Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Country-Style Tomatoes

Quick!  Before Fall nudges it’s way in, the Farmer’s Markets close for the season, and we’re left with limp and lifeless berries, peaches, and tomatoes, make sure you get all those bonafide summer recipes accomplished.  I missed this recipe last summer but I wasn’t about to make it go another round when I just so happened to have some leftover cream cheese and fresh basil on hand.

The funny thing is, I don’t really like fresh tomatoes.  Never have.  But sometimes you look at a recipe and just know it would be delicious … for other people.  And Nate absolutely loves tomatoes.  Tomatoes and corn, he could live on them.  Scratch that.  Tomatoes, corn, and bacon and sausage, he could live on.  Moving on …

If you’re looking to squeeze the final dregs out of summer cooking, if you’re looking for a way to make vegetables sinfully unhealthy but delightedly tasty then try these tomatoes.  I did.  And I don’t even like tomatoes.  But I do like cream cheese and I do like “fried.”  Two out of three ain’t bad.


Country-Style Tomatoes
Originally from Taste of Home June/July 2009
Serves 8

4 large tomatoes
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil

Cut each tomato into four thick slices; place on paper towels to drain. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, parsley, basil, garlic and salt until blended. Spread cream cheese mixture over eight tomato slices; top with remaining tomato slices.
Place flour and bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. In another bowl, whisk egg and milk. Coat the top and bottom of each sandwich with flour, dip into egg mixture, then coat with crumbs.
In a large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium-hot heat. Fry tomato sandwiches in batches for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.


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Not a typical side to appear in our house.  But I was looking for something less starchy, but equally filling to accompany our pork chops.  This recipe that had been languishing in the back of my “to try” section seemed to fit the bill.

While not a health food, I’d give these credit as a healthy alternative to the potato version.  I think they are a great way to get non-zucchini fans to give it a chance as the cheese and flour really mellow the zucchini flavor.  Without the sour cream they might have come across as a bit bland.  Another suggestion was to serve with a tomato sauce for dipping.  A great side for dinner, these could almost be served as a main part of a brunch or lunch.

Zucchini Patties with Sour Cream
Originally from allrecipes.com
Serves 4

2 cups grated zucchini
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
salt to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a medium bowl, combine the zucchini, eggs, onion, flour, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and salt. Stir well enough to distribute ingredients evenly.

Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Drop zucchini mixture by heaping tablespoonfuls, and cook for a few minutes on each side until golden.

Serve with a bowl of sour cream.  I added a bit of Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix to my sour cream for an added touch of flavor.

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This here salad is something truly simple to throw together.  Because, you see, you’ve already made the Radicchio & Orange salad so you’re dressing is already set and waiting in the fridge for it’s next incarnation.  That’s the whole reason this salad came together for me: leftover dressing, leftover produce.  But just because this salad had the word “leftover” in it doesn’t mean Nate wasn’t picking up the bowl to scrape at it and slurp the rest of the juices out.  Oh and making me promise to include this 5-minutes of labor on a future cafe menu someday.

Asparagus, Avocado, and Orange Salad with Honey & Poppy seed Dressing

1/2 bunch of asparagus
1 large avocado
1 orange or blood orange
kosher salt

Honey and Poppy seed Dressing

Cut off the tough ends of the asparagus.  Place on a microwave safe plate with a Tbs. of water and microwave just 30 seconds to 1 minute or til barely tender and still crisp.  Place in cool water to stop the cooking.

Cut the avocado into a dice.  Cut the orange into segments and then cut each segment in half.  Cut the asparagus stalks into inch long pieces.  Place all three together into a serving bowl and sprinkle with some kosher salt and pepper.  Drizzle with some of the honey & poppy seed dressing.  Toss and serve.

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Lately, I’ve got a few too many people in my life calling me a food snob.  Okay, so maybe I do believe a wedge of quality brie, camembert, or port salut will top a slice of American EVERY day.  And maybe it’s true that I’ve been known to say something along the lines of, “People who consider lasagna a company meal must live sad, culinary lives.”  And maybe I’ve turned up my nose at many a greasy burger or gravy covered chunk of meat.  Well, OKAY, maybe I do like the finer side of food.

