Tag Archives: garlic

Ending the Summer with Orzo with Roasted Vegetables!

It’s hard to believe that the summer is drawing to a close, although I have to say, the cool weather is a welcome change. I keep seeing leaves falling from our many trees, and it’s getting me excited for fall. However, I know, there still are a few weeks left. As your squeezing in those final summer get togethers and Labor Day picnics, take a look at this recipe! Orzo with roasted vegetables is a delicious alternative to potato salad or cole slaw, or whatever you normal take. It’s pretty easy, travels great, and is absolutely delicious.

Peel and chop 1 small eggplant into 1 inch pieces. Chop 1 red bell pepper, 1 yellow bell pepper, and 1 red onion into 1 inch pieces as well. Throw them all on a sheet pan. Add 2 garlic cloves, minced, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat all of the vegetables in the oil, then spread out on the pan. Cook at 425 for 40 minutes until browned. Turn them once with a spatula about half way through so they don’t stick and get evenly browned.Ready for RoastingGetting ThereDone!

Meanwhile, cook ½ lb. orzo according to the package directions. If you’re not familiar with orzo, it’s a pasta, similar in shape to rice. You can find it in your pasta aisle. Once it’s cooked, drain and add it to a large bowl. Add the roasted vegetables when they are done, and any delicious liquid that may have accumulated in the pan. Make the dressing by combining 1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons), 1/3 cup olive oil, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Whisk to combine, then add to the other hot ingredients. Stir, and let them all combine while they cool to room temperature.OrzoRoasted VeggiesJuicing LemonsLemon JuiceOlive OilPepperAlmost Ready

If you’re going to use the salad in a day or so, you can cover and store this salad in the refrigerator before adding the rest. The day you’re going to serve, take the salad out of the refrigerator several hours early to allow to come to room temperature. Add 4 minced scallions (both white and green parts), ¼ cup toasted pine nuts, ¾ lbs. crumbled feta, and 15 basil leaves, thinly sliced.ScallionsBasilPine NutsFetaCombined

Toss everything to combine, and there you go. The recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, and really is a delicious one. Give it a try at your next get together. I guarantee you’ll get rave reviews, and lots of requests for the recipe!

Easy and Delicious Pot Roast for those Cold Nights!

olive oilOne of the best things about the winter months is making big, hearty meals that warm your body and your soul. Those comforting meals do wonders in the cold, dreary months. It’s been cold here, and somewhat dreary. While I’m still waiting for a big snow storm, we’ve had lots of little ones! So, this week, it was the perfect week to make a simple and delicious pot roast.

To start, you need a 3 lb chuck roast. I look for one that has good marbling but isn’t too fatty. In a dutch oven that’s heated over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sear the roast on all sides, about 5 minutes on each side until nicely browned. Then set the roast on a plate to rest while you continue with the vegetables.chuck roastseared chuck roastIn the same pot, brown 3 medium onions, chopped. I like to use sweet onions, but whatever you like, or have on hand, is fine. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until brown and soft. Next, add 4 celery stalks, chopped, 8 small carrots (4 large, although I keep getting small ones at the store), peeled and chopped, and 6 cloves garlic, minced. Cook all of the vegetables together for about 5 minutes.onionscooked onionscarrots and celerychoppedgarliccookingOnce the vegetables are ready, add the roast back to the pan, on top of the vegetables, along with 1 cup red wine, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, and 2-3 cups beef broth. You want the liquid to just cover the meat. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the pot, and set in a 375 degree oven for about 2 1/2-3 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when the meat can be pulled apart with a fork.tomato pasteready for ovenWhile the pot roast is cooking, quarter 24 oz button mushrooms. You’ll also need 4 tablespoons butter. Add 1 tablespoon butter to a saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook 1/4 of the mushrooms in the butter until brown. Continue with the rest of the butter and mushrooms, cooking in 4 batches.mushroomsquarteredbuttersauteing mushroomssauteed mushroomsWhen the pot roast is done, remove from the oven. Take out the meat and shred with two forks. Be careful to remove any large pieces of fat. Add the meat back to the pot along with the mushrooms.shreddingbeefIt’s warm, rich, meaty, and delicious! I hope it keeps you warm on these cold winter nights!

Good Use for the Harvest…Roasted Peppers

Red PepperI will admit, I am absolutely terrible when it comes to growing bell peppers.  I’m not sure why.  I know tons of friends who have an abundance of delicious peppers in all colors, shapes, and sizes, but for some reason, every year I’ve tried to grow them, I got maybe one sad little pepper.  That’s it.  So, needless to say, I gave up on growing peppers a long time ago.  But, if you’re not like me, and you have success with peppers, or if you just find a good deal at the grocery store, one of the best ways to use them up is to roast them.  And, bonus, they are delicious and easy!

I learned my roasting technique fromReady for the Oven Lidia Bastianich and her “Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen” cookbook.  She gives two ways to roast peppers.  One, turning them over a gas burner until they’re charred, seems like torture to me.  But the other version, roasting at a high temperature in the oven, is as easy as it gets.

Before I start, I always cover my sheet pan in aluminum foil.  It just makes the clean up that much easier.  Then, as Lidia suggests, I turn the temperature to 475 degree.  Make sure your rack is at the highest spot that you can put it but still get the sheet pan with the Out of the Ovenpeppers on it in the oven.  Then, just spread the peppers out on the pan.  I usually use 4 large red peppers, which makes a nice batch and doesn’t crowd the sheet pan.  I’m not sure why I always use red, but it just seems like you should.  And all you need to do to the peppers is wash and dry them thoroughly…nothing else…and put them in the hot oven.

