During hot summer months, I try not to spend too much time cooking over a frying pan or near a hot oven. My body craves meals that can be served at room temperature or cold. So even though there is some “hot” work involved with pasta salad, this is perfect to whip up and enjoy later in the day after it has had time to chill.
It’s also time for the corn and zucchini harvest, so this pasta salad is light, fresh, and in-season. All good things in my book!
This recipe is very easy to throw together. It’s great as a meatless meal, a side dish, or served with rotisserie chicken for a more robust entree. This keeps well at room temperature so you can bring this to BBQs as well, especially if you use vegan mayonnaise, like we did.
Note, we are not vegans we but prefer the taste of vegenaise.
In a large bowl, toss the corn and zucchini with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large frying pan over medium heat. Saute for four to five minutes, until the zucchini browns slightly. Add shallot and cook for another minute. Pour vegetable mixture back into your large bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Drain well and pour into same large bowl.
In a liquid measuring cup, whisk the mayonnaise with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the lime juice, chile powder; season with salt and pepper. Add the pasta, corn, zucchini, tomatoes and mix well. Transfer to a serving bowl or individual bowls. Using a vegetable peeler or carefully with a knife, shave the frozen goat cheese all over the top and enjoy at room temperature or chilled.
Wow, can you believe that it’s November already? Where did this last month go? I’m going to have to think about Christmas shopping pretty soon. *shutters* Not my favorite activity. I’m impatient enough as it is, and when you throw in screaming children and long lines of people at the checkout counters, it gives me nightmares.
Anywho, let’s talk about more positive things… like chilly weather and comfort foods.
I made this vegetarian penne last weekend for my community symphony. This pasta is rich and not for the feint of heart, and absolutely perfect for feeding many hungry mouths. It’s packed with lots of vegetables masked by luscious cream, gorgeous garlic and bubbly cheese. Words that speak straight to my heart.
Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the onion, summer squash, zucchini, mushrooms and garlic in butter until tender.
In a small bowl, whisk the flour, seasonings and cream until smooth; add to the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Drain pasta and add to vegetable mixture and gently stir everything together. Pour the pasta into a greased square pan. Top with Parmesan and butter pieces. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 20 minutes.
I tripled this recipe for a potluck I attended and baked the pasta in a 9 x 13-inch pan instead.
Le sigh… it’s been a very hot summer. Even still, I feel like it’s flown by. It’s almost the end of Summer now. Do you know what that means? It’s almost the end of zucchini season too. Say a little prayer for these guys and devour ’em.
Zucchini alone can be a bit bland. They’re due for roasting, or sauteeing, or do what I did here, and stuff them with oodles of deliciousness.
I found these San Marzano Italian plum tomatoes at the European Market and I had an overwhelming urge to make red sauce… immediately! It was like someone possessed my body , sped my car home, chopped onions and made this sauce. Before I knew it, I had amazing marinara sauce to use for these zucchinis.
Look how happy she is. That’s because she makes some damn fine tomatoes! I have to say, after I made marinara sauce with these tomatoes, I’ve never wanted any other marinara sauce ever again. They’re THAT good!
My marinara recipe changes a bit every time I make it, but the basics never change:
I’ve also added balsamic vinegar, cayenne, bell peppers, and mushrooms to my sauce depending on my mood.
Make your sauce, stuff some zucchinis then save the remaining sauce for another day. The flavors really meld after a day or two. And of course, you can use store bought red sauce for this recipe if you’d like a quicker version.
Mushrooms, bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, optional
For the Rest:
Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan. Toss in onions, garlic, red pepper (if using) and salt. Saute on medium/low heat until onions begin to sweat. Add in any optional vegetables. When onions are clear, pour in red wine and turn up the heat to boil of any alcohol. Add tomatoes, reamaining seasonings, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Top with fresh basil, cover and let simmer on very low for 30-60 minutes. Stir your sauce occasionally or it will stick to the bottom of your pot.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the tough ends of the zucchinis off and cut each in half, lengthwise. Place on a baking sheet sliced side-up and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, spoon marinara sauce into each boat and bake the boats for 15 minutes. After the zucchinis have baked for 15 minutes, sprinkle the cheese over the zucchinis and return to oven until the cheese is melted and golden brown, about 10 minutes longer.
*times do not include cook time for homemade marinara sauce
If you’re anything like me, you were raised on good old-fashioned beef patties. There is something magical about the texture and rich flavor in a good beef burger. I am right there with you 100%.
Then there are those moments where I flounder. I find myself realizing that I need something other than red meat in my diet. So I satisfy that finger and mouth feel by making a turkey burger instead. Don’t expect to bite into turkey steak or anything here folks. This is a totally different animal (literally).
This recipe has made my Top 5 recipes of the summer. The fresh zucchini and carrot make this burger incredibly light and fresh. And the flavors are hardly lacking. Mister and I were licking our fingers dry after devouring these guys. And yes… that isn’t beef you’re seeing there.
