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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Basil pesto

Cauliflower Antipasto Salad

Ingredients

For the salad
1 medium cauliflower, cut into small florets
8 ounces fresh small mozzarella balls
1-16 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into small cubes
4 ounces salami slices
4 ounces pepperoni slices
1 small red onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
8 oz pepperoncini, drained and sliced into rings
4-5 oz oil cured olives

For the dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 clove garlic minced

Directions

Place the cauliflower florets in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of water, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 3-4 minutes or until as tender as you’d like. Drain and dry on paper towels.

Cut the pepperoni and salami slices into quarters.

Add the remaining salad ingredients to the bowl with the cauliflower.

To make the dressing:

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, oregano, basil, rosemary, and garlic until well combined. Taste and add additional lemon, herbs, or salt as desired.

Pour the dressing over the cauliflower salad and toss to coat.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours to allow the flavors to develop before serving.

Pesto & Fresh Tomato Pizza

Pizza Dough
Make the dough one day ahead.
2 1’2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup warm water

Topping
1/2 cup good quality store-bought or homemade pesto (Link to my recipe)
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
2 vine-ripened tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Place all the ingredients in an electric mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment, mix the ingredients until they come to a ball around the paddle. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 5 minutes. Coat the inside of a plastic ziplock bag with olive oil cooking spray. Place the dough in the bag, seal, and place in the refrigerator until the next day.
Remove the bag from the refrigerator an hour before you want to make the pizza.

Cut the tomatoes crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain the juices. Sprinkle lightly with the salt and cover with more paper towels.
Cut the mozzarella into thin slices and place on paper towels to drain, This will prevent a soggy crust.

Set an oven rack in the bottom position and preheat the oven to 500°F.
Oil a large pizza pan and spread the dough in the pan so that it touches the edges of the pan. Spread the pesto evenly over the pizza dough
Bake on the bottom rack for 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven; and then top the pizzas with the mozzarella cheese, followed by the tomato slices and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Season with a few grinds fresh black pepper. Place the pizzas back in the oven and bake until the crust is crisp and golden, about 10 minutes more. Cut into slices and serve immediately.

Mini Cheesecakes

Makes 12 mini cheesecakes

Crust
1 cup almond flour
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar or brown sugar substitute (I use monk fruit)
1/4 cup salted butter, melted

Cake
16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup granular sugar or granular sugar substitute (monk fruit)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping
Sugar-free fruit jelly or jam (I used cherry)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F
Line a standard muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the almond flour and the brown sugar. Add the melted butter to the bowl and mix until the almond flour is coated and the mixture is the texture of wet sand. Place about 1 tablespoon of the crust mixture in the bottom of each muffin cup,. Use a spoon to press the mixture down into the bottom of each muffin liner.
Bake the crusts for 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy.
Add eggs, lemon extract, vanilla extract and sweetener and mix until all ingredients are well combined and smooth. Divide the cheesecake mixture evenly between all 12 wells in the muffin pan. I use an ice cream scoop to measure equally. If using a silicone muffin pan, place it on top of a baking sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheesecakes are set. They will still be a little jiggly in the center.
Allow the cakes to cool in the pan on the counter for 20 minutes. Place a teaspoon of jam on top of each mini cake.
Chill for up to 24 hours before serving.

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Zoodles With Basil Pesto

If you are not a fan of zucchini noodles, by all means, use cooked pasta.

2 servings

Ingredients

2 zucchini
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup basil pesto, see recipe below
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Cut the base end off the zucchini and use the other end to hold while the zucchini turns in the gadget.

Place the zoodles on a double thick layer of paper towels to dry.

In a large skillet, heat the butter and, then, add the zucchini noodles; toss for 2-3 minutes. Add the cheese and pesto sauce; toss the zoodles until completely covered in pesto.

Basil Pesto

Ingredients

4 packed cups washed basil leaves
½ cup shelled pistachio nuts, pignoli or walnuts
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Place the pistachios, garlic, salt, and pepper in a processor bowl. Process until the nuts and garlic are chopped.

Add the basil leaves and process for a minute or two. In the opening spout at the top, pour the olive oil as you process.