I check the peppers after about 5-7 minutes.  You want the skin to start to char and blister.  The first side can sometimes take a little while, but keep checking.  Once it’s Covered in Plasticcharred and blistered, turn the peppers a quarter turn.  Keep them in for about another 3-4 minutes until that side chars.  Then, just keep checking and rotating until all sides are charred, and the peppers have softened.  It will only take 15-20 minutes.  And don’t worry if you don’t get every side, as long as they have some color and are softened, they will have that great flavor.  But don’t be afraid of the charred, burnt look.  It really does add a tremendous amount of flavor.

PeelingAs soon as you take the peppers out of the oven, transfer them to a bowl that you can cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Drop them all in and cover.  This will steam the peppers as they cool and make the skins very easy to remove.  Lidia says to leave them for about 40 minutes, but I usually just go and do something else and forget about them for a while.  Once you can handle them, pull out the stem and seeds, and peel the skin away.  It should come off very easily with your hands.  It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it!

Ready to EatOnce I have my peppers roasted and cleaned, I like to slice them into strips and add some flavoring.  I add 3 garlic cloves, crushed, along with about 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and a few tablespoons olive oil.  Give that a stir and let it rest for the flavors to come together.  I usually like to make them the night before I’m serving them, but you don’t need to.  You can store them in the refrigerator.  I like to take them out early before serving so they come to room temperature.

Roasted peppers, some crusty bread, maybe some wine…sounds like a great dinner for a warm late summer night!

Using Up the Harvest…Sauteed Zucchini and Summer Squash

Zucchini and Summer SquashIt seems like you wait forever to get the first harvest from the garden, but then when you do, it just keeps coming and coming.  That’s what seems to be happening right now with my zucchini and summer squash, but I’m not complaining…YET! I’ve been harvesting these two for a few weeks, and they have been delicious.  And while I’m sure later in the summer, when I’m sick of them, I’ll be pulling out my trusty zucchini bread recipe, right now I’m enjoying them one of my favorite ways…a simple saute with onions in butter and olive oil.

ChoppedWhen harvesting zucchini and squash, I like to catch them before they get too big.  Now, that’s not to say that I haven’t had gigantic ones in the past…and I know some of my coworkers can attest to that as I always brought in the extras to them.  But, when I’m on top of things, I like to harvest when they are no more than 10 inches.  I find that they aren’t as watery, and their flavor is more intense.  However, if you weren’t paying attention, or, as I’ve done almost every year, there is one that hides under some leaves and you find it when it’s two feet long, just cut it in half and scoop out the seeds before chopping.  When they are that big, you want to avoid the seeds.

OnionsFor this recipe, I used 2 zucchini and 1 summer squash, all about 10 inches long.  Simply cut off the stems, and chop them.  I like to quarter then and slice them into about 1/4-1/2 inch slices.  You’ll also want to chop 1 small red onion and mince (or use the garlic press) 3 cloves of garlic.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted and the oil is hot, add the onion.  Cook for a few minutes until they start to get some Finishedcolor, then add the garlic.  I don’t like to add the garlic too early, because it can burn easily.  And when garlic burns, it has a horrible taste.  After just about 1 minute, add the sliced zucchini and squash.  Stir everything around, and let them cook down.  You’ll want to stir periodically, but it will take about 10 minutes for them to soften and get a little bit of color.  Add some salt (I used about 1/2 teaspoon salt) and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon pepper as well), and stir to combine.

This is a great side dish in the summer when the vegetables are fresh, and It really is a simple recipe.  However, it really brings out the flavor of the vegetables.  Enjoy!

Tomato, Basil, Garlic, Olive Oil…Ah Bruschetta

I am not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I love tomatoes.  I love them in all forms, cooked, raw, doesn’t matter.  And one of my favorite ways to eat tomatoes is in bruschetta.

Bruschetta is incredibly simple to make, and absolutely delicious.  And, because it’s all about fresh ingredients, it’s a perfect summer recipe.

Diced TomatoesTo start, find nice, ripe tomatoes.  I prefer the Roma or plum tomatoes for bruschetta because they aren’t as juicy.  Their texture holds up well.  However, really any tomato will do.  And if you have them fresh from the garden, well, they are always the best!  For this recipe I use 5 tomatoes.  And, you may remember a while ago me going on and on about ceramic knives for cutting tomatoes, but I really do taste a difference.  So if you have a ceramic knife, now is the time to use it.  Remove the seeds and dice the tomatoes and add them to a bowl.

Minced GarlicAdd to the tomatoes 3 garlic cloves, minced.  In traditional bruschetta, the garlic would be rubbed on the toasted bread, but I find this works well and is easier.  You want the mince to be pretty small to avoid people getting a huge piece of garlic.  Also, I should warn you, I love garlic, so you may find 3 cloves is a bit much for you, or you may want more.  Feel free to adjust.

To the tomatoes and garlic, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.  I also add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar.  I think purists would probably just stick with the olive oil and not include the vinegar, but I think it adds a great flavor to the bruschetta.

BasilFinally, add 6 basil leaves.  I chiffonade them.  Sounds impressive, right?  Well, it just means you roll the leaves up and cut them into strips. Now give the bruschetta a stir and you’re done.

I prefer bruschetta at room temperature.  Also, as it sits, the tomatoes release their juices, adding to the delicious liquid.  Serve the bruschetta with toasted sliced Italian bread.  Just grill the bread, or toast it on a cookie sheet in the oven.  The crispy bread Bruschettadoes a great job of soaking up the delicious juice.

Bruschetta makes a great appetizer, but it’s also a good side.  And it works well at barbeques or picnics.  I might whip up a batch for Memorial Day!  Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!