A few things to keep in mind when you cook with ground turkey:
1. Use ground turkey that is a combination of dark and white meat if possible. White meat dries out a lot easier.
2. Do not overcook the turkey! Whether it’s ground turkey or a whole roasted turkey for Thanksgiving, there is a very fine line between cooked turkey and dry turkey. I steam my burgers as they finish cooking to help seal in moisture.
If you’re not convinced to try this fresh summer turkey burger, then at least convince your friend to make them and invite you over. Then all you have to do is bring the beer, watch and enjoy.
Salt and pepper, to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Slices of crusty bread, buttered and toasted
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
In a large bowl, combine the turkey, zucchini, carrot, garlic, egg, thyme, salt, pepper. Form the mixture into four to six patties. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the patties on one side until the bottom is fully cooked, about 3-4 minutes. Try not to manipulate them too much so they stick together nicely. Flip the patties over, add a touch of water to your pan and cover the pan with a lid. Allow to cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until there is no trace of pink remaining. Try not to overcook the burgers (it happens fast).
In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and lemon juice. Serve the burgers on the toasted bread with lettuce and lemon mayonnaise.
I do not recommend grilling these particular turkey burgers because the patties can be fragile, depending on how your mixture turns out.
Quinoa is magical, isn’t it? It fills your belly but it doesn’t fill your waste-line. Quinoa is one of those healthy grains that you can manipulate to make it your own too. I like to cook mine in broth and add fresh herbs and veggies. This salad is tasty at any temperature too – great for those outdoor parties where you don’t necessarily have access to a stove or oven.
My porch garden is doing surprisingly well this year, considering the hot summer we are having. These guys are in full bloom.
And I’m using them in full force. This summer salad is fresh and easy and great for those times when you come home from the farmer’s market and realize that you can’t recall anything that happened in the last two hours but somehow came home with bags and bags of produce.
I have made Aimée’s recipe in the past and turn to it again and again. She really did her homework with this one. Especially since baking comes as naturally to me as flying does to a fish, believe me when I say that this recipe is a winner. You can see her full recipe research here.
You don’t have to wait for zucchini season to roll around to enjoy this bread. It is possible to freeze grated zucchini so as to have it available whenever the baking mood strikes.
To freeze zucchini, first wash them, trim the ends and then simply grate them on a box grater. Package in 1 or 2-cup portions in freezer bags or freezer containers. Remove as much air as possible from the bag by smoothing it with the back of your hand from bottom to top and quickly sealing the bag. Freeze flat.
I have been on a bit of a frittata kick lately and after some debate about which vegetables I should use (by the way Smashers, “salad” is NOT a vegetable!), I finalized this list of ingredients.
Foodie McBooty factoid: I absolutely LOVE goat cheese. Any excuse to use this delectably bitter and decadent cheese in a recipe is cool with me. I shamelessly licked the packaging clean when I unloaded the goat cheese into this recipe – and it wont be the last time.
4 ounces goat cheese, cut or broken into small chunks
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 russet potato (about 8 ounces)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Peel the potato and thinly slice it using a mandolin or a cheese slicer. Put the slices of potato in a bowl and cover them with cold water to keep them from turning brown.
Saute the shallots in the olive oil until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the grated zucchini mixture and cook for another couple of minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and stir gently for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the milk. Add salt, pepper, thyme, basil, and vanilla and mix well. Add both cheeses, bread crumbs and the zucchini and scallion mixture.
Heavily spray a dark muffin tin and lay down an overlapping layer of potato slices in the bottom of each muffin cup. I used three or four slices in mine. Gently pour the egg mixture into each muffin cup, leaving a little room for each one to rise. Gently top each frittata with the remaining slices of potato and sprinkle a bit of parmesan on top.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes before removing the foil. Remove the foil and brush with a bit of melted butter. Finish under a high broiler for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown.
My friend Bob recently began a new diet and challenged me to cook a Paleo friendly meal. Always up for a challenge, I eagerly accepted! Now, to figure out what the hay Paleo is…
If you’re unfamiliar with the Paleo diet like I was, here’s the skinny: Eat naturally by way of lean meats, vegetables and fruits. Think of foods that cavemen (and women) ate back in the days of hunters and gatherers. This style of eating is an extremely healthy and nutritious way to dine.
I took this opportunity to try a new method of cooking as well: Sous-Vide. Although this style of cooking has been around for decades, Sous-Vide is a growing culinary trend. The idea is to throw all of your ingredients in a bag, seal it up and submerge your food in the temperature at which it is fully cooked (for example, fish is fully cooked at 140 degrees F, so you would keep the temperature of your water at 140 degrees F).
There is no need to worry about unevenness of cooking because it is never exposed to a high cooking temperature. As long as you keep your water temperature regulated, this method is practically fool-proof! Clean up is super easy too (I LOVE doing less dishes!)
And now, for the moment you’ve been waiting for… the recipe!
Digital probe thermometer (check for temperature accuracy in a glass of ice water)
4 medium to large zucchini
Create a brine with 5% salt and 95% water and leave fish in brine for 1 hour. Remove and pat dry on paper towel. Brining is optional but mighty tasty if you have the time.
