperature to 450° F.

Cook the pancetta in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Add onions and sauté 8 minutes or until tender. Stir in roasted squash. Remove to a bowl and cover while pasta cooks.

Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain well.

In empty skillet used to cook pancetta and squash combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Turn on heat and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add fontina cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Add pasta to cheese mixture, tossing well to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray; top with squash mixture. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 450°F for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.


With a nod to good health and great taste, consider some out-of-the-ordinary vegetarian entrée options for grilling this summer. There’s more to vegetable grilling than just throwing some sliced vegetables onto the grill. With the right recipes, you can create tasty meat-free menu items that are substantial enough to take center plate at your cookout. They’ll be just as hearty as the meat options you’re serving, and full of fantastic flavor, thanks to time spent on the grill.
Don’t be surprised if the meat-eating guests take to these dishes as much as the vegetarians do. And if the attending carnivores want further motivation besides great taste, here it is: Research has shown that reducing the amount meat in your diet can cut your risk of developing cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

At backyard barbecues around the country, a vegetarian can often feel like the odd person out — forced to bring his own entrees or to pick around the edges. Fortunately grilling season kicks into high gear just as vegetable produce peaks. Not only are gardeners growing veggies by the bagful, but supermarket prices for fresh fruits and vegetables are also low. This is a chance for hard-core grillers to bring their talents of outdoor cookery to dishes for the meatless crowd.

In addition to providing the smoky flavor that emanates from the coals, grilling caramelizes the natural sugars in the vegetables and makes them taste extra sweet. Just about anything that sprouts from the ground or grows on a tree can be suspended over coals, including corn on the cob, zucchini, potatoes, onions, pineapples, mangoes, and mushrooms. Most vegetarian foods are more delicate than meat and have less fat. So to keep food from sticking to the grill and falling apart, it’s important to keep the grill clean and well-oiled.

Once the grill is hot, scrape it well with a grill brush to remove burned-on bits of food. Then fold a paper towel into a small square, soak it with vegetable oil. Grab it with your long-handled tongs and rub down the grill thoroughly.

For sandwiches, cut veggies like zucchini and eggplant lengthwise into thin slices–or into thick rings, in the case of onions, tomatoes, and peppers. Round out the meal by serving grilled veggies over pasta, rice, or polenta. Asparagus is one of the best and simplest vegetables to grill and is terrific in pastas and rice dishes. Leave the spears whole and simply lay them perpendicular across the grill grates!

How To Make Pizza On the Grill

Grilled pizzas are a specific style of pie: typically thin-crusted, they’re lightly sauced (too much liquid means a soggy crust) with minimal toppings. They also cook very fast.

Make the Dough

Use your favorite crust recipe or see recipe below. Divide the dough into two or more pieces and shape into balls for individual-sized pizzas. Set the dough aside to proof while you prepare your toppings.
Tip: if you have a heavy-duty mixer or bread machine, double the recipe. Divide and shape the dough, and freeze each portion in a plastic freezer bag greased with about a tablespoon of olive oil for another dinner.

Assemble Your Toppings

With grilled pizza, the crust is the star. Choose a few simple ingredients that can showcase the smoky flavor and crispy crust. Or go for minimalism: top the grilled bread with a brushing of good olive oil, a sprinkling of coarse salt, and bit of chopped fresh herbs.
Suggested bases: marinara, pesto, flavored olive oil, salsa verde.
Suggested cheeses: mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, feta cheese, Parmesan, Gorgonzola.
Ideas for toppings: grilled vegetables, fresh figs, fresh herbs, fresh arugula, toasted pine nuts, olives or capers, caramelized onions, roasted garlic.

Grill the Crust

Prepare the grill for high heat.

Shape the dough into rounds, either stretching it by hand or using a rolling pin. Each round should be no more than ¼ inch thick. You can stack the rounds by layering waxed paper, parchment, or a clean well-floured kitchen towel in between the individual crusts. When the coals are hot, have all of your toppings ready near the grill.

