Tag Archives: vegetarian recipes

White-Bean, Zucchini, Tomato & Parmesan Salad for Grilling

Just in time for your Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, or Labor Day celebration! This quick, easy salad is packed full of flavor, healthy ingredients, and versatility. This will serve four as a side dish, and goes well with a simple grilled steak, salmon, or even chicken.  Originally inspired Martha Stewart’s  White-Bean Salad with Zucchini and Parmesan, I felt that adding one simple ingredient and a little more oil sent an already-delicious recipe over the top.  Perfect for people on South Beach Diet, or for anyone trying to eat healthier.

Admittedly, when I first read Martha’s version, I wasn’t sure how I’d like raw green beans and zucchini in a salad.  But, as the Iron Chef says: “with an open mind and empty stomach”, I recalled that I once had the pleasure of attending a cooking class offered by Chef Charlie Trotter, now known for his involvement in the raw food movement just before his book was published, Raw, (co-authored by Tim Turner). I’d also had the pleasure of dining at Trotter’s restaurant in Chicago  – and despite the big-ticket it came with – my socks were knocked off.

All of my doubts disappeared the first time I made Martha’s recipe, and as often is the case, I was inspired to make it even better.  This easy yet impressive recipe serves 4 as a side dish. I double-dog dare you to eat raw!

GATHER THIS:

  • 1 can (15 1/2 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2  pound zucchini (1 large), trimmed, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • about 3 ounces green beans, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal (2/3 cup)
  • 2 good, ripe plum tomatoes, seeded & diced
  • 2 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

DO THIS:

In a medium bowl, place cannellini beans, zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, Parmesan, basil, lemon zest and juice, and oil; season generously with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.  I love this with grilled salmon or steak and a crusty Italian bread to soak up the extra dressing.

Note: The texture of the Parmesan in this dish makes all the difference.  I used Stella Parmesan, and crumbled it in my Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus for perfect tiny bites of cheese flavor.  Shavings or grates just aren’t the same – and, at the risk of sounding like a foodie snob, if you are the canned Parmesan type… this recipe probably isn’t for you 😉

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Filed under All Other Recipes, Budget Friendly, Grilling, Healthy Recipes, Italian-inspired, Quick & Easy, South Beach Phase 1

Grilled Onion & Mushroom Salad with Arugula & Goat Cheese

I prepared this side dish to compliment my grill recipe Chicken Pesto Burgers with Tomato Topping, but it would also be excellent with grilled steak or other grilled meats.  It’s easy to prepare and comes together in less than 15 minutes, including the grilling time. It’s FANTASTICO!  This will serve 4 as a side dish.

GATHER THIS:

  • 1 large vidalia onion, peeled, & cut into 8 wedges, leaving part of the root intact
  • 4 oz. white or cremini mushrooms, quartered and stems trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • coarse salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups loosely packed young arugula (large leaves are tough and bitter), rinsed and spun dry
  • 2-4 oz. crumbled goat cheese, as desired (I could eat the whole package with a spoon)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (pignolias)

DO THIS:

Preheat grill to medium.  In a medium bowl, toss together the onion wedges, mushrooms, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and salt and pepper.   Set aside and make the dressing.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar, sugar; season with coarse salt and fresh black pepper to taste.

Grill for about 10 minutes on a grilling rack or a vegetable basket, or until onions are slightly charred and mushrooms have cooked down a bit. Transfer to a serving bowl.  Allow to cool to room temperature; then toss together with arugula and dressing.  Top with crumbled goat cheese and sprinkle with pine nuts.

Note: if  you are unfamiliar with pine nuts, they usually can be found in the baking section of your grocery store, or with the display of Italian products next to pasta.  To toast, place them in a small skillet over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes or until just golden.

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Filed under French Recipes, From My Own Kitchen, Grilling, Healthy Recipes, Italian-inspired, Quick & Easy, South Beach Phase 1

5-Minute Broccoli Slaw for Grilling

It’s grilling season! I’m always looking for new side dishes that interest me more than the usual cole slaw and potato salad.  When you’re in a hurry, throw this great 5-minute broccoli slaw together and wait for friends and family to ask  for the recipe!  Kid-friendly, and healthy too. Great with grilled burgers, fish, and pork,  or alongside Mexican-inspired main courses.

GATHER THIS:

  • 1/3 cup Hellman’s light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup Daisy light sour cream
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 green onions, tops pulled off, trimmed, and sliced thinly on the diagonal
  • juice of 1 medium lime, freshly squeezed
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar, to taste
  • coarse salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  • 10 oz. package of broccoli slaw mix (I like confetti slaw: red and green cabbage, broccoli, carrots)

DO THIS:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients.  Toss in the broccoli slaw mix.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately, or chill for up to 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.  Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

What I like best: quick, easy, delicious – and not too sweet – though you can use more sugar or some honey for a little more sweetness if desired.  For South Beach Diet Phase I, substitute Splenda for sugar.

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Filed under Budget Friendly, From My Own Kitchen, Grilling, Healthy Recipes, Mexican-inspired, Quick & Easy, South Beach Phase 1

Romantic Interlude: A Menu with Butternut Squash, Scallops, Asparagus, & Truffle

Romance was in the air, and we had a beautiful 1999 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin champagne,  given to us in November by dear friends of ours, that needed to be made good use of.  My husband and I have had two failed attempts to go out for Valentine’s Day, due to sick kiddos and shortage of babysitters.  Alas, we resolved ourselves to celebrating at home, until such time as I am lucky enough to be served by someone else.

