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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Pasta

I remember my years living up north and the wonderful Asian restaurants we had in our area. Missing those dishes, I have been tinkering with recipes and sauces to create some of the tastes I remember. This recipe turned out with the taste I was looking for, especially with the combo of grilled meat and deliciously seasoned vegetables and noodles. Give it a try. It has great flavor.

Asian Grilled Pork Kebabs

4 servings. This recipe may be doubled.

Ingredients

1 (12-ounce) pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch chunks
Marinade
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweet Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon Sambal owlet chili paste

Directions

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a glass dish.

Add the pork and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

When ready to grill, thread the pork onto two 12-inch metal skewers, leaving 1/4 inch between pieces. Reserve the marinade in the dish.

Spray both sides of the meat generously with vegetable oil spray.

Turn all grill burners to high, cover, and heat the grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave the primary burner on high and turn off the other burners.

Clean and oil the cooking grate. Place the skewers on the hot side of the grill and cook the pork until well charred, 3 minutes.

Turn the skewers, brush with the reserved marinade mixture, and continue to grill until the second side is well charred and the meat registers 140 degrees on an instant read meat thermometer, 3 minutes longer.

Transfer the pork to a platter, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest while the stir fry vegetables are prepared

Stir Fry Sauce

Ingredients

1/4 cup sweet soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese wine (or dry sherry)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

Directions

Combine ingredients for the stir fry sauce in a jar and shake to combine. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Asian Stir Fried Vegetables and Noodles

Ingredients

2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 cups Chinese fresh noodles
Stir Fry Sauce, recipe above
2 tablespoons water
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
12 oz broccoli florets, cut into smaller florets
1 1/2 cups shredded carrot
3 scallions, sliced

Directions

Place the noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Let sit in the hot water until ready to add to the stir fry.

Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and ginger followed by the broccoli.

Stir fry until the broccoli florets are tender. Add the shredded carrots and stir for a minute or two.

Remove the skillet from the heat.

Drain the noodles and add them to the skillet. Stir in the stir fry sauce and water.

Return to the heat, gently toss for 1 minute to heat through the noodles and for the sauce to thicken. Add the scallions. Stir.

Pour onto a serving platter and top with the grilled pork to serve.

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Growing up in an Italian American family, every Sunday meant pasta was on the menu. My grandmother and mother could come up with an infinite amount of pasta recipes to keep us from getting bored. The smells were incredible. It is easy to keep the tradition alive, if you can keep the process simple. Which is what I have done with my Sunday dinner recipe for pasta. I hope you enjoy it.

Tomato Sausage Sauce

Serves 6

Ingredients

1/2 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage
1 (26-oz) container Pomi chopped tomatoes
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed hot red-pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 fresh basil leaves, torn into bits

Pasta

1 lb spaghetti twists or other short pasta
1 cup ricotta cheese, warmed in the microwave
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

For the sauce:

Heat the oil in a deep skillet. Brown the sausage on all sides and remove to a plate to cool. Then cut into ¼ inch slices.

Add the garlic and red-pepper flakes to the skillet, stir for a minute. Add tomatoes, sliced sausage and salt and simmer, uncovered, until sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil leaves.

For the pasta:

Cook the pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of well salted boiling water, uncovered, until al dente, then drain in a colander.

Return the pasta to the pot and add the sausage sauce. Cook for a minute.

Pour pasta into a large serving bowl, dollop with tablespoons of the warmed ricotta with and serve with the grated cheese.

Notes:

The sauce can be made ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered, up to 5 days or frozen in an airtight container for 2 months.

You can also turn this dish into a baked pasta casserole:

Add 8 oz cubed mozzarella cheese to the ricotta.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add 1 cup of the sausage sauce and toss to coat with the pasta.

Spoon the pasta into an oiled 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the pasta and dollop large spoonfuls of the ricotta-mozzarella mixture on top.

Gently fold some of the ricotta mixture into the pasta; don’t overmix—you should still have pockets of ricotta.

Sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake the pasta for about 45 minutes, or until bubbling and golden on top.

Let rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Italian Garden Salad

Ingredients

1 head of Romaine Lettuce, washed and torn into small pieces
1/2 of a cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/4 of a red onion, sliced thin
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 cup Italian Olives

Italian Salad Dressing

Seasoning mix:

1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1 1/2 tablespoons table salt

Dressing

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oi
2 tablespoons seasoning mix

Directions

For the salad dressing:

Combine the ingredients for the seasoning mix in a small jar.

