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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: nectarines

healthydinnerscover

Overeating or overindulging – especially over a few days – can make you feel sluggish. Eating and preparing all your meals and snacks at home for the next few weeks will help you get back to healthy eating.

Making meals at home gives you the freedom to add in lots of lean protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains without added salt or fat that can be found in restaurant meals.

In addition to cooking meals at home, use cooking techniques and methods that are lower calorie or lower fat. Cooking in a lot of oil or butter or using higher fat, higher calorie ingredients may only perpetuate your overindulgence.

To make home cooking easier, go to the grocery store and stock up on your favorite healthy foods. Try to purchase: lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Healthy choices will be in your refrigerator or pantry when you need them.

Here are some healthy and lower calorie dinners to help you get started.

healthydinners1

Pork Cutlets in Mustard Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 thin boneless pork chops, 4-5 ounces each
  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
  • One 14 1/2 ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 pound small potatoes about 1 inch in diameter
  • 1 pound Japanese eggplant or zucchini, cut into 2 x 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound baby carrots
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place broth, smashed garlic and potatoes in a large pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, 10 minutes.

Add eggplant or zucchini, carrots and the salt and pepper. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the vegetables are tender.

Coat a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine mustard, dill, minced garlic and olive oil.

Place pork chops in the prepared baking dish and spread tops with an equal amount of mustard and dill mixture. Sprinkle bread crumbs over each chop.

Bake for 15 minutes or until an internal temperature registers 145 degrees in the center of the pork. Place the baking dish under the broiler for 1 minute until the crumbs are brown.

Serve pork with the vegetables.

healthydinners3

Roasted Cod with Salsa

Choose any fruit in season or the kind of fruit you like.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 nectarines
  • 2 peaches
  • 2 plums
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 large green or yellow bell pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 1/4 pounds cod
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup brown rice or whole wheat couscous

Directions

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Coat a glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Pit nectarines, peaches and plums; dice and place in medium-size bowl. Add onion, bell pepper, lemon juice, parsley, oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Gently stir; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a small bowl combine the lemon zest, black pepper, thyme and oregano.

Cook the brown rice or couscous following package directions. Stir in half the lemon zest mixture and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and set aside.

Place cod in the prepared baking dish and season with the remaining half of the lemon zest mixture and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Place brown rice or couscous on a serving plate, top with the cod and fruit salsa.

healthydinners2

Pasta with Sausage and Peas

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces penne or small shell pasta, uncooked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 links fully cooked Italian chicken sausage, sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boiling. Add pasta and cook al dente. Drain.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the sausage and cook 3 minutes, turning a few times, until browned. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the garlic. Cook 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and salt and cook 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, peas and browned sausage. Heat through.

Place cooked pasta in a large bowl. Add sausage mixture and half the Parmesan. Toss to combine. Top with remaining Parmesan and serve.

healthydinners4

Root Vegetable Chili

Corn muffins would go quite well with this dinner.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey, optional
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 pound parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • Two 14 1/2  ounce cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • One 15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • One 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • Lime wedges for garnish

Directions

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ground turkey, if using, and cook until brown. Omit this step if you want a vegetarian meal.

Add butternut squash, parsnips, rutabaga and carrots. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add green pepper, tomatoes, chili powder, oregano and cumin. Simmer on medium heat, partially covered, for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans and heat through. Stir in the scallions. Serve lime wedges on the side.

healthydinners5

 

Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes and Mushrooms

Friday night can still be pizza night.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  • 6 ounces sliced Portobello mushrooms
  • 4 large scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  • One pound pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 6 ounces mozzarella or provolone cheese, diced

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Coat a large rimmed baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Place tomatoes, mushrooms and scallions in the prepared baking pan and toss with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and toss the vegetables with the basil and oregano.

Stretch the pizza dough out on a rectangular baking sheet. Spoon the vegetable mixture over the top. Bake for 10 minutes and remove the pan from the oven.

Scatter the diced cheese over the pizza and return the pan to the oven. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes more or until the pizza is crispy. Allow to cool slightly before slicing.

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fruitbuttercover

Preserve some of summer’s fresh fruit for later in the year with a few batches of fruit butter. Complicated canning techniques are not required. These fruit butter recipes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 1 year.