So, I surfed my usual recipe pages for something elegant and sophisticated, yet not to hard on the budget or difficult.  Scallops are a favorite shellfish for both of us; so I stumbled upon this recipe at the food network site:

Scallop and Truffle Mille-Feuille with Meyer Lemon Creme Fraiche and Truffle Vinaigrette

Names never scare me.  I knew that anything Emeril doctored up that I could barely pronounce had potential.  Sure, it called for truffles – and a couple of years ago I would have made the trip to Whole Foods to spend the $25.00 for the jar.  But I had some truffle oil in the cabinet which would do just fine for these tight-wad times of 2010.

For those of you unfamiliar, a truffle is a  delectable mushroom that is difficult to harvest, is grown in only a few places in the world, (mainly France) and therefore, costs about your monthly payment to your IRA.  Not to be confused with a chocolate truffle – which is a chocolatiers’ delicious sweet knockoff of the real thing.

This dish was superb. I changed quite a few things though, to make it easier, less expensive, and less time-consuming.

This is what I did differently:

1. I used regular lemons instead of Meyer lemons, because that’s all my store had.

2. I didn’t use any truffles. Instead, I very thinly sliced a few fresh baby portobellos (cremini mushrooms) for the presentation. Then, I used my black truffle oil to make the dressing and drizzled a little extra over the whole thing at the end.

3.  I didn’t buy puff pastry.  Instead, I happened to have some leftover phyllo dough sheets in my refrigerator from a recipe I had done over New Year’s.  Using a heart-shaped large cookie cutter, cut out a few stacks of heart-shaped dough, about 6 inches in diameter.  Then I quickly separated the heart phyllo sheets into stacks of two or three sheets on the baking sheet as per Emeril’s directions.   I brushed the tops of the hearts with a little butter melted in the microwave.  Then I baked them only for about 5 minutes or so. It’s a good thing I checked the baking hearts then, because phyllo is much thinner than puff pastry and I hadn’t accounted for that.  Lucky!  They were just golden and crispy.

4. I used tin foil in place of parchment paper for baking the heart stacks.

5.  I went on a wild goose chase to find Enoki mushrooms.  Normally, I would have prepared ahead of time, and found them easily at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.  But this was a whim, so after visits to three major grocery stores within a square mile in twenty minutes – I finally found them at the fourth , a stinky Vietnamese market.  The shrooms were fresh. That’s all that mattered.  And it was the one ingredient I wasn’t willing to sacrifice – because it made the presentation.

6. No creme fraiche available at my local stores.  Instead, whole greek-style, plain yogurt was an equally delicious and a healthier substitute.

7. For the dressing, I used some of the fabulous champagne and white vinegar instead of store-bought champagne vinegar.  about a 2:1 ratio. You could use a dry white wine with good results.

Butternut Squash Soup with Fontina Cheese Crostini

We wanted a light dinner, but the scallop recipe just seemed a little too light – and while I was inspired by the dish’s sophistication,  I decided to do a soup for a first course so we wouldn’t be hungry afterward -as sometimes happens after a light and sophisticated meal.   In keeping with new commitment to health during Lent, I opted for a butternut squash soup from Giada DeLaurentis; she rarely lets me down, and I thought the texture would be creamy enough to satisfy my fat craving.

It originally was written to serve six as a first course, so I figured I could cut it in half and maybe still have a cup left for the kids to try the next day.  Besides, I was going the lazy way at the store – didn’t want an extra 15 minutes prep time cutting up squash –  and more than two bags of pre-cut butternut squash was just too expensive. When I got to the store, the only pre-cut squash was with a cinnamon sauce – but I could see from the bag, that  it was just a chunk of brown sugar that would melt upon heating.  So I just opened the bags and discarded the chunks of  cinnamon sugar and voila – I had pre-cut, unseasoned butternut squash for my recipe.

Otherwise, I followed the recipe to the letter – which is unusual for me, and it was PERFECT.  I’m not kidding you.   My husband said it was so fine, smooth, and velvety, and assumed it took a long time to make (it didn’t).   It was healthy and creamy, without an ounce of cream.  Unbelievable.  I was surprised by the ease with which this came together.    And, it could easily be a light supper, all on its own – perhaps even vegetarian, if vegetable stock were used instead of chicken stock.

A quick, traditional, French appetizer

Whenever I do a fancy dinner at home for the two of us, I like to do a very light appetizer or an amuse-bouche. We are lucky enough to have a new, authentic French (Basque-style) deli nearby, so we happened to have a wonderful country-style pate in the fridge. Then remembering that my mom had given me some small, vintage aspic cutters a long time ago, I was inspired to again incorporate the Valentine’s day theme.

I carmelized a few onions and added a little brown sugar to them to garnish the appetizer, and served the pate in the traditional way with some grainy Dijon mustard and toast points.

To round out the meal, my husband had also bought – in honor of our late celebration – some fabulous chocolate mousse and fresh pear pastries from the French guy at the deli.  It’s a good thing, because while I love to cook, I’m not one for making desserts.

When it was all said and done, this was a fabulous Valentine’s day celebration.  I wish I had taken photos of the beautiful dessert that DH had brought home for us, but I had been preparing our dinner for two hours, blogging simultaneously, and it was 9:30 pm by the time we got to dessert… so you’ll just have to imagine how pretty it was.

Here were the courses that I prepared, finished:

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Filed under Culinary Chit Chat, Healthy Recipes