In a mixing bowl whisk the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the seasoning mix together. Whisk in the olive oil.

Combine the green salad ingredients together in a salad bowl Add some of the dressing and mix well.

Taste the salad to see if if needs more dressing or salt and pepper. Reserve any leftover seasoning mix and dressing for another salad.

Sourdough Ciabatta

2 large loaves

Ingredients

2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
6 cups unbleached All-Purpose flour

Directions

Mix the yeast with the flour.

In an electric mixer bowl combine the milk, olive oil and salt with the paddle attachment. Stir in the flour, a cup at a time, until you have a dough the consistency of drop-cookie batter.

Switch to the dough hook and knead, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth and satiny.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Place the bowl in a warm spot and let the dough rise, undisturbed, about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and turn it onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough gently and divide it into two pieces.

Form the loaves into torpedo shapes, and place each loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet. With a serrated knife, make three slashes in the tops of the loaves, each 1/2-inch deep.

Cover with a damp towel.

Let the loaves rise until they look puffy. This should take approximately 30 minutes. While the loaves are rising, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Brush or spray the loaves with water; a plant mister is good for this job. Bake for 10 minutes, spraying the loaves with water two more times.
Lower the oven to 375°F and bake for an additional 25 minutes.


August means summer and it is a good time to take advantage of all the great produce at the market. Tomatoes are tasting good now, lots of corn around, as well as eggplant, peaches and blueberries. Take advantage of the grill. Pair pasta with lots of vegetables. Make colorful salads. Seafood is in season, so pair it with tomatoes or seasonal vegetables. Lots of delicious meals ahead for the month.

Steak Burgers

4 servings

There are several cuts of beef that work well in making steak burgers including: Brisket, Hanger, Short rib, Steak tail and/or Sirloin and when combined with chuck or each other, they can create some of the best-tasting Burgers around. Get creative with your toppings. While bacon and cheese are ever popular, I like to create healthier toppings from what is seasonally available. So my toppings incorporate tomatoes, peppers and onions.

You can actually roast the peppers on the grill. After the grill is heated, oil the grates and place the peppers directly on the hot grill. Rotate them as they blacken. As soon as all the sides are blackened, place the peppers in a paper bag to cool. when they are cool enough to touch, remove the stem and seeds and pull off the skin. The peppers are then ready to place on top of the burgers.

Serve these burgers with a Greek Salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 lbs grass-fed organic ground beef steak for burgers
  • Steak seasoning (I like Penzey’s Chicago seasoning)
  • 4 sturdy burger rolls (recipe link for my homemade rolls)
  • 1/2 cup tomato jam (recipe link)
  • 2 whole roasted red peppers
  • 1 medium onion sliced and sautéed in butter

Directions

Shape the meat into four equal patties. If you want to make just two servings, freeze two of the burgers for another time.

Sprinkle the steak seasoning on both sides of the patties and spray each with olive oil cooking spray.

Heat an outdoor grill on high. Oil the grill grates. Place burgers on the grill, cover, cook turning once, for 8 minutes total.

Toast the rolls at the same time. Place the burgers on the bottom half of the rolls.

Assemble the burgers by placing 2 tablespoons of tomato jam on each patty, then one-quarter of the onions and top each with half of a roasted red pepper. Place the roll tops on the burgers and serve.

Greek Vegetable Salad

For 2 servings

Ingredients

  • Half of a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 Tuscan pickled peppers
  • Half of a cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Dressing

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

In a large salad bowl, combine the onion, olives, bell peppers, Tuscan peppers, tomatoes, cucumber and feta cheese.

Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, agave and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, toss and serve.

Creamy Zucchini Pasta

Serve with Stuffed Tomatoes, recipe below.

Serves 2-3

  • Salt to taste
  • 8 ounces penne or other short pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
  • 1 large zucchini, about one pound
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or a combination of herbs you like

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain.

Slice the zucchini into ½ inch circles and then cut each circle into little logs.

Cut the onion in the same manner, so that the pieces are about the same size as the zucchini.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the garlic, stir and, then, add the zucchini.

Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender. Do not let it brown.

