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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Cheese

Nothing says summer like a pizza made with fresh tomatoes and basil. It is one of our favorites and we look forward to this time of year when these ingredients are at their best.

I also have come up with an easy to make pizza dough that doesn’t require a lot of attention. It works perfectly every time. You just have to remember to make it a day ahead.

Putting the pizza together and baking it are a breeze, which is just what you want for this time of year. Make a green salad to go with the pizza and dinner is complete,

Easy Pizza Dough

Makes one 15 – 16 inch round pizza. Prepare the dough one day ahead.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/2 cups Italian flour or bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Topping

3 medium fresh, ripe tomatoes, sliced thin
½ cup homemade or store-bought pesto
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
7 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in the large bowl of an electric mixer and with the paddle attachment mix until the ingredients come together around the paddle.

Attach the dough hook and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes.

Spray a ziplock plastic bag with olive oil cooking spray. Place the dough in the bag and close the top. Place the bag in the refrigerator overnight.

When ready to make the pizza, remove the bag from the refrigerator 30 minutes before making the pizza.

Place the sliced tomatoes on paper towels to drain.

Turn the oven to 500 degrees F and let the oven heat for 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto an oiled pizza pan and push the dough to the edges with your fingers.

Spread the pesto over the dough and cover the pesto layer with the sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the tomatoes.

Place the pizza in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and place slices of fresh mozzarella over the tomatoes.

Return the pizza to the oven and bake for 10 minutes more.

 

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My Jeta Farms CSA share this week contained New Mexico green chilies. The CSA farmer told me he had gotten the seeds from a New Mexico farmer and had grown the peppers here on his farm this year. They were beautiful. I did some research and learned more about these green chilies.

They are deep green peppers, five or six inches in length, and have been cultivated throughout New Mexico for quite a long time. Native peoples there still grow some of the older heirloom varieties, and there are newer varieties planted all over the state, as well.

The chilies can have a bit of a kick to them, so taste the sauce and do not use too much when preparing the enchiladas, if you do not like it too spicy.

In New Mexico the chilies are fire-roasted, peeled, chopped and made into a well-known sauce. The sauce can be used on a lot of dishes. You can have green chile sauce with your breakfast eggs, on enchiladas, in a stew made with pork for dinner or in any dish you think you may like it on.

Dilemma – what is the correct spelling – chile or chili? In my research I also discovered this spelling controversy and my spellchecker wants me to use chili.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Las Cruces, N.M. — Chili vs. chile.

The war over how to spell New Mexico’s most valuable vegetable crop continues to rage for the head of the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University.

Paul Bosland, director of the institute and the school’s chief chile breeder, has been trying for years to get everyone to spell chile–the hot peppers or the plant from which the peppers come–with an “e.” He says chili–the spicy dish of meat and sometimes beans–should be spelled with an “i.”

“A lot of people argue about it,” he said. 

The word chile originated from the Aztec word “chil,” meaning pepper. Bosland said the Spanish added an “e” to the end of the word to make it a noun in their language.

Advertisements lining the back roads in the lower Rio Grande Valley, where most of New Mexico’s peppers are grown, spell it chile. Just across the border in Texas, restaurants advertise their state dish as “chili.”

Bosland has heard quite a few arguments against the New Mexico way of spelling chile.

“One person said you can’t use c-h-i-l-e because that’s the name of a country. That’s true, but Turkey seems to have done quite well,” he said. “Some say the English spell it c-h-i-l-l-i. Well, they also spell color with a “u.”

Webster’s Dictionary helps to complicate the matter. It provides three spellings–chili, chile and chilli–that are all defined as either hot peppers or a dish of meat and spices.

The Associated Press uses chili. Norman Goldstein, AP Stylebook editor, says the “i” spelling is more commonly used in most other parts of the nation.

The Los Angeles Times spells the vegetable “chile” and the spicy soup “chili.” The sauce made of chile, onion and tomato? Chile sauce.

Chicken and Green Chile Enchiladas

You may also use leftover, cooked chicken, if you have it on hand, instead of cooking the chicken breasts, as described below. If you do, then use prepared chicken broth.

I use 6 inch corn tortillas. If you use a different size, you will have to adjust the recipe amounts.

