Category: Vegan/Vegetarian

Roasted Acorn Squash

Roasted Acorn Squash

Roasted acorn squash makes a delicious side dish. For this recipe I served this with a pan-roasted pork tenderloin, seasoned solely with salt and pepper, seared in a skillet and finished in the oven to 145 degrees F. A slightly pink interior. Try our Rosemary Honey-Mustard sauce over the pork, it’s perfect for this dish.

I chose to leave the skin on for a different presentation. I’ve been told the skin is edible, but I find it to be tough, especially when roasted, it gets a little firmer. But, the skin on add a beautiful presentation to any dish and the sweet pulp is easily scrapped off with a fork.

This recipe is easily adaptable to any number of people. And, the squash can be cut in half or in quarters in lieu of slices. Add a few more minutes of cooking time. The squash is done when fork tender. One-half acorn squash is usually a perfect serving, unless you have many other sides, then figure ¼ squash per person.

chopped thyme

This recipe is a great example of using both dried and fresh herbs. The dried thyme is best when roasting – the flavor permeates the squash but doesn’t burn and there are no fussy twigs to get rid of. The fresh thyme is the perfect garnish; it brings a pure, fresh taste of the thyme to the dish, as well as a lovely contrasting color.

Roasting the Squash

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a Line a 13 by-18-by-1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Scrub the outside of the squash with a vegetable brush and dry.

Roasted Acorn Squash

Cut the squash in half lengthwise.

Roasted Acorn Squash

Scoop out the seeds and discard.

The acorn squash is ready to be seasoned and roasted in this form, or cut in half again for quarters, or cut each quarter into 2 or 3 more slices. The squash is very adaptable to cooking in any format.

Sliced Roasted Acorn Squash

If cooking the squash in half or quarters, trim a small piece off a center rib so the squash sits flat when place skin side down.

Combine the salt, dried thyme and pepper in a small bowl.

Roasted Acorn Squash

Brush the inside and outside of the squash with the oil. Sprinkle the squash with the spice mix.

Place the half or quartered acorn squash skin side down or strew the slices of squash across the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the squash is very soft when pierced with a fork.

Roasted Acorn Squash

Garnish with the fresh thyme and use the sprigs to garnish the serving platter.

Roasted Acorn Squash

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Roasted Acorn Squash

Roasted Acorn Squash

This recipe is easily adaptable to any number of people. One-half acorn squash is usually a perfect serving for one, unless you have many other sides, then figure ¼ squash per person.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 - 8 servings
  • Category: Vegan/Vegetarian
  • Method: Roasting

Ingredients

2 acorn squash
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Garnish
1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme
Thyme sprigs

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a Line a 13 by-18-by-1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Scrub the outside of the squash with a vegetable brush and dry.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise.

Scoop out the seeds and discard.

The acorn squash is ready to be seasoned and roasted in this form, or cut in half again for quarters, or cut each quarter into 2 or 3 more slices. The squash is very adaptable to cooking in any format.

If cooking the squash in half or quarters, trim a small piece off a center rib so the squash sits flat when place skin side down.

Combine the salt, dried thyme and pepper in a small bowl.

Brush the inside and outside of the squash with the oil. Sprinkle the squash with the spice mix.

Place the half or quartered acorn squash skin side down or strew the slices of squash across the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the squash is very soft when pierced with a fork.

Garnish with the fresh thyme and use the sprigs to garnish the serving platter.

Keywords: squash, acorn squash, roasted squash, roasted acorn squash

Escarole and Blue Cheese Salad with Sherry Wine Vinaigrette

Escarole & Blue Cheese Salad

I served this Escarole and Blue Cheese Salad with a Sherry Wine Vinaigrette for dinner the other night and my girlfriend Lynn loved it. She had never had raw escarole before.

Blue cheese goes nicely with the bitterness of escarole, it adds a salty creaminess, the cranberries a little tartness, and the crunchy walnuts add more crunch. The tangy vinaigrette brings it all together. While there’s lots going on in this salad, it’s very simple to make.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and this salad is an excellent way to start or accompany your menu. The refreshing crispy escarole with a coating of the zesty dressing is a great foil for all those rich and tasty traditional Thanksgiving sides.

Vinaigrette

A simple mix of olive oil, Sherry wine vinegar, Dijon, shallots, salt and pepper.

Escarole & Blue Cheese Salad

Use two tablespoons minced shallot  for this dressing. If the shallot is large, mince only half.

Escarole & Blue Cheese Salad

Place the oil, vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt, and pepper in a jar and shake well. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

Salad

Thoroughly wash the escarole, it grows in a sandy soil.

