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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: seasonal produce

 

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Here in the south, October is still summer but the markets like to think it is fall. So lots of squash, greens, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, potatoes, apples and grapes are available. I have posted below several recipes that take advantage of the fall harvest.

One of the Farmers' Markets Nearby

Nearby Farmers’ Market

If you have freezer space, this is also a good time to freeze some of fall’s abundance to use in the winter. Only use fruits and veggies in excellent condition that have been thoroughly cleaned. Most vegetables you plan to freeze should be blanched for two to five minutes. Blanching — the process of heating vegetables with boiling water or steam for a set amount of time, then immediately plunging them into cold or iced water — stops enzyme activity that causes vegetables to lose nutrients and change texture. The cooled veggies can then be packed into plastic freezer bags, jars or other freezer-safe storage containers.

Fruits or blanched vegetables can also be patted dry with clean kitchen towels, frozen in a single layer on cookie sheets and then put into containers. Using cookie sheets for freezing ensures that the fruits and vegetables won’t all stick together, so that you can remove a portion at a time from the container. Using this method is best for freezing berries. Berries should not be blanched, just washed and dried before freezing. Chopped onion and chopped bell peppers for cooking can also be frozen without blanching.

Here is a handy chart on how to blanch vegetables for freezing.

Mediterranean Tomato Salad

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Serve this salad with grilled steak.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 large ripe tomatoes, sliced thin
  • One large red onion slice, cut ¼ inch thick and quartered
  • ½ cup oil cured olives, pitted and halved
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

Dressing

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, oregano and black pepper.

Arrange the tomatoes on a serving plate and distribute the onion, olives and cheese over the tomatoes. Drizzle with the dressing.

Let the salad sit at room temperature for an hour before serving.

Fall Vegetable Minestrone

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 whole celery stalks with leaves, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup whole-wheat orzo pasta
  • Two 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced celery, onion, carrot, garlic, oregano and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Add orzo and green beans. Cook, uncovered, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, chickpeas and paprika.  

Cook over medium heat until steaming-hot, 3 to 5 minutes.Taste and add salt to your liking.

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with cheese,

Lemon Leek Spaghetti

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This recipe is a great side dish for grilled or baked fish.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 leek, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • Salt & black pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Cook pasta, al dente, according to package directions. Drain.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, leek, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper; sauté 4 minutes.

Add broth and juice; cook 2 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove the skillet from the  heat; stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter.

Add the pasta and capers to the leek mixture; toss well to combine and sprinkle with parsley and cheese.

Butternut Squash Gratin

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Serve this dish with ribs or pork chops.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
  • 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large leek, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat a 1 1/2-quart gratin dish or other shallow baking dish with 1 teaspoon of the oil.

Place the garlic and sliced leeks in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the squash and apple cubes on top of the leeks. Season with salt and pepper. With a rubber spatula toss the mixture until evenly combined.

Cover the tightly with foil and bake until the squash is very tender, about 1 hour.

Combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining oil, the lemon zest and parsley. Sprinkle over the squash and bake, uncovered, until the crumbs is golden, 15 minutes longer.

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summerpizzacover

Pizza is a very adaptable dish that works with any seasonal ingredients.

In winter, I usually make a pizza sauce that is similar to my pasta sauce for our Friday night pizza. In the summer, however, I like to take advantage of being able to use fresh tomatoes and other fresh vegetables on my pizzas. Our favorite summer pizza is a simple one topped with sliced fresh cherry tomatoes, basil pesto and mozzarella cheese.

The best tasting pizza crust is made the day before you want to use it. Here is an easy no-knead recipe that is adaptable to any shape or even for grilling.

No-Knead Pizza Dough

Makes two 16-inch pizza crusts

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose, more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (such as SAF brand)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1½ cups water

Directions

In a large bowl, mix the flour with the yeast and salt. Add the water and stir until blended (the dough will be very sticky). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 12 to 24 hours in a warm spot.

