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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: cucumbers

Stuffed Zucchini

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
One large zucchini (10-12 oz)
4 oz lean ground beef
1 mini bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine
2 scallions (green onions) chopped fine
1 small clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

Cut the zucchini in half. Remove most of the flesh with a serrated spoon. Do not go too deep or you will pierce the outer skin. Chop the zucchini flesh into small pieces.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet. Add the meat and brown it completely. Remove to a medium mixing bowl. Add the garlic, bell pepper, scallions and zucchini flesh to the skillet. Cook until very tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for about 15 minutes.

Add the vegetable mixture to the browned meat along with the remaining ingredients (tomato paste, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and mozzarella). Stir well and spoon the mixture into the zucchini shells. Place the stuffed zucchini in an oiled baking dish. Drizzle the top with a little oil. (Can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy on top and the zucchini is tender.

Eggplant Parmigiana

First Stage

For each one pound of eggplant, you will need:

Salt
2 eggs, beaten with a few tablespoons of water
1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs

Directions

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

Peel the eggplant. 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 breadcrumbs in another.

Dip the eggplant slices into the egg mixture, then coat lightly 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.

This stage can be done ahead of time. The eggplant slices can be stored with foil between the slices in the refrigerator for a day or two or frozen until needed.

Second Stage

To assemble the casserole, you will need:

Spray an 8 inch or 9 inch or 8-by-11 inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 375 °F.

2 ½ cups Marinara (pasta) sauce
8 ounces 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 place half of the cheese slices on top.

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.

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This is a great month to take advantage of some of the early spring crops that are coming to market. Broccoli, Cauliflower, all types of greens, beets and strawberries are some of the best choices. And, if you are lucky to have a friend who likes to garden, like me, you can reap some of the harvest. See the photo below for what I was treated to from his garden.

Stuffed Peppers

This recipe goes well with sautéed cabbage. See recipe below.

Ingredients

6 bell peppers, assorted colors
1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup jarred, mild salsa
1 cup frozen cauliflower rice, defrosted, or regular cooked rice
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Salt and pepper

Directions

Cut the tops off the peppers. Reserve the top and remove the stem. Dice the tops and set aside.

Remove the seeds and membrane from the peppers. Wash and set on a paper towel, upside down, to drain.

Heat a skillet and add the oil. Brown the ground beef until you no longer see any pink color.

Push the beef to the side of the pan and add the onion, bell pepper tops and garlic. Saute until tender.

Add the Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, stir, and remove the pan from the heat. Let cool.

Stir in defrosted cauliflower rice, salsa and ½ cup cheese. Fill the peppers to the top and place them in a baking dish just large enough to hold the peppers upright.

I used some foil to support them and keep them from falling out.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30 -40 minutes or until the peppers are tender.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and top each pepper with some of the remaining cheese. Return to the oven for five minutes to melt the cheese topping.

Sautéed Cabbage In Brown Butter

Ingredients

One head of savoy cabbage
1/2 onion, sliced thin
3 tablespoons butter
1 small garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper

Directions

Remove the large leaves from the cabbage for stuffing, Cut the rest of the cabbage head in half. Set aside one half for coleslaw or another recipe.

Thinly slice the remaining half of the cabbage.

Heat the butter in a medium skillet and cook until the butter turns a light brown, Add the onion and garlic and cook 3-4 minutes to tenderize the onions.

Add the sliced cabbage and cook until very soft and tender, about ten minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with the stuffed peppers.

Oven BBQ Pork Roast and Vegetables

 

 

Ingredients

1 top loin pork roast, bone-in, about 3 pounds
8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced on a diagonal
8 oz carrots, thinly sliced
Half a sweet onion, cubed
1 ½ cups bottled or homemade BBQ sauce, see recipe below
Half a head of cauliflower cut into large florets

Directions

Heat the oven to 325 F.

Oil a roasting pan with foil and place the mushrooms, carrots, celery and onion on the bottom of the pan.

Place the roast on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the cauliflower florets on two sides of the roast.

Pour the BBQ sauce over the pork.

Roast the pork for 30 minutes per pound, or until it registers at least 140 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.

Baste the pork roast with the barbecue sauce several times during the roasting time.

Let the roast rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup water
Two 6 oz cans tomato paste
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dried minced onion or powder
3/4 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
3/4 teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and let simmer on low, uncovered, for about an hour.

Make sure to stir frequently, about once every 10 to 15 minutes, while the BBQ sauce is cooking.

This will help better incorporate the flavors and ensure that the sauce is evenly cooked throughout.

Let the sauce cool before transferring to a storage container.

Oven Roasted Salmon and Broccoli

2 servings

Ingredients

1/4 lb broccoli florets (about 2 floret tops)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Two 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced into rings, seeds removed if desired
1 small garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped green onion (scallions)
1 mini red bell pepper, minced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Mix broccoli florets with 1 tablespoon oil in a baking dish; season with salt and pepper.

Roast broccoli, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, 10 minutes.

Combine the jalapeño slices, vinegar, scallions, bell pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt in small bowl.

Rub salmon with 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Push broccoli to the edges of the baking dish and place salmon in the center.

Evenly distribute the jalapeno mixture over the salmon and broccoli.

Roast until salmon is cooked throughout and the broccoli is tender, 15 minutes. Serve with Cucumber Salad

Cucumbers In Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients

1 large or 2 medium cucumbers
Half of a large cucumber
3/4 cups plain Greek yogurt (not low-fat)
2 scallions (green onion), minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Peel and seed the half cucumber. Grate the half cucumber on a box grater onto a paper towel, roll up and squeeze the towel to remove some of the liquid.

Peel the large cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and cut into thin half-moon slices.

Place the yogurt in a medium bowl.Add grated cucumber to the yogurt along with the remaining ingredients, except the sliced cucumber and stir well.

Fold in the cucumber slices.

Cover and chill in the refrigerator before serving.


Fish tacos are a favorite meal in our house. Just about any type of fish works in this recipe. I added the bell pepper topping because I think it helps make a tastier dish along with the Chipotle sauce.

Crispy Fish and Mini Bell Pepper Tacos

4 servings

Ingredients

1 pound fish fillets
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
1 cup all-purpose flour, low-carb flour or gluten-free flour
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 cup sliced miniature sweet bell peppers
Tortillas (regular, low-carb or gluten-free), crispy or soft, see below
Chipotle Sour Cream, see recipe below and shredded lettuce or shredded cabbage

Directions

Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Cut the fish into two-inch pieces.

In a shallow dish, whisk together the cream, egg and taco seasoning. Place the flour in another shallow dish.

Dip the fish in the cream mixture and then into the flour. Repeat to coat the fish again in cream and flour. Place the breaded fish on wax paper or parchment.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

Add fish to the hot oil (working in batches, if necessary).

Cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels.

Drain the oil from skillet; wipe clean with a paper towel.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and the peppers to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 2 minutes or until crisp tender.

Serve the fish with peppers, shredded lettuce and Chipotle Sour Cream in tortillas.

For crispy tacos:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and drape the tortillas over the bars of the oven grill racks until they are crispy, about 5 minutes.

For soft tacos:

Heat the tortillas in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Chipotle Sour Cream

Ingredients

1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
2 tablespoons adobo sauce from the can
Pinch of kosher salt

Directions

Stir together the sour cream, lemon juice, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce and mix well. Season to taste with salt; refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tomato, Cucumber and Avocado Salad

Ingredients

2 avocados
2 tomatoes, cored and diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Cut each avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Carefully scoop the flesh from the shell and dice it.

Toss the diced avocado with the tomato, cucumber, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, oil and lemon juice. Stir to mix and season to taste with salt and pepper.


This is one of our favorite pasta dishes. Yes, I use canned clams in broth instead of whole clams. I think this version, that I have fiddled with over the years, is now just the way we like it. Lots and lots of flavor. Be sure to cook the spaghetti al dente. A great bread and salad round out a delicious meal.

Spaghetti With White Clam Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

2 cans of minced clams with liquid (do not drain)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
4 large cloves of thinly sliced garlic
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons of chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper and Kosher salt to taste
10 oz spaghetti

Directions

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain; keep warm.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, garlic, red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning.

Turn the heat to low and let the ingredients cook slowly for a few minutes to infuse the oil. Add the wine and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the clams with their liquid,stir and simmer for 4 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Add the cooked pasta and parsley to the saute pan and mix thoroughly. Cook until the pasta is hot. Serve immediately in pasta bowls.

Greek Salad

4 servings

Dressing Ingredients:

1/4 cup virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano or Greek seasoning
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients:

4 cups Romaine lettuce, broken into bite sized pieces
1 cup cucumbers, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup sliced deli pepper rings
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup Kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Directions

For the dressing

In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and set aside.

For the salad

Place the onions, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers and olives over the lettuce in a salad bowl.

Crumble the feta cheese over all.

Spoon the dressing over the salad and serve in individual bowls.

Herb and Sea Salt Focaccia

Ingredients

Dough

1 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup warm water
2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
2 1/4 cups of all-purpose, unbleached flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
11/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey

Topping

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1 large garlic clove minced
2 tablespoons large crystal cut sea salt
1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper

Directions

Combine all of the dough ingredients in an electric mixer and mix with the paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes, until the dough comes together in a ball around the paddle.

Knead with the dough the hook attachment for 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and coat the exterior with a bit of olive oil and place in a large bowl, covering the bowl with a kitchen towel. The dough should rest for an hour or until it doubles in size.

Use a non-stick vegetable oil spray to lightly grease a large baking dish 10″ x 15″. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil on top of the spray. The olive oil is used for flavor in focaccia.

Gently pull and shape the dough to fit into the bottom of the pan. Don’t pat all the way to the edges of the pan; leave a little room around the perimeter for the dough to expand.

Cover the pan and allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes.

Using your fingers poke dimples into the dough, pressing down firmly; your fingers should reach the bottom of the pan without actually breaking through the dough.

Re-cover the dough, and let it rise until it’s noticeably puffy, about 1 hour. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Drizzle the top of the dough with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with herbs, garlic, black pepper and coarse sea salt.

Place the pan of focaccia onto a middle oven rack and spritz lightly with water. Turn the oven temperature down to 400 degrees F.

Bake the focaccia until it’s light golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Remove the focaccia from the oven and immediately turn it out of the pan onto a rack.

Leftovers can be reheated in a toaster or in a 350°F oven, just until warmed through.


Grilled Beef Fajitas

6 servings

Ingredients

Marinade
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 boneless ribeye steaks, about 12-14 oz each

Fajitas
2 red sweet bell peppers, cut in half and seeded
1 whole red onion, peeled and sliced into three circles
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup prepared salsa, warmed
12 tortillas
Fresh lime juice
1/2 cup sour cream
Guacamole and lime quarters, to serve on the side

Make the marinade:

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the garlic, salt, 2 tablespoons lime juice, jalapeno, cumin and olive oil.

Remove as much fat as possible from the steaks.

Add the steaks to the bag, seal and toss to coat well. Marinate and refrigerate early in the day.

Preheat an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates. Remove the steaks from marinade; discard marinade.

Grill the steaks over medium-high heat 3 minutes per side for medium-rare; set aside on a plate and cover with foil.

Lower one side of the grill to medium-low. Spray the vegetables with olive oil cooking spray and cook bell peppers halves and onion slices about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables softened and have a few grill marks..

Wrap tortillas in foil; place on the back of the grill or the bun warmer to heat about 5 minutes before serving

Slice the steaks thinly across the grain. Slice the vegetables. Place in a serving bowl and mix with the warmed salsa. Add cilantro and mix well.

To assemble fajitas:

Spread tortillas with the steak and vegetable mixture, top with a little sour cream and serve with lime quarters and guacamole on the side.

Mexican Beans

The beans taste better if made the day before serving.

Ingredients

To cook the beans

! ½ cups orca beans (white and black colorings), washed
1 onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

To finish the bean dish

½ cup finely diced onion
½ cup finely diced celery
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon chili powder

Directions

Place the beans in a medium-sized saucepan and cover with cold water by two inches high. Cover and soak overnight.

The next day, add the onion, garlic and salt to the soaking liquid and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 60 minutes or until tender.

Chill the beans overnight in the refrigerator in their cooking liquid.

The next day, drain the beans. Stir in the cilantro and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic and chili powder. Saute until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the beans and heat. Serve as a side dish.

Creamy Coleslaw

Ingredients

1/2 of a whole cabbage (8 oz), sliced thin
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Directions

In a large bowl combine the onion, sugar, salt, pepper, celery seed, mayonnaise, whipping cream, vinegar and lemon juice, using a whisk to thoroughly combine the ingredients.

Add the thinly sliced cabbage, stir gently to mix.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Mediterranean Swordfish Kabobs

6 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon lemon peel
½ teaspoon dried granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 1/2 lbs swordfish fillets, cut into one inch cubes
1 zucchini, cut into one inch circles
1 red bell pepper, cut into one inch squares

Directions

Zest the lemon and then juice it, reserving 2 tablespoons juice.

Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, lemon zest, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper in a resealable plastic bag or a glass dish.

Add swordfish cubes, zucchini and bell pepper; toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature 30 minutes, turning occasionally.

Prepare an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.