Escarole & Blue Cheese Salad

Spin dry and stack the greens and slice across the leaves.

Escarole & Blue Cheese Salad

Place the sliced escarole in a salad bowl. Shake the vinaigrette and drizzle the greens with just enough dressing to coat the salad but not pool at the bottom of the bowl.

Escarole & Blue Cheese Salad

Sprinkle the top of the salad with the nuts, cheese, and cranberries. I like to add the toppings last because they always fall to the bottom of the bowl. Sitting on top of the dressed salad makes a lovely presentation.

Escarole & Blue Cheese Salad

 

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Escarole and Blue Cheese Salad with Sherry Wine Vinaigrette

A tangy, crunchy salad that’s quick and easy to make.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Category: Salad

Ingredients

Vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
1 small minced shallot, about 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Salad
1 head escarole, chopped
1 cup whole toasted walnuts, chopped
¾ cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

Vinaigrette

Two tablespoons minced shallot is enough for this dressing. If the shallot is large, mince only half.

Place the oil, vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt, and pepper in a jar and shake well. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

Salad

Thoroughly wash the escarole, it grows in a sandy soil. Spin dry and stack the greens and slice across the leaves.

Place the sliced escarole in a salad bowl

Shake the vinaigrette and drizzle the greens with just enough dressing to coat the salad but not pool at the bottom of the bowl.

Sprinkle the top of the salad with the nuts, cheese, and cranberries.

I like to add the toppings last because they always fall to the bottom of the bowl. Sitting on top of the dressed salad makes a lovely presentation.

Keywords: salad, vinaigrette, escarole salad, escarole salad with blue cheese, escarole salad with blue cheese and walnuts, dried cranberries, sherry wine vinaigrette

Fresh Herbs versus Dried Herbs

Stew Leonards herb selection

Here’s a little primer on using fresh herbs versus dried herbs.

I prefer fresh herbs for many dishes, especially recipes that call for delicate herbs, such as basil, dill weed, chervil, chives, cilantro, mint, parsley and tarragon, which fade quickly during long cooking times. The best time to use delicate herbs is at the end of cooking or as a garnish. Stir in during the last 5 to 10 minutes, but no longer or the flavor diminishes significantly. Chopping helps releases more flavor components, a rough chop or fine mince, either is fine. These freshly chopped herbs awaken the taste buds and have a pleasing aroma.

Always use fresh herbs in cold preparations, such as salsa and guacamole. Dried herbs won’t reconstitute properly without heat and moisture, and the flavor is muted.

basil

Dried herbs are concentrated in flavor and are best for long, slow cooking times, such as our Mediterranean Lamb Shanks. These hearty herbs include bay leaves, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory and thyme. The moisture and heat of the liquid in a slow-cooked, roasted, or baked recipe rehydrates dried herbs and the flavor infuses the liquid, meat and vegetables nicely. A garnish of the matching fresh herb or one of the fresh herbs in a mélange, coarsely chopped or minced, further brightens and enhances any dish.

Mediterranean Lamb Shanks

Rule of Thumb: Dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor, so use 1/3 less than fresh herbs. For example, if a recipe calls for a tablespoon of fresh herbs, use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs.

dried herbs in spice drawer

Shelf Life and Storage

Fresh Herbs

Unfortunately, fresh herbs are highly perishable. Once separated from the root, they begin to wilt and dry out. The method I use for storing most of my fresh herbs is to gently rinse them in cold water, shake the excess water off (or use a lettuce spinner), strew atop a couple of sheets of paper towel, loosely roll it up and store in a sealed plastic baggie. Most herbs will last 3-4 days.

tarragon

Don’t buy fresh herbs without plans to use them immediately; they’re expensive, especially in the winter, when brought in from outside sources. Notice the size of fresh herb bundles as the growing season progresses – they can be huge – especially basil, which is the ideal time to scoop them up and make several batches of pesto for the freezer!

pesto

Dried Herbs

Dried herbs have a longer shelf life, though not indefinite. Store in dry, dark places, such as a spice drawer or cupboard. Countertop spice racks are not ideal because of the exposure to light. If you are uncertain about the freshness of a dried herb, or spice for that matter, open the jar and give a sniff. If the aroma is weak, the herbs are past their prime and need to be replaced. My go to source is Penzey’s, https://www.penzeys.com which has a store a few miles from my home. They are also have a mail-order business. For those herbs (and spices) that I use infrequently or in minute amounts, I buy the 2 ounce jar.

