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Archive for the ‘Vegetable’ Category

68 Days of Gourmet: Day 3

acornsquash2

I love roasted winter squash. While it is time intensive to cook, the preparation is easy and pretty hands-off.  If you’ve never worked with winter squash it can look a little intimidating in the store. I will admit that it’s a bit of a challenge to cut into (I usually make Brandon supervise me when I’m using the really big knife!) but the end result is hearty and full of flavor.

I usually keep the squash simple and roast it with a bit of butter and brown sugar or maple syrup. But last Friday night we decided to stay in and grill steaks and I wanted to kick it up a bit. I found this recipe for Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Currants on Gourmet and decided to give it a try. I didn’t have currants but I did have dried cranberries and golden raisins so I substituted those.

This squash is a great side dish with winter meals and goes especially well with pork and poultry. It would even be a nice addition to a holiday meal.

acornsquash

Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Dried Fruit
(Recipe source Gourmet, October 1992)

Ingredients:

3 acorn squash (each about 1 1/2 pounds), halved crosswise and the seeds and strings discarded
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, or to taste
3 tablespoons dried fruit
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread 1/2 teaspoon of butter over the cavity of each squash half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange cut side down in a large baking pan. Add enough water to reach about 1/4 inch up the sides of squash halves.  Bake for about 30 minutes.

While the squash is baking, combine remaining butter, maple syrup, allspice, dried fruit and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until butter is melted and dried fruit is plump, stirring often.

Remove squash from the oven and flip so cut sides face up. Brush generously with some of the maple mixture and return to the oven. Bake for another 20-30 minutes more, basting frequently with maple mixture and adding more water to the pan if necessary.  Squash should be very tender when done. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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caesarwithpancetta

This is a lightened and eggless variation of one of my favorite Caesar salads from Ina Garten. I love Ina’s Caesar salad for entertaining. It’s great with home made croutons. We had Italian night last Sunday and I wanted to make this salad but was looking for something lighter and without the raw egg. I decided to take my favorite elements from her salad (the cherry tomatoes and crispy pancetta) and pair it with a Caesar dressing I found on Cooking Light.

I will admit that the dressing definitely doesn’t live up to Ina’s but it’s very easy and much lighter. I prefer to make my own dressings and I think it adds so much to a salad. And when it’s this easy…you really don’t have an excuse not to!

Lightened Caesar Salad with Pancetta and Cherry Tomatoes
(Recipe inspired by Ina Garten, dressing source Cooking Light)

Ingredients:

FOR THE SALAD
1-2 heads romaine lettuce (depending on size)
1/4 pound pancetta, sliced to a similar thickness to bacon
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

FOR THE DRESSING
1/3  cup  plain fat-free yogurt
2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
1  tablespoon  olive oil
2  teaspoons  red wine vinegar
2  teaspoons  Worcestershire sauce
1  teaspoon  anchovy paste
1  teaspoon  Dijon mustard
1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground pepper
1  garlic clove, minced

Directions:

Cut pancetta into cubes. Place in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until browned and crispy. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

Wash lettuce well and dry in a salad spinner. Cut into 1 1/2 inch slices. Place in a large bowl.

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over salad greens and toss to coat. Top with tomatoes and pancetta. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

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cajuntilapia

I am always hearing the question, “What can I do with tilapia?” One of our all-time favorite tilapia preparations is this Cajun tilapia. For a while I kept this Cajun seasoning in the pantry and even gave it out as a Christmas gift in mason jars a couple years ago.

So I was looking for a way to jazz up  the Cajun tilapia. I usually just serve it with roasted potatoes (sprinkled with the Cajun seasoning) and a vegetable. I found myself with some peppers and mushrooms in the fridge and decided to saute them and serve the fish over polenta. It was great!

If you’re looking for a new idea for tilapia and you like a little spice, this recipe is for you!

Cajun Tilapia with Polenta and Peppers
(Recipe source: Tilapia – Cooking Light, Polenta – Joy of Cooking, Vegetables – a Bakin’ and Eggs original)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAJUN SPICE MIX
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons red pepper
2 tablespoons thyme
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar

Mix everything together and store in a airtight container. You can use this Cajun seasoning on anything – poultry, pork, fish, vegetables.

FOR THE FISH
1 pound tilapia fillets
4 tablespoons Cajun seasoning mix (enough to coat fish fillets)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for coating fish
Sliced lemons (optional for garnish)

FOR THE POLENTA
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onions, finely diced
2 1/2 cups water, divided
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup yellow cornmeal
Salt, to taste

FOR THE PEPPERS
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

FOR THE FISH
Coat each fish fillet in olive oil. Coat with Cajun seasoning.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and heat until shimmering. Carefully add fish fillets and cook about 3-4 minutes per side. Fish should be opaque and flaky. Internal temperature should read about 145 degrees.

FOR THE POLENTA
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and bring mixture to a boil.

While the mixture is coming to a boil, mix together 1 cup water and 1 cup cornmeal. Gradually stir into the boiling water and then reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the cornmeal is thick and leaves the side of the pans when it is stirred. About 25 minutes. Add extra water or chicken stock in small amounts if necessary while cooking the polenta. Season with salt to taste.

FOR THE PEPPERS
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and heat until shimmers. Add sliced peppers and mushrooms and cook about 8-10 minutes, or until vegetables have softened a bit. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

YIELD: 4 servings

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corndip

While we were living in Birmingham, this corn dip seemed to pop up at a lot of parties. Who would think that a cold, creamy corn mixture would be delicious and addicting with Fritos Scoops? Yes, you heard me right…I said it – Fritos!  This dip is a cinch to put together and will bring people back to the dip bowl over and over…and over…and over.

