Tag Archives: vegetarian

Squash Blossom Pizza with Sweet Peppers, Onion, and Pecorino

squash blossom pizza

The title of this recipe might make this pizza sound pretty fancy, but it really isn’t. Squash blossoms are everywhere at the farmers market at this time of year. I’ve been eyeing them, contemplating ways to incorporate the floppy, sunny flowers into a meal. I’ve had blossoms fried and stuffed, but to be honest, I find them oily and heavy (at least the ones I’ve tried).  So I decided to layer them into a “white” pizza (with no red sauce) and see what happened. The results were resoundingly good and a unanimous hit at the dinner table. The flowers added a subtle, nutty flavor to the crisp and cheesy pizza, rounded out by the sweet Italian peppers, onions, and a kick of heat from crushed red chili flakes. It’s very clear the squash blossoms may be delicate, but they are no shrinking wall flower.

Squash Blossom Pizza with Sweet Peppers, Onions and Pecorino

Make your own dough (recipe here), or purchase prepared dough. For quick dinners I often purchase good quality dough ready to form from my supermarket. For family meals I stretch one package into a large rectangle, but feel free to shape it into 2 smaller pizzas. Makes one (10 x 15-inch) pizza.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt
1 prepared pizza dough, about 1 pound
1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced, about 1/2 cup
1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet peppers (I used 2 “Jimmy Nardello” peppers)
8 squash blossoms, quartered lengthwise
1 (8 ounce) fresh mozzarella ball, patted dry and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the grill for indirect cooking over high heat (about 500°F for a gas grill) and preheat a pizza stone for at least 15 minutes. (Or preheat the oven to 500°F. Place a pizza stone on the lowest oven rack and preheat for at least 15 minutes).
2. Whisk the oil, garlic, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.
3. Stretch the dough out as thinly as possible and lay on pizza peel (or rimless baking sheet lined with parchment). Lightly brush with the oil. Sprinkle half of the Pecorino over the pizza. Top with the onions and peppers. Arrange the squash blossoms over the vegetables, then place the mozzarella around the squash. Sprinkle the oregano, chili flakes and pepper over the pizza and lightly season with salt. Top with the remaining Pecorino.
4. Slide the pizza onto the pizza stone. Close the grill lid and grill until the pizza is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove and brush the crust with some of the oil. Drizzle any remaining oil over the pizza. Cut into serving pieces and serve immediately.

Winter Quinoa Kale Tabbouleh Salad

quinoa kale tabbouleh tastefood
Winter Quinoa Kale Tabbouleh Salad

I call this salad tabbouleh, although most of the ingredients are not what you will find in a typical Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad. Tabbouleh traditionally consists of bulgur or couscous, chopped tomatoes, onions, and gads of fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint, and cilantro. While the grains are a main ingredient in tabbouleh, the salad is usually dominated by the fresh herbs, creating a hearty, satisfying, and decidedly fresh vegetarian meal or side dish.

This recipe switches out the bulgur for quinoa, which adds plenty of protein and a universally pleasing gluten-free option. In addition to handfuls of parsley and cilantro, I add a bunch of shredded tuscan kale – readily found in the markets during the winter. First I rub the kale with oil and lemon to slightly soften the sturdy leaves so that they yield more to the salad, while never becoming too soggy once folded into the salad.

For the vegetables I add poblano and jalapeño chile peppers for their heat and flavor in addition to red bell pepper for sweetness and color. This recipe can be prepared in advance and will remain fresh for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. If you prefer, add the chopped herbs slightly before serving to prevent wilting.

The key to making this salad is to taste as you build it. There should be a balance of citrus, fragrance, heat, and spice – as well as a balance of textures. Quinoa requires a good deal of seasoning for good flavor, so season the quinoa before adding it to the salad. You will also find that the flavors of the tabbouleh will meld the longer is sits in the refrigerator, so taste again before serving.

Winter Quinoa Kale Tabbouleh Salad

Serves 4 to 6

Quinoa:
1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Kale:
1 bunch tuscan kale (6 to 8 leaves)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt

Salad: 
6 to 8 thin scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large poblano chile pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve under cold running water for 30 seconds, then drain. Combine the quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer until the quinoa is tender and releases its germ (the white tail), about 20 minutes. Drain the quinoa and transfer to a bowl. Add the oil, salt, cumin, and black pepper. Stir to combine, then cool to room temperature.

Remove the stems and tough ribs from the kale leaves. Roll up the leaves and thinly slice in chiffonade (narrow ribbons). Place the kale in a bowl and add the oil, lemon juice, and salt. Toss with your hands, while rubbing the oil and lemon into the leaves, for about 15 seconds.