The next day, place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and lightly sprinkle the top with flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice and divide the dough into 2 pieces.

Shape each piece into a ball. Generously sprinkle a clean cotton towel with flour and cover the dough balls with it. Let the dough rise for 1 hour.

Stretch the dough to the edges of the pizza pan or roll the dough into the desired shape.

summerpizza

Farmers’ Market Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for the pan
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh pizza dough, at room temperature, see recipe above
  • 5 ounces thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Position an oven rack in the next to lowest setting.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to the pan and then the onion and thyme; cook for 3 minutes or until the onion is tender, stirring occasionally.

Add bell pepper and garlic to the pan; cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn, salt and black pepper and cook for 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.

Lightly coat a 16 inch pizza pan with olive oil and sprinkle with a little semolina flour or cornmeal. Press dough to the edges of the pan.

Arrange mozzarella slices evenly over the dough. Spread the corn mixture evenly over the cheese and top with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Bake 15 minutes. Arrange tomatoes evenly over the pizza; bake an additional 5 minutes or until the crust is browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle with basil. Slice into 8 pieces.

summerpizza1

Summer Squash Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh pizza dough, at room temperature, recipe above
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for the baking pan
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces fresh feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 zucchini and/or yellow squash
  • Fresh oregano leaves
  • Coarse salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Place pizza dough on an oiled baking pan and stretch dough to form an oblong crust, about 15 inches long and 11 inches wide.

Brush with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Sprinkle with garlic and dot with feta cheese.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel wide, thin strips of squash and place them on the pizza; stop when most of the pizza is covered (do not put too much squash on the pizza or the crust will become soggy).

Bake until the crust is browned and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle the baked pizza with oregano leaves and coarse salt. Cut into squares and serve.

summerpizza2

Salad Pizza 

Ingredients

  • 7 cups mixed lettuces (red leaf, leaf, radicchio) or mesclun
  • 1/4 of a red onion, sliced
  • 5 fresh plum tomatoes, seeded and cubed
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pound fresh pizza dough, at room temperature, recipe above
  • 8 ounces shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • Optional Garnishes: prosciutto, roasted red peppers, olives, anchovies

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the lettuces, onion and tomatoes. Set aside or prep several hours ahead and refrigerate.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Whisk well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Lightly coat a 16 inch pizza pan with olive oil and sprinkle with a little semolina flour or cornmeal. Press dough to the edges of the pan.

Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the crust up to the border and return the pizza to the oven just until the cheese begins to melt.

Allow the pizza to cool for 10 minutes.

Toss the salad with the dressing. Cut the pizza into wedges. Serve a wedge on a large plate. Top with salad and sprinkle the greens with grated Parmesan.

Top the pizza with any of the other optional garnishes and serve.

summerpizza4

Spinach and Ricotta Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh pizza dough, at room temperature, recipe above
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for the pizza pan
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Combine olive oil and the sliced garlic in a large skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until the garlic begins to sizzle. Add the spinach and sauté 1-2 minutes or just until the spinach wilts.

Add salt and pepper. Set aside.

Combine ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses in a mixing bowl.

Lightly coat a 16 inch pizza pan with olive oil and sprinkle with a little semolina flour or cornmeal. Press dough to the edges of the pan.

Spread the combined cheese mixture over the crust and evenly distribute the spinach over the cheese.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the crust is lightly brown.

summerpizza5

Pizza with Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
  • 3 plum tomatoes
  • 1 pound pizza dough at room temperature, see recipe above
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought basil pesto
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Cut tomatoes crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and let them rest on paper towels for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly coat a 16 inch pizza pan with olive oil and sprinkle with a little semolina flour or cornmeal. Press dough to the edges of the pan.

Arrange mozzarella slices evenly over the dough.

Spread pesto over the cheese and arrange the tomato slices over the pesto.

Bake for 20 minutes.



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