This week I volunteered to bring appetizers to a family barbecue and I knew this dip was the perfect thing! My friend Lindsey from Birmingham sent me the recipe. As I expected, no one in the Charlotte crowd had tried the dip before but they all loved it.

Bring this dip to your next party!

Summer Corn Dip
(Recipe source my friend Lindsey)
Printable Recipe: Corn Dip

Ingredients:

1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup light mayo
2 cans Mexi-corn, drained
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup red and green peppers, finely diced
Directions:

Mix together and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with corn chips – recommended Fritos Scoops.

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tomatopieslice

Tomato pie is probably one of my husband’s all-time favorite recipes. The recipe came from his church’s cookbook and it was one of his favorite dishes his mom made. Though I grew up in the South, I had never heard of tomato pie until I met Brandon. I was definitely willing to give it a shot – the combination of garden fresh tomatoes, cheddar cheese and basil baked in a pie crust sounded right up my alley. I made this for the first time when we were in college and didn’t quite perfect it on my first shot. But lots of practice over the years and my own modifications have made me a tomato pie pro.

I only make this pie during the summer when we have access to local, homegrown tomatoes. The difference in taste between grocery store and garden tomatoes is huge and tomato pie is just not the same if you don’t have fresh tomatoes and basil.

Serve this pie with a salad of mixed baby greens and you’ve got yourself a delicious summer dinner.

Tomato Pie
(Recipe adapted from Christ Church Cooks)

Ingredients:

1 double 9-inch pie crust (homemade or Pillsbury)
4-5 tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (feel free to add more if you’re a basil lover)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3/4 cup light mayonnaise
1-2 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together cheeses, mayonnaise, garlic and salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

Line a 9-inch pie pan with one pie crust, trimming sides if necessary. Layer half of the sliced tomatoes in the bottom of the crust. Sprinkle with fresh basil. Spread (or dollop) half of the cheese mixture over tomatoes and basil.

Repeat another layer of tomato, basil and cheese. Place second crust over the top of the pie and prick with a fork.

Bake for about 40-50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Check on crust after 20-30 minutes and cover edges of crust with foil if they are getting too brown.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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goatcheeseveggiepasta

I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and it reminded me of an old favorite I hadn’t made in a while. One of my favorite easy pasta dishes is to saute vegetables and mix them with pasta and flavored Boursin cheese (usually garlic and herb). I love goat cheese so when I saw the recipe on SK I wanted to try my recipe with goat cheese instead of Boursin.

The beauty of this dish is that you can use whatever veggies you have on hand or prefer. Tonight I was feeling zuchinni, broccoli and sun dried tomatoes. This is a great meat-free dish. I’m looking forward to the leftovers!

Goat Cheese Veggie Pasta
(Recipe inspired by Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1/2 box pasta (penne or spiral)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 zucchini
1 small head broccoli
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, rehydrated
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 -4 ounces goat cheese, depending on how cheesy you want to get
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook pasta according to directions on package. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.

In the meantime, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add zucchini and broccoli and saute for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute.

Remove from heat and stir in sun dried tomatoes, Italian seasoning, goat cheese and pasta. Stir until cheese is melted and coats pasta. Add in some of the reserved pasta water if needed. Salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 2-4 servings (depending on how hungry you are!)

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eggplantparm

I can count on one hand the number of times Brandon has requested eggplant for dinner…that would be zero. So imagine my shock when last week he said, “We should have eggplant parmesan for dinner sometime soon.” That was all the encouragement I needed. It was on the menu for dinner this week. I was extra lucky because I went to visit my parents last weekend in Atlanta and came home with great looking Japanese eggplant from the Delkalb Farmers Market.

Now, my greatest problem with eggplant paremesan is how unhealthy it is. The breading and eggplant soak up so much oil if you saute it. I decided to make it my mission to make a tasty baked eggplant parmesan. I think it turned out really well. The breading was crispy and the eggplant was cooked perfectly. Also, it didn’t take too long. I skipped the step of double baking (baking the prepared eggplant with the sauce and cheese). Instead I just added the cheese to the top of the eggplant the last few minutes it was baking and heated sauce on the stovetop and spooned it over the eggplant.

I served Brandon’s over pasta but had mine on its own along with a salad. Both serving methods were great!

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

2-3 Japanese eggplants or 1 large eggplant
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 eggs, whisked together
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs (I used a mixture of regular and panko)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
Cooking spray
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces mozzerella cheese, sliced thinly
2 cups marinara sauce

Directions:

If you’re using Japanese eggplant, cut in half horizontally and then cut each half into 3-4 strips (about 1/4 inch thick). If you’re using traditional eggplant, slice into rounds (about 1/4 inch thick). Place sliced eggplant into a large colander and sprinkle with kosher salt. Let sit for about 30 minutes (eggplant will “weep” some of the water it is holding).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with foil and placing a wire rack on top. Spray rack with cooking spray.

Heat marinara sauce in a saucepan over medium-low heat.

Wipe salt off of eggplant. Line up three shallow dishes on workspace. Place flour in first dish. Season with salt and pepper. Place eggs and water in second dish. Place bread crumbs, Italian seasoning and shredded parmesan in third dish.

Dredge each eggplant slice in flour, then egg wash, then breadcrumbs. Arrange on prepared baking sheet with rack. Brush tops of each slice with olive oil.

Bake for 15 minutes. Flip eggplant slices and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Eggplant should be tender and easy to pierce. Add cheese to top and continue to bake for about 5 more minutes. If needed, broil cheese for a minute or two to brown.

Remove from oven. Serve over pasta or on its own. Spoon marinara sauce over eggplant slices.

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