The easiest method for grilling pizza is to par-bake the crust: grill one side just long enough to firm up the crust so you can move it easily. By taking it off the heat, you can take your time arranging the toppings and are less likely to burn the bottom of the pizza.

Begin by placing one or two dough rounds on the grill.

  • You can oil the grill grates, but it’s not necessary; once the crust has set, after about three minutes, it should be easy to pull off the heat with tongs, a spatula, or your fingers.
  • Don’t worry if it droops a little through the grate–it’ll firm up fast.
  • After two to three minutes, give it a little tug–it should move easily. If it sticks, give it another minute or so.
  • When the crust is set, remove it from the heat and transfer it to a plate or peel; flip it over so the “done” side is up, and add the toppings.
Grill the topped pizzas until the cheese melts and the toppings are heated through. Depending upon the heat of the grill and the size of your pies, this can take two to 10 minutes (if your grill has cooled dramatically, you might need to cover it with a lid to finish the cooking).

Grilled Veggie Pizza

4 pizzas

Ingredients:

Dough:
5 cups all-purpose flour ( or half whole wheat and half white flour)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast (or active dry yeast, dissolved)
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 3/4 cups room temperature water

Directions:
Combine  ingredients in a mixer with a dough hook and knead for six minutes. Let rise until doubled. Divide into 4 balls of dough and keep covered.

Toppings: (Enough for 4 pies)

  • 2 pounds mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups sweet corn
  • 4 scallions, diced
  • Fresh oregano or basil

Directions:
Place ingredients in small bowls near the grill for easy access.

Simple sauce:

  • 2 cups tomato sauce (depending on how saucy you like your pies)
  • 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Big pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:
Stir together sauce ingredients and place near grill.

Appetizers

Eggplant Caponata Crostini

Serves 8                                                                                                                                                                                   

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for grilling
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetenedcocoa powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar or Truvia sugar substitute equivalent
  • 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 8- 1/4-inch-thick diagonal slices Italian bread
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat a  BBQ grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush both sides of eggplant slices lightly with oil. Grill 6 minutes on each side. Cut into ½ inch cubes.
  2. Start sauce while eggplant grills. Don’t turn off grill.
  3. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion, raisins, pine nuts, garlic, and red-pepper flakes; cook stirring occasionally, until onion has softened, 4 to 6 minutes.
  4. Add tomato paste, cocoa powder, and sugar; cook, stirring, until tomato paste is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggplant, vinegar, and 1/3 cup water.
  5. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick, 7 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and more sugar (up to 1 tablespoon), as desired.
  6. Brush both sides of bread with olive oil. Grill, turning once, until toasted and grill marks appear, about 2 minutes per side.
  7. Top grilled bread with caponata; garnish with basil leaves. Caponata can be refrigerated up to 5 days in an airtight container; let cool completely before storing.

Grilled Caprese Sandwiches

4 Sandwiches                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices round narrow Italian bread
  • 2 large garlic cloves, halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 slices (6 oz.) fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2 ripe plum tomatoes, thinly sliced (8 slices)
  • Pesto
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Rub a side of each slice of bread with a cut side of garlic and brush with oil. Spread the plain side of half the bread slices with a thin layer of pesto.

Layer cheese and tomatoes on top of the pesto.  Sprinkle with black pepper. Top with remaining bread, garlic side up. Grill sandwiches until grill marks appear and cheese is beginning to melt, 6 minutes, turning once.

Main Dishes

Stuffed Grilled Zucchini

4 servings.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving 1/4-in. shells. Brush with 2 teaspoons oil; set aside. Chop pulp.
In a skillet, saute pulp and onion in remaining oil. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add bread crumbs; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the heat. Stir in the mozzarella cheese, oregano and salt.
Spoon into zucchini shells. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Grill, covered, over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until zucchini is tender.

Tomatoes Stuffed with Cannellini and Couscous

Serves: 6

After the initial assembly, this dish takes care of itself. If you like, you can prepare and grill the tomatoes well ahead of serving. The flavors will get even better.