Use Both Fresh and Dried Herbs

Maximize flavor by using a combination of both fresh and dried herbs. Start with dried herbs in slow-cooked recipes like soups, stews, and sauces, while sweating the aromatics. The dried herb infuses the dish with a subtle flavor. Just before serving, stir in a good handful of freshly chopped herb(s) for a bright, fresh flavor.

mint

 

Photos of herbs were taken at Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk CT.

Apple-Pear Sauce

apple and pear varieties

Here’s a little twist on traditional applesauce, Apple-Pear Sauce.

Fall is upon us and apples and pears are in season and in abundance. To create a complex flavor and varying textures I like to use three varieties of pears and apples. I used Bartlett and Starkrimson, which are sweet and juicy pears with a softer pulp, and Bosc, which is less sweet and firm in texture. The apples, which I sourced from The Whittier Fruit Farm during my recent trip to Rochester, included SweeTango, crisp with good acidity, Jonagold with a sweet honey flavor, and a Macoun, with a firmer texture. To highlight the vanilla undertone of the pears, I add a vanilla bean and a little lemon zest for acidity.

The recipe comes together easily and with few ingredients. Simply peel and core 6 pears and 6 apples and cut into about 1-inch cubes, the smaller the size the shorter the cooking time.

To core apples, use a melon baller. The stems of the pear extend down to the core. Quarter the pear and use a paring knife to slice top to bottom to remove inner stem and core.

coring pears

To get to the seeds of the vanilla, make a slit at the end of the bean, but don’t cut through to the bottom. Slide the knife between the pod and run the knife down the bean to split it in half lengthwise.

splitting a vanilla bean

Scrape out the seeds with the edge of a paring knife.

scraped vanilla bean

Add 1/4 cup cold water, the vanilla bean seeds and the lemon zest. Cover and cook over a very low flame. Low and slow is the way to go – high heat only scorches the fruit and that flavor permeates the entire sauce.

chopped pears and apple in saucepan

Stir every 3 minutes or so to move the fruit on top to the bottom. Once the fruit starts to break down, raise the heat a bit, just a little bit, and leave the cover askew. These are juicy fruits and it’s good to let a little of the liquid evaporate. A loose apple-pear sauce isn’t as tasty or pleasing to the palette.

The sauce is usually done in 30 to 40 minutes, again this depends on the size of the fruit. An unripe, extra-firm fruit can also take a little longer to cook. To test, push a few fruit cubes against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. The sauce is ready when easily smashed.

Mash with a potato masher. I like my apple-pear sauce to have a little texture and leave some small chunky pieces. Don’t use a blender, food processor or immersion blender, however, the harsh processing destroys cell structure and the sauce becomes a soup.

Cool, place in jars, cover and refrigerate or freeze.

apple-pear sauce in jars

Serve warm or at room temperature.

apple-pear sauce in a bowl

Recipe doubles easily and freezes well.

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Apple-Pear Sauce

apple-pear sauce in a bowl

Here’s a little twist on traditional applesauce, Apple-Pear Sauce. Use a variety of pears and apples for complex flavor and texture.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 cups; 10-12 servings
  • Category: Side Dish

Ingredients

6 assorted pears
6 assorted apples
1 vanilla bean, seeds only
zest of one lemon

Instructions

The recipe comes together easily and with few ingredients. Simply peel and core 6 pears and 6 apples and cut into about 1-inch cubes, the smaller the size the shorter the cooking time.

To core apples, use a melon baller. The stems of the pear extend down to the core. Quarter the pear and use a paring knife to slice top to bottom to remove inner stem and core.

To get to the seeds of the vanilla, split it in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the sharp edge of a paring knife.

Add 1/4 cup cold water, the vanilla bean seeds and the lemon zest. Cover and cook over a very low flame. Low and slow is the way to go – high heat only scorches the fruit and that flavor permeates the entire sauce.

Stir every 3 minutes or so to move the fruit on top to the bottom. Once the fruit starts to break down, raise the heat a bit, just a little bit, and leave the cover askew. These are juicy fruits and it’s good to let a little of the liquid evaporate. A loose apple-pear sauce isn’t as tasty or pleasing to the palette.

The sauce is usually done in 30 to 40 minutes, again this depends on the size of the fruit. An unripe, extra-firm fruit can also take a little longer to cook. To test, push a few fruit cubes against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. The sauce is ready when easily smashed.

Mash with a potato masher. I like my apple-pear sauce to have a little texture and leave some small chunky pieces. Don’t use a blender, food processor or immersion blender, however, the harsh processing destroys cell structure and the sauce becomes a soup.

Cool, place in jars, cover and refrigerate or freeze.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

Recipe doubles easily and freezes well.