Fruit butters are spreads made by cooking fruit pulp with sugar or honey to a thick consistency. The smooth, spreadable texture of fruit butters makes them an ideal substitute for butter on bread, toast or muffins. Fruit butters are also good stirred into plain yogurt or spread on a salmon fillet or chicken breast before cooking. A little fig butter is delicious in a grilled cheese sandwich. There are so many ways to use fresh fruit butter.

Using several varieties of a particular fruit can yield a better tasting fruit butter. Adding certain spices can give fruit butter a distinctive flavor. Spices can safely be adjusted to suit your taste.

Fruit butters are made by cooking down fruit mixture until it is thick and sticky instead of adding pectin to set the mixture, as you do when making jam.

Butters are meant to be smooth, so stone fruit, such as apricots, nectarines, peaches apples and pears should be peeled. If you’re making a butter with “seedy” berries, such as blackberries, raspberries or even blueberries, you can puree the butter and pass it through a sieve or cheesecloth to remove the seeds.

How to prepare the fruit:

Berries: Remove stems; hull strawberries. Measure whole.

Cherries: Remove stems and pits; halve. Measure halves.

Peaches, Apricots, Nectarines & Plums: Peel and cut into 1/2-inch pieces; discard pits. Measure pieces.

Apples & Pears: Peel and quarter, remove seeds and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Measure pieces.

To peel stone fruit: dip them in boiling water for about 1 minute to loosen their skins. Let cool slightly, then remove the skins with a paring knife.

Because of the long slow cooking of a fruit butter, it is very easy to scorch or burn the butter. Fruit butter should be simmered rather than boiled. It should also be stirred constantly as it thickens. Even a small amount of scorching will cause the entire mixture to taste burned.

All the recipes can be doubled but remember the cooking time will be longer.

Basic Fruit Butter Recipe

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 6 cups prepared fresh fruit
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 to 1 cup granulated sugar or brown sugar or 3/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup lemon, lime or orange juice
  • 2 jars (1 cup capacity) with screw top lids

Directions

If the fruit tastes sweet, use the lesser amount of sugar.

Combine fruit, water and sugar in a Dutch oven; add juice. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat to maintain a low simmer and cook, mashing the fruit and stirring occasionally at first and then often as it thickens, until the mixture is very thick, 20 minutes to 1 hour (depending on the type of fruit).

To test for thickness, put a spoonful of fruit butter on a plate. If no liquid seeps from the edges, it’s done. If liquid is present, return to a simmer and cook until thickened.

For a very smooth fruit butter, puree in a food processor or blender, then strain and push the mixture through a sieve before storing.

For freezing or refrigerating:

Ladle the fruit butter into clean, sterilized jars to within 1/2 inch of the rim. Wipe the rims clean. Cover with lids. Let the jars stand at room temperature until cool before refrigerating or freezing.

Some Variations

fruitbutter1

Pear Butter

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 4 ripe but firm Bartlett pears, (1-1 1/4 pounds), peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3/4 cup pear nectar

Directions

Place pears and pear nectar in a heavy medium saucepan; bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the pears are very tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on the ripeness of the pears.

Mash the pears with a potato masher. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the puree has cooked down to a thick mass (somewhat thicker than applesauce), 20 to 30 minutes more. Stir almost constantly toward the end of the cooking. Scrape the pear butter into a bowl or storage container and let cool. Refrigerate.

fruitbutter2

Roasted Apple Butter

Making apple butter in the oven, rather than on the stove-top, produces a spread with a distinctive caramelized flavor. Stir in a teaspoon of apple pie spice to the cooked sauce for more flavor.

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 8 medium McIntosh apples, (2 3/4 pounds), peeled, cored and quartered
  • 2 cups unsweetened apple juice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Arrange apples in a large roasting pan. Pour apple juice over the apples. Bake until tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Using a fork or potato masher, thoroughly mash the apples in the roasting pan.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake the apple puree, stirring occasionally, until very thick and deeply browned, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Scrape into a bowl and let cool. Place in a storage container and refrigerate.

fruitbutter3

Plum Butter in a Slow Cooker

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ to 2 pounds of plums
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Wash plums; peel, pit and cut into halves.

Place the sugar and plums in a slow cooker. Stir. Let the mixture cook for about 12 hours on low. Stir whenever you think of it. Add vanilla after the mixture has thickened.

