Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Cheese

If you are looking to reduce some of the carbs in your diet, this is a good meal to make. Serve this wintertime dinner with pickles, Giardiniera, pickled peppers or olives on the side.

Italian Burgers With Garlic Lemon Aioli

Since I usually cook just for two, I cut this recipe in half.

4 burgers

Ingredients

1 1/4 lbs ground beef, shaped into four patties
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Sprig of rosemary
1 large clove garlic, crushed
4 slices (1/4 inch thick) sweet onion
4 slices fresh tomato (1/4 inch thick)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 slices 1/2-inch-thick and 4 inches wide of Focaccia bread, toasted

Quick Lemon Garlic Aioli
5 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Sprinkle of salt
1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Optional: ½ teaspoon anchovy paste

Directions

 

For the aioli
In a small, shallow bowl, combine the garlic and lemon juice. Stir to combine and spread it into an even layer. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes, so the lemon juice can absorb the garlic’s flavor.
Place a fine-mesh strainer over another bowl. Using a silicone or rubber spatula, scoop the contents of the bowl into the strainer, then press on the garlic with the spatula to get as much juice out as possible. Discard the garlic.
Stir the mayo into the garlicky lemon juice until combined. Add the Dijon mustard and anchovy paste. Aioli will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 10 days. It will thicken up more as it chills.

For the burgers
Season the burgers with salt, pepper, and dried Italian seasoning.
Heat a large deep skillet over medium-high to high. Add the olive oil to the pan and tilt the pan to distribute the oil..Add the patties and onion slices. Cook, about 6 minutes for rare or 8 minutes for medium-rare. Turn the patties and onion slices over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the onion slices and place them on the toasted bread. Leave the burgers in the pan.

Add the butter, rosemary, and garlic to the pan. Using a large spoon, baste the patties for about 2 minutes with the garlic-rosemary butter; top each burger with a slice of tomato. Place ¼ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese on top of each tomato. Cover the pan to melt the cheese, about 1 minute.
Serve the burgers on top of the toasted bread with the garlic aioli. I had baked Foccacia that was one-inch thick and I cut the pan into 4-inch square pieces. I then cut one square in half lengthwise to use for the base of the burger.

Red Cabbage Slaw

If you do not have lemon-flavored olive oil, add a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice to the dressing.

Ingredients

1/4 of a head of red cabbage, about 8 oz., shredded
1/2 cup shredded carrot
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons lemon-flavored extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Cover cranberries with water and let sit for 15 minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Drain.
Toss together the cabbage, carrots, parsley, walnuts, and cranberries.
In a serving dish with a cover whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the oil. Toss with the cabbage, carrots, parsley, walnuts, and cranberries.
Taste, adjust seasonings and serve. Alternately, allow to sit for 30 minutes to an hour in the refrigerator, then serve.


This entire meal may be baked in the oven together at the same temperature. Just stagger placing the dishes in the oven according to their baking times.

Baked Stuffed Shrimp

2-3 servings. This recipe is easily doubled.

Ingredients

12 jumbo raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and tail-on
1 large scallion, minced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 celery stalk, minced
Half a jalapeno pepper, minced
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 slice finely chopped cooked bacon
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Lemon wedges for serving

Directions

Preheat to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Using a paring knife, cut along the outside curve of each shrimp, from the bottom of the neck to tail, almost all the way through. Arrange the shrimp on the prepared pan, laying them open, cut-sides down, pressing gently to flatten.

For the stuffing
Combine scallions, mayonnaise, celery, jalapeno, breadcrumbs, bacon, salt and cayenne in a small bowl.
Spoon 1 teaspoon of stuffing onto each shrimp. Fold the tail over the filling and press gently.

Bake until the shrimp turn pink and the stuffing is warmed through, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with lemon wedges.

Zucchini Au Gratin

Bechamel Sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Au gratin
2 cups. shredded cheddar cheese
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 medium zucchini, about 2 lbs, sliced crosswise into 1/4” circles
1 shallot, minced
Bechamel sauce, recipe above

Directions

To make the Bechamel sauce

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over moderately low heat. Whisk in flour and cook the roux, whisking, 2 minutes. Add the milk in a stream, whisking, and bring to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly (sauce will thicken). Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 2 minutes, then whisk in the salt and pepper Remove from heat and cover the pan.

