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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: squash

In Italian, “torta” simply means a sweet or savory cake. A traditional Italian torta usually includes ricotta cheese, parmesan, parsley, and onions. There are also variations that contain meat and some that are completely vegetarian. These vegetarian tortes sometimes contain artichokes and herbs for flavor. This torta is made in a springform pan instead of a traditional pie pan.

I have made potato tortes many times through the years, but this summer, not only did I have an abundance of potatoes but also an abundance of yellow squash from my CSA share. So I thought why not combine them. Turned out delicious. Serve with a mixed green salad and if you want a side of meat, grilled sausage would be good. This torte also makes an excellent antipasto course. Serve at room temperature cut into thin wedges.

Summer Squash and Potato Torta

8 servings

Ingredients

1 green onion, finely minced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 1/2 pounds yellow crookneck squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
3 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Butter an 8-inch springform pan. Wrap the outside of the pan in heavy-duty foil.
In a mixing bowl combine the green onion, Parmesan cheese, flour, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Layer 1/2 of the potatoes in concentric circles in the bottom of the prepared pan, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the cheese mixture.

Layer 1/2 of the squash slices in concentric circles on top of the potatoes/cheese mixture. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the cheese mixture. Repeat with a second layer of the potatoes, cheese mixture, squash slices and cheese mixture. Drizzle the olive oil over the top Cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake until the potatoes are almost tender, 90 minutes. Remove the foil; bake uncovered until the torte begins to brown and potatoes are tender, about 90 minutes longer.

Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Remove the sides of the pan and place a serving plate on top. Turn the torte over and remove the pan bottom. Cut the torte into wedges to serve.

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Scallop and Prosciutto Kebabs

4 servings

You can also make a combination of shrimp and scallops if you prefer.

Ingredients

16 large sea scallops (about 1½ pounds)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 thin slices prosciutto di Parma
16 large basil leaves

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium. Or use a stovetop grill pan.

If the scallops still have the tough muscle that attaches them to the shell, trim it off. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels.

Whisk together the lemon juice and a hefty pinch of salt in a medium bowl until the salt has dissolved; whisk in the olive oil. Add the scallops and toss until they are well coated.

Cut the prosciutto slices in half lengthwise. Arrange the strips on a work surface and place a basil leaf in the edge of each strip. Top the leaf with a scallop and wrap the prosciutto around the scallop to enclose it. Thread 4 prosciutto-wrapped scallops onto each of 4 metal skewers. (If using wooden skewers, soak them for 20 minutes in water before threading the scallops.)

Place the skewers on the grill and cook the scallops for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until almost firm to the touch, transfer to plates and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Grilled Summer Squash

This recipe can be broiled also.

8 servings

Ingredients
4 medium zucchini, about 6 inches long and 6-7 ounces each
4 medium yellow squash, about 6 inches long and 6-7 ounces each

Marinade
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped scallions, white portion only
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

Directions

Trim the ends of the zucchini and the squash, cut them into 2-inch rounds.
Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a ziplock bag and add the squash rounds. Roll the bag to evenly coat in the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.


Preheat a well-oiled charcoal or gas grill to medium. Or use a stovetop grill pan.
Remove the zucchini and squash from the bag and thread on skewers.
Place the skewers on the grate, close the lid, and grill until well marked, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn the skewers over, close the lid, and grill on the second side until well marked, 5 to 7 minutes.

Grilled Corn On the Cob

Ingredients

4 ears fresh corn, husked
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

To Grill
Preheat an outdoor grill to high.
Combine butter, lime zest, lime juice, ground chipotle and salt in a small bowl
Place each ear on a sheet of foil large enough to enclose the corn. Spread some of the butter spread over each ear. Enclose the foil and seal the ends. Place on the grill and cook, turning frequently, for 10 minutes. Remove from the grill and let stand in the foil for 5 minutes
Carefully unwrap the corn.

To Bake
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Prepare the corn as above and place the wrapped corn on a baking sheet.
Roast the corn, turning once, until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.


