Do you ever entertain at lunchtime? Every once in a while, it is fun to ask friends over for a special lunch on a weekend. There are so many good things you can make for this meal while keeping it simple, delicious and mostly made ahead to allow you time with your friends.Finish the lunch menu with a platter of delicious fruit and that is all you really need.
Mini Carrot Muffins
Make these muffins well in advance and keep in the freezer. Heat in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes before serving.
1/1/2 cups all-purpose
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shredded carrots
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons low-fat or almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place the beaten egg, brown sugar, milk, vanilla, oil and butter in a large mixing bowl. Combine thoroughly.
In a large measuring cup or medium mixing bowl combine flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder.
Add to wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in carrots and pecans.
Divide batter evenly among 24 miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray. A cookie scoop works well for this.
Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean.cool five minutes in the pan and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Tomatoes Stuffed With Shrimp Salad
The shrimp salad can be prepared the day before you are having lunch. Cook the shrimp and place in a covered container. Make the dressing and store it in the refrigerator. The next morning, combine the shrimp and dressing and store in the refrigerator until is time to serve. Then fill the tomatoes just before serving.
1 pound large shrimp (21-25)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon good white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel, remove the tails and devein the shrimp.
Place them in a baking dish with the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss together.
Spread the shrimp out in one layer and roast for 6 to 8 minutes, just until pink, firm and cooked through. Allow to cool for 3 minutes.
To make the dressing.
In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, orange zest, orange juice, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
When the shrimp are cool, add them to the dressing and toss. Add the dill, capers, and vegetables and toss well.
Cover and chill until serving time.
Hollow out the tomatoes and fill with the shrimp salad and serve.
Summertime Corn Chowder
The chowder can be made weeks in advance and defrosted overnight. I keep several soups in the freezer for just such occasions.
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
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 canned 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
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.
Now that summer is here in my part of the world, the swimming pool is in full swing. I know that it is probably not summer hot in May where you live, but here is it about 85-86 degrees every day. The 90s will be here next month. This time of year, I like to invite friends over for swimming and either lunch or a BBQ supper. Lunch is a good idea because it can be served easily poolside and most of the food preparation can be done in advance. Seasonal soups are always a big hit with my friends. I usually like to prepare a sandwich or a salad that complements the soup. Here are some of my ideas for lunch that you can make for your family or for guests.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 leeks, white and light green sections, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 carrots, diced
- 1 red or orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
- 6 cups fresh corn kernels, divided
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Grated cheddar cheese, chopped chives or crumbled bacon, for garnish
Heat the butter in a Dutch oven or large soup pot. Add the leeks, celery, carrots, bell pepper and potatoes to the pot and saute for ten minutes until soft.
Add 3 cups of the corn, the vegetable broth, 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.
Remove the pot from 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.
Serve in individual soup bowls with any or all of the garnishes.
Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches
For each sandwich
- One 3-4 inch square of Eggplant Parmesan
- Recipe for Eggplant Parmesan: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2016/05/18/what-to-cook-this-week/
- One slice mozzarella cheese, cut to fit the sandwich
- 1 ciabatta roll, sliced in half
Heat the oven to 350 F.
Place the eggplant on the bottom half of a ciabatta roll. Top with a slice of mozzarella cheese and the roll top.
Wrap the sandwich in foil and place on a baking tray. Bake the sandwich for 15 minutes or until hot and the cheese has melted.
Cut the sandwich in two and serve with Tuscan peppers and olives.
Fresh Tomato Basil Soup
- 4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup chopped sweet onion
- 3/4 cup chopped celery
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- 2 pounds plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half
- Thinly sliced fresh basil for garnish
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender. Stir in salt and pepper and the cream. Return the pot to low heat and warm the soup. Do not boil.
Serve in individual soup bowls with basil for a garnish.
