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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: zucchini

We have salmon for dinner on a regular basis because we like and appreciate that it is a healthy food option. I am not a fan of cooking something the same way all the time, so I am always trying new ways to prepare this fish. I experimented with some different spices and seasoning, added nuts and came up with the recipe below. We really liked this version. We are also trying to incorporate more seasonal vegetables in our meals and trying to prepare them in healthier ways. Oven baked zucchini fries were delicious and turned out crispy with the Parmesan coating. Spaghetti Squash is in season and makes a delicious side dish with Italian flavors.

Pecan-Crusted Salmon

For 2

Ingredients

2 salmon fillets, about 6 oz. each
Seafood seasoning ( such as Old Bay)
4 tablespoons finely chopped raw pecans
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon mayonnaise

Directions

Thaw salmon overnight in the refrigerator, if it is frozen.

At least 30 minutes before you plan to cook, take the salmon out of the refrigerator.

Coat a small baking dish with olive oil cooking spray, place the fish in this dish and let the fish come to room temperature.

Sprinkle the fish lightly with the seafood seasoning.

Preheat the oven or toaster oven to reach a 425F/220C temperature a half hour before you plan to cook.

Mix together the Dijon mustard and mayonnaise in a small bowl and use a rubber scraper to spread it over the surface of the salmon.

Press the pecans onto the top of the fish with a little pressure so they stick to the topping.

Roast the salmon for about 15 minutes. (Don’t overcook; the fish will continue to cook for a few minutes when you take it out of the oven.)

Zucchini Parmesan Oven Fries

Ingredients

2 medium zucchini
Kosher salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Olive oil

Directions

Cut each zucchini in half and each half into quarters.

Place the zucchini in a plastic zip-lock bag and add a little salt. Seal and shake the bag to coat the zucchini pieces.

Place them on paper towels to drain for several hours. Reserve the plastic bag.

Oil a large baking sheet with sides. Use the same oven temperature as the salmon.

Place the egg in a shallow dish and the Parmesan cheese in the bag that held the zucchini quarters.

Dip the zucchini in the egg and place in the bag with the cheese. Shake the bag and place the zucchini on the prepared baking sheet.

Repeat with all the zucchini.

Place the pan in the oven 10 minutes before the salmon will need to go in the oven.

Bake 10 minutes and turn the squash over when you place the salmon in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes more or until they are crispy.

Spaghetti Squash Aglio e Olio

Spaghetti squash makes an excellent substitute for thin noodles. It is best to cook the squash earlier in the day or the day before.

Ingredients

1 spaghetti squash, about 3 lbs.

Preheat the oven to 375°F and halve the squash lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds from the middle of each half.

Arrange the squash in a baking dish, cut sides down. Pour 1 cup of water into the dish and bake until just tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

Run a fork through the flesh to separate the spaghetti like strands. Turn them into a storage container.

When ready to cook:

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet and add 2 crushed garlic cloves.

When the garlic turns golden, remove it from the pan and discard.

Add the spaghetti squash and toss in the oil. Add crushed red chili flakes, black pepper and salt to taste. Serve immediately.

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Making a BBQ dinner for friends is a great way to entertain, especially if the weather cooperates. I enjoy having guests for dinner and I usually plan my menu with dishes that can be prepared ahead of time. That way I am able to spend time with friends rather than doing a lot of food preparations while they are visiting.

You may have noticed that more and more of your friends are following different diets. Some are only eating low carb foods, others are on a Paleo diet, some are diabetic, others vegetarian and some vegan. It is a good idea to check with your friends to see what they can eat. I am always open to planning variations of what I am making to accommodate their diets. In this case a few friends are following a vegan diet, so instead of 8 beef burgers, four are beef and four are made from oats and beans. These vegan burgers are great on the grill, hold up perfectly and do not fall apart. Just be sure your grill is well oiled.  The rest of the menu works for everyone.

Beef Burgers

For 4 servings

Ingredients

20 oz (1 ¼ lbs grass-fed organic ground steak for burgers
Steak seasoning (I like Penzey’s Chicago seasoning)
1 large sweet onion, cut into 4 ½ inch thick slices
Olive oil cooking spray
4 wheat burger buns

Directions

Shape the meat into four equal patties, about 5 oz each.

Sprinkle the steak seasoning on both sides of the patties and spray each with olive oil cooking spray.

Coat the onion slices on both sides with cooking spray

Heat an outdoor grill on high. Oil the grill grates. Place the burgers on the grill, cover, cook turning once, for a total of 8 minutes.

Place the onion slices on the grill and cook until grill marks form on the bottom, turn them over with a wide spatula and cook the second side for a total of about 4 minutes.

