An appetizer that just screams summer to me is bruschetta. Once the tomatoes are good (ie not mushy and tasteless like they are in January) you can be sure that bruschetta is showing up on our plates on a regular basis. Always partial to my Mother’s recipe, although my friend Anna makes a delicious version with mozzarella, simplicity is key with bruschetta and nothing is better than tomatoes, basil, garlic and some olive oil.
This was the first time I’ve tried bruschetta grilled and as with most foods, grilling just takes it to the next level. The tomatoes were slightly roasted, the bread imparted with a smoky flavor that just can’t be replicated in the oven.
- Whole grain baguette
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- fresh basil, julianned
Cut bread into 1 inch pieces and rub with cut side of garlic clove. Set aside. Rub tomatoes with garlic clove.
Thread alternating bread pieces and tomatoes on skewer. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill over medium heat for about 4 minutes per side until bread is toasted.
Remove from skewer and put on a plate, and sprinkle with basil.
The salad bar can be a great place to build-you-own balanced meal or a place where you can feel like you are eating healthy when it really isn’t the case.
In college, the salad bar was my favorite aspect of dorm dining – when else do you have access to rows of clean and cut veggies? I frequented it on a daily basis and firmly believe that it helped prevent the dreaded freshman 15.
While I don’t get to the salad bar quite as often these days, it does make a great stand-in for those days that I don’t bring my own lunch. Here are my guidelines for building the perfect salad:
- The lettuce base: the darker the better, think spinach and spring greens for the majority, and some romaine for added crunch if desired. Fill most of the container with lettuce.
- Load up on veggies: add as many vegetables as you can, remembering the rainbow – think cucumber, broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, sprouts, etc.
- Add a protein: tofu, beans, chicken or lean deli meats. This will add some staying power to your salad.
- The Extras: I sometimes like to add some deli salads for a little something extra, sometimes a grain or pasta, sometimes a veggie salad like the marinated Italian veggies shown here. If choosing a grain or mayo-based salad, stick to less than 1/2 cup.
- Fat & Flavor: Add 1 Tbsp of nuts (choose nuts over croutons) or flavorful cheese (feta, blue or parmesan) for some healthy fats and extra flavor.
- Dressing: Instead of the typical ranch dressing, try using a balsamic vinaigrette or a sprinkle of olive oil and vinegar over your salad.
What ingredients does your ideal salad bar have?
Filed under antioxidants, ask the nutritionist, cheese, fats, great meals, grocery shopping, lose weight, nuts, protein, salad, tomatoes, Uncategorized, vegetables, whole foods
Poor iceberg lettuce. I mean, it has a terrible reputation, but I can think of many worse things than iceberg lettuce. Nutritional all-star? Hardly. But sometimes a crisp wedge with creamy blue cheese and fresh cracked pepper is just what I want. And just forget the notion that blue cheese dressing is “bad for you”, it happens to be wonderful on iceberg.
The wedge salad was very popular in the 50’s and 60’s when lettuce options were limited and long before there was a wall of greens in the grocery store like we now see.
Today, some 60 years later, it is starting to show up again on menu’s – coming back as the “retro” wedge. So put on your heels, pearls and apron and get to that wedge!
I can’t say that iceberg makes it into my refrigerator on a regular basis, but when it does? I’ve got my blue cheese and french dressing waiting.
Wedge Salad – 4 servings
- 1 head Organic Iceberg Lettuce
- red onion slices
- tomato slices
- blue cheese dressing
- french dressing
- fresh ground pepper
- additional add-ons: bacon crumbles, nuts, cheese
Wash head of lettuce and cut into 4 pieces. Add tomatoes and onions as desired and top with dressings. Don’t forget to serve with a knife, you’ll need it!
Grilled veggies had yet to make an appearance this spring and I thought this would be the perfect way to re-introduce them into my meals! The recipe inspiration came from Giada. It is a bit time consuming (at least when grilling vegetables with a miniature grill) but so worth it. The vegetables are tender-crisp and the flavor from peppers, onions, fennel and eggplant are perfect with fire-roasted tomato sauce. Serve with crusty bread and some red wine. 😉
Vegetable Parmesan – 4 servings adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
- 1 red pepper, sliced into 4 pieces
- 1 eggplant, sliced into 1/2″ thick slices
- 1 red onion, sliced into 1/2″ thick slices
- 1 large fennel bulb, sliced into 1/2″ thick slices
- jar of fire roasted tomato sauce
- 1/4 lb. sheeps milk pecorino romano, shredded
- 1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
- basil and red pepper flakes for garnish
Pre-heat oven to 400° F. Heat grill and mist all veggies with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill eggplant for about 3 minutes per side and set aside. Repeat with all vegetables. Cut pepper into strips after grilling. Pour 1/2 cup sauce on bottom of a 9×13 pan. Spread out with a spoon. Layer on eggplant, more sauce and a little cheese. Repeat with remaining vegetables, sauce and cheese. (Essentially making a lasagna) Top with 1/2 cup bread crumbs and bake for about 25-30 minutes until cheese has melted and sauce is bubbly.