Add the chile flakes and stir. Add the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook on low heat until thickened a bit.

Stir the basil into the sauce, add the cooked pasta and let the pasta cook in the sauce for a minute or two.

Turn off the heat. Toss with the Parmesan cheese and serve.

Stuffed Tomatoes

For 2

Ingredients

  • 2 vine-ripened medium-sized tomatoes
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the pulp and seeds.

Salt the insides of the tomato shells and set upside down on a paper towel to drain, about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix together the panko breadcrumbs, garlic, herbs, 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese and the oil.

Stuff the tomatoes with the filling, sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Place the tomatoes in a small oiled baking dish and bake the tomatoes until cooked through and the tops are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Corn Chowder

For the corn stock ingredients

  • 12 corn cobs (corn kernels removed and set aside for the chowder)
  • 2 chive stalks
  • 2 stems fresh parsley
  • 2 stems fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf

Directions

Put corn cobs, chives, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and cold water to cover in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 1 1⁄2 hours. Strain, discard the solids and measure the broth.

If you do not have 6 cups add water to make the 6 cups. Set aside the broth.

For the chowder ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 leeks, white and light green sections, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
  • 1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 cups fresh corn kernels, divided
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cup half-and-half or evaporated milk
  • 6 cups corn stock or vegetable broth if you don’t make the corn stock
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • Grated cheddar cheese, chopped chives or crumbled bacon, for garnish

Directions

Heat the butter in a Dutch oven or large soup pot.

Add the leeks, celery, carrots, bell pepper, jalapeno and potatoes to the pot and saute for ten minutes until soft.

Add 3 cups of the corn, the 6 cups corn stock, chili powder and the thyme.

Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for an hour. Remove the thyme branches.

Take the pot off the heat and puree the contents with an immersion blender.

Add the half and half, salt and pepper to taste and the remaining 3 cups of corn.

Return the pot to the heat and simmer the soup for about 30 minutes.

Gulf of Maine Redfish Poached in Puttanesca Sauce

Acadian Redfish, also known as ocean perch, are caught in the Gulf of Maine (deep waters off the coasts of Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire). The fish I purchased is certified, wild caught and sustainable. Fish cooked this way is so tasty and tender.

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ pounds Maine redfish of other boneless white fish fillets, cut into 4 equal pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 small onion or 1 large shallot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped, pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1 tablespoons capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 2 cups seeded and finely diced fresh plum tomatoes, about 8-9
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper chile flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 3 oz thin spaghetti or linguine

Directions

For the puttanesca sauce 

Heat the oil in a medium saute pan with a cover over medium-high heat until hot.

Saute the onions and garlic until translucent, about 2 minutes, and then stir in the wine, olives, capers and anchovy paste, tossing to combine.

Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, stir in the tomato paste, followed by the oregano and red pepper flakes.

Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Cook the pasta al dente. Drain

For the fillets

Dry the fillets well with paper towels. Score the skin of each fillet three times with a sharp knife.

Sprinkle with salt.

Bring the sauce to a boil, again. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the fish fillets, skin side down.

Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 6 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Sprinkle with the parsley.

Divide the pasta between two plates and place the fish and sauce over the pasta to serve.


The Mediterranean countries include France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal along the north; Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Israel on the east; and the African countries of Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia on the south. 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 about the countries of Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. This series continues with the country of Greece.

Plagia, Ikaria Island, North-Eastern Aegean Islands

Before it became known as a “Blue Zone”—a region of the world where people tend to live unusually long and healthy lives—the island of Ikaria, Greece, was unknown to most Americans. Ikaria is where the majority of the people live to be well into their 90’s.

In the past few years, Ikaria has received considerable attention from scientists and journalists who want to learn the secrets of its long-living residents. Food clearly plays a large role in the Ikarians’ longevity: The Mediterranean diet they follow has been linked to lower rates of cancer, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and—most recently—heart disease. Although, we, Americans, can’t adopt all aspects of the Greek-island lifestyle, we can incorporate some of the eating patterns and dietary traditions practiced there. And, the best part of “eating like a Greek” is  that the food is delicious.

Ikarians regularly dine on potatoes, greens, olives and seasonal vegetables. Vegetables are a big part of every meal and they are prepared in a healthy way—served raw in a salad or roasted with olive oil, rather than fried.

