August means summer and it is a good time to take advantage of all the great produce at the market. Tomatoes are tasting good now, lots of corn around, as well as eggplant, peaches and blueberries. Take advantage of the grill. Pair pasta with lots of vegetables. Make colorful salads. Seafood is in season, so pair it with tomatoes or seasonal vegetables. Lots of delicious meals ahead for the month.
There are several cuts of beef that work well in making steak burgers including: Brisket, Hanger, Short rib, Steak tail and/or Sirloin and when combined with chuck or each other, they can create some of the best-tasting Burgers around. Get creative with your toppings. While bacon and cheese are ever popular, I like to create healthier toppings from what is seasonally available. So my toppings incorporate tomatoes, peppers and onions.
You can actually roast the peppers on the grill. After the grill is heated, oil the grates and place the peppers directly on the hot grill. Rotate them as they blacken. As soon as all the sides are blackened, place the peppers in a paper bag to cool. when they are cool enough to touch, remove the stem and seeds and pull off the skin. The peppers are then ready to place on top of the burgers.
Serve these burgers with a Greek Salad.
- 1 1/3 lbs grass-fed organic ground beef steak for burgers
- Steak seasoning (I like Penzey’s Chicago seasoning)
- 4 sturdy burger rolls (recipe link for my homemade rolls)
- 1/2 cup tomato jam (recipe link)
- 2 whole roasted red peppers
- 1 medium onion sliced and sautéed in butter
Shape the meat into four equal patties. If you want to make just two servings, freeze two of the burgers for another time.
Sprinkle the steak seasoning on both sides of the patties and spray each with olive oil cooking spray.
Heat an outdoor grill on high. Oil the grill grates. Place burgers on the grill, cover, cook turning once, for 8 minutes total.
Toast the rolls at the same time. Place the burgers on the bottom half of the rolls.
Assemble the burgers by placing 2 tablespoons of tomato jam on each patty, then one-quarter of the onions and top each with half of a roasted red pepper. Place the roll tops on the burgers and serve.
Greek Vegetable Salad
For 2 servings
- Half of a red onion, thinly sliced
- 8 pitted Kalamata olives
- 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 4 Tuscan pickled peppers
- Half of a cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon agave syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large salad bowl, combine the onion, olives, bell peppers, Tuscan peppers, tomatoes, cucumber and feta cheese.
Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, agave and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, toss and serve.
Creamy Zucchini Pasta
Serve with Stuffed Tomatoes, recipe below.
- Salt to taste
- 8 ounces penne or other short pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 small sweet onion
- 1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
- 1 large zucchini, about one pound
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or a combination of herbs you like
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain.
Slice the zucchini into ½ inch circles and then cut each circle into little logs.
Cut the onion in the same manner, so that the pieces are about the same size as the zucchini.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the garlic, stir and, then, add the zucchini.
Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender. Do not let it brown.
Add the chile flakes and stir. Add the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook on low heat until thickened a bit.
Stir the basil into the sauce, add the cooked pasta and let the pasta cook in the sauce for a minute or two.
Turn off the heat. Toss with the Parmesan cheese and serve.
- 2 vine-ripened medium-sized tomatoes
- 1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the pulp and seeds.
Salt the insides of the tomato shells and set upside down on a paper towel to drain, about 15 minutes.
In a medium bowl, mix together the panko breadcrumbs, garlic, herbs, 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese and the oil.
Stuff the tomatoes with the filling, sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
Place the tomatoes in a small oiled baking dish and bake the tomatoes until cooked through and the tops are golden brown, about 20 minutes.
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 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.
Gulf of Maine Redfish Poached in Puttanesca Sauce
Acadian Redfish, also known as ocean perch, are caught in the Gulf of Maine (deep waters off the coasts of Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire). The fish I purchased is certified, wild caught and sustainable. Fish cooked this way is so tasty and tender.
- 1 ¼ pounds Maine redfish of other boneless white fish fillets, cut into 4 equal pieces
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 small onion or 1 large shallot, diced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 3 tablespoons dry red wine
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped, pitted Kalamata olives
- 1 tablespoons capers
- 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 2 cups seeded and finely diced fresh plum tomatoes, about 8-9
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper chile flakes
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 3 oz thin spaghetti or linguine
For the puttanesca sauce
Heat the oil in a medium saute pan with a cover over medium-high heat until hot.
Saute the onions and garlic until translucent, about 2 minutes, and then stir in the wine, olives, capers and anchovy paste, tossing to combine.
Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, stir in the tomato paste, followed by the oregano and red pepper flakes.
Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Cook the pasta al dente. Drain
For the fillets
Dry the fillets well with paper towels. Score the skin of each fillet three times with a sharp knife.
Sprinkle with salt.
Bring the sauce to a boil, again. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the fish fillets, skin side down.
Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 6 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Sprinkle with the parsley.
Divide the pasta between two plates and place the fish and sauce over the pasta to serve.
The Mediterranean countries include France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal along the north; Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Israel on the east; and the African countries of Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia on the south. The Mediterranean countries utilize many of the same ingredients but each country has a unique way of creating recipes with those same ingredients. So far in this series, I have written about Mediterranean cuisine in general and about the countries of Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. This series continues with the country of Greece.
Before it became known as a “Blue Zone”—a region of the world where people tend to live unusually long and healthy lives—the island of Ikaria, Greece, was unknown to most Americans. Ikaria is where the majority of the people live to be well into their 90’s.
In the past few years, Ikaria has received considerable attention from scientists and journalists who want to learn the secrets of its long-living residents. Food clearly plays a large role in the Ikarians’ longevity: The Mediterranean diet they follow has been linked to lower rates of cancer, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and—most recently—heart disease. Although, we, Americans, can’t adopt all aspects of the Greek-island lifestyle, we can incorporate some of the eating patterns and dietary traditions practiced there. And, the best part of “eating like a Greek” is that the food is delicious.
Ikarians regularly dine on potatoes, greens, olives and seasonal vegetables. Vegetables are a big part of every meal and they are prepared in a healthy way—served raw in a salad or roasted with olive oil, rather than fried.
The majority of people in Greece eat a salad as an appetizer before the main course. This way, their appetite is significantly reduced by healthy ingredients.
Shellfish and fish are abundant in their cuisine, all of which tastes great over pasta with lemon and olive oil or in a souvlaki-style flatbread wrap with vegetables. Ikarians also eat smarter snacks—like raw vegetables and protein-rich dips made from Greek yogurt, beans or lentils.
Ikarians typically have a late morning breakfast comprised of goat’s milk, yogurt and or cheese, fruit, herbal tea or coffee, whole grain bread and local honey. At lunch, salads made of beans, legumes and potatoes, along with cooked fresh garden vegetables are standard fare and prepared with generous amounts of olive oil. Locally-caught fish may also be served and Ikarian red wine typically accompanies the meal. Meat is eaten just a few times per month. Ikarians eat a late lunch and it is usually followed by an afternoon nap, a practice that many Ikarians still follow and which results in a restful and stress free rest of the day. Quiet leisurely late afternoons and a heart-healthy routine greatly reduces the risk for heart disease. A light dinner of bread, olives, vegetables and wine is followed by evening visits with neighbors before bedtime.
Ikaria is the Mediterranean Diet in all its aspects, including the ways in which locally produced fresh, seasonal, home-cooked food and community are all integrated in ways that support physical, emotional/ mental health, relationships and the environment.
“Eat Like a Greek”
Greek Lentil Soup
Recipe and photo by Chef Diane Kochilas
- 2 large red onions, coarsely chopped, about 2 cups (500 mL)
- Salt, to taste
- 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 pound (500 g) small brown lentils
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped or pureed tomatoes
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- 2 sprigs dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 fresh or dried whole chile pepper or crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) extra virgin Greek olive oil
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) red wine vinegar
- Raw red or white onion for serving
Coarsely chop one of the onions. Place in a large, heavy pot, sprinkle with a little salt and cook, covered, over very low heat until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add the minced garlic and stir.
Rinse the lentils in a colander. Add the lentils, tomatoes, sage, oregano, bay leaf and chile pepper to the pot, and toss all together for a few minutes over low heat.
Pour in enough water to cover the contents of the pot by 3 inches. Raise heat to medium, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for one hour, or until very tender.
Season to taste with salt. Pour in the olive oil and vinegar just before serving.
To serve: Remove the bay leaf, oregano and sage leaves and discard. Slice the remaining onion. Sprinkle a few onion slices over the top of each soup portion. Drizzle in additional olive oil and vinegar if desired.
Briam – Baked Vegetables in Olive Oil (Island of Ikaria-Greece)
FOODS OF CRETE COOKBOOK, recipe and photo by Chef Bill Bradley, R.D.
Briam is an oven baked dish of fresh vegetables, herbs, olive oil, and an optional feta cheese. It is one of the most classic dishes of Greece.
- 2 small or 1 large eggplant, cut into large, thick strips
- 4 small or 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
- 3-4 small zucchini, ends cut off and cut into large pieces
- 2 onions, cut in half
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into large pieces
- 1 orange bell pepper, cut into large pieces
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 bunch dill, stems removed and chopped
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup feta, crumbled
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large Dutch oven or baking dish, mix together all the ingredients except the feta cheese. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil.
Bake for 1 hour and stir. Re-cover and bake for another hour. Remove the baking dish from the oven, stir in the feta cheese and serve immediately.
Rosemary and Olive Focaccia
FOODS OF CRETE COOKBOOK, recipe and photo by Koula Barydakis
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups warm water
- 2/3 cups Kalamata olives, pitted
- 2 tablespoons dried or fresh rosemary, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix flour, yeast, oregano, sugar, salt, olive oil and water in a bowl. Knead until the dough is soft (at least 5 minutes).
Cover with a warm, moist towel and put in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (about an hour).
Spread dough on a baking (cookie) tray, pressing lightly so that it is flat and even.
Oil the dough. Make little cavities throughout the top of the dough by pressing down with your fingers.
Place olives and rosemary in the cavities.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour. Serve hot.
Chicken Salad Greek Style
Recipe and photo from GAEA.
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup bite-sized broccoli ﬂorets
- 2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
- 1 orange, segmented
- 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 avocado, sliced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
Using a rolling pin, glass jar or mallet, pound and ﬂatten the chicken breasts to an even thickness. Season all sides with salt and pepper.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once heated, sauté the chicken breasts until golden brown, about 1 minute each side.
Reduce heat to low and cover for 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and let the chicken rest, covered, for an additional 10 minutes.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the broccoli ﬂorets and cook until slightly softened, about 1 minute.
Place the fennel, oranges, cherry tomatoes and avocado to a large salad bowl.
Mix all of the dressing ingredients together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the chicken slices to the salad bowl. Drizzle dressing on top and gently toss all of the ingredients together. Serve.
Baked Seafood Orzo with Kalamata Olives
Recipe and photo by Chef Diane Kochilas
Orzo is one of the most popular Greek pasta shapes. In Greek, it’s called kritharaki.
- 1 pound orzo
- 1/2 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
- 1 large red onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 cups chopped tomatoes (good quality canned are also fine)
- Pinch of hot sauce or hot pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup white wine, plus one cup if using whole, unshelled mussels
- 2/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 2 pounds mussels in their shell, or 2 ½ cups shelled, frozen mussels, defrosted
- 2 cups cleaned, shelled small fresh or frozen and defrosted shrimp
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh oregano
- 1/2 chop chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 350F / 175C.
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously. Add the orzo and simmer until al dente. It should be a little underdone.
Drain, transfer back to the hot pot and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
While the orzo is boiling start the sauce:
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large, wide pot or deep skillet and cook the onion over medium heat until wilted and translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add 3 of the 4 chopped garlic cloves and stir.
Pour in the tomatoes. Bring to a boil and add the wine. Simmer until the alcohol has cooked off.