Toast the rolls at the same time. Place the burgers on the bottom half of the rolls and top with a grilled onion slice.

Serve with ketchup and your favorite burger condiments.

Vegan Bean and Oat Burgers

For 4 servings

Ingredients

1/2 sweet onion, minced
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup dry pinto beans
1/4 cup dry red or black beans
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 medium carrot, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for grilling

For Serving
Grilled Onion slices
4 wheat burger buns
Ketchup or other condiments

Directions

Soak the beans overnight in water to cover and cook the next day for 30 minutes. Drain and cool.

Place the oats in the bowl of the processor and process until finely ground.

Add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.

Remove the mixture from the processor and shape into four patties. Cover with plastic wrap.

Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight before grilling.

Brush the patties with olive oil and place on an oiled grill.

Cook for 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Place on toasted buns and add a grilled onion slice. Serve with ketchup or other condiments.

Whole-Wheat Burger Buns

6 buns

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, stir together the flours, yeast, salt, wheat gluten and baking soda.

Add the warm water, honey and oil. Mix on medium speed until the dough comes together around the paddle.

Switch to the dough hook and knead on low until the dough is smooth but slightly sticky.

Place in an oiled bowl, turning over once to coat all over with oil, cover with a kitchen towel, and set aside for 2 hours until the dough has risen.

Punch down the dough and divide into 6 smooth balls

Place the buns on a lightly greased and floured baking sheet, a few inches apart or in a greased burger baking pan.

Flatten the tops slightly with your fingers, and let the buns rise for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the buns in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes.

Remove to a rack and allow the buns to cool.

Zucchini Fennel Salad

Ingredients

Salad
1 large zucchini, sliced very thin
Half red onion, sliced very thin
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
12 Italian green olives, pitted and chopped

Dressing
3 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon orange zest

Directions

In a large serving bowl, combine the zucchini, onion, olives and fennel.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the dressing ingredients; shake well.

Pour over the zucchini mixture and toss to coat. Refrigerate for several hours until chilled before serving.

Peach Crisp

Ingredients

Filling
4 cups peaches, peeled and sliced (about 8 medium peaches)
2-3 tablespoons agave nectar, depending on the sweetness of the peaches

Topping
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup oats
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 – 1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a large bowl, combine the fruit and the agave nectar. Spread the mixture evenly in an 8×8-inch baking pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, oats, pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Stir the oil into the topping mix with a fork until you get a crumbly mixture forms.

Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the fruit in the baking pan.

Bake for 50 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the top is golden.

 


Steak dinners are special and you don’t need to go to a steakhouse to get a great steak dinner. Easy to do at home. Choosing a cut of steak may seem an intimidating task as there are so many to choose from. When choosing your cut, it should be moist rather than dry or slimy. Look for firm, fine-grained meat with a light marbling of fat – without this the steak will be dry once cooked. Any fat on the edges of the steak should be creamy-colored and the meat should be deep burgundy in color, not bright red. Rib-eyes, strip steaks, top sirloin steaks and T-bone steaks are familiar and delicious; you can’t go wrong with any of them. My choice and just the right size for a special dinner are New York strip steaks also called Delmonico steaks. The biggest mistake cooks make when grilling steak is that they overcook it. I prefer organic, grass-fed meat and that type of steak is very easy to overcook. Grass-fed beef cooks much more quickly than regular beef. To make these steaks delicious – use a marinade and follow the directions for the cooking time below. If you cook regular beef, the steaks will need a few more minutes on the grill than grass-fed beef. All you need then are some great side dishes. Dinner party a success!

Marinated Grass-Fed Steak

Serves 6

Directions

Six 1-inch-thick top loin (New York strip/Delmonico) bone-in, organic, grass-fed (8 to 10 oz. each) steaks, trimmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
8 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, minced

Directions

For the marinade:

In a medium bowl, mix the oil with the soy sauce, the Worcestershire, mustard, vinegar, half of the thyme and garlic.

Put the steaks in a large dish and coat them with the marinade mixture.

Cover the bowl and marinate the steaks in the refrigerator, turning occasionally, for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.

Sprinkle the steaks with 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 4 teaspoons pepper.

Clean and oil the grill grates. Heat one burner to medium high and the second burner to medium low.

While the grill heats, let the steaks rest at room temperature.

Place the steaks over the hotter part of the fire.

Cook, covered, 2 minutes per side. If the steaks are thinner then only grill for 1 minutes per side.

Using an instant meat thermometer, check the temperature of the meat.

If it is 120-125 degrees F, remove the steaks to a serving plate.

If the temperature is lower than 120 degrees F, move the steaks to the low heat burner.

Continue to grill until the temperature reaches 120 degrees F.