Fill stockpot with water (a couple inches short of being full), insert probe thermometer into water and place on medium-high burner until water temperature reaches 140 degrees F. Once the water reaches the target temperature, turn the heat down to a low simmer. Keep the water temperature as steady as possible.
Place the fish, tarragon, thyme, lemon or lime juice, olive oil and butter if you're using it into the ziplock bag. Dunk the open bag into the water while still holding onto the open lip. Allow the water to force all of the air out of the open top and seal the bag. You may even want to suck out some of the air with your mouth if there is some leftover air in the bag. Pull the bag out to see if the bag is sticking to your ingredients and drop your entire bag into the water.
Let the fish cook in water for 20 minutes (you will need an extra 10-20 minutes if your fish is frozen), covered, checking the temperature regularly. Don't worry if you have to leave your fish to do other chores (dishes, bathroom ...facebook) because the fish will not overcook as long as you keep the temperature under 140 degrees F.
In the mean time, boil some salted water in another large pot. Slice your zucchini into long, thin strips with a vegetable peeler. Start on one side of the zucchini, and once you hit the seeded part in the middle, flip the zucchini over and continue on that side. Toss the core of the zucchini (the seeds will mostly fall apart in the boiling water anyway). Boil the strips for two minutes, until heated. Drain, sprinkle with a bit of salt and set aside (give it a squeeze of lemon or lime juice too if you have some leftover).
Pull the fish from the bag and plate everything in an amazingly creative way (I have yet to figure out how to do that). Pour a bit of the bag contents on the fish, sprinkle with chile powder for color and serve.
The following are two dishes that make me feel more French than I’ll ever be (both recipes are from the brilliant Julie Child):
First and foremost, Ratatouille.
Other than a delightful Pixar movie (“Rat and patootie…RATPATOOTIE!!”), ratatouille is a traditional french vegetable dish. Typically roasted, ratatouille has strong flavors and a butt load of variations. This dish makes a great accompaniment to roasts or chicken or any dish really.
In the words of Julia Child, “A ratatouille may be cooked completely the day before it is to be served, and it seems to gain in flavor when reheated.” Cool with me.
Peel and cut the eggplant into 3 inch long slices. Cut the zucchini into slices and peel. Place those vegetables in a bowl, cover with water and let rest for 30 minutes. Drain.
Saute the eggplant and zucchini with olive oil and a little salt in a skillet. One minute on each side until browned. Set aside.
Cook the onions with the olive oil in the same skillet for 10 minutes over moderate heat. Stir in the garlic and add salt and pepper.
Peel the tomatoes and boil for 30 seconds. Cut into slices. Lay them over the onions in the skillet. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Uncover. Pour the juice from the skillet over the tomatoes. Raise heat and boil for several minutes until the juice has almost entirely evaporated.
Put a third of the tomatoes mixture in the bottom of a casserole. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of parsley. Then put half of the eggplant and zucchini on top. Then the second third of the tomatoes and so on until you have three layers of vegetables and parsley.
Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip casserole and baste with the rendered juices. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for 15 minutes more, basting several times, until the juices have evaporated. Be careful to not let your vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.
Set aside uncovered and add a tablespoon of olive oil for flavor. Serve hot, reheat slowly at serving time, or serve cold.
Crepes are essentially very thin pancakes. You can eat them how with a little syrup or fruit. This is the way I usually eat them. There are versions that wrap a crepe around sweet fruit filling or savory fillings like meats, cheese and vegetables too.
It takes some time to perfect the art of the French crepe. Don’t get discouraged. Practice makes perfect, right? Keep on trying. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. I’ve killed many crepes to get to the point I am at today.
Put the liquids, eggs and salt into a blender. Add the flour, then the butter. Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute. If bits of flour adhere to sides of the jar, dislodge with a rubber scraper and blend for 2 to 3 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The batter should be a very light cream, just thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. If after making your first crepe, it seems too heavy, beat in a bit of water, a spoonful at a time.
Brush the skillet lightly with oil. Set over moderately high heat until the pan is just beginning to smoke. Immediately remove from heat and pour a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the middle of the pan. Quickly tilt the pan in all directions to run the batter all over the bottom of the pan in a thin film. Pour any batter that does not adhere to the pan back into your bowl. You want your crepes to be about 1/16 inch thick.
Return the pan to the heat for 60 to 80 seconds. Then jerk and toss pan sharply back and forth and up and down to loosen the crepe. Lift its edges with a spatula. If the underside is a nice light brown, the crepe is ready for turning.
Turn the crepe by using 2 spatulas; or grasp the edges nearest you in your fingers and sweep it up toward you and over again into the pan in a reverse circle; or toss it over by a flip of the pan (some day, I will master this skill!!)
Brown lightly for 30 seconds on the other side. As they are done, slide the crepes onto a rack and let cool several minutes before stacking on a plate. Crepes may be kept warm by covering them with a dish and setting them over simmering water or in an over set to low heat.
Grease the skillet again, heat to just smoking, and repeat with the rest of the batter.
SERVE with practically anything - Butter, cinnamon and powdered sugar, or berries and fresh whipped cream, or make it a savory feast with spinach and cheese, or nutella and bananas and chocolate drizzle.