For the Chicken
1 1⁄2 lbs. chicken breasts
1 small carrot
1 small onion
1 garlic clove

For the Enchiladas
8 soft 6 inch white corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese mix, divided
5 scallions, chopped

Directions

Make the chicken:

In a large saucepan, place the chicken breasts, carrot, onion and garlic. Add enough water to cover and bring to a simmer.

Let simmer until the meat is cooked through and the broth is flavorful, about 30 minutes.

Strain, reserving both the broth and the chicken separately. Let the chicken rest until cool enough to handle.

Shred the meat and discard the bones and skin. Set aside.

Reserve 1 ½ cups of broth for the sauce and 1 cup for softening tortillas.

Make the green chile sauce, recipe below.

Combine the shredded chicken, chopped scallions and ½ cup of cheese in a mixing bowl.

Make the enchiladas:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cover the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch glass baking dish or a dish that will fit 8 enchiladas in a single layer with a thin layer of green chile sauce.

Heat the 1 cup of chicken broth.

To soften the tortillas so they can be rolled without breaking, dip them very briefly in the hot broth, until softened slightly.

Working with one tortilla at a time, distribute about 3 tablespoons of the shredded chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla.

Roll the tortilla loosely into a cigar shape to cover the filling, then transfer seam side down to the prepared baking dish.

Repeat with the remaining tortillas and chicken, placing the enchiladas snugly side by side.

Ladle additional green chile sauce over the top to coat all the tortillas.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the sauce, cover with foil and bake until the enchiladas are heated through and the sauce is beginning to bubble, about 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake until the top is browned and bubbling, about 15 minutes more.

Serve the enchiladas with sour cream, if desired.

New Mexico Green Chile Sauce

I double the recipe, so I can freeze some of the sauce for another Mexican dish.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons masa harina flour (corn flour) or regular flour
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1⁄2 cups chicken stock, see above
1 cup chopped roasted and peeled New Mexico Hatch green chilies
1⁄4 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions

To prepare the peppers:

The peppers need to be roasted on the grill or under a broiler before making the sauce.

Place the chiles on an outdoor grill or under the broiler and roast until the skin is charred and blistered, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Avoid completely blackening the chiles; you’re looking for them to be about 40% to 50% charred.

Using tongs, turn the chiles over and roast on the other side until the skin is charred and blistered, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove the chiles from the grill or broiler and place them in a paper bag, food-safe plastic bag or heat-safe bowl.

Close the bag or cover the bowl, and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. The steam will help loosen the peel from the chiles.

When cool enough to handle, pull the skins off and set aside.

To prepare the sauce:

(I do not like the sauce chunky, so I puree the chopped peppers with half of the chicken broth first and then add it to the sauce.)

In a medium sauce pan, saute the onion and garlic in the oil over medium-high heat, until tender (about 3 minutes).

Stir in the flour, cumin, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Stir in the stock and simmer until thick and smooth.

Stir in the chiles and oregano.

Cool the sauce and store in refrigerator, covered, for up to one day.


The Mediterranean countries utilize many of the same ingredients but each country has a unique way of creating recipes with those same ingredients. So far in this series, I have written about Mediterranean cuisine in general and in the countries of Portugal, Spain and France. This series continues with the country of Italy.

The Mediterranean Diet is more than just a way of eating. It is a way of thinking about food. It embraces the concept of eating together and sharing food with others. Modern populations are pressed for time, so food is often prepared and consumed in a hurry and in isolation. However, for the Mediterranean peoples, preparing food and eating together is very important and it is an important key in why the Mediterranean Diet is successful. For Italians, food is not simply sustenance and nutrition. It is community.

The Italian cuisine is typically Mediterranean which means eating a lot of vegetables, fruit, grains, fish and some chicken. In addition, the Italians use olive oil for cooking in large amounts instead of animal fat. Olive oil combined with a high volume of vegetables prevents disease. The Italians also follow nature and only eat what is in season. If you eat according to the seasons, you will be eating a variation of different colored vegetables. Each different color has a different antioxidant, which helps prevent disease, including cancer.