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

  • ½ cup couscous
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (preferably extra-virgin), divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 6 large ripe but firm tomatoes (10 ounces each; about 4 3/4 pounds total)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

Directions:

Preheat the grill. Coat a 9″ x 6″ disposable foil pan with cooking spray.
In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes, or until the onion is softened.

Meanwhile, cut 1/4″ slices from the tomato tops. Discard the tops. With a serrated knife or spoon, scoop out the tomato flesh, leaving 1/4″-thick walls. Set aside. Finely chop the tomato flesh. Add to the onion along with the beans, parsley, Italian seasoning, pepper, vegetable broth and the couscous. Stir to combine. Spoon into the reserved tomato shells, mounding slightly. Spoon any extra stuffing into the base of the pan. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Cover with aluminum foil.

Place on the grill away from direct heat. Grill, rotating the pan occasionally, for about 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender and the tops are golden.  Allow to stand for 20 minutes.

Grilled Stuffed Eggplant 

Serves: 6                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Ingredients:

  • 3 small eggplants, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 3 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
Preheat a covered grill to medium-high.
With a small, sharp knife, scoop out the flesh of each eggplant leaving 1/4-inch thick shells  and place in a medium bowl. Add the cheese, bread crumbs, tomatoes, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir to mix. Stuff the mixture tightly into each eggplant half. Drizzle with the oil.
Place the eggplant halves in a disposable aluminum foil pan. Set on the grill. Cover and grill for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the eggplant is soft and the top is golden and crisp.

Portobello Burgers with Roasted Peppers, Mozzarella, and Caramelized Onions

Serves: 4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

This grilled “burger” with all the trimmings will satisfy even devoted beef fans. Serve some oven sweet potato fries on the side.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps, about 3 1/2-4 ounces each
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese, about 2 ounces
  • 4 (100-calorie) light multi-grain english muffins or hamburger buns
  • 2 jarred roasted red peppers, drained and cut into strips

Directions:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Preheat the grill.
Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Combine the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and the vinegar in a small bowl. Brush the mixture over the mushroom caps and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
Grill, covered, turning occasionally, until tender, 9 to 11 minutes. Top each with 1 slice of the cheese and grill until the cheese melts, about 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
Toast the muffins or rolls. Place the bottom half of each muffin on a plate and top with 1 portobello cap, one-fourth of the roasted peppers, and one-fourth of the onion. Top with the remaining muffin halves.


Basil Pesto Pasta With Zucchini and Mint

It can be challenging to serve healthy meals on a budget, but with planning you can eat better for less. Many people save money by adding meatless meals to their weekly menus.

Meatless meals are built around vegetables, beans and grains — instead of meat, which tends to be more expensive. Meatless meals also offer health benefits.

A plant-based diet, which emphasizes fruits and vegetables, grains, beans and legumes, and nuts, is rich in fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. Just eating less meat has a protective effect. A National Cancer Institute study of 500,000 people found that those who ate 4 ounces of red meat or more daily were 30 percent more likely to contract a serious illness.  Sausage, luncheon meats and other processed meats also increased the risk. Those who ate mostly poultry or fish had a lower risk of serious illness.

The fact is that most Americans get enough protein in their diets. Adults generally need 10 to 35 percent of their total daily calories to come from protein.  Of course, you can get protein from sources other than meat. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends choosing a variety of protein foods, including eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds. The guidelines also suggest replacing protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories. The fats in meat, poultry and eggs are considered solid fats, while the fats in seafood, nuts and seeds are considered oils.

You don’t have to go cold turkey. Instead, try easing into meatless meals. Consider going meatless one day a week. If you don’t like the idea of a whole day without meat, start with a meatless dinner each week or choose to eat meat free lunches or breakfasts. Plan meals that feature entrees you like that are typically meatless, such as lasagna, soup or pasta salad.

When your meals include meat, don’t overindulge. Choose lean cuts and avoid oversized portions. A serving of protein should be no more than 3-4 ounces or about the size of a deck of cards and should take up no more than one-fourth of your plate. Vegetables and fruits should cover half your plate. Whole grains make up the rest.

