Appetizers, Salads

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad-2

 

“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” Laura Ingalls Wilder was right on.

The freshness of your ingredients – heirloom tomatoes, burrata cheese, fresh basil – make this simple salad so beautiful and delicious. Ideal for late summer gatherings with friends or family.  Pair with a good bottle of wine and fresh bread.

A simple post for a simple salad. I’d like to think Laura would wholeheartedly enjoy this. I’m certain you will.

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad-1Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese SaladHeirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad-3

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 large Heirloom Tomatoes
  • 2 balls burrata cheese (8 ounces total), torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Wash, dry, and slice tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices.  Discard ends and season tomato slices with salt and pepper.
  2. Arrange tomatoes on a platter, overlapping slightly.  Top with burrata and fresh basil.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Servings: 4 (side-dish) or 2 (main-dish with some crusty bread)

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Main Course Recipes, Pasta Recipes, Seafood Recipes

Zucchini Noodles and Spaghetti with Pesto, Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Shrimp

Pesto Zucchini Noodles and Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Shrimp

 

I’m a pesto loving fool.  I’m also a tomato loving fool.  Thankfully, this dish has ’em both (plus super cool spiraled zucchini noodles).  I’m a fool in love, and in this particular instance I’m referring to my dinner.

What do I love about this dish (other than the pesto and tomatoes?):

  • The harmonious balance of slightly chewy al dente pasta and crunchy veg achieved through the combination of pasta noodles and zucchini noodles.
  • The sweetness from the roasted garlic.  Enough said.
  • The toppings. Shrimp, garlic and herb panko breadcrumbs, lemon zest, fresh basil, and the parmesan cheese.

Tomatoesphoto 1photo 2

 

Spiral that fresh zucchini and slice up those pretty multi colored cherry tomatoes. Tear up that fresh basil, and take in that delicious aroma from the roasted garlic.  Lady Summer is still hanging around for a while, and she loves when you get a little foolhardy with her fresh ingredients … she told me so.

Pesto Zucchini Noodles and Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Shrimp Pesto Zucchini Noodles and Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Shrimp Pesto Zucchini Noodles and Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Shrimp Pesto Zucchini Noodles and Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Shrimp

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti (or 2 oz per person)
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • A small pinch of Herbs de Provence (or dried oregano)
  • A small pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 head roasted garlic, squeezed from skins, and mashed with a fork
  • 1/2 cup pesto, homemade or store bought
  • 3 zucchini, spiraled (use a vegetable spiral slicer or a julienne peeler)
  • 1 lb large (16-20 count) shrimp, shelled and deveined (Ask your butcher for them this way.  If you have to devein your own shrimp, follow these steps.)
  • The zest from 1/2 of a lemon (approximately 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup freshly shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Reminder: If you haven’t already done so, roast your garlic now. This takes about 35 minutes!
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  3. Add the tomatoes to the sheet pan, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat, then spread out into a single even layer.  Roast for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions until al dente.  You want the pasta to be tender but slightly firm to the bite.  Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of starchy pasta water.  Reserve pasta.
  5. Meanwhile, add 1 teaspoon olive oil, panko bread crumbs, minced garlic, Herbs de Provence, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt to a small skillet.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the breadcrumbs are toasted and fragrant.  Remove from heat and reserve.
  6. Combine roasted garlic, pesto, and a few tablespoons of the reserved cooking water in a small boil.  Stir to combine and reserve.
  7. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add spiraled zucchini, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until zucchini is cooked through.  (Note: Watch your spiraled zucchini carefully. You do not want it to overcook and become mushy. The goal is for it to retain a nice crunch.)
  8. Meanwhile, add 1 tbsp of olive oil to another large skillet over medium high heat.  Season shrimp with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, and cook for 5 minutes until cooked through.  Cover to keep warm and reserve.
  9. Once spiraled zucchini is cooked through, add the cooked spaghetti and pesto mixture to the pan. Toss to coat and cook for 3 minutes.  Add more pesto or pasta water if necessary.  You want the spaghetti and zucchini to be coated with a nice layer of pesto.
  10. Add the roasted tomatoes to the pan. Toss to combine and cook one additional minute.  Sprinkle with half of the toasted bread crumbs, lemon zest, fresh basil, and reserved shrimp.
  11. Transfer to a serving platter, or serve right out of the skillet.  Serve with remaining  bread crumbs and fresh parmesan cheese on the side.

Serves: 4

Main Course Recipes

Spinach and Ricotta Turkey Meatloaf with Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)

Here I go again.  Overhauling one of Grandma’s classic recipes.  I just can’t help myself.

Grandma’s consists of ground beef, a pack of onion soup mix, and a ketchup-brown sugar glaze.  I lightened it up, and increased the flavor (sign of the times).  Mine has ground turkey, spinach, ricotta, parmesan, onion, garlic, herbs and spices. (I told ya I packed it with flavor!)

