Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

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For easy summer meals, visit a local farm stand or farmers’ market and build your menu around what’s available right now, starting with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers or melons. They can make delicious main dish salads or they can be stuffed with tuna fish, egg salad or chicken salad. There is nothing more delicious than a Greek Salad with hummus and pita bread or topped with deli chicken or cooked shrimp. When fruits and vegetables are this perfect, you don’t need to do very much to them.

It’s summer and the living’s easy. So why spend any time in front of a hot stove ? You won’t have to with this dinner’s recipes, which require no baking, sautéing, frying or boiling.

This menu is also great for entertaining.

Some Summer White Wines for This Dinner

Sauvignon Blanc

The clean, light taste of a Sauvignon Blanc makes it one of the best summer wines. Whether this wine is drunk alone or paired with food, it makes a great refreshing summer wine. With its herbaceous qualities, it goes well with summer salads, light flaky grilled fish and shellfish. This white wine is also the best summer wine for pairing with tomato-based dishes. Sauvignon Blanc is also sometimes called Fume Blanc.

Riesling

A semi-dry Riesling with its slight sweetness is the classic grape of Germany and many of the best Rieslings originate there, however, you can find excellent domestic Rieslings from California and the Northwest.

Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris is the white grape version of a Pinot Noir and makes one of the best all-around summer white wines. Some of the best Pinot Gris is from France, but in the United States look for an Oregon Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris is also called Pinot Grigio in some areas and is made from the same grape. The Pinot Gris from California is often called Pinot Grigio because of its similarity in style to the wine of Italy. Pinot Gris is fruity and citrusy with a slight mineral taste. Pairs well with seafood, summer pasta dishes, salads and grilled meats and vegetables.

Appetizer

Assorted Olives

Prosciutto and Pear Bites

Italian crusty bread.

 

Prosciutto and Pear Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 firm pear, such as D’Anjou
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 slices prosciutto

Directions:

Zest the lemon and stir the zest into the olive oil. Let sit while you prepare the appetizer.

Juice the lemon into a large bowl and add the two squeezed lemon halves into the bowl as well. Fill with cold water.

Core, quarter the pear and cut each quarter into 4 slices (16 slices total). Add each slice into the bowl of lemon water to prevent browning, while you cut the others .

Cut each prosciutto slice in half.

Drain the pear slices and wrap a piece of prosciutto around each. Drizzle with the reserved lemon-infused olive oil before serving.

Main Dish

Tomato Salad with Pickled Shrimp

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds assorted tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/3 cup diagonally sliced celery
  • Vinaigrette, recipe below
  • Pickled Shrimp, recipe below
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed celery leaves
  • Garnishes: lemon slices, fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Arrange tomatoes and sliced celery on a large chilled platter. Sprinkle with table salt and black pepper to taste. Drizzle with some of the Vinaigrette. Spoon Shrimp over tomatoes. Top with celery leaves. Serve with remaining Vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup spicy tomato juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

Whisk all the ingredients together. Start with 1/4 teaspoon of celery salt and taste the dressing. The tomato juice, you use, may be salty and you do not want to add too much. You can always add more.

Pickled Shrimp

Purchase shrimp cooked from the fish counter or deli.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1  1/4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound peeled, medium-size cooked shrimp
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Stir together lemon slices, onion, olive oil, vinegar, dill, parsley, Italian seasoning and garlic in a large bowl; transfer to a zip-top plastic freezer bag. Add shrimp, turning to coat. Seal and chill in the refrigerator 2 hours but no more than 6 hours. Remove shrimp, discarding marinade. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Side Dish

Black Bean Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1- 16 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped pimento or roasted red peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced

Directions:

Combine beans, pimento or roasted red peppers, onion and parsley in a salad bowl.

Combine remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously. Pour dressing over beans. Mix gently and set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Dessert

Ginger-Mascarpone Icebox Cake

Pair with some bright-flavored fruit, such as blueberries or slices of mango or peach.

Serves twelve.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. gingersnap crumbs, about 2-1/4 cups (from about 40 Nabisco brand cookies)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 oz. light cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plain lowfat yogurt
  • 2/3 cup sugar; more for the pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup minced candied (crystallized) ginger
  • 1 lb. mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray or grease it lightly. Dust the pan with a little sugar and shake out any excess.

Combine the gingersnap crumbs and butter, rubbing them together with your fingertips to combine thoroughly. Sprinkle half of the crumbs over the bottom of the pan and pat down evenly; reserve the rest.

With an electric mixer, whip together the cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, vanilla and candied ginger until smooth, scraping down the sides. Add the mascarpone and heavy cream and whip until the mixture is thoroughly combined and just holds peaks. Don’t over whip or the mixture may separate.

Carefully spoon half of the mascarpone cream over the gingersnap crust, spreading it evenly to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle half of the remaining crumbs over the mascarpone cream in the pan.

Top with remaining mascarpone cream and finish with the remaining crumbs. Gently tap the pan on the counter to eliminate any air bubbles. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

To serve, warm a sharp knife under hot water and dry it off. Cut one slice, clean the knife and warm it again before cutting the next slice.



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