For the zucchini

Toss the zucchini slices with 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl or plastic bag. Pour into a large colander and let sit for at least 30 minutes. This will pull moisture from the zucchini so your casserole will not be watery. Dry the zucchini in a kitchen towel.

Preheat oven to 375°F and butter a medium casserole dish. Add a layer of zucchini to the baking dish, overlapping the zucchini slices. Season with pepper and pour about one-half of the cream mixture over the zucchini. Scatter the minced shallot over the zucchini and sprinkle with half the cheese.
Make another layer with the remaining zucchini slices and top with the sauce and cheese. Bake until bubbly and golden on top, 40 to 45 minutes.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

If you don’t have garlic-flavored oil, add two minced garlic cloves.

Ingredients

1 (10 oz) container cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons garlic-flavored olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.


In a medium baking dish, toss together tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Top with thyme sprigs.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft and very fragrant.


Sea Bass with Spinach Pesto

4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb Sea Bass fillets cut into ½ inch thick pieces
4 tablespoons butter
Spinach pesto, recipe below
Lemon quarters
Fish Coating
1/2 cup Flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Mix the flour and seasonings together. Coat the fish fillets in the flour mixture. Melt the butter in a large heavy skillet. Place the coated fillets in the butter and cook for 3-4 minutes per side. Cover each fillet with several tablespoons of spinach pesto and heat for 2 or 3 minutes.

Spinach Pesto

Ingredients

2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup pine-pignoli (or any nuts) nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions

Combine the spinach, pine nuts, lemon juice, and lemon peel in a processor. Lightly pulse. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup of the oil, blending until the mixture is creamy. Add salt and pulse.
Stir in the Parmesan. Season the pesto with salt and pepper, to taste.

Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Ingredients

2 tomatoes, sliced into ½ inch thick slices
5-6 slices fresh mozzarella cheese, ½-inch thick
5-6 Pitted oil-cured olives
Extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Arrange the tomato slices alternating with mozzarella slices on each serving plate. Drizzle with olive oil and top with olives.

Oven Roasted Asparagus

Ingredients

1 bunch asparagus
Coarse sea salt to taste
Crushed black pepper to taste
!/4 teaspoons roasted garlic powder
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C). Remove the woody ends of the asparagus spears.

Arrange the asparagus spears on a foil-lined baking sheet and coat with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and the Parmesan cheese.

Bake until the cheese begins to brown and the spears are tender about10-12 minutes.


Potato-Crusted Quiche

The Roasted Root Vegetable recipe can be found here.

Ingredients

4 cups shredded russet potatoes
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup half-and-half
4 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
3 cups diced leftover roasted root vegetables
1 cup shredded Cheddar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Gently press the shredded potatoes between paper towels to dry them as best as possible.
In a 10-inch glass pie plate melt the butter in the microwave or the hot oven. Toss the potatoes with the melted butter in the pan. Add salt to taste. Press them into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and starting to crisp.

Sprinkle the bacon and half the cheese on the bottom of the crust.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, half and half, and diced roasted vegetables. Pour the egg mixture over the crust and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Place the pan on a cookie sheet and then in the oven.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for about 30 minutes until the quiche is light golden brown on top and puffed. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

Homemade Tomato Soup

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts, diced
2 carrots with green tops, diced including the tops
3 stalks celery with leaves, diced
The top of one fennel bulb with fronds, diced (save the bulb for another recipe)
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 lbs fresh plum tomatoes
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons honey
A few dashes of hot sauce

Directions

I freeze the tomatoes and then defrost them overnight. The skins slip off easily. Or you can
bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the tomatoes to the boiling water and cook 4-5 minutes, or until skins loosen. Carefully remove tomatoes from the water with a slotted spoon. Set aside until tomatoes are cool enough to handle; carefully slip off the skins and discard. Chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy Durch Oven over medium-high heat; add the garlic, leeks, carrots, fennel, celery and sauté 3-4 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the chopped tomatoes.


Add the broth and honey. Simmer for 15 minutes. Use a handheld stick blender and process until smooth and creamy. Add the hot sauce and serve with a slice of quiche.


Almond Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Dough

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 packages (1/4 ounce) or 4 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour

Filling

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
8 ounces almond paste

Glaze

2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

To Make the Dough:

Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in the electric mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the water and eggs and beat until well combined.

Mix in the flour until the dough comes to a ball or comes away from the sides of the mixer bowl.

Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough.

Remove the dough to a floured surface. Grease the bowl and return the dough to the bowl. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it’s puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).

To Make the Filling:

While the dough is rising, prepare the filling by beating the cream cheese and the almond paste together until smooth. Chill until ready to use.

Assembly:

Cover a large baking pan with parchment paper. I use a pizza pan.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll into a large rectangle, about 20 x 14 inches.

Spread the filling on the dough, leaving a half-inch border all around the dough.

Roll the dough up from the long side (jelly-roll style). Seal the edge tightly. Form the roll into a circle and pinch the ends together to form a ring.

Place the cake on the prepared pan. Using kitchen scissors, cut two-thirds through the dough from the outer rim of the circle at 1-inch intervals.

Allow the ring to rise, covered with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel for 1 hour until almost doubled in size.

Baking:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.

Bake the ring for 35 to 40 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Wrap well and freeze until the day before Christmas. Defrost the cake at room temperature overnight.

On Christmas Morning

To make the glaze:

Combine the powdered sugar, almond extract, and enough milk to make a frosting that can be poured over the cake. Sprinkle with sliced almonds or red cherries, if desired. Allow the glaze to set before serving.


Most people know Rick Bayless from Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, his Public Television series, Mexico–One Plate at a Time and his many cookbooks. He is also the owner of multiple restaurants, including the outstanding Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, where my family ate numerous times when we lived in Chicago. I recently discovered that he developed a line of Mexican cooking sauces that are sold in most supermarkets. While the sauces have been available for a while, I just recently discovered them and find them to be delicious, authentic and so very convenient. I especially like these sauces because they are made from fresh ingredients with no preservatives, are gluten-free, and low in carbohydrates. They also come in convenient, easy to use pouches.
These sauces are so convenient when you are busy and want a good tasting dinner fast. I used one of the taco sauces for my recipe below. There are quite a few made by his company, Frontera Foods, and you can check out the rest with this link.

Key Lime Shrimp Tacos

Serves 4. Since I only wanted two servings, I made half the recipe. I also used half of the sauce and froze the unused portion for another occasion. I also changed the directions from the one listed on the package in making this dish.

Serve this entree with a salad and ranch dressing.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon avocado or vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1 Poblano pepper, diced
1 pound peeled, deveined medium shrimp;
1 pouch Frontera Key Lime Shrimp Taco Skillet Sauce
8 tortillas (crispy or soft), warmed
Toppings: cheese, jalapenos, shredded cabbage or lettuce, tomato, avocado, etc

Directions

Heat the oil in a nonstick 10 or 12-inch skillet over high heat. Add the onion and poblano pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender, about 4 minutes. Add the sauce and let it sizzle for a minute or two and then add the shrimp. Cook and stir over medium heat until the shrimp turn pink and are just cooked through about 4 minutes.


Serve in warm tortillas with your choice of toppings.
Variations: Substitute 1 pound sea scallops or cubed firm fish for the shrimp.


Baked Halibut

4 servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, very soft
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 dash hot pepper sauce
2 pounds skinless halibut fillets

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a baking dish.
In a bowl, mix the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice, green onions, salt, and hot pepper sauce.
Arrange the halibut fillets in the prepared baking dish. Spread with the sauce.
Bake the halibut fillets 15-20 minutes or until easily flaked with a fork.
For a brown topping broil for 2-3 minutes. Place the fillets on individual plates and pour any sauce left in the pan over the fish. Serve immediately.

Simple Roasted Carrots

The carrots and the fish can be baked at the same temperature.

4 servings

Ingredients

6 carrots, cut into 2-inch diagonal lengths
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 375ºF.
On a baking sheet lined with foil, toss carrots with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
Roast until tender and lightly caramelized, 45 minutes. Serve with the fish.

Onions and Swiss Chard

4 servings

Ingredients

2 large bunches green Swiss chard
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, diced (about 2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
½ teaspoon black pepper, divided

Directions

Wash the chard in several changes of water. Cut the stems and center ribs from the chard leaves and reserve them for soup. Stack the chard leaves and roll them lengthwise into cylinders. Cut the cylinders crosswise to make 1-inch-wide strips.
Heat oil and butter in a large heavy skillet with a cover over medium heat until foam subsides, then cook onions and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, covered, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add chard leaves in batches, stirring until wilted before adding the next batch, and add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl.



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