Add 1 cup of hot water, the star anise and hot sauce or hot pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper.
Cook the sauce over medium heat for 15 minutes, until slightly thickened. Add the olives to the sauce five minutes before removing the pan from the heat.
While the sauce is simmering, prepare the seafood:
If using mussels in the shell, make sure they are cleaned and well-washed.
Steam them in two inches of wine in a wide pot with the lid closed, over high heat, until they open.
You can add herbs or garlic if you want to the steaming liquid, before adding the mussels.
Remove and strain in a fine-mesh sieve, reserving the liquid.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the same pot and add the shrimp and remaining garlic.
If you are using shelled mussels that have been defrosted, drain them and add them to the shrimp.
Stir over medium heat until the shrimp start to turn pink. Remove.
Toss the mussels and shrimp, the reserved steaming liquid, and the pan juices from lightly sautéeing the shrimp into the tomato sauce.
Stir in the oregano and parsley. Remove the star anise.
Oil a large baking dish, preferably ovenproof glass or ceramic. Place the orzo in the baking dish and mix in the sauce thoroughly.
Pour in any remaining olive oil.
Bake, covered, for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the orzo is fully cooked. Remove, cool slightly and serve.
Tahini-Walnut Phyllo Flutes
Recipe and photo by Chef Diane Kochilas
- 2 cups tahini
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 to 1 ½ cups water
- 3 cups finely ground walnuts
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 pound phyllo dough, thawed and at room temperature
- 1/2 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
- Greek honey for serving
Whip together the tahini and sugar at high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer until creamy, about 5 minutes.
As you whip the mixture, drizzle in the water. It should end up being the consistency of peanut butter.
Using a wooden spoon or whisk, stir in the cinnamon and walnuts.
Preheat the oven to 350F/170C. Lightly oil two sheet pans.
Open the phyllo and place horizontally in front of you.
Cut three stacks of three-inch strips and keep them covered with a kitchen towel and a damp towel on top.
Take the first strip, oil lightly. Place a second strip on top and oil that, too.
Place a tablespoon of the filling on the bottom center of the strip, fold in the sides, and then roll up to form a tight cylinder.
Place seam-side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining ingredients until everything is used up.
Bake the flutes for 8 – 12 minutes, until golden. Remove and cool slightly.
To serve: Drizzle with honey.
You can store the cooled pastries in tins in a cool dry place for up to 5 days.
Eggplant are at their very best now. Take advantage of their availability and you will make some very rewarding and tasty recipes. Buying eggplant in season, picked young, means they will not be bitter, nor will they need to be salted before cooking them. Chubby purple eggplant are not the only kind of eggplant available. My CSA grew three different types this summer: regular purple globe eggplant, Rosa Bianca, an heirloom eggplant from Sicily and white eggplant. All delicious. Here are some recipes I made with my share.
Baba Ghanoush with Pita
2-3 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds total)
2 large cloves of garlic
1/2 cup lemon juice, more if desired
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving
1 teaspoon agave syrup
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat and place the eggplants directly on the grill.
Cook, turning occasionally with tongs, until tender and charred on all sides, about 15-20 minutes.
The eggplants should be very tender.
Test the eggplants by sticking a skewer near the stem and bottom ends. If the skewer meets resistance, continue cooking.
When they are done, wrap the eggplants in foil and crimp the top to seal. Let the eggplants rest for 15 minutes.
Open the foil package, using a sharp knife slit open the eggplants and with a large spoon scoop out the soft flesh.
Transfer to a strainer set in a large bowl. Pick out any bits of skin and blackened flesh.
To roast in the oven:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Pierce the eggplants with a fork in several place. Place on an oiled baking pan and roast until soft all over, about 20 minutes.
Follow directions as above.
Put the eggplant in a food processor, add the garlic, lemon juice and pulse until it is smooth and creamy.
Add the tahini and pulse again until it’s combined. With the processor turned-on, slowly add the olive oil in a thin steady stream.
The mixture will be pale and creamy.
By hand, stir in the parsley, agave, smoked paprika and salt. Taste to see if you’d like additional salt or lemon juice.