Combine the quinoa, kale, peppers, and garlic in a large bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the parsley and cilantro. Stir well to thoroughly coat the ingredients. Taste for seasoning. Fold in the parsley and cilantro and taste for seasoning again., If desired, add more oil or lemon juice if the tabbouleh is too dry. Cover and refrigerate the tabbouleh for at least one hour to allow the flavors to develop. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

 

Cauliflower Gratin

cauliflower au gratin

Just as we like to wrap ourselves in warming layers in the fall, we can do the same with our vegetables. Cloak your favorite hardy veggies in béchamel and cheese, and your simple summer staples will morph into a warm and comforting side dish. I found yellow cauliflower at the market the other day and mixed it with white cauliflower in this gratin. Don’t just experiment with color. Get creative with other veggies, such as  broccoli florets, chunks of celeriac or diced rutabaga for variety and flavor. As long as there is a blanket of cheese and bechamel, this gratin is a winner.

Cauliflower Gratins
Serves 6 as a side dish

1 large head of cauliflower, broken into bite-size florets
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 ounces Gruyere (or sharp Cheddar) cheese, grated
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs, lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 375 F. (190 C.)  Butter 6 individual ramekins (or a gratin dish).
Steam the cauliflower until crisp tender. Transfer to a large bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, and cook until light golden, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the milk in a steady stream, whisking constantly, the continue to cook, stirring, until the bechamel thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add  the Gruyere cheese, whisking until smooth. Pour the bechamel over the cauliflower and stir to thoroughly coat. Spoon into the ramekins. Combine the Parmesan and panko in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the tops of the gratins. Bake until golden on top and bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Gemelli with Roasted Tomatoes, Arugula and Breadcrumbs

Tomato Pasta Plate x

 

Are you looking for an easy and healthy weeknight meal? Here is a light and fresh pasta dinner that may be prepared in 30 minutes. I make this recipe frequently, especially when I have gads of tomatoes on hand – which at this time of year is all the time. Slow roasting coaxes out their natural juices and sugars and heightens their flavor. Fresh arugula is tossed into the mix, slightly wilting from the heat of the cooked pasta. The final touch is a shower of toasted olive oil breadcrumbs, which add a comforting and richly delicious crunch to the dish.

Gemelli Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Arugula, and Olive Oil Breadcrumbs
Serves 4

Roasted Tomatoes:
1 pound grape or cherry tomatoes
3 unpeeled garlic cloves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 thyme sprigs

Olive Oil Breadcrumbs:
1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs (or panko)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Pasta:
1 pound gemelli or fusilli pasta
2 large handfuls of arugula, about 3 cups
1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Roast the tomatoes:
Heat the oven to 400°F. Scatter the tomatoes and garlic cloves on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Stir to coat. Scatter the thyme sprigs over the tomatoes and transfer to the oven. Roast until the tomatoes are softened and begin to release their juices, about 25 minutes. Remove the tomatoes and discard the thyme sprigs. Peel the skin away from the garlic and finely chop the cloves. Transfer the tomatoes, garlic, and any pan juices to a large serving bowl.

Toast the breadcrumbs:
Reduce the oven heat to 350°F. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on the same baking sheet. Add the oil and stir to coat. Return the baking sheet to the oven and toast the breadcrumbs until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. (They will brown quickly so watch them carefully.) Remove and immediately transfer the breadcrumbs to a small bowl to prevent further cooking. Cool 5 minutes, then stir in the cheese.

Make the pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente; drain. Add the pasta to the tomatoes. Add the arugula, cheese, and oil. Toss to combine and slightly wilt the arugula. Add half of the breadcrumbs and stir once or twice to blend. Divide the pasta between serving plates. Garnish with the remaining breadcrumbs and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Southwestern Quinoa and Kale Tabbouleh

quinoa tabbouleh tastefood

This recipe is a clash of civilizations. Traditional tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern bulgur salad, packed with fresh herbs, garlic and chopped vegetables and coated with lemon and olive oil. This version wanders south of the American border with a rendition that substitutes quinoa for the bulgur and adds corn, red pepper, and cilantro. Shredded kale joins in the fun adding flavor and healthy heft. This salad makes a great light main course and a substantial side that goes well with grilled meat, chicken and fish. For a complete vegetarian option, substitute the chicken stock for water, and taste to adjust for additional seasoning.