There are big differences between the Italian food in the North and in the South. Italy’s Alpine and sub-alpine regions in the North produce more livestock (cows) and fewer olives. That means more butter and lard and less olive oil. Corn (maize) and rice (such as arborio) are more popular in the northern regions than pasta. In the inland cities (Milan, Turin, Bologna), fish is more expensive than it is in the coastal cities (Genoa, Venice), and therefore consumed in lesser quantities. Fish and fresh fruit cost much less in Naples and Palermo than they do in Turin and Milan.

Southern Italians eat 40% more fruit and 80% more grains than Northern Europeans do. Southern Italians eat approximately 490 grams (17 ounces) of pasta and bread a day and research studies have found that eating a lot of grains was clearly NOT harmful to the Italians. The next largest proportion of their fiber comes from tomatoes, onions, artichokes eggplants, peas, lentils and chickpeas.

The Typical Italian Daily Menu:

Breakfast: Yogurt topped with berries and walnuts, coffee or tea
Lunch: Lentil soup with Swiss chard and bread on the side
Snack: cheese, bread
Dinner: Roasted cod paired with a wheat berry salad (cooked wheat berries with olive oil vinaigrette, feta, parsley, and tomatoes) and a glass of red wine
Dessert: Fresh fruit drizzled with honey

The Typical Italian Diet:

Snacks: In Italy, snacks are usually a very light: an espresso, a pizzetta, cheese and fresh fruit are popular options.

Lunch: In Italy lunch is usually a single dish, either pasta, frittata, fish with vegetables or salad.

Dinner: A soup with fish and vegetables is typical for a first course, followed by pasta with meat or fish and salad or vegetables. Fruit is usual for dessert.

Bring the Italian Mediterranean to your table with these recipes:

Saffron Orzo Pasta Salad

TN&M Magazine

Ingredients

  • 10 oz Orzo pasta
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup black oil-cured olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, diced
  • One 8 oz can Italian chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, under oil, drained and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Bring 6 cups of chicken stock to a boil.

In a small bowl combine 1 teaspoon of saffron and 2 tablespoons of the hot chicken stock and stir to dissolve.

Add the saffron to the chicken stock and stir.

Add the orzo to the boiling chicken stock and let it cook for 7 minutes.

Drain the orzo, transfer to a bowl, drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and set aside.

Dice red bell pepper, red onion and mozzarella; set aside.

Slice the sun-dried tomatoes into 1/2-inch piece and set aside.

Slice the olives and drain and rinse the canned chickpeas.

In a medium bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Add the diced onion to the vinaigrette and let it marinate for 5 minutes.

Transfer all of the ingredients into the orzo and mix well, add the vinaigrette and toss well to coat.

Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh parsley just before serving.

Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for later use.

Warm Farro Salad

From TN&M Magazine

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces dried chickpeas
  • 10 ounces farro
  • Truffle oil to taste
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • Basil
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • 1 Tomato chopped fine
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chili flakes
  • Parsley

Directions

Soak the chickpeas in cold water for 12 hours, changing the water 3 times. (If you use canned chickpeas, rinse them thoroughly!)

Cook the chickpeas in water to cover for about 1 hour.

Cook the farro in lightly salted water until tender.

Finely chop the garlic, basil, sage, rosemary, chili flakes and oregano.

Lightly sauté the herbs in olive oil, then add the tomato.

Add the drained chickpeas and farro, drizzling with a bit of broth.

Off the flame, stir in truffle oil to taste.

Courgettes with Sultanas and Pine Nuts

From TN&M Magazine

Serves one, as a main course.

Ingredients

  • 1 210g tin of sardines, drained, oil reserved
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sultanas (raisins)
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1.5 courgettes (zucchini), julienned
  • ½ tablespoon chopped chives
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon
  • Black pepper to serve

Direction

Tip a little of the oil drained from the sardines into a frying pan and sauté the garlic for a few minutes until softened.

Add the julienned courgettes to another pan, and sauté over low heat in a little of the sardine oil until softened – approximately 4 minutes.

Add the sardines to the garlic pan, and break them up with the back of your wooden spoon as you stir them around the pan. Next add the sultanas, pine nuts and capers and stir well. Cook for a few minutes until the sardines are warmed through.

When the courgettes are ready add them to the saucepan and toss all the ingredients together, distributing the sauce evenly through the courgettes. Scatter in the chives, lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice. Add a little extra salt if necessary, but likely not as the capers are salty.