Finding ideas for cooking meatless meals isn’t necessarily easy. You can get bored with the same foods every day, so here a few suggestions on how to vary your meal plans.

1.  Vegetable Stew

You don’t have to put meat in your stews to get the same taste. Hearty vegetables like potatoes and carrots make meals by themselves. When you make your vegetable stew, use good portions of these vegetables in your recipe. Also add green beans and sweet peas. Tomatoes and corn also round out this type of stew.

2.  Vegetable Stir-Fry

Stir-fries are delicious ways to cook meatless meals. Most traditional stir-fries add chicken, beef or pork into the recipe. You can substitute mushrooms for meat in your favorite stir-fry recipe.

3.  Salad

A salad is a healthy meatless meal that has numerous nutritional benefits. Of course, you’re probably thinking a salad won’t fill you up much. Salads can be complete and sensible meals if you add items that have protein. Top your salads with nuts or beans. Protein is great for building muscle tissue and warding off heart problems. The fiber in beans keeps constipation away.

4.  Omelet

Omelets aren’t just for breakfast anymore. They make great lunch and dinner meal options. Make your omelet delicious and fulfilling by using low fat cheese, egg whites and vegetables. Also avoid too much salt and use small amounts of healthy oils when preparing your omelet. These ingredients can lead to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart-related problems.

5.  Bean Soup

Beans are high in fiber and protein. They are delicious in soups as well.  Pinto, kidney and black beans are perfect for soups. They provide a heartier taste than lighter colored beans such as lima and navy beans. You can make your soup even more filling by adding pasta, onions, tomatoes and carrots.

Here are some recipes that may tempt you to try a meatless dinner, soon.

Eggplant Burgers

Pour 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato oil (from the jar) into a small skillet and heat and add:

  • 1 small eggplant (about ¾ lb.), peeled and chopped fine.
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped fine
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook over medium low heat until very soft. Turn into bowl and mix in 1/4 cup Progresso Italian bread crumbs. You may need a little more breadcrumbs so that the mixture holds together. Chill.

Form into 4 patties. Brush each side with a little olive oil and grill for about 3 minutes on each side. Serve each with 1 tablespoon of basil sauce on a hamburger bun.
Can be frozen and reheat in a 350 degree oven..

Basil Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

Process all ingredients in food processor or blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

Roasted Vegetable Crepes

Thin pancakes with a savory vegetable filling are great for dinner or brunch.

Crepes:

  • 1 cup quick-mixing flour, such as Wondra
  • 2/3 cup reduced-fat milk
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 3 eggs or 3/4 cups egg substitute
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter, divided, or Smart Balance Spread
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling:

  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1 bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Coarsely ground black pepper                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                     
                                       

To prepare crepes:

1. Place flour in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in milk and water until smooth. Whisk in eggs, 3 tablespoons butter and salt. Let stand 10 minutes. (This allows the flour to absorb the liquid.)

2. Heat an 8- or 9-inch crepe pan over medium-high heat until hot. Lightly brush pan with some of the remaining melted butter.

3. Pour 1/4 cup batter into the center of pan. Quickly tilt in all directions. (Batter should lightly cover the bottom of pan.) Cook 30 seconds. Lift edge with a spatula to check doneness. Shake and jerk the pan by its handle to loosen crepe. Turn crepe over with your fingers or a spatula and flip. Cook 15 to 20 seconds. (Second side will be spotty brown.)

4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter and melted butter. Makes 10 crepes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

To prepare filling:

Place zucchini, bell pepper, onion and tomatoes in a large baking pan. Drizzle with olive

oil. Add salt, thyme and pepper. Roast 30 minutes or until tender. Makes about 3 cups.

To assemble:

5 ounces brie cheese or softened Alouette or light cream cheese

Spread 2 tablespoons cheese on half of each crepe. Top with about 1/3 cup roasted vegetables. Fold in half then in half again.