Southwestern Quinoa and Kale Tabbouleh
Serves 4 to 6

1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or water)
1 teaspoon salt
1 corn cob, husked
1 red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large carrot, peeled and finely grated
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 cups shredded kale leaves
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoona extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot sauce (or ground cayenne)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the quinoa under cold water and drain. Place in a medium saucepan with the chicken stock (or water) and the salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until the quinoa releases it’s tail (germ) and the liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a large bowl and cool.
Cut the kernels off of the corn and add to the quinoa. Add all of the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Lemony Mixed Greens with Fava Beans and Mint

fava green saladIt was tempting to fiddle with this salad, but I am happy I didn’t. The beauty of this plate of greens is its simplicity. Bright fava beans, mint, spring greens and napped with lemon and olive oil. Favas are a bit of work to prepare, but well worth the effort. A good idea is to prep more than you need, then freeze the leftovers for easy use later. Feel free to mix the greens to your liking. Peppery arugula is a must, on its own or combined with mizuna, baby spinach, watercress – they all work. If you can get your hands on fresh chervil, that will add nice flavor as well.

Lemony Mixed Greens with Fava Beans and Mint
Serves 3 to 4

1 pound fava beans in the pod
5 ounces (about 5 cups) mixed greens
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, shredded
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shaved Parmigiano
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Shuck the fava beans. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the beans and blanch until bright green, about 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold water. When cool enough to handle, remove the shells.
2. Whisk the olive oil,  lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt in a small bowl.
3. Combine the fava beans, greens and mint in the salad bowl. Drizzle with half of the dressing and toss to coat. Add more dressing to taste. Scatter the cheese over the salad and garnish with freshly ground black pepper.

Grilled Broccoli Rabe

broccoli rabe tastefood

Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, is a brassica, or mustard plant. It resembles skinny leafy broccoli with narrow stems, spiky leaves and tiny green buds that resemble miniature broccoli heads. Slightly bitter and peppery, rapini fries up well in a skillet with robust ingredients such as garlic and red chili flakes – which is how I often prepare it. Yesterday I tried a different method and tossed the slim stems with olive oil and salt, then gave them a good char on the grill. Not only was it super easy to prepare, the charred flavor was a perfect match with the assertive rapini. I served it as an accompaniment to a whole chicken I roasted in a skillet on the grill. While the chicken rested, I cooked the rabe. Then, before serving, I drizzled a few tablespoons of the chicken pan juices over the greens. While chicken pan juices are not a necessary addition, I highly recommend it.

Grilled Broccoli Rabe

Serves 3 to 4 as a side dish.

1 pound broccoli rabe
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat. Place the broccoli rabe in a bowl. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil. Lightly season with salt. Toss to coat. Carefully place the broccoli rabe on the grill, perpendicular to the grates. Cook with the lid closed until bright green in color and charred in spots, about 4 minutes, turning once or twice with tongs. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve warm.

Grilled Pizza with Baby Kale, Broccolini and Chilies

broccoli kale pizza tastefood

Do you have a grill? Do you love pizza? Then look no further for a couple of  techniques that will result in delicious homemade pizza. I grill pizzas all year, no matter the weather. It keeps the heat outside on a warm day, gives me an excuse to fire up the grill on a cold day, and consistently results in crispy, chargrilled homemade pizza which is the next best thing to having my own pizza oven.

There are 2 basic methods I use to grill a pizza. The first, and easiest in my opinion, is to use a pizza stone. I have a Weber pizza stone that’s designed to fit right on my grill, but you can use any pizza stone that fits. Just preheat the stone over direct heat while you fire up the grill, and go about preparing  your pizza. When the grill is nice and hot, slide the pizza onto the stone. Close the grill and cook the pizza until the crust is browned, the cheese is melty and bubbly, and the toppings are cooked to your desired doneness, about 15 minutes.

If you want more char and blistering to your crust, the second technique is to grill the pizza directly on the grates. In this case, you should begin to grill the crust before adding the toppings. Lightly oil the rolled out crust, then place over direct heat, oiled-side down. Grill until the crust  is nicely browned on the bottom and releases easily from the grates, about 2 minutes. Brush the un-cooked side of the crust with oil then flip the crust over and add the toppings to the top. Close the lid and grill until the cheese melts and the toppings wilt, about 5 minutes.

This was the pizza I made over the weekend using the pizza stone method. I often make white pizzas, which means without tomato sauce, and top it with garlic oil, cheese and fresh veggies from the farmers market. It’s a hit with the whole family and great way to get everyone to eat their vegetables.