Keywords: apple sauce, pear sauce, condiment, Thanksgiving dinner,

Vichyssoise

Vichyssoise in a bowl

Leeks are plentiful at the farmers’ markets these days and I can’t resist them. I haven’t made or had Vichyssoise in years and just seeing those leeks, I couldn’t get the soup off my mind.

Leeks are a member of the allium family – onions, garlic, scallions. It’s long and thin (1 – 2 inches in diameter) and has dark green leaves on top and a light green to white bulb at the bottom. The amount of light green and white depends on how deeply the leek is planted in the soil to avoid direct sunlight.

vichyssoise - leek photo

Leeks grow deeply entrenched in a sandy soil and those outer layers trap the sand and require a thorough cleaning. Chopped leeks are relatively easy to clean. Just trim and discard the dark green tops and the root on the bottom. Cut in half lengthwise, slice into thin pieces, and plop into a big bowl of cold water. Swish the cut leeks around, pick up handfuls and gently rub together between your palms to separate the layers and loosen the dirt. Let sit for several seconds to allow the dirt to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Scoop into colander, rinse the bowl, and repeat. Drain.

Cooking time for root vegetables like potatoes vary according to the size of the chunks. After peeling, I usually cut them in half lengthwise and then into ½-inch slices. Once the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle and in about 15 minutes the potatoes are tender. To test, gently press a cube against the side of the pan; it should easily break apart.

Bouquet garni is a combination of parsley (stems only are fine), thyme, and bay leaf, which are wrapped in cheesecloth or stuffed into a sachet bag for easy removal at the end of cooking. This method imparts the earthy flavors of the herbs and keeps the soup pristine.

bouquet garni

White peppercorns are commonly used for this dish – the thinking is no one wants to see little specks of black pepper in the beautiful white soup. I, however, am not a fan of white peppercorns – I find them very bitter. I use cayenne, which gives a subtle underlying heat that, in my opinion, neither white nor black peppercorns impart.

There are few ingredients in this soup and it comes together easily. As with so many recipes, the flavor is best after it sits overnight, giving a uniformly delicious mouthful with every spoonful. My husband and I finished this soup in two days. We were scraping the bottom of the bowl. It is very flavorful, and the texture is silky smooth.

Hot vs Cold

Vichyssoise is typically served chilled. Chilling mutes the taste and aroma of food, so it’s important to be aggressive when seasoning food you plan to serve cold. The recipe below gives the amount of salt and cayenne for both a cold soup and a hot soup.

Vichyssoise

Melt the butter in the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Stir in the cleaned leeks, garlic, salt, and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. This releases excess moisture and intensifies the flavor of the aromatics. Lower the heat a bit if the leeks are starting to brown.

leeks to saute

Add the potatoes, stock, and bouquet garni, bring to a boil, lower heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. The time varies depending on the size of the potato pieces. I cut my potato in half lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch slices.

Vichyssoise in saucepan

Remove and discard the bouquet garni and let the soup cool for 20 minutes.

To purée, fill a blender or food processor with both solids and liquid to the halfway point and process until completely smooth. See our post/video on How to Safely Blend Hot Ingredients.

Stir in the half-and-half or cream. If you prefer not to use dairy, use a cup of stock.

Vichyssoise in a bowl

Serve chilled or hot with a generous garnish of chopped chives.

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Vichyssoise

Delicious hot or cold, this soup has a silky texture and earthy flavor. The chopped chives are not only a beautiful visual element, but the flavor complements the soup nicely.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 quarts
  • Category: Soup

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups leeks, thinly sliced (about 1 ½ pounds whole leeks with generous white portions)
1 clove garlic minced
kosher salt:
Cold: 2 ½ teaspoons
Hot: 1 ½ teaspoons
¼ teaspoon cayenne
4 medium Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups good quality chicken or vegetable stock, such as More Than Gourmet
1 bouquet garni
1 cup cream, half and half, or stock

Garnish
chopped fresh chives

Instructions

Melt the butter in the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Stir in the cleaned leeks, garlic, salt, and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. This releases excess moisture and intensifies the flavor of the aromatics. Lower the heat a bit if the leeks are starting to brown.

Add the potatoes, stock, and bouquet garni, bring to a boil, lower heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. The time varies depending on the size of the potato pieces. I cut my potato in half lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch slices.

Remove and discard the bouquet garni and let the soup cool for 20 minutes.

To purée, fill a blender or food processor with both solids and liquid to the halfway point and process until completely smooth. See our video on How to Safely Blend Hot Ingredients.

Stir in the half-and-half or cream. If you prefer not to use dairy, use a cup of stock.