Transfer to a serving dish and add liberal amounts of black pepper.

White Fish Fillets With Cherry Tomatoes

By Bon Appétit Test Kitchen

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes (about 12 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green olives
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • Four 6-ounce white fish fillets
  • 1/4 cup (packed) chopped fresh basil

Directions

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the broiler. Combine the shallot, garlic, tomatoes, olives and oil in a medium bowl, season with salt and pepper, and toss well. Set aside.

Place the fish in a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the tomato mixture over the fish and broil until fish is opaque throughout and tomatoes have started to burst, 10–13 minutes. Serve with basil scattered over top.

Spaghetti With Clams

by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 1/2 pounds clams
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced, divided
  • 3 small dried chiles, crumbled, divided
  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Place clams in a sink filled with cold water. Scrub shells well with a coarse brush to remove any sand. Drain water and soak clams in clean water, repeating until the water remains clean.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot with a lid over medium heat. Add ¼ cup wine, 1 garlic clove, and 1 chile. Add half of the clams, cover, and cook over high heat, shaking pan frequently, until clams open (keep lid on pot so heat is not released, making cooking time longer).

As soon as the clams open, transfer the clams and their juices to a large bowl (discard any clams that do not open). Repeat the process with 2 tablespoons oil, remaining ¼ cup wine, 1 garlic clove, 1 chile, and remaining clams.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until tender but al dente; drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in pot with lid over medium heat. Add remaining 1 garlic clove and remaining 1 chile; stir until garlic is fragrant and light golden, 1–2 minutes. Return clams and their juices to the pot; toss to coat and remove from the heat.

Add pasta and toss to coat evenly with juices, adding pasta cooking liquid by ¼-cupfuls if pasta is dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle parsley over and serve.


BBQ Ribs

Rub Mixture Ingredients

1/4 cup sweet paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried onion
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Ribs
2 St. Louis-cut or spare rib racks, about 2 lbs
Peach BBQ sauce, recipe below

Directions

Mix all the rub ingredients together and coat the ribs all over with the mixture. Place the ribs in a baking dish, cover the dish with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 250°F. Place the foil covered baking dish with the ribs in the oven and roast for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender but not falling off the bone. The ribs will finish cooking on the grill.

When the ribs are done baking, heat the grill to medium-high. Oil the grill rack.

Brush the ribs with BBQ sauce and place them on the grill. Grill the ribs, basting with more BBQ sauce and turning occasionally, until they begin to char, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Cut into serving pieces and serve with additional BBQ sauce for dipping.

Georgia Peach Barbecue Sauce

Yields about 4 cups.

Ingredients

4 ripe peaches, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Half an onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/3 cup cider vinegar
One bottle tomato ketchup (about 31 oz.)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons butter, cubed and well chilled

Directions

In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the butter. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Reduce the heat and simmer, covered with the lid ajar, for 60-90 minutes until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.

Remove the pot from the heat and puree the sauce with an immersion blender.

Return the pan to the heat. With a whisk, blend in the butter cubes, a couple at a time, until incorporated. Cool and then refrigerate the sauce.

Sauce freezes well.

Southwest Biscuits

Ingredients

Biscuit Dough

2 cups unbleached self-rising flour
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup (6 ounces) cold milk or buttermilk

Filling

2 scallions, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 ½ cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
2 tablespoons butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 inch round baking pan.

Place the flour in a bowl. Work in the butter with a pastry cutter just until the crumbs are the size of large peas.

Add the milk, and stir until the mixture holds together and leaves the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if needed.

Scoop the dough onto a well-floured surface, and fold it over on itself several times, using more flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Roll the dough into a 12 x 8 inch rectangle.

Sprinkle the dough with the shredded cheese and then with the scallions and jalapeno peppers.

Roll the dough up, jelly roll style, from the 8 inch side into an 8 inch log.

With a sharp knife, cut the biscuits into 1 inch pieces for a total of 8 rolls.

Arrange the rolls in the prepared baking pan. Dot the rolls with butter and place in the oven.

Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.

Summer Macaroni Salad

Ingredients

8 oz elbow macaroni
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1/2 onion finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper finely diced
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup diced bread & butter pickles
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch black pepper

Directions

Make the dressing by combining the ingredients in a serving bowl and set aside while you cook the macaroni.