Grilled Pizza with Baby Kale, Broccolini and Chiles

I prefer to roll my pizza out onto a piece of parchment paper for easy maneuvering. You can skip this step and transfer the dough directly to the pizza stone if desired.  Makes one large pizza.

1 pizza crust dough (recipe below)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes (optional)
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup finely grated Asiago or Pecorino cheese
1 1/2 cups broccolini florets, coarsely chopped
2 cups baby kale leaves (or spinach)
1 red jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat (about 500°F) and preheat a pizza stone for at least 10 minutes.

Roll out the dough to fit the size of the pizza stone (I have a rectangular pizza stone and formed a 10 by 15-inch crust). Lay the dough on a piece of parchment. Trim the parchment to fit the contours of the pizza.

Whisk the oil, garlic and salt in a small bowl. Brush the crust with the oil. Lightly season with chili flakes, if using. Scatter half of the mozzarella and half of the Asiago over the crust. Scatter the broccolini and jalapeno over the cheese. Top with the kale. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Asiago over the kale. Slide the pizza onto the pizza stone. Close the grill and cook until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly, 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from grill and drizzle with remaining oil. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Cut into serving pieces and serve immediately.

Alice Water’s Pizza Dough Recipe:

Makes enough for 2 (10 t0 12-inch) crusts

1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 teaspoons dry yeast
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups cold water
1/4 cup olive oil

Stir lukewarm water and yeast together in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and the semolina. Mix well. Let stand until bubbly, about 30 minutes. Combine the remaining flour and the salt in another bowl, then add to the yeast. Add the cold water and olive oil. Mix well to form a dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (Or use a mixer with a dough hook, and knead about 5 minutes). Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides with the oil. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. Punch dough down, and let rise another 45 minutes. Divide dough into 2 equal disks. Let rest 30 minutes before shaping.

Kale Gratin

kale gratins tastefood.jpg

Winter Greens Gratin

Gratins are a great way to eat your vegetables, especially in the winter. Who can resist bubbling pots of roasted vegetables and winter greens, crispy golden on the top and cheesy-creamy in the center? Hearty earthy greens, such as kale, spinach and chard, stand up exceedingly well to rich bechamel and melted cheese (what wouldn’t?) Serve in a large gratin dish for family style dining or spoon into individual ramekins for fancy serving. Either way, you can be sure that everyone will be eating their greens.

Kale Gratin
Feel free to add other greens or vegetables, such as chopped broccoli or cauliflower. Pecorino or Gruyere cheese may be substituted for the Parmigiano. Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1 to 2 bunches kale (Tuscan or curly), tough ribs removed, coarsely chopped (about 10 cups)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese, divided
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the oil in a deep skillet or wide saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute 1 minute. Add the kale and saute until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until light golden, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cream. Simmer, stirring, until thickened. Whisk in 1/4 cup cheese, the salt, pepper and nutmeg until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth. Pour over the kale and stir to combine. Transfer to a buttered gratin dish or individual ramekins. Top with the remaining cheese. Transfer to oven and bake until the tops of the gratins are golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Serve warm.

Roasted Cauliflower with Chilies, Lemon and Mint

cauliflower tastefoodEat your vegetables – Roasted Cauliflower

It’s a hunch, but I would be willing to bet that you could persuade the most ardent veggie haters to try this cauliflower recipe. Roasting cauliflower magically transforms the snow white crucifer with cabbage-y notes into a tender yet crispy, caramelized treat, coaxing out its natural sweetness and nuttiness. Simple seasonings, such as paprika, salt and pepper gently enhance the flavor. You can serve it simply like that, or go the full Monty and toss it with chilies, lemon and mint.

Roasted Cauliflower with Chilies, Lemon and Mint

Sambal Olek is a Southeast Asian chili sauce. It’s Middle Eastern cousin, Harissa, may be substituted. Serves 4.

1 large head cauliflower
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Finely grated zest from 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Harissa or Sambal Olek

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice the cauliflower, top to bottom into 3/4-inch slices. (Slicing the cauliflower will provide flat sides which will brown easily when roasting). Cut away the thick stems, and gently break the florets apart into large bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl. Add the garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper. Gently toss to coat, then spread onto a rimmed baking sheet. Some of the florets will break into small pieces, but that’s ok – the little bits will get nice and brown while roasting.

Roast on the bottom rack in the oven until the cauliflower turns brown on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to the top third of the oven and continue to roast until golden brown on top and tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with extra olive oil. Drop small spoonfuls of sambal olek over the cauliflower and garnish with lemon zest and mint. Serve warm or at room temperature with extra chile sauce on the side.