Serve chilled or hot with a generous garnish of chopped chives.

Notes

Vichyssoise is typically served chilled. Chilling mutes the taste and aroma of food, so it’s important to be aggressive when seasoning food you plan to serve cold. The recipe below gives the amount of salt and cayenne for both a cold soup and a hot soup.

Keywords: cold soup, hot soup, potato leek soup, potatoes, leeks, soup, gluten free, dairy free

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Summer brings an abundance of zucchini either from your own garden or the farmers’ market. I found piles of leeks at the farmers’ market at the same time the zucchini reached peak season. As I eyed them, it was like they were screaming at me to make a Leek and Zucchini Casserole! I went a little crazy with this recipe in terms of over-the-top richness, — butter, Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses –but once in a while it’s so nice to sit down to an ooey-gooey mound of deliciousness on your plate.

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

How to Clean Leeks

First, let’s address those leeks. They’re sandy and require a thorough cleaning. Remove the dark green tops and the root portion at the bottom of the bulb and discard. Cut the leek in half lengthwise and then into thin slices. Toss into a large bowl of cold water and swish around. Take handfuls of the leeks and gently rub between your palms to separate the layers and loosen the dirt. Let sit for a few seconds so the dirt settles to the bottom of the bowl. Scoop the leeks into a colander. Drain, rinse, and refresh the bowl with cold water, and repeat the cleaning process once more. Drain.

Slicing the Zucchini

I used a mandolin to slice the zucchini into ¼-inch rounds, which is the perfect size for the time and temperature in this recipe. If you cut the zucchini by hand and make thicker slices, or just prefer thicker slices, increase the timing by a few minutes.

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Herbs

Herbes de Provence is a lovely blend of Provencal herbs, which complements the delicate taste of this leek and zucchini casserole. I like Penzey’s herbes de Provence which contains rosemary, cracked fennel, thyme, savory, basil, tarragon, dill weed, oregano, lavender, chervil, and marjoram. Or, substitute something earthy like thyme or rosemary, either dried (same amount) or fresh (1 tablespoon, plus 1 ½ teaspoons minced).

Key Points for Success

Zucchini has a high-water content which is expelled during cooking. The only place it has to go is into the casserole and eventually over the sides onto the oven floor. I always recommend placing this style of recipe on a lined baking sheet to catch any drippings. But you can also take a couple of steps to prevent too prevent this.

The leeks and cream also contain water, dilute flavor and increase chances of spillage. Don’t skimp on the time suggested in the recipe to saute the leeks, which releases and evaporates the water and intensifies flavor. Same for the cream, cook it down until it’s thick enough to stay in place when stirred. Following these simple instructions yields a delicious, cheesy and less runny leek and zucchini casserole.

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Let’s get started. Grease a 1-quart casserole dish with a little butter – I use my slightly smaller Le Creuset 24-ounce casserole dish – and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter in the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the leeks, garlic, herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper. Stir to coat with the fat and saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the leeks begin to brown, reduce the heat a smidge.

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Add the cream, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle boil, and cook until the cream is quite thick, about 6 or 7 minutes. When you run a spoon through the cream, it stays in place.

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Spread ¼ of the cream and leeks on the bottom of the greased casserole dish.

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Lay ¼ of the zucchini slices on the bottom, overlapping slightly.

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Repeat layering the cream and leek mixture and the zucchini 3 more times.

Strew the shredded Cheddar cheese over the top and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Leek and Zucchini Casserole

Let sit for 10 minutes to settle before serving.

Tip: The casserole can be prepared a day before cooking. Cover and refrigerate. Take out of the refrigerator and place in preheated oven; increase cooking time by 10 minutes.

 

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Leek and Zucchini Casserole

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Category: Side Dish

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the casserole dish
4 cups thinly sliced leeks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 medium zucchini cut into ¼-inch coins
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Instructions

Let’s get started. Grease a 1-quart casserole dish with a little butter – I use my slightly smaller Le Creuset 24-ounce casserole dish – and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter in the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the leeks, garlic, herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper. Stir to coat with the fat and saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the leeks begin to brown, reduce the heat a smidge.

Add the cream, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle boil, and cook until the cream is quite thick, about 6 or 7 minutes. When you run a spoon through the cream, it stays in place.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Spread ¼ of the cream and leeks on the bottom of the greased casserole dish.

Lay ¼ of the zucchini slices on the bottom, overlapping slightly.

Repeat layering the cream and leek mixture and the zucchini 3 more times.

Strew the shredded Cheddar cheese over the top and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Let sit for 10 minutes to settle before serving.

Notes

The casserole can be prepared a day before cooking. Cover and refrigerate. Take out of the refrigerator and place in preheated oven; increase cooking time by 10 minutes.

Keywords: casserole, side dish, leek, zucchini, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, Herbes de Provence, gluten-free

Corn and Black Bean Salad

Corn and Black Bean Salad in a bowl

When my husband came home from the store over Labor Day weekend, he said Terry, the produce manager at the Village Market, told him this was probably the last weekend for corn. I’m always shocked how quickly corn season passes. I hadn’t even made my Corn and Black Bean Salad yet!

This salad comes together easily. The only ingredient that is cooked is the corn and even that is optional. I either steam it on the stovetop or grill it.

Prepare the Corn

To steam the corn, fill a large saucepan with a couple of inches of cold water and a tablespoon of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, add the corn, and cook for 5 minutes.

To grill the corn, preheat the grill to high. Brush a little olive oil on the corn, set on the hot grill, reduce the heat a bit, and cook for 5 minutes, turning the ears 3 times.

Let the corn cool for 5 or 10 minutes for easier handling and then cut off the kernels with a sharp knife.

Corn and Black Bean Salad prepped ingredients

Finish the Salad

Pop those kernels into a medium serving bowl along with the black beans, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, but be sure to hold back of couple of tablespoons for garnishing the salad, salt, and lime juice. Toss to combine thoroughly.

I like the salad to sit at least an hour to let the flavors meld, so I omit the avocado until just before serving to prevent it from oxidizing. The oxygen in the air reacts with the avocado flesh and turns it brown. Nothing unhealthy about it, just not eye appealing. You can also make the salad the day before without the avocado. Take the salad out of the fridge a good 30 minutes before serving to warm a little.

Corn and Black Bean Salad with avocado

Lots of flavors and textures in the Corn and Black Bean Salad and it goes with everything – burgers, kabobs, chicken, fish, beef, pork, or seafood, and it’s vegan/vegetarian!

Happy Labor Day!

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Corn and Black Bean Salad

This salad comes together easily. The only ingredient that is cooked is the corn and even that is optional. Steam it, grill it, our use it au naturel. It’s colorful, tasty, and the only side dish you need for a meal.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish

Ingredients

6 ears corn
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
15 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 Kirby cucumber, diced, or about ¼ cup cucumber, remove seeds if bitter
¼ red onion, small dice
1 jalapeno, small dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small bunch cilantro chopped, reserving a couple of tablespoons for garnishing the salad
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 avocado

Instructions

To steam the corn, fill a large saucepan with a couple of inches of cold water and a tablespoon of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, add the corn, and cook for 5 minutes.

To grill the corn, preheat the grill to high. Brush a little olive oil on the corn, set on the hot grill, reduce the heat a bit, and cook for 5 minutes, turning the ears 3 times.

Let the corn cool for 5 or 10 minutes for easier handling and then cut off the kernels with a sharp knife.

Pop those kernels in a medium serving bowl along with the black beans, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, but be sure to hold back of couple of tablespoons for garnishing the salad, salt, and lime juice. Toss to combine thoroughly.

Notes

I like the salad to sit at least an hour to let the flavors meld, so I omit the avocado until just before serving to prevent it from oxidizing. The oxygen in the air reacts with the avocado flesh and turns it brown. Nothing unhealthy about it, just not eye appealing. You can also make the salad the day before without the avocado. Take the salad out of the fridge a good 30 minutes before serving to warm a little.

Keywords: summer salad, salad, black bean salad, corn salad, black beans, corn, side dish, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan, vegetarian, summer recipe

Burrata with Warm Eggplant Compote

Burrata with warm eggplant compote and crusty bread

Serve this Burrata with Warm Eggplant Compote as a quick and easy, yet elegant appetizer. It’s as eye appealing as it is delicious!

Burrata means “buttered” in Italian. This cheesy delicacy is made of a mozzarella shell and stuffed with a soft, milky curd that oozes from the center of the cheese. It’s best served at room temperature – the cheese on the outside and inside soften and flavor is maximized. Drizzle with a fine, thick balsamic vinegar, a great foil for the mild cheese.

halved burrata

Typically, mozzarella is served with sliced tomatoes as a caprese salad or other raw ingredients. However, it’s nice to change things up once in a while and this warm eggplant compote is a perfect accompaniment. Even better, the compote can be made the day before and gently reheated before serving.

Eggplant Compote

Cook the seasoned eggplant in hot oil over medium heat until the bottom side turns a golden brown. Turn and continue cooking a few minutes more until that side is golden brown. Stir and continue cooking until the eggplant is done; it offers no resistance when pierced with a fork, but retains its shape. Remove to a plate.