Let’s get our ricotta cheese talk out of the way.  Got your pen and paper ready? (You’re all smart people.  Of course you have your note pad ready when you read my blog!)  Ricotta is my latest food obsession.  It is creamy and slightly sweet.  Wonderful on a piece of toasted baguette, spooned into your favorite pasta dishes, or layered on a pizza.  If you’ve never had freshly made/small batch ricotta … the time to remedy that fact is now.  Do it!  Go to the farmers market.  Go to Plum Market.  Go to Whole Foods … just do it.

Spinach and Ricotta Turkey Meatloaf with Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)Spinach and Ricotta Turkey Meatloaf with Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)Spinach and Ricotta Turkey Meatloaf with Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)Spinach and Ricotta Turkey Meatloaf with Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)

 

Zucchini noodles (Zoodles) pair perfectly with this lightened-up meatloaf.  I use a vegetable spiral slicer or a julienne peeler to make my zoodles.  I plan to post a recipe for zucchini noodles soon.  For now, this is what I did:  Per-person, you will need 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1 spiraled zucchini, 1/2 minced garlic clove, 1 tbsp minced onion, salt and pepper.  Heat oil over medium heat and saute onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add zucchini, salt and pepper, and cook for 3-5 minutes until zucchini is tender.  Toss with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.  Easily multiplied to serve a crowd.  Healthy, light, and delicious.

Spinach and Ricotta Turkey Meatloaf with Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)Spinach and Ricotta Turkey Meatloaf with Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)

 

The prefect on-the-fork ratio for this dish was about 75% meatloaf to 25% noodles. So good.

Comfort food on the lighter side.  Grandma would be proud.

Spinach and Ricotta Meatloaf with Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)

Spinach and Ricotta Turkey Meatloaf with Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound white meat ground turkey
  • 12 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess liquid
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese (find it in the deli section of your specialty food store)
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 onion, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • pinch fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Additional parmesan cheese and fresh basil for finishing
  • A batch of Zoodles

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl combine the turkey, spinach, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, parsley, basil, egg, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Mix ingredients well.  (Note: I like to do this step with my hands.)

Line a baking dish with parchment paper.  Roughly form the turkey mixture into a 3 inch thick loaf.  Pour the marinara sauce over the loaf and top with mozzarella cheese.

Cover the pan with foil and place in the oven to bake for 50 minutes.  Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of cook-time.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with zucchini noodles, extra parmesan cheese and fresh torn basil (Duh!).

Servings: 6

 

Appetizers, Grilled Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes

Grilled Caprese Salad

Grilled Caprese Salad

 

Here’s a recent dialogue I had with a caprese salad.  (What, you don’t talk to your food?  What, your food doesn’t talk back?)  ME: Oh, caprese.  You are the embodiment of simple and delicious.  You make me happy.  There’s no way you could be any better.  CAPRESE: GRILL ME!

When my food speaks to me, I listen.

I equate Fall with warm comfort foods.  That said, I still crave fresh fruits and vegetables during the autumn months.  This is the perfect combination.  Fresh tomatoes and basil, warmed through on the grill, pared with melted mozzarella cheese and grilled bread.  Grilling the tomatoes brings out their sweetness.  This also releases some of their delicious juices.  These juices concentrate as the salad cooks, creating a lovely sauce to be sopped up with grilled bread.

Grilled Caprese Salad

 

If you do not have access to a grill, you can achieve the same results by placing the caprese salad stacks under your oven broiler.  Just be sure to keep at least 6 inches between the top mozzarella layer and the broiler.

This dish can be served as an appetizer, side dish, or light lunch.  Be sure to serve with plenty of grilled bread for that sauce!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large ripe tomatoes (about 1 lb each), sliced 1/2 inch thick (Each tomato should yield 3 center slices)
  • 1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, torn into pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for bread
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 baguette cut into 1 inch slices (drizzled with a small amount of olive oil)
  • 1 garlic clove, left whole

Directions:

Heat grill to medium high heat.

Prepare 2 large pieces of tin foil, at least 8 inches long each.  Using a pastry brush, brush a small amount of olive oil into the center of each piece of foil.  Create caprese salad stack by placing one slice of tomato onto tin foil, then season the tomato with salt and pepper.  Next, add a layer of mozzarella, then basil.  Repeat 2 more times ending with mozzarella.  Repeat process with the second piece of tin foil, making a second caprese salad stack.  Season the top of each stack with additional pepper and 1 tsp of olive oil.  Fold the sides of the tin foil to create a wall around the caprese salad stack.  This will catch juices.  Place on the grill for 5 minutes until mozzarella is melted.

Meanwhile, grill bread for 2 minutes per side.  Remove bread from grill and rub with a raw garlic clove. (Note, make sure the bread is still warm when you rub it with the garlic clove.  This heats up the garlic and transfers the flavor to the bread.)