Pour into jars with a screw top lid and cool. Refrigerate or freeze.


summer fruit

You think fruit, then dessert: fruit pies, fruit crumbles, fruit crisps, fruit compote on spongecake, fruit in ice cream or fruit on its own. When it’s hot and you need something refreshing, summer fruit fills the need– from tart blackberries to sweet strawberries to juicy peaches. However, there’s a savory side to summer fruit, that definitely deserves your attention.
Fresh fruit, summer fruit in particular, can really add something special to your recipes. When combined with the right ingredients, summer fruit can take on a savory flavor that’s far from a dessert — and just as good. I have included both desserts and savory dishes in the recipes in this post.
These summer fruits celebrate the freshest flavors of the season:

  • Apricots
  • Plums
  • Cherries
  • Blackberries
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Passion Fruit
  • Melons
  • Lemons
  • Limes

summer fruit 1

Vegetable Salad With Blackberry-Shallot Vinaigrette

Chopped salads add a splash of color to a meal. If you’re making this salad in advance, keep the salad and dressing separate and hold off adding the tomatoes and avocado until just before serving. You can substitute vegetables that are in season for some of the ones listed in the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped green beans or asparagus, steamed just until tender
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped radishes
  • 1/2 head radicchio, chopped
  • 2 avocados, pitted, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 10 blackberries, halved

Dressing

  • 10 whole blackberries
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In large bowl, combine chopped tomatoes, green beans, bell pepper, radishes and radicchio. In a separate small bowl, toss avocados with lemon juice to coat and then fold into the salad.

For the dressing:

Set a fine-mesh strainer over a small bowl and place whole berries for the dressing in the strainer. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash berries through the strainer to separate the juice from the pulp and seeds. Discard pulp and seeds. Whisk together the blackberry juice, shallot, olive oil, red wine vinegar, maple syrup, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Drizzle desired amount over the salad. You may not need to use the entire amount of dressing. Top with pine nuts, the halved blackberries and serve. Serves 4.

summer fruit 3

Summer Fruit Soup

Makes about 4 cups; (serving size: 1 cup)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ripe cantaloupe chunks (about 1 inch)
  • 3-4 ripe peaches (1 lb), peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
  • 3/4 cup white Zinfandel wine
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Honey (optional)
  • 1 cup raspberries, rinsed and drained
  • Mint sprigs, rinsed

Directions

In a blender or food processor, puree cantaloupe, peaches, white Zinfandel and lemon juice until smooth. Taste and add honey if desired.
Pour soup into a container, cover, and chill until cold, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day. To chill faster, nest container in a bowl of ice water and stir soup often until cold, about 30 minutes.
Pour the soup into shallow bowls. Scatter raspberries on top. Garnish with mint sprigs.

summer fruit 4

Mozzarella, Basil and Nectarines with Balsamic Glaze

Ingredients

  • 4 large nectarines
  • 12 large basil leaves
  • 12 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into 8 thick round slices
  • 1 cup plain panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

Directions

Combine vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a very low simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the liquid is slightly syrupy. Remove fromthe  heat and pour the vinegar into a glass measuring cup. Set aside to cool and thicken.

Cut the nectarines into ¼ inch thick circles, going around the pit and keeping the slices whole.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sear both sides of the nectarines for 1 minute or until warmed, but still firm. Alternately, you can grill the nectarines directly on the grill. Keep the nectarines warm while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine the panko crumbs, flour, parmesan, salt, pepper and cayenne, mixing thoroughly to combine.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Take each slice of fresh mozzarella and coat it in the beaten egg, then dredge it through the bread crumb mix, pressing on both sides to adhere. Repeat with the remaining slices.

Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet and when hot, saute the coated mozzarella slices, turning carefully once, until golden and the cheese starts to melt but still retains its shape, about 1 minute on each side. Drain on paper towels.

To assemble: place one nectarine slice on a plate, top with 1 slice of mozzarella and then a basil leaf. Repeat the layer one more time and finish with a nectarine slice. Garnish with basil and freshly grated pepper. Drizzle on the balsamic glaze.