Modern-day Native American cuisine encompasses all the traditional foods of long ago, such as cornbread, turkey, cranberries, blueberries, hominy, and mush and many of these recipes have been adopted into the cuisine of the United States. The most important native American crops include corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, sunflowers, wild rice, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, peanuts, avocados, papayas, potatoes, and chocolate. North American native cuisine can differ somewhat from Southwestern and Mexican cuisine due to its inclusion of ramps, wild ginger, miner’s’ lettuce, and juniper berries that add subtle flavors to the cuisine.

Staple foods of the Eastern Woodlands Native Americans were corn (also known as maize), beans, and squash. This combination is referred to as the “Three Sisters” because they were planted interdependently: The beans grew up the tall stalks of the maize, while the squash spread out at the base of the three plants and provided protection and support for the root systems. A number of other domesticated crops were also popular during some time periods in the Eastern Woodlands, including a variety of amaranth, sumpweed (marsh elder), little barley, maygrass, and sunflowers. Maple syrup is another example of an essential food staple of the Woodland Indigenous peoples whereby tree sap was collected from sugar maple trees at the beginning of springtime.

Southeastern Native American cuisine forms the cornerstone of Southern cuisine from its origins right up to present times. From Southeastern Native Americans came one of the main staples of the Southern diet: corn (maize), either ground into meal or limed with an alkaline salt to make hominy. Corn was used for cornbread, grits, and liquors such as whiskey, which were important trade items. Though a lesser staple, the potato was also adopted from the Native Americans and used in many ways similar to corn. Native Americans introduced Southerners to many other vegetables still familiar on southern tables, such as squash, pumpkin, many types of beans, tomatoes, many types of peppers, sassafras and many other wild berries.

Indigenous peoples of the Great Plains relied heavily on American bison (American buffalo) as a food source. The meat was cut in thin slices and dried, either over a slow fire or in the hot sun until it was hard and brittle. Since it could last for months, it was the main ingredient to be combined with other foods, or eaten on its own. Other foods included pemmican, a concentrated mixture of fat, protein, and fruits such as cranberries, Saskatoon berries, blueberries, cherries, chokeberries, chokecherries, and currants. Staple foods also included turnips, wild berries, potatoes, squash, dried meats (venison, buffalo, jackrabbit, pheasant, and prairie chicken), and wild rice. Great Plains Indians also consumed deer and antelope.

In the Northwest Native Americans used salmon and other types of fish, mushrooms, berries, and meats such as deer, duck, and rabbit. The generally mild climate meant they did not need to develop an economy based upon agriculture but instead could rely year-round on the abundant food supplies of their region. Acorns were ground into a flour that was the principal foodstuff for about 75 percent of the population, and dried meats were prepared during the season when drying was possible.

Puebloans lived in southeastern Utah, northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado and practiced subsistence agriculture by cultivating maize, beans, squash, and sunflower seeds. They utilized locally available wild resources such as pine nuts from the pinyon pine and hunted game including deer, hare, rabbits, and squirrel. They were also known for their basketry and pottery to hold agricultural surplus that needed to be carried and stored, as well as clay pot cooking. Grinding stones were used to grind maize into meal for cooking.

Chef Sean Sherman, a winner of a 2019 James Beard Foundation Leadership Award, preparing apple blossoms.

Recently, The James Beard Foundation (JBF) announced that Sean Sherman, a member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota would receive a Leadership Award for his work in helping Native Americans reclaim historic food and agricultural systems. The award acknowledges Sherman’s efforts to recognize the Native American diet and revitalize traditional indigenous food systems in North America.

A Native American Dinner

Grilled Wild Salmon

The foil packets may also be baked in a 375-degree F oven for 15 minutes.

Ingredients

3 whole juniper berries
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
Top greens from 1 bunch scallions, cut into one-inch pieces
2 wild caught salmon fillets, skin on (about 12 oz total)
Salt
Black Pepper
1/4 cup Pure Maple Syrup

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill.
Cut two pieces of foil big enough to hold the fish with a couple of inches overlapping all around the fish. Divide the scallion tops in half and place them on each piece of foil. Place the salmon fillets on top, skin side down.
Sprinkle each with salt and pepper.
Finely crush the juniper berries and mustard seeds in a mortar.