Cook the pasta al dente in boiling salted water, drain and add the pasta to the dressing while the pasta is warm.

Add the chopped vegetables and mix well. Add salt to taste, but I find this type of salad doesn’t need extra salt because the mayonnaise, pasta cooked in salted water and seasonings add enough.

Cover the salad and chill the salad for several hours before serving.

Italian Fried Peppers

Ingredients

6-8 Italian frying peppers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove smashed and cut in half
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning.
Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Heat oil and garlic in a small saute pan. Lower the heat and add the whole peppers.

Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Saute slowly until lightly brown on all sides.

Serve at room temperature.

Tomato Basil Salad

Ingredients

1 pint miniature (Juliet) plum tomatoes or grape tomatoes
½ cup sliced fresh basil
¼ cup Italian vinaigrette
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a serving bowl. Leave at room temperature several hours before serving.

Blueberry Galette

Ingredients

1 lb fresh blueberries (3 cups)
2 tablespoons cornstarch or other pie thickener
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie dough (from a 15-oz package)
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Whipped cream or frozen yogurt, optional

Directions

Put an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Stir together blueberries, cornstarch, zest, juice, cinnamon, salt and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl until combined.

Unwrap the pie dough and unfold onto the prepared baking sheet.

Spoon the blueberry mixture onto the center of the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border around the edge.

Fold the edges of dough over 1 inch of the blueberry mixture, pleating the dough as you move around the filling.

Dot the blueberry filling with butter pieces.

Lightly brush the pastry with some of the beaten egg and sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon sugar.

Bake until the blueberry filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool slightly on the baking sheet on a wire rack. Serve the warm galette with a spoonful of whipped cream or frozen yogurt.


 

Lots of squash around these days. You may have an abundance in your garden and it is certainly available at the farmers’ markets. While they have many similarities, the different varieties do differ a bit in their texture, flavor and ideal use. 

As a result, I like to try different ways of fixing these vegetables for my family. Stuffing them is certainly a delicious option.

The stuffing can contain any type of ground meat you like: pork, beef, turkey or a vegetarian meat substitute. Use lots of veggies and seasoning in the stuffing for flavor and not too much bread.

The filling in this recipe makes enough to fill all five of the squashes. I usually make the entire recipe and freeze some of the cooked squash for another meal. You can make this recipe with all zucchini, or all yellow squash or two large squashes.

I use the pork sausage seasoning from Penzey’s but if you do not have pork sausage seasoning available, you can use Italian seasoning and add a little crushed fennel seed to it.

Ingredients

2 medium zucchini
1 large Lebanese Squash
2 small yellow crookneck squash

Filling

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons pork sausage seasoning or Italian sausage seasoning
1 small onion, finely chopped
Half a bell pepper, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 plum tomatoes, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 lb lean ground pork
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Italian seasoned dried breadcrumbs
Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Note: If you want to make the filling vegetarian, then substitute 2 cups of cooked rice of other grains for the pork.

To prepare the squash:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the Lebanese Squash or a large zucchini squash in half.

For medium zucchini, cut a thin, lengthwise slice from the top of each zucchini.

For the yellow squash, cut the neck and stem ends off.

Using a melon ball scoop or a small serrated spoon, scoop out the insides of the squash. Leave the shells about 1/4 inch thick.

For the yellow squash, carefully remove the flesh from the ends of the squash with a small scoop (See photo for my little scoop that can be purchased at a kitchen gadget store.)

Place the hollowed out squash in a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Sprinkle the insides lightly with salt and pepper.

Finely chop the squash flesh and set aside.

To prepare the filling:

In a large saute pan heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.

Add the garlic, onion, bell pepper, celery, chopped squash flesh, tomatoes and pork seasoning.

Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the pork and cook until brown and the liquid in the pan evaporates, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the breadcrumbs and set the pan aside to let the mixture cool.

Mound the stuffing mixture into the squash shells and fill the small yellow squash from the ends.

The large halves use 1 cup of stuffing in each. The medium zucchini use ¾ cup stuffing in each and the small yellow squash each use ½ cup of stuffing.

Grate Parmesan cheese over the tops of the filled squash.

For the small yellow squash, add a tablespoon of grated cheese to the filling before stuffing them.

Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until the squash are tender and the stuffing is golden brown.


July is a  month when everything seems to be in season. Even our young fig tree that we planted in April is producing some figs. Here is a photo of our very first fig. You will have to wait a bit until I can show you what I can make with them,

My CSA share and the farmers’ markets are filled with wonderful produce to choose from and turn into some delicious meals.  I like to try new ideas for recipes with some of the vegetables that are not plentiful during the cooler months. So this month is a good time to cook with poblano peppers, fresh tomatoes, yellow squash, eggplant and okra. Looking for something different, give one of these recipes a try.

Eggplant Caponata

Ingredients

1 1/2 pound eggplant (1 large)
1 garlic clove, minced
Olive oil, plus extra for the baking pan
Half a medium onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
11/2 cups chopped Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
8 chopped oil cured olives
1/4 cup minced jarred roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Basil leaves for garnish
Crostini

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and score twice with a knife (not hitting the skin on the bottom.)

Roast face down on a foil lined baking sheet that has been brushed with olive oil, about 20 minutes or until tender.

Let drain on a paper towel for 10 minutes, cut side down.

Scoop the eggplant out of the skin and finely chop.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a medium, heavy saucepan.

Add the onion, celery, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the Italian tomatoes, vinegar and agave and cook for 5 minutes more.

Add the eggplant, capers, red peppers, olives and parsley and cook until thickened and all visible liquid has evaporated.

Cool to room temperature. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with basil leaves. Serve with toasted Italian bread slices.

Summer Squash and Potato Pie

Ingredients

Vegetable cooking spray
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 small sweet onions
4 medium red potatoes
2 medium zucchini
3 (yellow) summer squash
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water until barely tender. Drain, cool and peel.

Very thinly slice the onions, zucchini, squash and potatoes.

Preheat oven to 375°F

Coat a 10-inch quiche dish or pie pan with cooking spray.

Alternate, overlapping slightly, slices of onion, potato, zucchini and yellow squash in a single circular layer all around the dish (see photo),

Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper.

Drizzle with the melted butter. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 45 minutes more or until golden brown.

Remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Return the pie to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Pasta with Tomato and Zucchini Sauce

Ingredients

3 oz Prosciutto, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus 1 tablespoon
1 lb short pasta (such as penne)
2 zucchini, diced
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

Cook the prosciutto in the 1 tablespoon olive oil until crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, zucchini, basil, parsley, garlic, salt, chili flakes and remaining olive oil.

Add this mixture to the skill and cook for 2-3 minutes, just enough time to heat the ingredients.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain well.

Add the pasta to the skillet vegetables along with the grated cheese and the crispy prosciutto, toss again and serve in individual pasta bowls.

Creamy Corn Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Ingredients

8 small poblano peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced scallions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground chili powder, divided
1 cup fresh corn kernels cut from cobs (about 2)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grated zest of a 1/2 lime, plus the juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salsa, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Put the poblano peppers on a baking sheet and toss them with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Roast until they begin to soften, about 15 minutes.

Using a paring knife cut the top off each pepper—be careful not to puncture or rip the peppers.

Remove and discard any seeds and membranes from the opening in the top; set the peppers aside.

Remove the corn kernels from the cobs; add to a bowl along with the scallions.

Stir in the cream cheese, cilantro, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon salt, cheddar cheese, the lime zest and lime juice.

Divide the stuffing mixture into 8 equal portions.

Stuff each pepper with the filling using your fingers to push the stuffing down into the peppers and place them in an oiled baking dish.

Reduce the oven temperature to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven.

Bake the peppers until the filling is heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with salsa, if desired.

Oven Roasted Okra

I had never tried okra until this year, when my CSA farm included a bunch in my share. I did some research and found a way to make it tasty from the New York Times cooking section. The secret to good tasting, non-slimy okra is oven roasting. Use small, thin okra for the best taste.

Ingredients

1 pound small okra
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fresh thyme leaves to taste optional
Freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Rinse the okra, drain and dry on a kitchen towel. The okra should be dry.

Trim away the stem ends and the tips and place the okra in a large bowl. Generously salt the okra and toss with the olive oil until coated.

Place the okra on a rimmed baking pan in one layer. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, shaking the pan every five minutes.