Food 52

Pork Tenderloin with Plum Sauce

Plum Sauce

  • 1 pound pitted, chopped plums 
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely minced onion
  • 1 minced hot pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • Salt & Pepper

Pork

  • 2 boneless pork tenderloins
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

To make the sauce:

Bring all ingredients except the plums to a boil. Stir in the chopped plums. Reduce the heat and simmer very slowly until thick and syrupy, about 45 minutes. Depending on your preference for consistency, either puree in small batches in the blender, blend with an immersion blender or mash with a potato masher. The sauce may be made two days in advance.

To prepare the pork:

Heat an outdoor grill. Bank the coals on one side, so that one half is very hot and one half can be used for indirect cooking. If you have a gas grill, turn off one burner after the grill heats. Brush the hottest part of the grill with a little oil so the pork won’t stick.

Pat pork tenderloins dry with paper towels. Lightly salt and pepper them on all sides. Sear the pork on all sides over the hot side of the grill. Move the pork to the indirect heat, brush liberally with some plum sauce and cover the grill for about 8-10 minutes. Total cooking time, including searing is 15-18 minutes. If you have a thermometer, cook to 155 degrees F.

Heat some plum sauce in a small saucepan on the stove or the grill. Remove the pork from the grill and tent with foil, allowing the meat to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Slice the tenderloins. Pool the plum sauce on the plate and serve with the sliced tenderloin fanned out on top. This dish goes well with garlicky, sautéed greens.

summer fruit 2

Creamy Rice Pudding with Peaches

Ingredients

  • 5 cups whole milk (or any combination of whole and 2 percent reduced-fat milk), divided
  • 1/2 cup Arborio rice
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 ripe peaches, peeled and mashed

Directions

Combine 4 cups milk, rice and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until rice is tender, about 30 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla. Whisk egg yolks and about 1/2 cup of hot milk mixture together in a small bowl. Whisk back into the pan and add the remaining 1 cup milk. Place over medium heat and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Let cool and chill at least 2 hours before serving. Top with mashed peaches.

100_0723

Blackberry or Blueberry Crumble

Blackberries were plentiful this year where I live. I had more than enough to use in fruit salads and decided to make this dessert.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 cups mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons King Arthur clear gel for fruit pies or cornstarch

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar,the  1/4 cup granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt and oats. Using a pastry blender, a fork or your hands cut in the butter. Keep mixture cold until ready to use.

In a large bowl combine berries, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and clear gel or cornstarch; toss to coat. Pour the blackberry mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Top with the crumble topping. Bake until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbly, about 35-40 minutes. Serve warm.


sustainable grilling

Sustainable agriculture is a way of growing or raising food, including animals, in an ecologically and ethically responsible manner using practices that protect the environment, safeguard human health, are humane to farm animals and provide fair treatment to workers. Eating sustainably provides numerous personal health benefits, including decreased exposure to harmful substances such as pesticides, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and unhealthful food additives.

Beef

It only takes a little extra care to grill tender and delicious grass-fed meat. But why buy grass-fed meat when most supermarket aisles are full of cheaper cuts of grain-fed meat?

The reason – grass-fed meat is generally healthier for you. It is lower in overall fat and saturated fat and it provides a higher amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed meat. Meat from grain-fed animals typically contains only 15% to 50% of the omega-3 of grass-fed livestock. Meat from pastured cattle has up to four times as much Vitamin E as meat from feedlots and is much higher in Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), a nutrient associated with lowering cancer risk. There is also less risk of E. Coli bacteria or mad cow disease in sustainably raised meat. Grass-fed meat is also generally lower in calories: six ounces of steak from a grass-fed cow may have 100 fewer calories than steak from a grain-fed cow.

When grilling grass-fed meat, be careful not to overcook it. Grass-fed meat requires less time to grill than grain-fed meat. Since it is generally leaner, with less fat to keep it moist, it will cook faster at the same level of heat. Grass-fed meat is best cooked medium rare to medium, or it will become tough. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer in the thickest part. At 135°F the meat is still rare. At 145°F to 155°F it will be medium. Above that the meat may lose its moisture and tenderness. Let the meat rest for a few minutes after cooking it to help redistribute the juices inside. Do not cut it immediately since the juices will spill out, leaving a drier texture. For the same reason, turn meat with a spatula or tongs rather than a fork.