Put the baba ghanoush into a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and serve with warm flatbread or vegetables.
Baba ghanoush can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Let the eggplant dip warm to room temperature before serving.
Eggplant Sauce Over Pasta
2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into 3⁄4″ cubes
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled Italian tomatoes, undrained and crushed by hand
1 lb. bucatini or spaghetti pasta
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
Fresh Burrata or ricotta cheese
Heat the oven to 500º F.
Place the eggplant into a bowl and drizzle with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the eggplant to 2 baking sheets and bake, turning occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes.
Transfer to a rack; set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the chile flakes and garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic softens, about 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, season with salt and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until just al dente, about 9 minutes.
Drain the pasta and transfer to the pan with the tomato sauce. Stir in the roasted eggplant and basil. Toss to combine.
To serve, transfer pasta to a serving platter and garnish with the burrata cheese.
Summer Eggplant Tart
1 frozen puff pastry sheet, defrosted in the refrigerator overnight
Olive oil spray
1 small eggplant, sliced 1/8 inch thin
3 ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thin
1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
6 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
¼ cup fresh thyme, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the thawed puff pastry in a 7 x 11 inch baking dish patting the dough up the sides of the dish.
Refrigerate until ready to assemble the dish.
Bread the eggplant slices and oven bake until brown and crisp – as if making them for eggplant parmigiana. Directions are below in the eggplant parmigiana recipe.
Sprinkle the tomatoes on both sides with kosher salt. Arrange in a single layer between on paper towels to drain.
Remove the baking dish with the pastry from the refrigerator. Sprinkle the bottom of the pastry with the minced onion and garlic.
Arrange the eggplant and tomato slices in even rows on the pastry. Season with pepper and sprinkle the thyme over the vegetables.
Distribute the shredded cheese over the top. Bake until the vegetables are tender and the cheese is browned, 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove the dish from oven and allow to cool. Serve warm.
This is a staple in my house. So happy that my CSA grows wonderful eggplant.
For each one pound of eggplant, you will need:
1 pound eggplant, peeled
2 eggs, beaten with a few tablespoons of water
1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat two large baking sheets with olive oil.
Cut peeled eggplants crosswise or lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (no thicker). You want them to be thin.
Lightly salt the eggplant slices.
Place the eggs and water in one shallow dish and the bread crumbs in another.
Dip the eggplant slices into the egg mixture, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture.
Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 15 minutes, turn the eggplant slices over, and bake until crisp and golden, about 10-15 minutes longer.
To assemble the casserole, you will need:
Spray an 8 inch or 9 inch or 8-by-11 1/2-inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.
Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
2 ½ cups Marinara (pasta) sauce
1- 8 ounce package shredded or sliced mozzarella cheese
Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly.
Spoon 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with half of the cheese.
Add the remaining eggplant slices and top with the remaining sauce and cheese.
Cover the dish with foil and bake until the sauce bubbles, about 25 to 30 minutes.
This is the perfect time of year to go creative with your salad making recipes. So many fresh ingredients are available in summer that you will not get bored with the variety of salads to you can make. Below are a few I have made and you might like to give them a try.
Shrimp Cobb Salad
Mini corn muffins (see recipe) go well with this salad.
For 2 servings
For the shrimp
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled, tails removed and deveined
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the ranch dressing
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
For the salad
1 slice cooked bacon, crumbled
1 cup shredded carrots
8 grape tomatoes, halved
Half a cucumber, peeled and diced
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
4 cups chopped Romaine lettuce, sliced
½ cup crumbled blue cheese (or any other cheese)
To prepare the shrimp:
Early in the day.
Peel and devein the shrimp. Place them in a skillet with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss together.
Spread the shrimp in one layer and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, just until pink. Refrigerate until time to make the salad.
To prepare the dressing:
In a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk and mayonnaise until fully mixed. Add in the other ingredients, adjusting for taste.
Refrigerate until serving time.