- 1 refrigerated or frozen deep dish pie crust, at room temperature
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ cups fresh shrimp, peeled, deveined and diced
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay (seafood) seasoning
- ½ cup jarred roasted red peppers, diced
- 2 tablespoons dry vermouth or white wine
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 1⁄2 cups grated cheddar cheese or your favorite cheese
- Hot sauce, a few dashes
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Fit the pastry into a 9 inch pie pan coated with cooking spray and flute the edges. Place the pan on a baking sheet.
Cook the shallots in the butter for 1-2 minutes over moderate heat until tender, but not browned.
Add the shrimp and stir gently for 1 minute. Sprinkle on the seafood seasoning.
Add the wine, raise the heat and boil for a minute. Allow to cool slightly. Stir in the roasted red peppers.
Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl with the cream, tomato paste and hot sauce. Gradually fold in the cooled shrimp mixture.
Spread 1 cup of the cheese on the bottom of the pie crust.
Pour the shrimp mixture into the pastry shell and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
Bake in the upper third of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the pie has puffed and browned on the top.
Cool for 15 minutes before cutting.
When you become a member of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), you purchase a “share” of vegetables from a regional farmer. Weekly during the growing season in your area, your farmer will deliver that share of produce to a convenient drop-off location in your neighborhood. CSA members pay for an entire season of produce upfront and shares usually include 7-10 types of vegetables; enough for a family of 2-3 people.
This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer. The farmers receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow and the farmers have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow. The consumer gets to eat fresh picked food with all the flavor and vitamin benefits, learn more about how the food is grown and develop a relationship with the farmer who grows the food.
My CSA is Jeta Farms, a family owned and operated farm located in Elberta, Al. They offer a variety of vegetables and some specialty and heirloom varieties. They do not plant GMO vegetable crops. I pick up my share on Saturday mornings and the produce is truly fresh and delicious. As soon as I get my share home, I start planning the week’s menu.
See the photo at the top of the post for last Saturday’s share, which included: a dozen ears of corn-on-the-cob, 2 eggplant, 4 plum tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, a package of blackberries, 2 large bell peppers, 4 patty pan squash, a pound of Italian green beans, a sack (about 5 lbs) of potatoes, lots of zucchini and yellow squash.
I was able to create a whole week’s worth of meals using these vegetables. All the herbs used in the recipes come from my garden.
- Sunday: Grilled Italian sausage, 2 grilled corn on the cob (from the corn share) and potato salad (from the potato share)
- Monday: Eggplant-Tomato Bake (recipe below) and sautéed zucchini (from the zucchini share) over Orecchiette pasta
- Tuesday: Stuffed peppers (recipe below) and cucumber (from the cucumber share) salad
- Wednesday: Grilled fish, grilled summer squash (recipe below) and potato salad
- Thursday: Chicken Oreganata, Italian green beans (recipe below) and eggplant bake
- Friday: Corn Chowder (recipe below) and hash-browned potatoes (from the potato share) with eggs
- Saturday: Grilled shrimp, grilled patty pan squash (recipe below) and tomato salad
- The blackberries became dessert; see the Blackberry Crumble recipe in my post on Using Summer Fruit
Here are some of the recipes I used for this menu.
Eggplant Tomato Bake
- 2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/4” round slices (from the eggplant share)
- 3/4 lb package fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- 4 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4”slices (from the tomato share)
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup Egg Beaters (refrigerated egg substitute)
- Olive oil
- Fresh or dried oregano
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Oil two baking sheets.
Dip eggplant slices in the egg substitute and then coat in the bread crumbs. Place the slices on the prepared pans and bake until brown, about 20 minutes, turning the slices over halfway through baking.
Oil a 13 x 9 inch glass baking pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with eggplant slices and add half the tomatoes and half of the cheese. Add another layer of eggplant slices, tomatoes and cheese. Sprinkle the top layer with oregano.
Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 lb ground turkey
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- Fresh corn kernels, cut off 2 cobs from the corn share
- 1/2 cup yellow squash, diced (from the squash share)
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 2 large bell peppers: halved and seeded (from the bell pepper share)
- 4 heaping tablespoons of your favorite prepared BBQ sauce
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Put a kettle of water on to boil.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the ground turkey until browned..
Add the chopped garlic, onion, corn and squash; stir and heat through. Season mixture with sea salt and pepper. Stir well to combine the flavors. Remove from heat. Add in the chopped parsley and cheese.
Coat a shallow baking dish that will fit the halved peppers with cooking spray. Stuff the halved peppers with the turkey mixture, pressing it in firmly. Place the stuffed peppers in the baking dish. Top each pepper with a spoonful of BBQ sauce.
Pour about an inch of hot boiled water into the bottom of the baking pan, around the peppers, and loosely cover the pan with a foil tent. This helps to cook the peppers. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the peppers are fork tender.
Grilled Summer Squash
- 1-1/2 lbs green and yellow squash, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick ovals (from the squash share)
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Prepare a gas or charcoal grill fire.
In a colander, toss the squash with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and drain for 30 minutes; transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, put the basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1/4 cup of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor and purée until smooth.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, boil the balsamic vinegar until syrupy and reduced to about 2 tablespoons., 8 to 10 minutes.
Mix the squash with the remaining 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Grill, turning once, until golden and tender, 8 to 12 minutes.
Arrange the squash on a platter, dot with the pesto and balsamic syrup. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.
Italian Flat Green Beans With Tomatoes and Garlic
- 1 lb Italian flat green beans, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 3-inch pieces (from the green bean share)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 medium garlic cloves, cut into very thin slices ( a 1/4 cup)
- 1 tomato, cut into 1/2-inch dice ( 8 ounces)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
- 6 -8 basil leaves, cut into chiffonade ( stacked, then rolled tightly and cut into very thin strips)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and cook for 5 minutes. Drain immediately.
While the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a medium sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the garlic slices, distributing them evenly. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the slices become almost translucent and start to brown on the edges; be careful not to let the garlic burn.
Add the diced tomato and salt and pepper to taste, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, so that the tomato is heated through. Add the cooked green beans and heat through for 1 to 2 minutes; mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Transfer to a serving dish and top with the basil, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- 8 corn on the cob from the corn share
- Corn Stock, see below
- 1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
- 2 large carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 ribs celery, diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 yellow squash, diced (from the squash share)
- 2 lbs potatoes, diced (from the potato share)
- 1 teaspoon seafood seasoning (such as Old Bay)
- 2 fresh whole sprigs of thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups (1 can) evaporated whole milk
Cut the corn kernels from the 8 cobs and reserve the corn and cobs separately. Place the corn cobs and 4 quarts water in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and immediately reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the cobs and discard.
Add half the reserved corn and all the vegetables to the soup pot and return the broth to a boil; reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
With an immersion blender, puree the soup right in the soup pot. Add the seasonings, remaining corn and milk. Heat on low for about 15 minutes or until the corn is tender.
Grilled Patty Pan Squash with Italian Salsa Verde
For the salsa verde:
- 1 large garlic clove, halved,
- Salt to taste
- 1 anchovy fillet, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup (tightly packed) parsley leaves
- Freshly ground pepper
For the squash:
- 4 small to medium patty pan squash from the squash share
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine the garlic, salt, anchovy fillet and capers in a food processor. With the motor running add the olive oil with the parsley and blend to a purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If serving within a few hours, allow to sit at room temperature. Otherwise, refrigerate and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Prepare an outdoor grill.
Slice the patty pan squash in half horizontally and coat with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Grill the squash for about 5 minutes on each side or until they are tender all the way through.
Transfer the squash to a serving platter. Top each one with a teaspoon or two of the salsa verde and serve.
Yield: 4 servings
- Five Reasons to Join a CSA (viewsfromhere.com)
- Summer CSA: Week 1 (fitnessandfeta.com)
- Week 8: June 25, 2014 (sneadsfarm.wordpress.com)