Burger Patties

Grass-fed beef makes an excellent burger, often ground from many different cuts of the cow. An ideal patty is 6 ounces of raw, grass-fed ground beef, formed into a 4 1⁄2 inch wide circle, 3⁄4 inches thick on the edges and 1⁄2 inch thick in the center. Form the burger, then gently press the center on one side to create a small depression so that the patties will cook evenly and not become puffy and round. If you like, add salt and freshly ground black pepper.

For a crusty exterior and a juicy interior, grill burgers over medium-high heat. Six-ounce burgers do not require much cooking time. Two and a half minutes on one side and then three minutes after turning will yield a medium burger. Don’t press burgers with a spatula or you’ll squeeze out the juices.

Seafood

Today, 80 percent of the world’s marine populations are fully fished, over-exploited, depleted or recovering from depletion. With seafood growing in demand, it’s critical that sustainable fishing practices are followed, if wild-caught seafood is going to continue to be available in the future and if farmed seafood is going to be able to supplement wild fish supplies. It is a good idea to know where your seafood comes from before purchasing.

Fish can be grilled whole or in fillets. Avoid very delicate flaky fish, like sole, because it may fall apart. Shellfish, like shrimp, can be skewered and then placed on the grill.

Hot Dogs and Sausages

You may not want to know how hot dogs and sausages are made. Mass-produced hot dogs may contain MSG, nitrates and odd animal byproducts. But healthier hot dogs and sausages made with pastured/grass fed beef and pork and vegetarian dogs, are also available for you to grill. Hot dogs are generally pre-cooked, but sausages often start out raw, so be sure to cook them over lower heat to ensure that they are cooked through.

Chicken and Pork

Free-range chicken requires the same grilling techniques as factory-farmed chicken, but with tastier results.

Heritage breeds, such as Berkshire pork, are bred for qualities that have been bred out of many factory-farmed pigs. Berkshire pork is juicy, flavorful, tender and well marbled. Its high fat content makes it suitable for long grilling at high temperatures. Factory-farmed pigs are generally leaner, so they can be dry and have little taste, often requiring brining and artificial flavoring.

Vegetables and Fruits

Buy locally grown fruits and vegetables when they are in season.

From asparagus to zucchini, grilling vegetables is also popular. Produce picked fresh before you grill it may need less seasoning or sauce. Just brush with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill.

Corn on the cob cooks well on the grill. Pull the silks from the ear and brush with oil and add herbs and spices underneath the husk, directly on the cob. Cover the corn with the husks. Cook for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally.

Green and red bell peppers can be grilled easily and successfully. Cut and seed them first.

For vegetable kebabs, soak wooden or bamboo skewers for at least half an hour, so that they won’t catch on fire or use metal skewers.

Portobello mushrooms can make a great vegetable burger. Clean the caps, brush them with oil and put them on a hot grill gill side down. When the mushrooms have softened (5 – 8 minutes), turn them and cook for a minute or two longer.

Fruits such as apricots, peaches and pineapples are also delicious grilled over low heat. Natural sugars will caramelize the fruit where the grill touches them. Softer fruits and vegetables may need to be grilled on foil packets.

Here is a menu based entirely on sustainable foods – give it a try.

sustainable grilling 5

Scallops with Tomato-Basil Dressing

4 appetizer servings. If you would like to make this recipe as a main course, grill 16 scallops and serve four per person. There is enough dressing for 16 scallops.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 plum tomatoes—peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh fennel
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon finely shredded basil, plus baby leaves for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 jumbo sea scallops 

Directions

In a saucepan, toast the coriander and fennel seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes; transfer to a mortar and let cool. Pound until coarsely ground.

Warm the 1/4 cup of oil in the same saucepan. Add the ground spices along with the lemon juice and let stand for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, chopped fennel, oregano and shredded basil; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Brush the scallops with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the scallops over high heat, turning once, until browned and just firm, about 4 minutes.

Place two scallops in individual serving plates and spoon a little of the warm tomato dressing on top. Garnish with additional fresh basil leaves and serve with Italian bread.