Sauteeing eggplant

Add a little more oil to the pan and toss in the shallots, garlic, and pepper flakes; sweat until the aromatics are soft and translucent, about 2 minutes, scraping up the eggplant tidbits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the tomatoes and raisins and cook over a low flame for 3 minutes. The tomatoes should yield a little, looking a little crinkly, but not mushy.

Return the eggplant to the pan, stir and reheat.

Place one burrata on a salad plate with a scoop of the eggplant compote. Drizzle a thick balsamic vinegar over both and top with the basil.

Platting Burrata with warm eggplant compote

Serve with warm crusty bread or try our Garlic Bread!

Watch the video here.

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Burrata with Warm Eggplant Compote

Burrata with warm eggplant compote and crusty bread

Serve burrata and eggplant compote as a starter to any meal – it as eye-appealing as it is scrumptious. Accompany with a warm, crusty bread.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: Appetizer

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups ½-inch cube eggplant (~1  pound)
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
¼ cup minced shallots
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup raisins
¼ -1/2  cup basil chiffonade
2  large or 4 small burrata, cut the large burrata in half

 Garnish                       

A drizzle of thick balsamic vinegar over the burrata and eggplant compote and top with sliced or whole basil leaves.

Instructions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Season the eggplant with salt and place into the hot oil in a single layer. Don’t stir again until the bottom side of the eggplant begins to turn golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Lower the heat if the eggplant is browning too quickly.

Turn and continue browning for another 2-3 minutes. Toss the eggplant in the skillet and cook until the eggplant is soft, but still retains its shape.

Remove eggplant to a plate.

Add the shallots, garlic, and pepper flakes and sweat until the shallots are soft and translucent, about 2-3 minutes, scraping up the eggplant tidbits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the tomatoes and raisins, stir to combine and cook over at a gentle simmer for a few minutes or until the tomatoes begin to crinkle a little.

Stir in the eggplant to reheat.

Place one burrata on a salad plate with a scoop of the eggplant compote. Drizzle a thick balsamic vinegar over both, top with the basil.

Notes

Make the day before and gently reheat.

Keywords: burrata, eggplant, compote

Old-Fashioned Homemade Lemonade

lemonde

We’ve had some hot, sweltering days this summer – high temps accompanied with high humidity. A tall, ice-cold glass of Old-Fashioned Homemade Lemonade is always a welcome treat, especially on days like these.

This recipe is based on my memory of how Mom made lemonade when I was a kid. I remember her using both freshly-squeezed lemon and orange juice. While I like my lemonade tart with just a hint of sweetness, the small addition of orange juice calms the absolute tartness of the lemons just enough to make this summer refresher delicious and thirst quenching.

lemonde

Use simple syrup to make the lemonade – no worries about sugar residue on the bottom of the glass. Make up batches and keep in the refrigerator to have on hand to sweeten all your summer drinks – iced tea, iced coffee, and lemonade.

Watch the video here.

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Old-Fashioned Homemade Lemonade

Quick and easy to make, old-fashioned homemade lemonade is a refreshing pick-me-up on those tropical summer days.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 1/2 gallon
  • Category: Beverages

Ingredients

2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¾ cup simple syrup
Cold water and ice

Garnish

Lemon and/or orange slices, seeded

 

 

 

Instructions

Combine the juices and simple syrup.

Add ice and cold water, stir to blend.

Serve over ice in a tall glass.

Keywords: iced beverage, lemonade, iced drinks

Cauliflower and Red Onion Quick Pickles

Cauliflower and Red Onion Quick Pickles in a mason jar

Quick pickles are popular lately, especially if you watch the food show competitions. It’s a quick and easy way to add a crunchy texture and boost flavor using acid, salt, sugar, herbs, and/or spices. Ginger, chili peppers, cumin, and coriander give this recipe a Middle Eastern flavor.

The pickles can be used within 20 minutes or so of a quick brine – use an ice bath to chill before serving. Store remaining pickles in jars with the brine and seasonings. The pickles continue to soak up flavors and the vegetables soften a little over time.

Cauliflower and Red Onion Quick Pickles in mason jars

I created this quick pickle recipe to go with the Za’atar Chicken and Quinoa Salad, the pungency of the pickles complements the dish nicely as does the crunchy texture.

Watch the Cauliflower and Red Onion Quick Pickle video here.