Polenta and Vegetables With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Serves 4

  • 1 cup uncooked instant polenta
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (or oregano) or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 asparagus stalks, ends trimmed
  • 8 scallions, trimmed
  • 2 small eggplants, trimmed and halved
  • 1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes

Sauce

Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a medium-sized heavy saucepan. Add polenta in a stream, whisking to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until thick, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in 1/3 cup Parmesan and season with cayenne and salt.

Coat a 9″ pie plate with cooking spray. Transfer polenta to pie plate, smooth into an even layer and let cool 15 minutes.

Heat broiler or outdoor grill or indoor grill.

Whisk garlic, thyme, lemon juice and oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss vegetables with dressing. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange vegetables in 1 layer (or layer in a grill basket).

Broil or grill vegetables about 4 inches from heat until tender and lightly brown, 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a platter.

Combine all sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Sprinkle polenta with remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Broil the polenta in the pie plate until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, then cut polenta into 8 triangles. Or, you can grill the triangles until lightly brown.

Divide polenta among 4 plates. Top with vegetables, drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with chives. Serve any remaining sauce on the side.

Chunky Vegetable Pot Pie

You can use any combination of vegetables that you like – just keep the amount the same. You can also vary the seasonings according to taste.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium (about 8 ounces) butternut squash, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thick 1-inch long matchsticks
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets (from ½ of a cauliflower)
  • 2 medium beets, trimmed and scrubbed, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into thick 1-inch long matchsticks
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch long matchsticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
 

Biscuit Topping:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon, divided
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or an alternative, such as Smart Balance Spread
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Place squash, sweet potato, carrots, cauliflower, beets and parsnips in a roasting pan.  Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil; Italian seasoning and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring twice during the cooking.  Remove; reduce oven to 375°F.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom, then add the garlic and shallots; cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Raise the heat to high, and add the wine.  Let the wine reduce by half, about 2 minutes.  Add the vegetable stock and simmer over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Combine 1 cup flour, the baking powder, 2 teaspoons tarragon, and  1/4 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse in the butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the milk and Parmesan, process until combined, and set aside.

Transfer vegetables to a large bowl.  Add zucchini, remaining 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons tarragon; toss to combine.  Stir in the stock mixture; season with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a shallow ovenproof casserole and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and drop heaping tablespoons of the biscuit dough over the vegetables, leaving some of the vegetables exposed.
Place the dish in the oven and bake until the biscuits are golden, about 25 minutes.  Serve hot.

Total Servings: 6


What Is Giardiniera?
Long a staple in many Italian-American communities, giardiniera is an Italian style condiment that is usually packed in shelf stable jars with vinegar or olive oil. And while recipes to make giardiniera differ, most consist of a mix of chopped celery, mild or hot peppers, carrots, olives, and a blend of spices.  With summer approaching and the availability of fresh vegetables during this season, it is the opportune time to make this unique dish.
While there are numerous versions of giardiniera, most often, you will find it labeled as either hot or mild, and depending on your taste buds, you’ll chose one or the other. The hot style is enough to give your appetizers or main courses a kick, but not too hot to overwhelm flavors. The mild version adds an Italian restaurant appetizer taste accent not found in many places anymore.
This unique condiment of ingredients are usually coarsely chopped and then tossed with a specialty blend of spices. Traditionally, pitted green olives are then added to the mix and the mixture is packed into containers.

Chicago Style Hot D

Giardiniera (pronounced jar-deen-YAIR-uh and Italian for “from the garden”) is piled on pizza, hot dogs and even stirred into tuna salad. In the days before refrigeration, the summer months were perhaps the busiest time of the year for Italian cooks, especially those with access to a garden. Throughout Italy people went to work, selecting, peeling, and slicing the various vegetables and fruit, cooking them, packing the jars, and sterilizing them, before the jars were stored away for the winter months.
Now, of course, refrigeration, commercial cold storage, and long distance shipping have greatly increased the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables, many of which are no longer seasonal but rather sold year round. There is, therefore, less need for preserving summer’s bounty and, additionally, vegetables pickled or packed in oil are available commercially everywhere. 
This doesn’t mean that Italians have stopped making Sottoli and Sotto Aceti (as they are called in Italy), because, those who have vegetable gardens must still preserve what they do not consume or give away. 

Sotto Aceti are vegetables that have been pickled in vinegar, whose acidity keeps the food from spoiling. Italians generally use wine vinegar, though apple vinegar will also work, as will flavored vinegars, which will give your sotto aceti an extra touch. When selecting vinegar for pickling, make certain it’s fairly strong, especially if you plan to pickle vegetables that have high moisture contents.

Sottoli are vegetables packed in olive oil, and require much more care in preparation than do sotto aceti, because oil is not a preservative; it prevents spoilage merely by isolating the vegetables from the air. This means that the vegetables must be fully cooked (often in vinegar, whose acidity acts as a disinfectant) and transferred immediately to a sterile jar, which must be filled immediately, and tapped briskly so as to dislodge all the air bubbles.

There’s a satisfaction that comes from making pickles at home, plus one can tailor the recipes to suit one’s tastes, and they also make excellent gifts. Instead of mixed pickles, you can make a single vegetable in one jar.

Carciofi Sott’Olio
Artichokes packed in oil
Cipolline Sotto Aceto
Pickled onions
Giardiniera
A medley of pickled vegetables
Mostarda
A classic hot and spicy condiment made with fruit
Sott’Oli
Vegetables pickled and packed in oil.
Peperoni Sotto Aceto
Pickled bell peppers
Peperoncini
Tiny round hot peppers
Pimmaduori Siccati
Sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, Calabrian style.

Making the pickles is a tradition in many Italian-American households, but it does not require the work you might expect of a long-handed-down custom. This is preserving with no lids to seal and no fear of poisoning your family; it takes only an hour or so of preparation and two or three days of waiting, and keeps in the refrigerator for weeks.
In many ways, what follows is more about technique than recipe, with flexibility to suit your mood or tastes. If you love carrots, add more. Or introduce zucchini, eggplant, onions or green beans. If you want it extra-spicy, add more serrano peppers or red pepper flakes . Chop the vegetables uniformly so that the brine will penetrate evenly: mincing makes a great relish for a hot dog, while larger pieces are better for a side dish.
The process is not complicated: vegetables brine in salty water overnight, then rinse the vegetables, make the vinaigrette and pack the jars. After a couple of days, taste the pickle; you just may be hooked. The fact that this version is not cooked, as in standard canning methods, means the vegetables retain their freshness.

Easy Giardiniera

Yield: About 2 quarts.

  • 4 serrano chiles, thinly sliced, with seeds removed
  • 2 red sweet peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 or 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • 1 or 2 carrots, sliced 
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 1 (5 ounce) jar pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (add more if you would like a hotter version)
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 1/2 cup grape seed or safflower oil. (or use all olive oil)

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, using your hands, mix the vegetables and salt until well combined. Cover the vegetables with water. Cover the bowl and allow the mixture to sit, unrefrigerated, for 8 to 12 hours.
2. Drain the vegetables and rinse thoroughly. Sterilize 2 quart-size glass jars, with lids, in the dishwasher or by submerging them in boiling water for 10 minutes.
3. In one sterilized jar, combine the garlic, olives and all the herbs and spices; add the vinegar and the oils and shake well to emulsify the dressing. Pour half the dressing into the other jar.
4. Pack the vegetables into the jars. If vegetables are not completely coated, make and add more dressing. Screw lids on to jars and refrigerate. Allow the mixture to mellow for a 4-5 days before serving.

Because the  condiment has oil in it, the oil will congeal in the refrigerator.  Just dish out a serving and let it stand at room temperature for 10- 15 minutes.

How To Use Giardiniera:
The beauty of this condiment is its versatility. Add some giardiniera to scrambled eggs for an eye opening twist, or similarly, fold some into an omelet.
For the most part though, plan to add a few forkfuls to any Italian style dish. It is the ideal addition to a sandwich or add it to pasta salad. The standard Italian antipasto misto wouldn’t be quite right without these, and they also work very well alongside grilled fish or meats, especially pork chops or as a condiment for burgers.



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