Keep processing until the mixture is smooth. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Caprese Salad

2-3 servings

Ingredients

2 large vine ripe tomatoes
4 oz fresh mozzarella
Black Olives
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, sliced thin

Directions

Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese into 1/4″ slices.

Assemble the salad by layering slices of tomato, mozzarella, and basil leaves on a serving plate.

Season with salt, pepper, and drizzle with the olive oil.

Scatter a few olives around the serving plate and serve.

Grilled Ribeye Steak

2 servings

Ingredients

1 ¼ lb bone-in Ribeye steak
2 teaspoons steak seasoning (I use Pensey’s)
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Press the steak seasoning onto the steak and let it sit at room temperature for one hour before grilling.

Preheat an outdoor grill or a stovetop grill pan. Oil the grill.

Place the steak on the grill and cook for 4 minutes. Turn the steak over and grill for 3 minutes for medium-rare or 4-5 minutes for medium.

Remove to a plate and place the butter on top of the steak. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.


Grilled Swordfish

According to Seafood Watch.org, Swordfish caught in the Atlantic with harpoons or handlines and hand-operated pole-and-lines and Western and Central Pacific with handlines and hand-operated pole-and-lines, or by U.S. fleets in the Atlantic with buoys, is a “Best Choice.” Swordfish populations are healthy, and there are no major bycatch concerns in these fisheries. This is the type of swordfish that I purchase.

4-6 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil
4 Swordfish Steaks, 1/2 inch thick, (about 1 1/2 Pounds Total Weight)
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Italian Flavored Panko Crumbs
Lemon Sauce, recipe below

Directions

Place the swordfish in a glass dish, scatter garlic over fish and then pour the olive oil over all.
Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

When ready to grill:
Remove the fish from the marinade and place on a plate. Pour the marinade into a measuring cup. Reserve.
Place a sheet of heavy foil on a baking sheet and poke a few holes in the foil.
Place the swordfish on the foil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle each lightly with panko crumb. Turn the fish over and sprinkle with panko.
Heat an outdoor grill to high. Slide the foil with the fish still on it onto the grill grates. Lower heat to medium. Cook about 15 minutes until the crumbs begin to brown the and the fish is cooked through. Do not turn fish.

Remove fish to a plate and pour the lemon sauce over the fish or serve on the side.

Lemon Sauce

Add more olive oil to the oil in the measuring cup that was used for the swordfish marinade to equal 1/2 cup.
Add
1/4 hot water
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
Whisk and warm in the microwave when ready to serve.

Linguine with Pesto Cream Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb linguine
1 cup pistachio basil pesto sauce, see recipe
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream

Directions

Cook the pasta al dente according to the package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander.
In the same pot add the pesto, cream, and Parmesan cheese. Warm over low heat and then add the cooked linguine. Cook for a minute or two. Pour into a serving bowl and top with freshly ground black pepper.

Cucumber Orange Salad

Ingredients

2 celery stalks, sliced
2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded & sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1 orange, cut into segments
1 jalapeno; ribs & seeds removed, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup Italian Vinaigrette

Directions

Combine the salad ingredients in a serving bowl. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Add the vinaigrette and toss. Serve immediately.

 


Pistachio-Basil Pesto

Ingredients

4 cups washed basil leaves
½ cup shelled pistachio nuts
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Place the pistachios, garlic, salt, and pepper in a processor bowl. Process until the nuts and garlic are chopped.

Add the basil leaves and process for a minute or two. In the opening spout at the top, pour the olive oil as you process.

Keep processing until the mixture is smooth.

Fresh Tomato Pesto Tart

Press in the Pan Pastry Dough
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups All-purpose, Low-Carb or Gluten-free flour
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, melted

Directions

Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pour the flour, cheddar cheese, and salt into a 9-inch pie pan. Stir with a fork to mix the ingredients together. Pour in the melted butter and mix with the fork until the dry ingredients are completely moistened. Press the dough, using the fork, across the bottom of the pan and up the sides.


Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes until lightly brown.
Remove the pan from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

Filling
1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella cheese
6 plum tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
¼ cup pistachio basil pesto, recipe above

Directions

Spread the bottom of the baked crust with the pesto. Sprinkle with the mozzarella. Arrange the tomatoes in an overlapping single layer over the crust and sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the top.

Bake until the tart is deep golden brown and crispy, about 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before cutting.