Thread the swordfish, zucchini and bell pepper on skewers, alternating them, with a little space between each piece. Brush the skewers with any remaining marinade.

Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes per side or until cooked to your taste. Slide the kabobs off the skewers onto a serving plate to serve.

Easy Cucumber Salad

6 servings

Ingredients

3 cucumbers, peeled
1/2 red onion, finely diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Ranch dressing

Directions

Cut the cucumbers into ½ inch thick circles and arrange in a serving dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the chopped red onion over the cucumbers. Drizzle your favorite ranch dressing over the cucumbers and onion.

Can be refrigerated for a short time or serve immediately.


Zucchini Fritters

These fritters are also delicious with a sunny-side egg on top for a great lunch.

Ingredients

1 medium zucchini
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 large eggs
2 medium scallions, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Olive Oil for frying

Directions

Chop the zucchini into very small pieces. For this dish, I prefer chopped zucchini as opposed to grated for a better taste.

Put the zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with the teaspoon of salt.

Mix the zucchini gently to distribute the salt and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Turn the zucchini out onto paper towels.

Squeeze the zucchini in the paper towels to rid them of moisture and place into a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Add the eggs and scallion to the zucchini and mix together.

In a small bowl, add the rest of the dry ingredients and stir together. Add them to the zucchini and mix thoroughly.

Heat a medium to large pan over medium – high heat. Pour in enough oil to completely cover the bottom surface of the pan.

When little bubbles appear, the oil is hot enough.

Stir the zucchini mixture again and use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop up the batter and then level it off.

Pour the batter into the pan and gently push it into a flat pancake shape with the back of a metal spatula.

Cook for three minutes adjusting the heat up or down as needed, then turn, cooking for another three minutes.

Add more oil to the pan as needed to prevent sticking. Drain the zucchini fritters on a paper towel before serving.

Roasted Fennel and Leeks

This side goes so well with oven baked or grilled fish or chicken. Fennel bulb, which looks like a cross between an onion and the base of a celery bunch, has a sweet, anise-like flavor which mellows when roasted.

Ingredients

2 fennel bulbs, sliced into eighths, fronds reserved
2 large leeks, light green and white part only, cut into thin rounds
2 garlic cloves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Zest of one lemon and 1 teaspoon juice

Directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine the fennel, leek, garlic, oil, salt and pepper to taste in a shallow roasting pan; toss to coat fennel evenly.

Roast the fennel mixture, stirring midway through cooking, until softened, nicely browned and caramelized, about 40 minutes.

Add lemon zest and juice; toss to coat. Place in a serving dish; garnish with a few fennel fronds.

Jicama French Fries

Jicama (HEE-kah-ma) is an edible root vegetable native to Mexico that many people describe as being a cross between an apple and a turnip. Low in calories but rich in fiber, jicama is considered a superfood along with kale, acai berries and quinoa.

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

1 medium jicama
1/2 teaspoon salt for boiling
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
2 tablespoons peanut oil or oil of choice, plus more if frying

Directions

Combine the spices and seasonings in a small bowl.

Peel the jicama and slice into french fry pieces.

Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon sea salt into a wide deep skillet of water. Bring to a boil.

Add the jicama and when the water returns to a boil, cook the jicama fries for 10 minutes.

Drain in a colander. Place the fries on paper towels to dry.

You can prepare these in either of two ways.

Pour oil into a large skillet to cover the bottom of the pan. Heat until hot and add the jicama fries.

As each side turns brown, turn the fries until they are brown on all sides. Remove to paper towels to drain.

OR

Turn the oven to 425°F and when the temperature is reached, place the jicama fries in a large shallow dish.

Coat with the 2 tablespoons of peanut oil and then with the spice mixture.

Spread the fries onto an oiled baking pan.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, turning halfway through baking time, until the fries are crisp.

Tzatziki Cucumber Salad

This salad goes very well with grilled lamb chops or grilled fish.

Ingredients

2 medium cucumbers, peeled
½ teaspoon sea salt

Dressing

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup sour cream
¼ of a sweet onion, finely chopped
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
½ tablespoon olive oil
½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, grated
½ teaspoon dried dill weed
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Cut the peeled cucumber in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.

Cut each half into ½ inch thick slices (half moons). Place in a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Toss gently to evenly distribute the salt.

Let the cucumbers drain while you make the dressing.

Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a storage bowl with a cover.

Place the salted cucumbers on several thicknesses of paper towels and squeeze gently to rid them of extra moisture.

Add them to the dressing and mix well. Cover the bowl and chill several hours before serving.


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.



Purple Haze

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