Brush each fillet with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and sprinkle the top of each fillet with the crushed seeds.
Close the foil and seal the ends. Place foil packets on the grill and cover the grill. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes.
Use tongs or a metal spatula to remove foil packet from the grill and set it on a plate or cutting board. Allow it to cool enough to handle, then unwrap the foil.

Wild Rice Blend

The blend is a combination of Long Grain Brown Rice, Sweet Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Whole Grain Wehani® Rice, Whole Grain Black Japonica™ Rice.

Ingredients

1 cup (Lundberg) wild rice blend
1 3/4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Combine rice, water, salt, and butter in a pot and bring to a boil.
Cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce heat to low-simmer, and cook 45 minutes.
Remove the pot from heat (with the lid on!) and steam for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Puréed Squash

Ingredients

One 1 lb butternut or acorn squash
2 tablespoons soft butter
Salt and black pepper to taste
5 sage leaves minced
1 long chive leaf, minced

Directions

Halve the squash lengthwise and remove the seeds and strings. Rub the insides with the butter; season with salt and pepper. Place on a roasting pan, skin side down. Bake in a preheated 350-degree F oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until fork tender. Remove the squash from the oven, scoop out the flesh and place in a food processor or blender and process until smooth; or mash the squash in a large bowl using the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with minced sage and chives.


Chili Stuffed Peppers

Use any chili you have for this recipe but I really like my Texas-style chili for this recipe.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium red bell peppers, washed
2 cups leftover Texas Style Chili, divided
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Use the oil to coat a baking dish large enough to fit the peppers.
Cut the bell peppers in half and remove the seeds and membranes inside.
Fill the peppers with the chili, about ½ cup in each.
Place the chili stuffed peppers in the prepared baking dish, cover tightly with foil and place them in the oven.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the chili is bubbling and hot and the peppers have softened.
Top with shredded cheese, about ½ cup for each and bake, uncovered, an additional 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Golden Mashed Potatoes

4 servings

Ingredients

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
Salt
1/2 cup buttermilk or heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Mash the potatoes, adding the buttermilk until moist and the consistency that you like. Season with additional salt if needed. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Roasted Acorn Squash

Ingredients

One 2 lb. acorn squash
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs or 1 teaspoon dried (combination of thyme, sage, rosemary, or oregano)
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400° F.
Cut acorn squash into quarters and remove the seeds from the center of each quarter.
Slice the quarters into 1/4 inch thick pieces. In a small mixing bowl combine the melted butter, garlic and herbs.
Place the squash on a foiled lined baking pan coated with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brush the herb butter on both sides of the squash.
Roast the squash until tender, about 25 minutes.


Grilled Pork Chops

This recipe makes 6 servings but the recipe can easily be cut down to 2 or 3 servings.

Ingredients

1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
2 teaspoons minced garlic
6 boneless pork loin chops, about 2 lbs total and cut 1-inch thick

Directions

Mix water, soy sauce, vegetable oil, lemon pepper seasoning, and minced garlic in a wide glass dish; add pork chops and marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours.


Preheat an outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan for medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate.
Remove pork chops from the marinade and shake off excess. Discard the remaining marinade.
Cook the pork chops on the preheated grill until no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes per side. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).

Summer Pasta

Makes: 6 to 8 servings

ingredients

12 ounces dried tagliatelle or fettuccine pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, finely chopped
Pinch crushed red pepper, or more to taste
2 cups yellow summer squash, diced
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons finely grated zest
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.
In a large, deep skillet, combine the olive oil, garlic, red onion and crushed red pepper. Cook over medium heat about 3 minutes or until the onion begins to soften. Stir in the yellow squash, tomatoes and torn basil. Season with salt and pepper.
Reduce heat to low and simmer until the squash is tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add the cream and lemon zest; stir.

Stir in the drained pasta. Mix and add the Parmesan. Transfer to a large serving bowl.