Serve remaining dressing on the side.

sustainable grilling 1

Grilled Grass-Fed Rib-Eye Steaks with Balsamic-Caper Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for steaks and grill
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 –  3/4-inch-thick grass-fed rib-eye steaks
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Simmer vinegar in small pan over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Add shallots, 1/4 cup olive oil and crushed red pepper; return to a simmer. Remove from heat; whisk in parsley, capers and thyme. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

Rub both sides of the steaks with oil and garlic. Mix smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons coarse salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper in small bowl. Sprinkle on both sides of the steaks. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush grill rack with oil to coat. Grill steaks until cooked to your desired temperature, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to plates and spoon vinaigrette over.

sustainable grilling 2

Grilled Potato Packets

Ingredients

  • 4 medium red potatoes, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, cubed
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon each fresh basil, dill weed and parsley 
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed

Directions

Combine vegetables and seasonings in a mixing bowl. Divide among four pieces of heavy-duty foil (12 inch squares). Dot each with 1 tablespoon of cubed butter. Fold foil around vegetables and seal tightly.

Grill, covered, over medium heat for 15 minutes on each side. Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape.

sustainable grilling 4

Grilled Zucchini with Garlic and Lemon

Ingredients

  • 4 medium zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Score cut side of zucchini halves diagonally about 1/4 inch deep at 1-inch intervals. Melt butter with lemon juice, lemon-pepper seasoning, garlic powder, oregano, and cayenne powder in a heavy small saucepan. Season with salt and pepper. Brush seasoned butter on the cut sides of the zucchini.

Place zucchini on the grill and cook until grill marks appear on all sides and the flesh is just beginning to soften, about 12 minutes. Turn zucchini, cut side up, and sprinkle with cheese; close grill lid and cook until cheese just softens, about 1 minute. Transfer zucchini to a platter.

sustainable grilling 3

Grilled Nectarines with Feta

Ingredients

  • 4 nectarines, halved, pitted
  • Melted butter (for brushing)
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese

Directions

Brush nectarines with butter and grill, cut side down, until grill marks appear, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn nectarines over. Fill pit holes with cheese, then sprinkle with pepper. Grill until grill marks appear on bottoms, 4 to 5 minutes.

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Thyme once was associated with courage, bravery and strength. Roman soldiers exchanged sprigs of thyme as a sign of respect. Greeks and Romans burned bundles of thyme to purify their temples and homes and to evoke a spirit of courage in those who inhaled it. Greeks and Romans are also believed to have added this herb directly to their baths and oil extracts from the plant were used to make bath and massage oils.

Thyme was associated with health and vigor and believed to strengthen and purify the body. Today, its essential oil, thymol, still has many therapeutic applications – it is widely used as an antiseptic and disinfectant and infusions of thyme are believed to be an excellent remedy for respiratory and throat ailments – and even hangovers! Thyme is also said to help in the digestion of fatty foods.

Thyme is widely used in Italian cooking – where it is know as “timo, pronounced “tee-mo”. Though there are more than 300 varieties of this herb, the most common types used in cooking are Thymus vulgaris (common thyme), Thymus citriodorus (citrus thyme, Thymus herba-barona (caraway thyme) and Thymus serpyllum (wild thyme).

Wild Thyme

Common thyme, the variety most often found in Italy, is a perennial plant, six to twelve inches tall, with tiny oval leaves and a pungent aroma.

Fresh thyme holds up well with refrigeration and can often be purchased by the bunch or a group of sprigs in a plastic clamshell container. Fresh thyme can be used whole with the stem or just the leaves with the stem removed.

If a recipe calls for a “sprig” of thyme, the leaves and stem should be used together, intact. When adding a whole sprig of thyme to soups, stews or other recipes, the leaves usually fall off during cooking and the woody stem can be removed prior to serving.

To remove the leaves from a sprig of fresh thyme, simply hold the sprig of thyme at the top with one hand, pinch the sprig with the other, and pull backwards down the stem. The leaves will detach easily. Fresh thyme leaves are so small that they usually require no chopping.

Fresh thyme should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic or in the original plastic clamshell container. When stored properly, fresh thyme will retain freshness and flavor for about two weeks.

Dried thyme retains much of the flavor of fresh thyme and is a suitable substitution for fresh in many cases. When substituting dried thyme for fresh, use roughly one third of the volume of fresh thyme called for in the recipe. Dried thyme can be found in most major supermarkets year round. Store dried thyme in an airtight container, away from heat and light. When stored properly, dried thyme should retain flavor and potency for up to one year.