Don’t forget about the tea give-away!
Home-made falafel has been on my list of things to make for quite some time. In fact, as I was cleaning out my cupboards, I tossed out a boxed mix that had been expired for, oh, a year or so. It is so easy that I’m really not sure why it had taken so long – essentially it is a ball of hummus and considering that I make hummus on a regular basis I really have no excuse.
There is no better accompaniment to falafel then some tzatziki and a greek salad. The Greek way – no lettuce, just cucumbers, tomato, red onion, kalamata olives, feta, olive oil and salt & pepper. Simple and a salad stand-by in my house.
Falafel – makes about 3-4 servings
- 2 cups garbanzo beans (I cooked my own, reserving some of the cooking liquid)
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- herbamare, coriander, cumin, parsley, salt & pepper
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
Process beans, onions, garlic and spices until smooth and incorporated together. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in large pan. Roll falafel into 2 inch patties and place in hot oil. Lightly flatten with spatula and cook for a few minutes, until light brown. Flip over and cook other side for 2-3 more minutes.
Confession: This did not work. As I sampled a bite after my photo shoot (normal), the taste was off, not to mention it was a bit mushy and not really sticking together. Then I realized that I forgot to add the salt and we decided we needed some binding power with an egg.
So an egg, salt and more seasonings later we re-fried the falafel – this time resulting in a much tastier little round. Not all kitchen experiments turn out as well as you hope 😉
My friend Marie recently brought these to an engagement party and they are perfect for a party: colorful on a plate, easy to put together and a definite crowd pleaser. I will admit that I was wondering if the ricotta would be flavorful enough, but I was quickly proved wrong – these were as flavorful as could be. And since she was kind enough to leave the left-over ingredients with me…I enjoyed these for a few nights after the party had ended…
Pesto Ricotta Brushetta
- 1 baguette, thinly sliced and toasted under broiler
- prepared pesto and sun-dried tomato pesto
- ricotta cheese
- sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
Layer the bread with the pesto or sun-dried tomato pesto (we had both varieties), ricotta cheese and a sprinkling of sun-dried tomatoes.
Pour yourself a glass of wine, make some snacks and enjoy your weekend!
Last week the taster went on a quest for any restaurants in our area that had been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Subsequently, we have a list of about 15 restaurants that are “must-visits”. Which really is fine with me, because they are generally all places that should be visited – local icons and n0-fuss food. One down, 14 to go.
Emily’s Deli has the charm of a family restaurant and it was evident that much of the cliental were regulars – 4 year olds greeting that wait-staff; couples who don’t need menus. In the 15 minutes we were there (6:00 pm on Friday) the restaurant went from two tables taken and us wondering if this place was any good to a packed restaurant. Let me mention that they serve no alcohol – I always think this says a lot about a restaurant – you know it has to be good for people to go and not drink on a Friday night. 😉
During the wait for the food I inquisitively asked a number of questions to the girl behind the counter – finding out that Emily had passed away a few years back, but her daughter was in the back cooking and she was Emily’s granddaughter, which I should have known, they looked almost identical. Also during the wait I kept seeing salads go out to the tables with what looked like a creamy, gloppy mess of dressing on each one. To be honest it didn’t even look appetizing, but they sold it by the quart so I started wondering if there was something more to this dressing. A few questions later, I had about 3 tablespoons of it to “try” and the list of ingredients. Much to my surprise, and as Emily’s granddaughter told us, everyone’s surprise, there was no dairy in this dressing. Straight garlic, mint, lemon and salt whipped together in a high-speed blender to make a creamy, flavorful dressing with the familiar bite of garlic. I’ll be trying this out in the magic bullet, we will see if it can live up to its infomercial claims.
Spinach Pie: this was ok, I tend to like my spinach with a savory side and this had more of a nutmeg flavor
Lamb Kebab: lamb, zucchini and onion – so flavorful, would get this everytime
Vegetable Kebab: zucchini, onion and tomato – in a quest for some veggies, delicious with the garlic dressing
Garlic Dressing, Tabouli, Baba Ganoush