Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tomato Basil Pie

This is a blend of various tomato pie recipes found online -- it turned out really well (Scott and I each ate a half for much for leftovers!), and was a good way to use up a lot of the Roma tomatoes that keep exploding out of the garden.

1 9-inch pie crust

10 Roma tomatoes + 2-3 other types as desired (I mixed in various heirlooms), sliced1 small onion, sliced as thinly as possible
15 basil leaves, torn/chopped
1/2 cup mayo (I used SmartBalance's olive oil mayo)
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (for my healthier/less lactose version I replaced this with fat free cottage cheese)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
salt, pepper, garlic salt, and red pepper flakes, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the tomatoes in a colander in the sink in 1 layer. Sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for 10 minutes.

Layer the tomato slices, basil, and onion in pie shell. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the cheeses and mayonnaise together; add in more salt/pepper/garlic salt/red pepper flakes. Spread mixture on top of the tomatoes (it won't cover everything) and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

To serve, cut into slices and serve warm. (Also good cold the next day!)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Layered Veggie Torte

More of a method than an actual recipe, this was inspired by this write-up in The Minimalist.
The veggies below are what we had on hand from the garden (see below!), but I can think of dozens of other additions that would be great as well.
I decreased some of the butter/oil that would have been good and instead slathered on some of the creamy pesto from last week.It turned out really well, and since we had grilled all the veggies the night before, it was easy to pop in the oven for 30min tonight.

1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch slices
4 medium zucchini or yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5-10 small/medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
garlic salt, to taste
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 cup baby spinach1/4 cup (or less) freshly grated Parmesan
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

1. Brush eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes lightly with oil (or cooking spray) and sprinkle with salt, garlic salt, and pepper; if roasting, grease 2 baking sheets with oil. Roast or grill vegetables on both sides until soft.

2. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat bottom and sides of 8-inch springform pan with oil/cooking spray. Layer a third of the eggplant slices into bottom of the pan, then layer in half the zucchini, tomato, spinach and basil, sprinkling each layer with a bit of salt and pepper. Repeat layers until all vegetable are used. Press the top with a spatula or spoon to make the torte as compact as possible. Sprinkle top with Parmesan and bread crumbs, and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon oil or melted butter if desired.

3. Bake torte in oven until hot throughout and browned on top, about 30 minutes (may need to set oven to broil at the very end). Let sit for 5 minutes before removing outer ring of pan, then let cool for another 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings (ha, or 2 if you're Scott and I)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blueberry Crumb Bars

This recipe comes from GimmeSomeOven -- it's still cooling now, so I can't say how it turned out yet, but wanted to post it while I was thinking about it...
Hopefully I can sample it soon -- the smell is amazing!
[Update...they're good, but this particular batch was labeled only "so-so" by Scott...the blueberries (I used a blend of fresh and frozen) just weren't that if you have bland berries, I'd suggest increasing the amount of sugar and lemon zest perhaps, to give them more of distinct flavor]

1 cup sugar (plus extra 1/3 cup for blueberries)
1 tsp. baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract (I actually just used some extra vanilla bean sugar in place of this)
1 tsp. salt
zest of one lemon (I only used about 1/4 of it)
4 cups fresh blueberries
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, salt, lemon zest, and baking powder. Use a food processor or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. (Or if you don’t have these appliances, you can use an old fashioned fork or even giving it a whirl with a beater will do the trick!) Dough should be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.In another bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown (mine only took 30 min). Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Creamy, Cheesy, Healthy Pesto

Saw this today in the NY Times Recipes for Health column, and after just a few modifications, oh wow is it good!
We have tons of basil in the garden that needs to be harvested so this was perfect timing.
Our basil is spicy, and with the addition of a healthy load of black pepper, so is this creamy pesto.
Because all the creamy agents are fat-free, this stays pretty healthy, and as we learned tonight, is amazing smeared on top of some pan fried tomatoes (which are also exploding from the garden) or really any type of veggie or pasta (shown above with a layered veggie torte) -- highly recommend this one!

4 plump garlic cloves, halved, green shoots removed
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup nonfat cottage cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (I used a good amount of both)
1 tablespoon plain nonfat yogurt (I used Fage 0%)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1. Turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and drop in the garlic. When the garlic is chopped and adhering to the sides of the bowl, stop the machine and scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Add the basil, and process until finely chopped. Stop the machine, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and process until smooth and creamy. Serve with pasta, or as a dip or spread.

Yield: Makes 1 heaped cup (about 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons).
Advance preparation: This will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator. It will become more pungent, however, and the green will fade.

Nutritional information per 2-tablespoon serving (using fat-free cottage cheese): 43 calories; 2 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 3 milligrams cholesterol; 2 grams carbohydrates; 0 grams dietary fiber; 131 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during preparation); 4 grams protein

Monday, August 9, 2010

Graham Cracker Chewy Bars

Graham Cracker Chewy Bars
Adapted from Culinary in the Desert

For the crust
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
12 tablespoons (3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the topping
2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted
confectioners' sugar, if desired

To prepare the crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, flour and salt until thoroughly combined.
Scoop mixture into a 9" x 13" baking pan coated with nonstick spray - evenly press down to form a level crust over the bottom.
Place pan into the oven and bake until the crust is lightly golden, about 10 to 15 minutes.

To prepare the topping
In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and eggs until combined.
Whisk in graham cracker crumbs, vanilla, salt and baking powder.
Stir in pecans.
Scoop mixture over the crust and spread to cover completely.
Place pan back into the oven and bake until the filling is very golden on top and jiggles very slightly when tapped, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into bars. Serve with a dusting of confectioners' sugar on top, if desired.
Makes about 24 bars.

Note: You'll need about 4 sleeves of graham crackers to get the desired amount of crumbs, or just more than one box. Or if you're short on crumbs after one box (like I was), I mixed equal parts spelt flour and brown sugar to make up the difference. Still tasted pretty good!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Prosciutto-and-Basil-Wrapped Grilled Peaches

Yum, the title almost says it all! These were really delicious -- a great savory/sweet combo.
This recipe was inspired by a few different recipes, but ultimately heavily adapted from Bobby Flay's version. Another great easy and grill-able summer dish!

* 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
* 1 tablespoon honey
* Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 peaches, halved and pitted
* Canola oil
* 8 thin slices proscuitto
* 8 basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons


Put the vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. Cook until thick and syrupy, stir in the honey and season with salt and pepper. Let cool slightly.

Brush the peach halves with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the grill, cut side down and grill until golden brown. Turn over and grill for 1 minute longer. Remove the peaches from the grill, layer basil slices on top, then and drizzle lightly with some of the balsamic. Wrap each half with 2 slices of the prosciutto, adhere everything with a toothpick. Throw back onto the grill just until everything is warm. Drizzle with the rest of the balsamic before serving.

Serves 2/4 (makes 4 peach halves)

Grilled Bruschetta

A super-simple yet delicious summer recipe for the grill. Great for using up loads of greens and tomatoes from the garden!

4 thick (1 inch or more) slices of a hearty, crusty bread (I used rosemary loaf from SuperTarget's bakery)
1 med-large tomato, sliced
1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves, torn if leaves are large
1/2 cup baby spinach
olive oil
sea salt
fresh black pepper

Brush/spray olive oil on both sides of bread, sprinkle both sides with sea salt and pepper.
Layer spinach leaves and basil leaves on top of bread.
Lightly grill tomato slices until soft.
Layer tomato slices evenly on top of slices.
Sprinkle with garlic salt, more salt and pepper.
Place bread directly on grill, heat until greens wilt and bottom of bread is toasted.
Drizzle with a balsamic/honey reduction if desired.