When cooking with thyme, unlike many other herbs, be sure to add it early in the process, so the oils and flavor have time to be released. Thyme is used in many typical southern Italian pasta sauces, featuring peppers and eggplant and is also a great complement for many vegetables, including tomatoes and roasted potatoes. In Italy recipes, grilled and oven roasted fish, such as spigola (sea bass) triglie al forno (mullets), call for thyme. Additionally, thyme combines well with sage and rosemary and, when you grill, you can get great results if you marinate the meat for a few hours before grilling with those three herbs (thyme, sage and rosemary), along with good quality Italian olive oil.

Eggplant Rolls with Fresh Ricotta and Thyme

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium eggplants, divided
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 12 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese, drained
  • 1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, freshly grated
  • 3/4 cup flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350ºF

Slice 1½ eggplants into ¼ inch slices lengthwise. Reserve the 1/2 eggplant for a sauce.

Sprinkle with salt and drain in colander for 30 minutes. Set aside.

For the eggplant sauce:

Peel remaining ½ eggplant and cut into small cubes, season with salt and place in another colander for 30 minutes to drain.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan, add garlic and sauté until garlic is translucent.

Add the cubed eggplant, salt and pepper and water. Cook until eggplant is very soft.

Process the sauce mixture in a blender or with a hand immersion blender until smooth.

Add chopped tomato and 1 tablespoon thyme. Makes approx 1-½ cups.

For the cheese filling:

Mix ricotta cheese, parmigiano, remaining thyme and salt & pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Coat eggplant slices lightly with flour.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high and sauté eggplant slices until light brown. Remove the eggplant and spread flat on level surface.

Divide ricotta mixture evenly among eggplant slices. Begin at one end and roll the eggplant into a cylinder. Repeat with remaining rolls.

Place rolls in 8×8 glass baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmigiano cheese. Serve the eggplant rolls with warm eggplant sauce.

Farfalle with Peppers and Thyme

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Farfalle pasta
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups white onions, sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh italian parsley chopped

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and 1 sprig of fresh thyme. Sauté 5 minutes.

Add peppers and water to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Sauté an additional 10 minutes or until peppers are tender.

Drain pasta, add to the skillet with the pepper mixture and toss. Sprinkle with remaining thyme and chopped parsley.

Chicken Thighs Baked with Lemon and Thyme

In addition to the lemon and thyme, the chicken thighs are flavored with an emulsified mash of garlic, salt and olive oil.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • Coarse salt or sea salt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 chicken thighs, trimmed of fat, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 2 large lemons, each cut into six 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1-2 bunches fresh thyme, snipped into twenty-four 2-inch pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup black olives (kalamata), cut in half

Directions:

Mash the garlic with a large pinch of salt to create a coarse paste ( with a mortar and pestle or a small mixing bowl and the back of a spoon). Add the oil very slowly in drops while pounding and grinding the paste, continuing until thick, creamy and emulsified. Put the chicken in a bowl. Rub the garlic paste all over and under the skin. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Heat the oven to 425°F and set an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Arrange the lemon slices in one layer in a large shallow roasting pan or baking dish (9x13x2 inches). Top each slice with two pieces of thyme. Set the chicken thighs, skin side up, on top; sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper. Bake until the skin is golden and the juices are clear, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Sometimes the lemons and chicken produce a lot of juices, in which case you can make a pan sauce. Transfer the chicken (keeping the thyme and lemon slices underneath) to a plate and cover loosely with foil.

Set the pan over medium heat (if the pan isn’t flameproof, pour the juices into a small skillet) and scrape up any stuck-on juices. Let the juices boil and reduce so they thicken to a saucy consistency. Drizzle the sauce around, not on, the chicken to maintain the crisp skin and garnish with olives.

Nectarine-Thyme Crumble

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 nectarines, thinly sliced
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • Salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

Directions:

In a bowl, toss the nectarines with the granulated sugar, juice, thyme and a pinch of salt; let stand for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In another bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and wheat germ with a pinch of salt. Using your fingers, work in the butter until the mixture is sandy. Press the streusel into small clumps and scatter on a rimmed baking sheet.

Spoon the nectarines, thyme and any juices into 6 individual baking dishes. Bake the nectarines for about 20 minutes, until the fruit is softened. Meanwhile, bake the streusel mixture stirring once, for about 10 minutes, until browned.

Sprinkle the streusel over the fruit, bake for 5 minutes longer and serve.



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