But for those who put me undeniably in the category of food snob I give you this.  Bear with me because I know you are thinking that stuffed mushrooms with good cheese are not example of the down-homeness needed to prove my point.  And normally it might not be.  But last night I had some regular button mushrooms and some leftover brie.  What I did not have was fresh parsley or any green onions.  And if I didn’t have either of those two things, why should I bother dirtying a pan just for some fresh garlic?  So you know what I did?  I made these anyway.  I went straight back to the 70’s and pulled out my onion powder, garlic powder, and dried parsley.  And after I had sautéed the mushrooms in butter and a splash of white wine I sprinkled these sad little substitutes all over my mushrooms.  And then I ate them.  And I liked them.  So there.

These were good, but really, truly I’m pretty sure they would be about 10x more delicious if you made them the right way.  You know, the fresh herbs and aromatics released in the pan instead of out of the can way.

Mushrooms Stuffed with Brie
Originally from thepioneerwoman.com/cooking

Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cook Time: 15 Minutes


1 package White Button Mushrooms, Washed And Stems Removed
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
¼ cups Flat-leaf Parsley, Chopped
4 whole (to 5) Green Onions, Sliced (up To Middle Of Dark Green Part)
Splash Of White Wine (optional)
1 slice (wedge) Of Brie Cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Melt butter in large saucepan. Add mushroom caps and toss to coat in butter. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook for 1 minute. Remove mushrooms from pan and place upside down in a baking dish.

In the same saucepan (without cleaning it) throw in garlic, parsley, and green onions. Sprinkle very lightly with salt and splash in wine, if using. Stir around until wine evaporates, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Cut rind off of brie wedge, then cut pieces of brie to fit each mushroom cap. Place inside, lightly pressing to anchor each piece of brie.

Top mushrooms with parsley/garlic mixture.

Place into the oven for 15 minutes, or until brie is melted.

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Nate doesn’t particularly enjoy couscous or chickpeas, so I was surprised when he flagged this recipe in my Fine Cooking magazine.  Truly, I had seen this recipe, salivated, and then passed it by with a sigh because of Nate’s aforementioned dislikes.  There’s not a snowballs chance in somewhere that my dad would EVER have flagged this recipe … or perused the cooking magazine to begin with.  But I’m not one to look a gift horse in the eye.

It turns out that Nate thought the couscous cakes were fried polenta and thus his interest in the recipe.  But by the time he figured out that it wasn’t, the dish was on the table.  And fortunately, it got good reviews despite the lack of fried polenta.  Of course I loved it, but I knew I would to begin with.  It’s light supper fare; an easy but elegant, nutritious vegetarian option.  And I become more convinced each day that almost anything tastes more delicious when placed on a bed of fresh greens.

(The directions and ingredient list might seem daunting, but it couldn’t have taken more than 30 minutes tops to make.)

Spinach and Artichoke Salad with Couscous Cakes and Feta
Serves three
Originally from Fine Cooking 99, pp. 79

For the dressing:
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. sour cream
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh mint
5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the couscous cakes:
3/4 cup couscous
Kosher salt
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1-1/2 tsp.)
3 Tbs. vegetable or canola oil

For the salad:
8 oz. baby spinach, washed and dried (about 6 lightly packed cups)
1 14-oz. can artichoke bottoms, drained, rinsed, and sliced
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 oz. crumbled feta (about 1/4 cup)

Make the dressing:

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, sour cream, and mint. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the couscous cakes:

Put the couscous and 1 tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Add 1 cup boiling water to the couscous, cover the bowl with a pan lid or plate, and let sit for 4 to 5 minutes.

Coarsely chop the garlic in a food processor. Add the parsley and pulse until finely chopped. Add the chickpeas and 1 tsp. salt and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Uncover the couscous and fluff with a fork. Stir in the chickpea mixture, eggs, and lemon zest until well combined. Press the couscous mixture into a 1/4-cup measure, smooth the top, and invert the measuring cup to release the cake onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining couscous mixture to make 9 cakes.

Heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Add 5 of the couscous cakes to the skillet and use a spatula to lightly flatten the cakes so they’re about 3/4 inch thick. Cook, flipping once, until crisp and golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Add the remaining 1-1/2 Tbs. vegetable oil to the skillet and cook the remaining cakes the same way.

Make the salad:

In a large bowl, toss the spinach, artichokes, and tomatoes with about three-quarters of the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper and divide among 3 large plates. Top each salad with 3 couscous cakes, sprinkle each salad with feta, and drizzle with the remaining dressing.

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Snow Pea & Avocado Slaw

Here is a perfect recipe for vegetable due-diligence.  You know, those times when you get really motivated to make sure you are getting your three servings a day; when you are trying to branch out from the usual salads, cucumbers, and tomatoes in your rotation.  Snow peas have never been in my regular rotation, but I’ve grown to acquire an occasional taste for them.  But who am I kidding?  I’ll eat almost anything if fresh avocado is included.

This is an endlessly adaptable salad.  I hate celery so I skipped that step completely.  And I only had almonds on hand, so I swapped those out for the walnuts. Also in the back of my mind is the sneaking suspicion that a tart granny smith apple slivered similarly to the snow peas would be a perfect tangy addition.  But that might tempt me to add some blue cheese and then things would just go downhill from there …

Snow Pea & Avocado Slaw
Originally from foodnetwork.com

Prep time: 15 minutes  Yield: 4 servings

Thinly slice 10 ounces snow peas lengthwise. 
Toss with 2 thinly sliced celery ribs (add the leaves, too) and some toasted walnuts. 
Dress with olive oil and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. 
Gently stir in a thinly sliced avocado and minced chives.

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I haven’t figured out quite why, but I always get this insane urge to make whole roast chickens in August. I never roast a chicken in January when the heat from the long-burning stove would wrap the walls of our house in a comforting blanket of warmth. Instead I wait til August, when it’s good and hot already, and then crank up that stove to 450 while I simultaneously turn on the a/c to combat its effects. It happened this week again where I just couldn’t get that roast chicken out of my head, so after spending two days brining in the refrigerator I scorched that baby and my whole kitchen up last night.

These kabobs seemed a perfect summer side to my should-be-winter chicken. Hearty potatoes amidst fresh produce, basted with buttery, herby goodness. The best part was how these quick kabobs allowed me to get out of the kitchen til just the last 20 minutes or so of chicken roasting, saving me from the furnace for awhile. If I made these again, I’d do a few things different. First, I’d buy me some cute potatoes to make this dish pop. Unfortunately, I had a bunch of regular reds starting to sprout new potatoes so I had to use those up first. But more importantly than the aesthetics, I’d double the mushroom portion. They were some tasty creatures that seemed few and far between the big, bulky potatoes.

Smokin’ Hot Potato Kabobs with Rosemary-Chipotle Butter

From Midwest Living

Prep: 25 min.
Grill: 8 min.

1-1/2 lbs. small potatoes such as baby purple, baby blue, baby Dutch yellow, fingerlings, round red and/or round white
16 baby sunburst squash or 1 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash, cut into 1-inch slices
8 medium fresh mushrooms
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 to 2 Tbsp. snipped fresh rosemary or oregano or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary or oregano, crushed
1/2 tsp. ground chipotle chile pepper or chili powder
Coarse kosher or sea salt

    Scrub potatoes. Cut any large potatoes in half. In a covered medium saucepan, cook potatoes in a large amount of boiling, lightly salted water for 10 minutes, adding the baby squash and mushrooms for the last 1 minute of cooking time. Drain and cool slightly.

    On eight 10- to 12-inch metal skewers, alternately thread potatoes, squash and mushrooms, leaving a 1/4-inch space between pieces. In a small bowl combine butter, rosemary and chipotle chile pepper. Brush over vegetables. Sprinkle kabobs with coarse salt.

    For a charcoal grill, grill kabobs on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 8 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and brown, turning and brushing occasionally with butter mixture. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place kabobs on grill rack over heat. Cover; grill as above.) Makes 8 servings.

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