The okra should be lightly browned and tender. If you don’t want it too brown, roast at 400 degrees F.

Remove the pan from the oven, toss with fresh thyme and freshly ground pepper. Transfer to a platter. Serve hot.


When the weather heats up, take advantage of the all the fresh produce that is available during the summer months. Many recipes for creating salads or cold soups do not require any cooking. If an ingredient needs to be cooked, do it early in the day and serve it chilled. Below are a few ideas to keep you cool, including a delicious dessert.

Cold Appetizer Plate

Burrata Cheese drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Olives, Roasted Peppers, Fresh Melon
Bread Sticks

Chicken Salad

The breasts can be cooked early in the day and the rest of the recipe can be prepared later. This makes enough so that there will be plenty for several meals. Serve over lettuce with sliced tomatoes and cut up veggies.

Cooking the chicken breasts

1 1/2 pounds of bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Roast for 40-45 minutes, until the chicken registers 165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer .

Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Remove the meat from the bones and save the skin and bones to make chicken broth.

Dice the chicken into bite-size pieces and place in a bowl.

For the salad

1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped sweet (Vidalia, Walla Walla) onion
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup red grapes, cut in half
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Mix the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard together in a mixing bowl with a cover.

Add the celery and onion; stir, Add the chicken and mix carefully to keep the chicken from breaking up.

Fold in the pecans and grapes. Adjust salt and pepper, if needed. Cover and chill.

Triggerfish with Caper Sauce

Triggerfish were once ignored by commercial fishermen, however, they are now considered among the finest fish on the Gulf seafood menu. Their clean white meat carries a uniquely sweet flavor when cooked. Since this fish lives in warm waters, you might not find it in your area. Use any thin mild white fish fillets in the recipe below, if you cannot find triggerfish. If you do see it in your fish market, be sure to give it a try. I like to serve this dish with the tomato salad shown below.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 ounces butter, room temperature
1 lb triggerfish fillets
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 ounces white wine
Hot sauce, to taste
Half a small onion, chopped fine or  one shallot
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon capers, rinsed

Directions

Add the butter to a saute pan or skillet and place over medium heat.

Season the fish with the salt and pepper and dredge the fillets in all-purpose flour.

Place each fillet in the skillet and saute until light golden brown.

Add a few drops of hot sauce to the pan as the fish browns.

After the first side is golden brown, turn the fish over and cook until the second side is golden brown.

Remove the fish from the pan to a plate. Reduce the heat to low and add the wine to the skillet.

Add the onion or shallot and stir slowly but continuously for about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and capers.

Continue to stir until a thin sauce forms. Return the fish to the skillet and spoon the sauce over the fillets.

Place the fish on serving plates and spoon any sauce in the skillet onto the fish.

Tomato Feta Salad

Serves 4

4-5 medium plum tomatoes, sliced thin
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons good quality white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

Place the sliced tomatoes on a serving plate.

In a mixing bowl combine the onion, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil and parsley and toss well.

Pour the dressing over the sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with the feta cheese. Serve at room temperature.

Chocolate Tiramisu

Makes 12 squares

Ingredients

1 (3-4 ounce) package chocolate pudding mix
Two 3-ounce packages ladyfingers, split
1/3 cup chocolate liqueur (Kahlua)
1/3 cup brewed espresso or strong coffee
One 8-ounce carton mascarpone cheese
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated
Unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions

Do ahead: Prepare the chocolate pudding mix according to the directions on the package. Chill in the refrigerator.

Mix the coffee and Kahlua together in a shallow dish.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer just until stiff peaks form.

Add the chocolate syrup and mix until just combined.

To assemble the tiramisu:

Line the bottom of an 8 x 8 x 2-inch or 11 x 7 x 2 inch baking dish with some of the ladyfingers dipped in the espresso/Kahlua mixture.

Spoon a thin layer of chocolate pudding over the ladyfingers in the baking dish.

Spoon half of the mascarpone mixture over the chocolate pudding layer, spreading it evenly.

Sprinkle with grated bittersweet chocolate.

Top with another layer of ladyfingers dipped in espresso, followed by chocolate pudding and the mascarpone cheese mixture.

Cover and chill for 6 to 24 hours. Sift cocoa powder over the top before serving.

 

 

 

 



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