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Cauliflower and Red Onion Quick Pickles

Quick pickles are an easy way to add a crunchy texture and boost flavor using acid, salt, sugar, herbs, and spices. Ginger, chili peppers, cumin, and coriander give this recipe a Middle Eastern flavor.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6 cups
  • Category: Pickles

Ingredients

1 small cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
4 cups cold water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup coarsely chopped cloves garlic, about 6 cloves
3 serrano chilies, halved or dried chilies
2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon diced fresh ginger, about a 1-inch piece

Instructions

Combine water, vinegar, sugar garlic, chilies, salt, coriander and cumin seeds, ginger and salt in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil; lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Stir in the cauliflower and onions, return to a boil, then turn the heat off and let steep for 10 minutes.

Ladle the vegetables and brine into jars, make sure the brine come to 1/2-inch below the top of the jar.

Strain the remaining liquid and divide the garlic, chilies, seeds and ginger evenly between the jars.

Cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 months.

Notes

To use immediately, fill a large bowl with ice and cold water, place a smaller bowl in the center and fill with the quick pickles. Stir frequently to chill evenly.

Keywords: 38370

Mexican Deviled Eggs

Mexican Deviled Eggs on a platter

I love the smoky flavors and my go to spices for adding that earthy smokiness are ancho and chipotle chilies and smoked paprika. These are the predominant flavors in my Mexican Deviled Eggs, combined these with  lime juice, Mexican oregano and a hint of cumin. The result is a spicy, smoky deviled egg.

Remember, deviled eggs aren’t just party food. Eat them for breakfast or lunch. Do you love egg salad? Instead of stuffing the egg whites, chop them up and blend in with the puréed yolks, add a little more crema or sour cream if it’s too thick, spread on a tortilla, top with some lettuce and tomato and you have a Mexican egg-salad sandwich!

Mexican Deviled Eggs on a platter

See our post/video on making hard-boiled eggs here; or use store-bought hard-cooked eggs to save time.

NOTE: Queso fresco is a mild, semi-soft Mexican cheese and is available at most major grocery chains.

Watch the video here.

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Mexican Deviled Eggs

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 37 minutes
  • Yield: 1 dozen
  • Category: Appetizer

Ingredients

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced shallot (1 small)
2 teaspoons minced cloves garlic (2 cloves)
½ teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder
6 hard-cooked eggs, shelled and sliced in half lengthwise, yolks and whites separated

¼ cup Mexican crema or sour cream
¼ cup chopped queso fresco
1 tablespoon lime juice

Garnish

Shredded queso fresco and/or a cilantro leaf

Instructions

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat.

Stir in shallots, garlic and salt; sweat for 4 minutes or until the shallots are soft.

Add the ancho chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano and chipotle powder and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30-40 seconds.

Place the egg yolks, crema/sour cream, queso fresco, lime juice, in the base of a food processor. Purée, scraping sides as needed. Add the cooked shallots and purée again.

Fill the cavity of each egg white with the egg yolk purée by using a spoon or a piping bag.

Garnish each egg with a pinch of shredded queso fresco and/or a cilantro leaf.

Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Best served at room temperature.

Notes

Queso fresco is a mild, semi-soft Mexican cheese and is available at most major grocery chains.

Keywords: deviled eggs, hard cooked eggs

Grilled Vegetables

Do you get carried away by the beautiful produce at the farmers’ market? It happens to me all time. From one stand to the next there are more and more tantalizing vegetables. Fear not, you can toss them all on the grill and make a medley of Grilled Vegetables!

Grilled vegetables are a wonderful side for any meal or a meal in and of themselves. The leftovers make great wrap sandwiches the next day or dice them for a salad.

grilled vegetables on grill, zucchini, red onions, eggplant and corn

Cooking times vary depending on the whether the vegetable is cooked whole or sliced. I like my eggplant cooked well. I don’t find the taste of undercooked eggplant or its spongy texture appealing. However, a well-cooked, silken eggplant is perfection.

Corn takes a couple minutes per side, so 6 – 8 minutes. Cook over high heat for charred corn, which also makes a wonderful chowder. To cook gently, place it on the indirect heat side and cook for the same amount of time.

Scallions cook quickly and char easily – keep an eye on them, but it’s well worth grilling them for the sweetness they exude right off the grill.

To cook zucchini and summer squash I remove them while they have a little firmness. They contain lots of water and can turn to mush easily. A little texture in the bite is nice.

To grill, simply drizzle with olive oil and good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Additional dressings or herbs can be added after cooking.

Grill up some thick, bone-in pork chops to go along with your grilled vegetables!

Let yourself be tempted – bring those veggies home and grill them up!

Watch our video on How to Grill Vegetables here.