Citrus Green Beans With Toasted Pecans

Ingredients

1 shallot, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch lengths
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted
Salt & pepper

Directions

Cook green beans in boiling salted water to cover in a large, deep skillet with a cover, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes; drain.
Heat the oil in the skillet and add the shallot. Cook until tender. Add the green beans and cook for 2 minutes. Add the three zests and three tablespoons of juice. Stir. Adjust seasoning.
Sprinkle with pecans and serve.


Chicken Saltimbocca 

For 2 servings

Ingredients

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets (4-5 ounces each)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 fresh sage leaves
2 thin slices prosciutto
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons white wine
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
Lemon wedges

Directions

Flatten the chicken cutlets to 1/4-in. thickness. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper; top each cutlet with 4 sage leaves and 1 slice prosciutto, pressing to adhere. Refrigerate uncovered until ready to cook.

When ready to cook, sprinkle each cutlet with 1 teaspoon flour.

In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat; cook chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned and chicken is no longer pink. Remove and keep warm.

In a small bowl, whisk the chicken broth, wine, and cornstarch; add to the skillet, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Bring to a boil; cook and until reduced by half. Spoon over chicken. Serve with lemon wedges.

Sautéed Spinach

Ingredients

1 lb spinach, stems removed and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove, sliced thin
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions
Heat the oil and garlic in a large skillet. Add the spinach and saute for 3-4 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Yellow Squash Rounds

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

2 small or 1 medium yellow summer squash
Roasted Garlic powder
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Place an oven rack in the center position of the oven.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Wash and dry the squash, and then cut each one into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange the squash rounds on the prepared pan. Lightly sprinkle the squash with garlic, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use a small spoon to spread a thin layer of Parmesan cheese on each slice of squash.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the Parmesan melts and turns a light golden brown.


Grilled Tuna Au Poivre

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 tuna steak, about 8 oz; 1/2″ thick
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns, crushed
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Sea Salt to taste
Basil Parmesan Cream Sauce, recipe below

Directions

Heat an indoor grill pan over high heat. Brush the pan with the melted butter. Thoroughly pat the tuna steaks dry with paper towels.
Season the tuna steak lightly with salt and press in the crushed peppercorns on both sides of the tuna.


Grill the tuna steak for 2 minutes per each side. Give the tuna steak a quarter turn and grill two minutes. Turn the tuna steak over. Grill two minutes more. (For a total of 6 minutes.).
Place the tuna steak on a serving dish, cut in half and pour a little basil cream sauce over the tuna. Serve the remaining sauce on the side.

Basil Parmesan Cream Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light (half & half) cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

In a food blender, combine basil, garlic, salt and olive oil. Process for about 40 seconds, or until mixture begins to emulsify. Pour the light cream into the blender and pulse for 20 seconds to incorporate. Pour into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, be careful to not let the mixture boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice and grated parmesan cheese. Set aside while you cook the tuna.

Sautéed Yellow Squash Noodles

Feel free to use cooked spaghetti in place of squash noodles.

2 servings

Ingredients

2 yellow squash
1 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Use the thin julienne setting on a mandoline. a spiralizer or a sharp knife to slice the yellow squash into thin strips similar to spaghetti. Next, the “noodles” need to dry out or the texture will be mushy when you saute them. Ideally, leave them on your counter on double thickness of paper towels for at least 3 hours.

If you want to prep the dish in the morning for dinner, wrap the noodles in paper towels and place them in a plastic ziplock bag. After the noodles set and lose some of their moisture, warm the olive oil and garlic in a skillet and saute the noodles just a few minutes to heat and coat with oil. Season with salt * pepper and sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve with the grilled tuna and cream sauce.

Tomato Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

1 1 /2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
14 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large ripe beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/2″ slices
1 tablespoon rinsed capers
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh herbs to taste

Directions

Combine shallots, vinegar, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil to blend.
Set vinaigrette aside.
Arrange tomatoes on a large platter. Sprinkle capers over; season with salt and pepper. Scatter herbs on top. Whisk vinaigrette again and drizzle over the tomatoes before serving.



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