The majority of people in Greece eat a salad as an appetizer before the main course. This way, their appetite is significantly reduced by healthy ingredients.

Shellfish and fish are abundant in their cuisine, all of which tastes great over pasta with lemon and olive oil or in a souvlaki-style flatbread wrap with vegetables. Ikarians also eat smarter snacks—like raw vegetables and protein-rich dips made from Greek yogurt, beans or lentils.

Ikarians typically have a late morning breakfast comprised of goat’s milk, yogurt and or cheese, fruit, herbal tea or coffee, whole grain bread and local honey. At lunch, salads made of beans, legumes and potatoes, along with cooked fresh garden vegetables are standard fare and prepared with generous amounts of olive oil. Locally-caught fish may also be served and Ikarian red wine typically accompanies the meal. Meat is eaten just a few times per month. Ikarians eat a late lunch and it is usually followed by an afternoon nap, a practice that many Ikarians still follow and which results in a restful and stress free rest of the day. Quiet leisurely late afternoons and a heart-healthy routine greatly reduces the risk for heart disease. A light dinner of bread, olives, vegetables and wine is followed by evening visits with neighbors before bedtime.

Ikaria is the Mediterranean Diet in all its aspects, including the ways in which locally produced fresh, seasonal, home-cooked food and community are all integrated in ways that support physical, emotional/ mental health, relationships and the environment.

“Eat Like a Greek”

Greek Lentil Soup

Recipe and photo by Chef Diane Kochilas

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 2 large red onions, coarsely chopped, about 2 cups (500 mL)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 pound (500 g) small brown lentils
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped or pureed tomatoes
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 sprigs dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 fresh or dried whole chile pepper or crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) extra virgin Greek olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) red wine vinegar
  • Raw red or white onion for serving

Directions

Coarsely chop one of the onions. Place in a large, heavy pot, sprinkle with a little salt and cook, covered, over very low heat until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add the minced garlic and stir.

Rinse the lentils in a colander. Add the lentils, tomatoes, sage, oregano, bay leaf and chile pepper to the pot, and toss all together for a few minutes over low heat.

Pour in enough water to cover the contents of the pot by 3 inches. Raise heat to medium, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for one hour, or until very tender.

Season to taste with salt. Pour in the olive oil and vinegar just before serving.

To serve: Remove the bay leaf, oregano and sage leaves and discard. Slice the remaining onion. Sprinkle a few onion slices over the top of each soup portion. Drizzle in additional olive oil and vinegar if desired.

Briam – Baked Vegetables in Olive Oil (Island of Ikaria-Greece)

FOODS OF CRETE COOKBOOK, recipe and photo by Chef Bill Bradley, R.D.

Briam is an oven baked dish of fresh vegetables, herbs, olive oil, and an optional feta cheese. It is one of the most classic dishes of Greece.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 small or 1 large eggplant, cut into large, thick strips
  • 4 small or 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 3-4 small zucchini, ends cut off and cut into large pieces
  • 2 onions, cut in half
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into large pieces
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into large pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bunch dill, stems removed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup feta, crumbled

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large Dutch oven or baking dish, mix together all the ingredients except the feta cheese. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil.

Bake for 1 hour and stir. Re-cover and bake for another hour. Remove the baking dish from the oven, stir in the feta cheese and serve immediately.

Rosemary and Olive Focaccia

FOODS OF CRETE COOKBOOK, recipe and photo by Koula Barydakis

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2/3 cups Kalamata olives, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons dried or fresh rosemary, chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix flour, yeast, oregano, sugar, salt, olive oil and water in a bowl. Knead until the dough is soft (at least 5 minutes).

Cover with a warm, moist towel and put in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (about an hour).

Spread dough on a baking (cookie) tray, pressing lightly so that it is flat and even.

Oil the dough. Make little cavities throughout the top of the dough by pressing down with your fingers.

Place olives and rosemary in the cavities.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour. Serve hot.

Chicken Salad Greek Style

Recipe and photo from GAEA.

Ingredients

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup bite-sized broccoli florets
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
  • 1 orange, segmented
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives

Directions

Using a rolling pin, glass jar or mallet, pound and flatten the chicken breasts to an even thickness. Season all sides with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once heated, sauté the chicken breasts until golden brown, about 1 minute each side.