To assemble the salad:
Arrange the lettuce in the bottom of two salad plates. In rows across the lettuce arrange the shrimp, carrots, tomatoes, egg and cucumber.
Crumble the blue cheese and bacon over the salad ingredients. Serve with the dressing.
Mini Corn Muffins
Makes 24 mini muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal (coarse or regular)
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 scallion, minced
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 24 mini muffin tin with cooking spray or use paper liners.
Sift together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Combine the buttermilk, egg and oil in a big measuring cup. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.
Fill the muffin cups three-quarters full.
Bake until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
Mexican Corn Salad
Serve with fresh tomato salsa and homemade tortilla chips, recipes below.
8 ears corn, kernels stripped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
Half of a large green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 grape tomatoes, halved, optional garnish
In a serving bowl, place chopped celery, onion and peppers. Add the corn, salt, cumin and chili powder. Mix well. Stir in the mayonnaise.
Arrange the cut tomatoes around the top of the salad to garnish, if desired. Chill the salad until serving time.
Fresh Homemade Salsa
About 3 cups
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced sweet onion
2 medium chile peppers, such as poblano, New Mexico or Anaheim, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder or chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
2 tablespoons lime juice
Be very careful while handling chile peppers. You can, avoid touching the cut peppers with your hands if you use disposable gloves or hold the peppers with a plastic sandwich bag.) Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling and avoid touching your eyes for several hours.
You can make the salsa in one of two ways: finely chop the ingredients by hand or use a processor. I prefer to finely chop all the ingredients because I like a chunky, more rustic salsa that is easy to scoop on tortilla chips.
For the processor method:
Roughly chop the tomatoes, chilies and onions.
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse only a few times-just enough to finely dice the ingredients but not enough to purée them.
Place the mixture in a serving bowl. Taste the salsa. If the chilies made the salsa too hot, add some more chopped tomato. Adjust for salt.
Let sit for an hour at room temperature for the flavors to combine. Serve with homemade tortilla chips.
Homemade Tortilla Chips
One package (8-10) large (12 inch) flour tortilla
Taco seasoning mix, recipe below
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil two rimmed baking sheets.
Brush the tortillas with olive oil and sprinkle each evenly with taco seasoning.
Cut the tortillas into 6-8 triangles and arrange them on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake until golden brown and crisp, rotating the baking sheets once, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Taco Seasoning Mix
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
In a small bowl, mix all together. Store in an airtight container.
Serve with pita chips and hummus.
1 cup bulgur wheat
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup (about 1 pound) chopped very ripe tomatoes
1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped fresh mint, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kalamata olives and Feta cheese for garnish
Romaine lettuce leaves for serving
Warm Pita bread or Pita chips, for serving
Rinse the bulgur in a fine-mesh sieve under cool running water until the water runs clear, then transfer the bulgur to a bowl.
In a heatproof bowl, mix the bulgur with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 cup boiling water.
Cover, and let stand until tender but slightly chewy, about 30 minutes.
Drain the bulgur to remove any liquid not absorbed.
In a large bowl, combine the scallions, parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, mint, remaining salt, pepper and cumin.
Add the soaked bulgur to the bowl and gently toss.
Add the olive oil and the lemon juice and lightly toss, adding more seasoning if necessary.
Set the tabbouleh aside for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to blend. Cover and chill overnight.
When ready to serve, garnish the salad with kalamata olives and feta cheese. Serve with romaine lettuce leaves and pita bread.
Baked Pita Chips
If you do not have access to Za’atar seasoning, you can make your own. See recipe below.
2 packages of whole wheat pita breads
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush each pita on both sides with olive oil.
Cut each in quarters and place on baking sheets. Sprinkle with Za’atar seasoning,
Bake until crispy and brown about 15 minutes.
Homemade Za’atar Seasoning
Makes 1/4 cup
Combine 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon sumac, 1 tablespoon ground cumin and 1 tablespoon sesame seeds.
Stir in 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly and store in an airtight jar.