Transfer the steaks to a large serving platter, sprinkle with the remaining thyme and let rest five minutes before serving.

Sautéed Potatoes

Ingredients

4 pounds red-skinned potatoes
Salt to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
Freshly ground pepper to taste
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley and chives

Directions

Place the potatoes, unpeeled, in a large saucepan with salted water to cover.

Cook the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and let cool.

When cool enough to handle, peel them. Cut the potatoes into 1 inch cubes.

(The recipe can be prepared ahead to this point. Drizzle the potatoes with a little olive oil, cover and refrigerate until ready to saute.)

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet large enough to hold potatoes in one layer. When oil is quite hot, add potatoes.

Cook over high heat, shaking skillet and stirring gently, until lightly browned. Turn potatoes with a spatula.

Cook for a few minutes more until light brown.

Add butter, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss and blend well. Sprinkle with parsley and chives. Serve immediately.

Stuffed Grilled Zucchini

Start the zucchini on the low heat side of the grill about 5 minutes before you put the steaks on the grill.

Ingredients

3 medium zucchini
Olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped sweet onion
2 tablespoons chopped celery
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 chopped plum tomato
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped deli sliced pepper rings
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving 1/4-in.ch thick shells. Brush with oil; set aside.

Chop the zucchini pulp.

In a large skillet, saute the zucchini pulp, celery and onion in oil. Add garlic and tomato; cook 1 minute longer.

Add the dried bread crumbs; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the chopped pepper rings, parsley and salt. Spoon the mixture into the zucchini shells.

Grill, covered, over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until zucchini is tender and the top of the stuffing begins to brown.

remove the cooked zucchini to a serving dish. cover with foil until the steaks are ready to be served.


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.

Steak Burgers

4 servings

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Dressing

  • 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

Directions

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.

Serves 2-3

  • 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

Directions

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.

Stuffed Tomatoes

For 2

Ingredients

  • 2 vine-ripened medium-sized tomatoes
  • Salt
  • 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

Directions

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.

Corn Chowder

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

Directions

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

Directions

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.

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.


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.

2 servings

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

2 servings

Ingredients

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

Directions

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 servings

Ingredients

2 ciabatta rolls
Two 4×4 inch pieces of Eggplant Parmesan:

Recipe link: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2016/05/18/what-to-cook-this-week/

Directions

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

1 serving

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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


 

Lots of squash around these days. You may have an abundance in your garden and it is certainly available at the farmers’ markets. While they have many similarities, the different varieties do differ a bit in their texture, flavor and ideal use. 

As a result, I like to try different ways of fixing these vegetables for my family. Stuffing them is certainly a delicious option.

The stuffing can contain any type of ground meat you like: pork, beef, turkey or a vegetarian meat substitute. Use lots of veggies and seasoning in the stuffing for flavor and not too much bread.

The filling in this recipe makes enough to fill all five of the squashes. I usually make the entire recipe and freeze some of the cooked squash for another meal. You can make this recipe with all zucchini, or all yellow squash or two large squashes.

I use the pork sausage seasoning from Penzey’s but if you do not have pork sausage seasoning available, you can use Italian seasoning and add a little crushed fennel seed to it.

Ingredients

2 medium zucchini
1 large Lebanese Squash
2 small yellow crookneck squash

Filling

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons pork sausage seasoning or Italian sausage seasoning
1 small onion, finely chopped
Half a bell pepper, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 plum tomatoes, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 lb lean ground pork
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Italian seasoned dried breadcrumbs
Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Note: If you want to make the filling vegetarian, then substitute 2 cups of cooked rice of other grains for the pork.

To prepare the squash:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the Lebanese Squash or a large zucchini squash in half.

For medium zucchini, cut a thin, lengthwise slice from the top of each zucchini.

For the yellow squash, cut the neck and stem ends off.

Using a melon ball scoop or a small serrated spoon, scoop out the insides of the squash. Leave the shells about 1/4 inch thick.

For the yellow squash, carefully remove the flesh from the ends of the squash with a small scoop (See photo for my little scoop that can be purchased at a kitchen gadget store.)

Place the hollowed out squash in a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Sprinkle the insides lightly with salt and pepper.

Finely chop the squash flesh and set aside.

To prepare the filling:

In a large saute pan heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.

Add the garlic, onion, bell pepper, celery, chopped squash flesh, tomatoes and pork seasoning.

Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the pork and cook until brown and the liquid in the pan evaporates, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the breadcrumbs and set the pan aside to let the mixture cool.

Mound the stuffing mixture into the squash shells and fill the small yellow squash from the ends.

The large halves use 1 cup of stuffing in each. The medium zucchini use ¾ cup stuffing in each and the small yellow squash each use ½ cup of stuffing.

Grate Parmesan cheese over the tops of the filled squash.

For the small yellow squash, add a tablespoon of grated cheese to the filling before stuffing them.

Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until the squash are tender and the stuffing is golden brown.


July is a  month when everything seems to be in season. Even our young fig tree that we planted in April is producing some figs. Here is a photo of our very first fig. You will have to wait a bit until I can show you what I can make with them,

My CSA share and the farmers’ markets are filled with wonderful produce to choose from and turn into some delicious meals.  I like to try new ideas for recipes with some of the vegetables that are not plentiful during the cooler months. So this month is a good time to cook with poblano peppers, fresh tomatoes, yellow squash, eggplant and okra. Looking for something different, give one of these recipes a try.

Eggplant Caponata

Ingredients

1 1/2 pound eggplant (1 large)
1 garlic clove, minced
Olive oil, plus extra for the baking pan
Half a medium onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
11/2 cups chopped Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
8 chopped oil cured olives
1/4 cup minced jarred roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Basil leaves for garnish
Crostini

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and score twice with a knife (not hitting the skin on the bottom.)

Roast face down on a foil lined baking sheet that has been brushed with olive oil, about 20 minutes or until tender.

Let drain on a paper towel for 10 minutes, cut side down.

Scoop the eggplant out of the skin and finely chop.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a medium, heavy saucepan.

Add the onion, celery, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the Italian tomatoes, vinegar and agave and cook for 5 minutes more.

Add the eggplant, capers, red peppers, olives and parsley and cook until thickened and all visible liquid has evaporated.

Cool to room temperature. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with basil leaves. Serve with toasted Italian bread slices.

Summer Squash and Potato Pie

Ingredients

Vegetable cooking spray
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 small sweet onions
4 medium red potatoes
2 medium zucchini
3 (yellow) summer squash
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water until barely tender. Drain, cool and peel.

Very thinly slice the onions, zucchini, squash and potatoes.

Preheat oven to 375°F

Coat a 10-inch quiche dish or pie pan with cooking spray.

Alternate, overlapping slightly, slices of onion, potato, zucchini and yellow squash in a single circular layer all around the dish (see photo),

Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper.

Drizzle with the melted butter. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 45 minutes more or until golden brown.

Remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Return the pie to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Pasta with Tomato and Zucchini Sauce

Ingredients

3 oz Prosciutto, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus 1 tablespoon
1 lb short pasta (such as penne)
2 zucchini, diced
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

Cook the prosciutto in the 1 tablespoon olive oil until crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, zucchini, basil, parsley, garlic, salt, chili flakes and remaining olive oil.

Add this mixture to the skill and cook for 2-3 minutes, just enough time to heat the ingredients.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain well.

Add the pasta to the skillet vegetables along with the grated cheese and the crispy prosciutto, toss again and serve in individual pasta bowls.

Creamy Corn Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Ingredients

8 small poblano peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced scallions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground chili powder, divided
1 cup fresh corn kernels cut from cobs (about 2)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grated zest of a 1/2 lime, plus the juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salsa, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Put the poblano peppers on a baking sheet and toss them with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Roast until they begin to soften, about 15 minutes.

Using a paring knife cut the top off each pepper—be careful not to puncture or rip the peppers.

Remove and discard any seeds and membranes from the opening in the top; set the peppers aside.

Remove the corn kernels from the cobs; add to a bowl along with the scallions.

Stir in the cream cheese, cilantro, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon salt, cheddar cheese, the lime zest and lime juice.

Divide the stuffing mixture into 8 equal portions.

Stuff each pepper with the filling using your fingers to push the stuffing down into the peppers and place them in an oiled baking dish.

Reduce the oven temperature to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven.

Bake the peppers until the filling is heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with salsa, if desired.

Oven Roasted Okra

I had never tried okra until this year, when my CSA farm included a bunch in my share. I did some research and found a way to make it tasty from the New York Times cooking section. The secret to good tasting, non-slimy okra is oven roasting. Use small, thin okra for the best taste.

Ingredients

1 pound small okra
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fresh thyme leaves to taste optional
Freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Rinse the okra, drain and dry on a kitchen towel. The okra should be dry.

Trim away the stem ends and the tips and place the okra in a large bowl. Generously salt the okra and toss with the olive oil until coated.

Place the okra on a rimmed baking pan in one layer. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, shaking the pan every five minutes.

The okra should be lightly browned and tender. If you don’t want it too brown, roast at 400 degrees F.

Remove the pan from the oven, toss with fresh thyme and freshly ground pepper. Transfer to a platter. Serve hot.



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