Reduce heat to low and cover for 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and let the chicken rest, covered, for an additional 10 minutes.

Slice thinly.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the broccoli florets and cook until slightly softened, about 1 minute.

Place the fennel, oranges, cherry tomatoes and avocado to a large salad bowl.

Mix all of the dressing ingredients together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the chicken slices to the salad bowl. Drizzle dressing on top and gently toss all of the ingredients together. Serve.

Baked Seafood Orzo with Kalamata Olives

Recipe and photo by Chef Diane Kochilas

Serves 6

Orzo is one of the most popular Greek pasta shapes. In Greek, it’s called kritharaki.

Directions

  • Salt
  • 1 pound orzo
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes (good quality canned are also fine)
  • Pinch of hot sauce or hot pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup white wine, plus one cup if using whole, unshelled mussels
  • 2/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 pounds mussels in their shell, or 2 ½ cups shelled, frozen mussels, defrosted
  • 2 cups cleaned, shelled small fresh or frozen and defrosted shrimp
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 chop chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F / 175C.

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously. Add the orzo and simmer until al dente. It should be a little underdone.

Drain, transfer back to the hot pot and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

While the orzo is boiling start the sauce:

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large, wide pot or deep skillet and cook the onion over medium heat until wilted and translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add 3 of the 4 chopped garlic cloves and stir.

Pour in the tomatoes. Bring to a boil and add the wine. Simmer until the alcohol has cooked off.

Add 1 cup of hot water, the star anise and hot sauce or hot pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper.

Cook the sauce over medium heat for 15 minutes, until slightly thickened. Add the olives to the sauce five minutes before removing the pan from the heat.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare the seafood:

If using mussels in the shell, make sure they are cleaned and well-washed.

Steam them in two inches of wine in a wide pot with the lid closed, over high heat, until they open.

You can add herbs or garlic if you want to the steaming liquid, before adding the mussels.

Remove and strain in a fine-mesh sieve, reserving the liquid.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the same pot and add the shrimp and remaining garlic.

If you are using shelled mussels that have been defrosted, drain them and add them to the shrimp.

Stir over medium heat until the shrimp start to turn pink. Remove.

Toss the mussels and shrimp, the reserved steaming liquid, and the pan juices from lightly sautéeing the shrimp into the tomato sauce.

Stir in the oregano and parsley. Remove the star anise.

Oil a large baking dish, preferably ovenproof glass or ceramic. Place the orzo in the baking dish and mix in the sauce thoroughly.

Pour in any remaining olive oil.

Bake, covered, for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the orzo is fully cooked. Remove, cool slightly and serve.

Tahini-Walnut Phyllo Flutes

Recipe and photo by Chef Diane Kochilas

Serves 12

Ingredients

  • 2 cups tahini
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups water
  • 3 cups finely ground walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 pound phyllo dough, thawed and at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
  • Greek honey for serving

Directions

Whip together the tahini and sugar at high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer until creamy, about 5 minutes.

As you whip the mixture, drizzle in the water. It should end up being the consistency of peanut butter.

Using a wooden spoon or whisk, stir in the cinnamon and walnuts.

Preheat the oven to 350F/170C. Lightly oil two sheet pans.

Open the phyllo and place horizontally in front of you.

Cut three stacks of three-inch strips and keep them covered with a kitchen towel and a damp towel on top.

Take the first strip, oil lightly. Place a second strip on top and oil that, too.

Place a tablespoon of the filling on the bottom center of the strip, fold in the sides, and then roll up to form a tight cylinder.

Place seam-side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining ingredients until everything is used up.

Bake the flutes for 8 – 12 minutes, until golden. Remove and cool slightly.

To serve: Drizzle with honey.

You can store the cooled pastries in tins in a cool dry place for up to 5 days.


Eggplant are at their very best now. Take advantage of their availability and you will make some very rewarding and tasty recipes. Buying eggplant in season, picked young, means they will not be bitter, nor will they need to be salted before cooking them. Chubby purple eggplant are not the only kind of eggplant available. My CSA grew three different types this summer: regular purple globe eggplant, Rosa Bianca, an heirloom eggplant from Sicily and white eggplant. All delicious. Here are some recipes I made with my share.

Baba Ghanoush with Pita

Ingredients

2-3 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds total)
2 large cloves of garlic
1/2 cup lemon juice, more if desired
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving
1 teaspoon agave syrup
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
Kosher salt

Directions

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat and place the eggplants directly on the grill.

Cook, turning occasionally with tongs, until tender and charred on all sides, about 15-20 minutes.

The eggplants should be very tender.

Test the eggplants by sticking a skewer near the stem and bottom ends. If the skewer meets resistance, continue cooking.

When they are done, wrap the eggplants in foil and crimp the top to seal. Let the eggplants rest for 15 minutes.

Open the foil package, using a sharp knife slit open the eggplants and with a large spoon scoop out the soft flesh.

Transfer to a strainer set in a large bowl. Pick out any bits of skin and blackened flesh.

To roast in the oven:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Pierce the eggplants with a fork in several place. Place on an oiled baking pan and roast until soft all over, about 20 minutes.

Follow directions as above.

Put the eggplant in a food processor, add the garlic, lemon juice and pulse until it is smooth and creamy.

Add the tahini and pulse again until it’s combined. With the processor turned-on, slowly add the olive oil in a thin steady stream.

The mixture will be pale and creamy.

By hand, stir in the parsley, agave, smoked paprika and salt. Taste to see if you’d like additional salt or lemon juice.

Put the baba ghanoush into a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and serve with warm flatbread or vegetables.

Baba ghanoush can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Let the eggplant dip warm to room temperature before serving.

Eggplant Sauce Over Pasta

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into 3⁄4″ cubes
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled Italian tomatoes, undrained and crushed by hand
1 lb. bucatini or spaghetti pasta
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
Fresh Burrata or ricotta cheese

Directions

Heat the oven to 500º F.

Place the eggplant into a bowl and drizzle with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the eggplant to 2 baking sheets and bake, turning occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes.

Transfer to a rack; set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the chile flakes and garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic softens, about 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, season with salt and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until just al dente, about 9 minutes.

Drain the pasta and transfer to the pan with the tomato sauce. Stir in the roasted eggplant and basil. Toss to combine.

To serve, transfer pasta to a serving platter and garnish with the burrata cheese.

Summer Eggplant Tart

Serves 8

1 frozen puff pastry sheet, defrosted in the refrigerator overnight
Olive oil spray
1 small eggplant, sliced 1/8 inch thin
3 ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thin
1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
6 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
¼ cup fresh thyme, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the thawed puff pastry in a 7 x 11 inch baking dish patting the dough up the sides of the dish.

Refrigerate until ready to assemble the dish.

Bread the eggplant slices and oven bake until brown and crisp – as if making them for eggplant parmigiana. Directions are below in the eggplant parmigiana recipe.

Sprinkle the tomatoes on both sides with kosher salt. Arrange in a single layer between on paper towels to drain.

Remove the baking dish with the pastry from the refrigerator. Sprinkle the bottom of the pastry with the minced onion and garlic.

Arrange the eggplant and tomato slices in even rows on the pastry. Season with pepper and sprinkle the thyme over the vegetables.

Distribute the shredded cheese over the top. Bake until the vegetables are tender and the cheese is browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove the dish from oven and allow to cool. Serve warm.

Eggplant Parmigiana

This is a staple in my house. So happy that my CSA grows wonderful eggplant.

First Stage

For each one pound of eggplant, you will need:

1 pound eggplant, peeled
2 eggs, beaten with a few tablespoons of water
1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat two large baking sheets with olive oil.

Cut peeled eggplants crosswise or lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (no thicker). You want them to be thin.

Lightly salt the eggplant slices.

Place the eggs and water in one shallow dish and the bread crumbs in another.

Dip the eggplant slices into the egg mixture, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture.

Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 15 minutes, turn the eggplant slices over, and bake until crisp and golden, about 10-15 minutes longer.

Second Stage

To assemble the casserole, you will need:
Spray an 8 inch or 9 inch or 8-by-11 1/2-inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.
Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
2 ½ cups Marinara (pasta) sauce
1- 8 ounce package shredded or sliced mozzarella cheese
Breaded eggplant

Directions

Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly.

Spoon 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with half of the cheese.

Add the remaining eggplant slices and top with the remaining sauce and cheese.

Cover the dish with foil and bake until the sauce bubbles, about 25 to 30 minutes.

 


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.


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.



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