Sometimes the craving for a sandwich comes on and you want one that will be rewarding. I never eat sandwiches for lunch, since my lunches tend to be light: yogurt or cottage cheese and fruit or a bowl of soup. So having a sandwich for dinner is a real treat for me. Leftovers can also be the start of some great sandwich recipes, as indicated in the recipes below. What is your favorite dinner sandwich?
Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches
A mixed green salad is perfect to complete this meal.
1/2 pound grilled Italian sausage, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large green bell pepper, roasted, skins removed and sliced into long strips
1 large red bell pepper, roasted, skins removed and sliced into long strips
1/4 cup marinara sauce
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Salt to taste
Ciabatta or Hoagie rolls
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Wrap the rolls in foil and heat for about 10 minutes.
Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large, deep skillet with a lid.
Add the sausage and peppers and sprinkle with a little salt and the Italian seasoning. Stir in the marinara sauce and cover the pan.
Heat the mixture until hot.
Fill the rolls with the sausage mixture and serve.
Italian Grilled Chicken Sandwiches
Serve this sandwich with sweet potato fries and pickles.
4 slices country-style bread
Olive oil for brushing
1 grilled chicken breast, sliced thin
2 roasted red bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
Dried Italian seasoning
4 slices mozzarella cheese
8 large fresh basil leaves
Place the sliced chicken in a zip-lock bag and pour the salad dressing in. Close the bag and shake it so the dressing is evenly distributed.
Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Preheat an electric Panini press on high or the “panini” setting according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you do not have a Panini Press: You can cook the sandwiches in a skillet on top of the stove. You will need a second skillet to weigh the sandwiches down. Heat one skillet over medium heat.
Brush the bread slices on one side with olive oil. Place 2 slices of mozzarella on each side of the bread slices not brushed with oil.
Arrange the chicken and then the roasted bell peppers on top of the cheese.
Place 4 basil leaves on each sandwich and then 2 more slices of mozzarella.
Top each sandwich with one of the remaining bread slices, oiled side up.
Place the sandwiches on the preheated Panini press, close the lid and cook until the cheese is melted, 5 to 6 minutes.
Or place the sandwiches in the heated skillet and place the unheated skillet on top, pressing it down.
Cook the sandwiched until brown on the bottom.
Turn them over, replace the skillet press and cook until the second side is brown, about 6 minutes.
Transfer to a cutting board and cut in half.
Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches
2 ciabatta rolls
Two 4×4 inch pieces of Eggplant Parmesan:
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Split the rolls in half. Place a square of Eggplant Parmesan on the bottom half of each roll. Place the top of the roll on top of the eggplant.
Wrap the sandwiches in the aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet.
Bake the sandwiches for about 15- 20 minutes, until hot.
Serve with pickled Tuscan peppers.
Vegan Summer Garden Sandwich
Vegan Creamy Italian Salad Dressing, recipe below
2 slices of your favorite bread or 1 Italian roll
4 small slices of oven baked or grilled eggplant
4 thin slices of fresh, uncooked zucchini
1 slice red onion
2 large slices vine ripe tomatoes
Garden leaf lettuce
Brush one side of each piece of bread with the creamy dressing and layer the ingredients on the side of one piece of bread brushed with dressing.
First, place the eggplant on the bread and then add the zucchini slices, tomato slices and onion.
Top with lettuce leaves and the remaining bread slice, dressing side down. Cut in half and enjoy this sandwich with your favorite coleslaw.
Vegan Creamy Italian Salad Dressing
Adapted from Vintage Kitty
Makes 16 tablespoons
1/2 cup warm water
4 tablespoons almonds
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch chili flakes
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 small shallot, chopped
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon organic sugar or agave syrup
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the warm water, almonds, Italian seasoning, dried basil and chili flakes in a mixing bowl and let soak for 15 minutes.
Place the mixture in a blender and add the garlic, shallot, olive oil, vinegar and sugar.
Blend until the mixture is smooth.
Add fresh parsley and pulse. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Store in the refrigerator up to one week
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.
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
3 medium fresh, ripe tomatoes, sliced thin
½ cup homemade or store-bought pesto
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
7 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
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 the, 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.