Bell Peppers Stuffed With Shrimp Salad

When using shrimp for salads, I prefer to grill or oven roast them. Boiling tends to make them soft and they do not stand up to the dressing.

Ingredients

Shrimp
1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoons seafood seasoning
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salad
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 chopped green onions
1 stalk celery, chopped
Zest and juice of half an orange
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
4 green bell peppers, halved and seeded

Directions

Heat a grill pan over medium-high.
Place the peeled and deveined the shrimp in a ziplock plastic bag with 1 tablespoon olive oil, seafood seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and shake the bag. Spread the shrimp in one layer on the heated grill pan. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, just until pink, firm and cooked through. Let cool for 25 minutes.

To make the dressing. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, orange zest, orange juice, dill, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

When the shrimp are cool, cut them into ½ inch dice and add them to the dressing and toss. Chill in the refrigerator until serving time. Fill bell pepper halves with shrimp salad and serve.

Summer Green Bean Salad

Ingredients

1 pound green beans trimmed and cut into 2 inch lengths
1 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 finely chopped shallot
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Coarsely chopped basil for garnish

Directions

Several hours before serving:
Place green beans in a pan of salted boiling water to cover. Cook until crisp-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes according to the size of the beans. Do not overcook. Drain.
In a salad bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar, shallots, garlic, oil, chopped tomato, salt, and pepper. Add hot, drained green beans and toss well. Sprinkle with basil. Let the dish sit at room temperature for several hours before serving. Toss a few times during the marinating time.


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.

 



You most likely have some favorite recipes that you like to cook with June’s wonderful produce. I certainly do but I also like to try out new ideas. My weekly CSA share began on Memorial Day weekend and so I have plenty of June produce to experiment with at this time. Here are a few of my ideas. Give them a try.

Green Peppers

Shrimp and Bell Peppers in Orange Sauce

Ingredients

1 pound Gulf shrimp (wild caught), peeled and deveined
2 bell peppers, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large sweet onion, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the peppers and onions to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until tender. Remove the vegetables to a bowl.

Add the shrimp to the pan. Cook about 3 minutes. Turn the shrimp over when one side turns pink. Cook the second side. Push the shrimp to one side of the pan.

Whisk the cornstarch and orange juice together. Add the honey.

Pour the mixture into the pan. Turn the heat up slightly. Bring the liquid ingredients up to a boil. Turn the heat back down to medium-high and push the shrimp into the sauce.

Add the peppers and onions. The sauce should have thickened and the shrimp should be completely cooked.

Corn on the Cob

Fresh Corn and Ricotta Cakes

Makes 8 cakes

Ingredients

2 cups fresh corn kernels
½ cup ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/3 cup self-rising unbleached flour
Olive oil
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions

In a medium bowl combine the corn, chives, ricotta, eggs, flour and a pinch of black pepper.

Cover the bottom of a large skillet with a thin layer of olive oil. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, drop the corn mixture into the skillet. Do not crowd the cakes in the pan.

Cook the cakes on both sides until golden brown. Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve with sour cream or a tomato salsa, if desired.

Basil

Pizza With Basil Pesto and Ricotta

Ingredients

1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
1/2 cup prepared basil pesto
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 plum tomatoes, sliced thin
7 oz fresh mozzarella balls, sliced

Directions

Place the sliced tomatoes on paper towels to remove some of their moisture.

Oil a large pizza pan and stretch out the dough to fit the pan.

Spread the basil pesto over the dough.

Spread the ricotta over the pesto and layer the sliced tomatoes over the ricotta.

Place the pizza in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Take the pizza out of the oven and top with slices of fresh mozzarella. Return the pizza to the oven and bake for 10 minutes more or until the cheese melts and the crust is cooked.

Remove the pizza from the oven and let rest about 5 minutes before cutting into slices.

Blueberries


Blueberry Cheesecake Pie

8 servings

Topping Ingredients

1 pint blueberries, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup water

Crust Ingredients

1 1/2 cups amaretto cookie crumbs or crush your favorite cookies
1/3 cup butter, melted

Filling Ingredients

2 cups (Two 8 oz packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

To make the topping:

In a small sauce pan combine the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and water. Place the pan over medium high heat. Stir until the mixture comes to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the blueberry mixture for 20 minutes or until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Let the blueberry sauce cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator until the cheese pie is ready.

To make the crust:

Select a pie pan whose inside top dimension is at least 9 inches and whose height is at least 11/4 inches. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Make the crust by stirring together the butter and cookie crumbs. Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan, making a thicker layer on the bottom than on the sides.

To make the filling:

Beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Set the pie pan on a baking sheet and pour the filling into the crumb crust.

Place the cheesecake in the oven. Bake for 35 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the crust 1 inch from the edge reads between 165°F and 170°F. The filling won’t look entirely set in the center.

Remove the cheesecake from the oven and set it on a rack to cool. Once the cake is cool, refrigerate it, covered, until completely chilled.

Just before serving, spoon a little of the blueberry topping over the cheesecake and cut into slices.

Zucchini

Yogurt-Zucchini Bread 

Ingredients

1 cup walnuts (4 ounces), chopped and toasted
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely grated zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Place the grated zucchini on a paper towel to drain while you prepare the other ingredients.

Butter and flour a 9 x 4 1/2-inch metal loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a medium bowl, mix the 3/4 cup sugar with the eggs, vegetable oil and yogurt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients along with the grated zucchini and toasted walnuts and stir until the batter is evenly moistened.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the 2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the loaf is risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the loaf cool on a rack for 30 minutes before unmolding and serving.

The zucchini loaf can be wrapped tightly in plastic and kept at room temperature for up to 4 days, or frozen in plastic and foil for up to 1 month.


Of course with all this basil growing in my garden, I have to make pesto. After I have made about 10 containers of pesto for the freezer, I try to think about other ways to use this fantastic herb.

One of the best ways to preserve excess basil is to chop it fine. Place it in a food processor with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Then, simply pour the shredded basil oil into ice-cube trays and freeze. As you need a bit of fresh basil, it will be easy enough to pull out a cube of basil and add it to tomato sauce, stew or salad dressing. Much better than dried.

Pesto alla Genovese

Ingredients

4 cups tightly packed basil leaves (no stems)
1 large peeled garlic clove
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/ 2 to 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Directions

In a blender of food processor, combine the garlic, pine nuts, salt, pepper and ½ cup of the olive oil.

With the machine running, add the leaves a few at a time. Add more olive oil until a smooth paste forms.

Pour the pesto into a storage container and pour a thin layer of olive oil over the surface of the pesto to keep it from darkening.

If using that day, store at room temperature. If using later in the week, refrigerate the pesto and bring it to room temperature before using. Any longer than that store in the freezer.

Stir in the cheese just before serving.

Toss this sauce with your favorite pasta.

Pasta With Basil Pesto

Ingredients

12 oz short dried pasta
Half the of the prepared basil pesto recipe from above
Grated Parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.

Directions

Cook the pasta al dente in boiling, salted water. Reserve a ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and place in a pasta serving bowl. Add the pesto and pasta cooking water. Stir well and top with grated cheese and black pepper before serving.

How To Use Pesto In Your Cooking

Stir a tablespoon of pesto into most vegetable soups just before serving.
Spoon a thin layer of pesto onto toasted bread slices, top with shaved Ricotta Salata or another firm grating cheese, and serve as an appetizer.
Whisk pesto into a risotto.
Beat equal parts of pesto and Ricotta cheese together and spoon into scooped out cherry tomatoes.
Toss grilled vegetables (peppers, zucchini, and eggplants) with a little pesto.
Spread on focaccia bread when making a Panini.
Add pesto to your favorite poultry stuffing.
Don’t forget to add it to your favorite spaghetti sauce recipe.

What Else Can You Do With Extra Basil?

Lemon Basil Garlic Butter 

This butter is a great addition to chicken, fish or steak. It is also good on grilled corn on the cob.

Makes 8 tablespoons

Ingredients

1/2 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Directions

Mix together all the ingredients until blended well.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a week.

Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese Sandwich

2 sandwiches

Ingredients

4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 large fresh basil leaves
2 plum tomatoes, sliced thin
4 slices sourdough bread
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Layer the cheese, basil and tomatoes on two bread slices. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper. Top with remaining bread.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the sandwiches. Cook until the bottom is toasted, turn the sandwich over with a large spatula and cook until the second slide is toasted. Serve immediately.



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