Remove caprese salad stack from the grill and top with additional fresh basil.  Serve with grilled bread.

My favorite part of this dish is the juices that cook out of the caprese salad.  Make sure to catch them in the tin foil.  Dip grilled bread into these juices liberally!

Grilled Caprese Salad

Pasta Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes

Caprese Mac and Cheese

Caprese Mac and Cheese

 

Mac and Cheese in August?  I’ll take it, but with a summer spin.  Even during these warm months, I still need a big bowl of cheesy, noodley goodness. I think we all do.

For this batch of goodness, I combined mozzarella, sharp white cheddar, parmesan, and cream cheese to make a velvety smooth sauce.  I then tossed this with whole wheat macaroni and topped with fresh tomatoes and basil.  Voila!  We have savory and fresh summertime mac and cheese.

You can make this dish lighter by using reduced fat cheese.  When I’m making mac and cheese, I prefer to use full fat.  If you’re making mac and cheese, I assume you’re taking a day off from the diet.  Just be sure to eat a smaller portion and not go back for seconds (yeah, like that’s happening).

Serve with a nice salad of fresh spinach tossed with lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Get ready for your family and friends to devour.  The entire dish was gone in 10 minutes at my house.  Best enjoyed outside, under a shady tree, with a glass of wine in hand.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb whole wheat elbow macaroni (4 cups dry)
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups skim milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 cups sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Tomato Basil Garnish – 2 cups chopped heirloom cherry tomatoes (mixed variety), 1/2 cup fresh basil sliced into thin ribbons, salt, and pepper

IMG_20130825_144502

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and reserve.  Spray baking dish with non-stick cooking spray, reserve.

Melt butter over medium-low heat in a saucepan until bubbly.  Stir frequently to avoid burning.  When butter is melted, add onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Cook 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant.  Add flour and whisk to combine.  Meanwhile, warm milk in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Whisk the warm milk into the butter and flour mixture.  Increase heat to medium-high and continue cooking for 5 minutes, whisking frequently until sauce begins to bubble and thicken.  Season with salt and pepper.

Remove sauce from heat, add 1 cup mozzarella cheese, sharp white cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, cream cheese, and parsley.   Stir to combine until all cheese is melted.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference.  Add cooked pasta and stir to combine.  Pour into prepared baking dish.  Top with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.

Combine panko and Italian seasoning.  Sprinkle over mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes until bubbly.

Broil for 2 minutes to brown breadcrumbs (be careful not to burn).

While mac and cheese is baking, prepare garnish.  Combine tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper.

Remove mac and cheese from broiler, top with garnish, and serve!

Servings: 8 (Serving Size: 1 cup) Notes: Adapted from Caprese Mac and Cheese

Appetizers, Snacks, Vegetarian Recipes

Easiest Bruschetta Ever

Sometimes, it’s as easy as combining freshly baked bread, a ripe tomato, and basil.  Pour yourself a glass of white wine, and the perfect afternoon snack or light lunch is served.

Bread, Tomato, and Basil

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of fresh bread, lightly toasted (or not, your preference)
  • 1 ripe tomato, sliced
  • 2 fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Assemble tomato and basil on top of bread.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Top with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Pasta Recipes, Seafood Recipes

Summer Spaghetti with Shrimp

Summer Spaghetti with Shrimp

 

I LOVE PASTA!  That’s all there is to it.  I try to minimize my carb intake, especially at night.  That being said, sometimes I have to give in to my craving for a big bowl of pasta.  In the summer months, this dish is perfect.  I know perfect is a strong word, but really, it applies to this pasta.  Tomatoes are just starting to come into season in my neck of the woods. So last weekend, when I was at the farmers market, I scooped up 2 large pints of cherry heirlooms.  These tomatoes have a sweet, tangy, candy like quality to them.  Perfect (there’s that word again) to be eaten raw.

This recipe is simple to make, and it only takes 15 minutes to put together.  During the week, this is exactly the type of dish I am looking for.  I added shrimp to round out the meal with a bit of protein, but you can very well leave it out.  The key to this recipe is making sure the spaghetti is still warm when you toss it with the rest of the ingredients.  The warm spaghetti absorbs the fresh flavors of the tomatoes, garlic, and basil. This results in the perfect (had to throw it in there one more time) dish.

Ingredients:

  • 14.5 oz box whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2 pints heirloom cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 12 jumbo raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.  Cook pasta 10 minutes until al dente or according to package directions.  Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water.  Drain pasta and immediately add to serving dish.

While pasta is cooking, preheat a saute pan to medium-high.  Season shrimp with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.  Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to hot pan.  Saute shrimp for 5 minutes turning half way through the cooking process. Remove shrimp from pan, top with lemon juice, and reserve.

To warm pasta, add tomatoes, garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, the reserved pasta water, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Toss to combine.  Add basil leaves, toss, top with reserved shrimp, and serve.  Enjoy with a crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc.