Archive for the 'Vegetables' Category

Pan-Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches with Basil Pesto and Mozzarella

I came up with the idea to make these sandwiches after seeing grilled vegetable sandwiches featured on my sister’s cooking blog a few weeks ago.  Her sandwiches had grilled vegetables, ricotta cheese, and balsamic vinegar.  I don’t care for ricotta cheese, but basil pesto seemed like the perfect substitute to go with the grilled vegetables.  I also added some mozzarella cheese to give the sandwiches another layer of flavor.  For the vegetables, I used a colorful mixture of zucchini, yellow summer squash, and roasted red peppers, but you could also use eggplant or portabello mushrooms.  I served these sandwiches on fresh grilled ciabatta bread and they were delicious!  For a side dish, we had fresh strawberries and pineapple, and it was the perfect Spring dinner.

Pan-Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches with Basil Pesto and Mozzarella

(print recipe)

Ingredients

  • 2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ¼ – inch thick slices
  • 2 yellow squashes, sliced lengthwise into ¼ – inch thick slices
  • 2 red peppers, roasted (for instructions, click here) or 2 roasted red peppers from a jar
  • 8-12 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup Basil Pesto (recipe below)
  • Loaf of ciabatta bread

Directions

  1. Brush both sides of the sliced zucchini and yellow squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium- high heat and brush lightly with olive oil.
  3. Working in batches, grill the zucchini and squash until they are tender and grill marks appear, about 4 minutes per side.  Remove the veggies from the pan and set aside.
  4. Slice the loaf of ciabatta bread into 4 pieces and cut each piece in half lengthwise.  Lightly brush the bread with olive oil and then grill for 3-4 minutes until the bread is toasty.
  5. To assemble the sandwiches:  Spread a layer of pesto on each side of the sliced bread.  Top with mozzarella cheese, and then layer slices of the grilled zucchini, squash, and roasted red peppers on top.  Place the top half of the ciabatta bread on top of the grilled vegetables and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Basil Pesto

Yield: 1 cup pesto

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup (approximately) extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. In a food processor or blender, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt & pepper until finely chopped.
  2. With the food processor still running, gradually add enough oil to form a smooth and thick consistency.
  3. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl and stir in ½ cup of Parmesan cheese.  Season the pesto with more salt and pepper, to taste.

Source:  Sandwiches inspired by Kristine’s Kitchen & Giada De Laurentiis;  Pesto recipe from the cookbook ‘Giada’s Family Dinners’

Roasted Carrots

Roasted carrots are one of my favorite basic side dishes.  They are incredibly easy to make, and they’re a nice alternative to steamed carrots.  These carrots are simply seasoned with some olive oil, salt and pepper.  If you have parsley handy, then you can add some of that too, but it’s not necessary.  These carrots are the perfect side dish for almost any dinner!

Roasted Carrots

Ingredients

  • 6 carrots
  • 1 ½ tablespoons good olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. If the carrots are thick, cut them in half lengthwise; if not, leave whole.  Slice the carrots diagonally in 1 ½-inch-thick slices. (The carrots will shrink while cooking so make the slices big.) Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Transfer to a baking sheet in 1 layer and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until browned and tender.
  3. If desired, toss the carrots with minced parsley.  Season to taste with salt & pepper, and serve.

Serves: 3

Source: Ina Garten, the Food Network

Golden Winter Soup

This is one of my all-time favorite soup recipes.  I have been making it ever since it was on the cover of Cooking Light Magazine, in January of 2008.  I look forward to making this soup every Fall & Winter when the weather gets colder and butternut squash is in season–in fact, I’ve already made this 3 times this Fall!  One of the great things about this recipe is that it has only a few ingredients and it’s super easy to make.  The addition of potato makes this soup extra smooth and creamy, and the leeks provide a lot of flavor.

Simply garnished with some freshly cracked black pepper and chives, this soup makes an excellent first course for dinner (I served it most recently for Thanksgiving).  Or, for a complete meal, you can serve it with a salad and crusty bread, dinner rolls, or homemade croutons.  It can also be made a day ahead – just store it overnight in the refrigerator and reheat it over low heat.

Golden Winter Soup

Ingredients

  • 2  tablespoons  butter
  • 5  cups  (½-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 ½ pounds)
  • 2  cups  (½-inch) cubed peeled russet potato (about 12 ounces)
  • 1  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  cups  sliced leek (about 2 medium)
  • 4  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  cup  half-and-half (optional- half-and-half can be omitted — see note below**)
  • 3  tablespoons  chopped chives
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the squash, potato, salt, and pepper to the pan; sauté 3 minutes.  Add the leeks; sauté 1 minute.  Stir in the chicken broth; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until the potato is tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.  Or you can use a blender: Place half of the potato mixture in a blender.  Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender.  Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters).  Blend until smooth.  Pour into a large bowl.  Repeat procedure with remaining potato mixture.
  3. Stir in half-and-half, if desired. Cover and keep warm.  Ladle 1 cup of soup into each of 8 bowls; top each serving with about 1 teaspoon chives.  Garnish with freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Serves: 8 (serving size is 1 cup)

**Note: When I make this I omit the cream, as I prefer soups without cream.  I have tried it with the half & half though and it is delicious both ways!

Source: slightly adapted from Cooking Light

Winter Squash Soup

Butternut squash is one of my favorite Fall ingredients.  There are so many ways to cook with it!  My favorite way to prepare it is to make soup.  Over the years, I’ve tried several different butternut squash soup recipes.  They have all turned out good, but some have definitely been better than others.  This was definitely one of the better ones, both because of the taste and ease of preparation.  The flavor is spot on, and this soup can be made in less than 45 minutes.  It’s great served as a first course, but alongside some crusty bread, croutons, or a salad, it can be a complete meal.  It also keeps very well in the fridge and makes excellent leftovers.  (I’m not normally a huge fan of leftovers, but I ate this soup 3 days in a row!)  The addition of canned pumpkin puree makes the soup very smooth and creamy.  The recipe calls for half-and-half, but I omitted it because it tasted great without it.  Enjoy!

Winter Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 ½ pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup half-and-half (optional)
  • Grated Gruyere cheese or croutons for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed stockpot (such as a Dutch oven), add the onions, and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent.
  2. Add the pumpkin puree, butternut squash, chicken broth, salt, and pepper.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, until the butternut squash is very tender.
  3. Process the mixture until smooth, using either an immersion blender or a food processor.  Return to the pot, add the half-and-half (if using), and heat slowly.  If the soup needs more flavor, add another teaspoon of salt.  Serve hot with garnishes (such as grated gruyere or croutons), if desired.

Serves: 4 as a main course, or 6-8 as a first course

Source: adapted from Barefoot in Paris Cookbook, by Ina Garten (Pg. 81)

Looking for other delicious soup recipes? Try these:

French Green Beans

In my opinion, no dinner is complete without some sort of vegetable component.  The great thing about vegetables is that there are so many different varieties and countless ways to prepare them.  This recipe combines two of my favorite cooking methods: roasting and sautéing.  The peppers and onions are roasted in the oven, and the green beans are blanched in boiling water and then sautéed in a little olive oil.  After all the veggies are cooked, they are combined to create a delicious and colorful side dish.  Enjoy!

French Green Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 pound French string beans, both ends removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 red onion, large diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, large diced
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, large diced
  • Good extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Blanch the string beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for just 4 minutes.  Drain immediately and immerse in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  When they are cool, drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl toss the onion and bell peppers together with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, tossing with a spatula from time to time to be sure the vegetables roast evenly.
  4. Just before serving, reheat the string beans in a large sauté pan drizzled with a little olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange on a platter.  Spoon the roasted vegetables over the string beans and serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves: 6

Source: Barefoot in Paris Cookbook, by Ina Garten

Roasted Asparagus

Roasted Asparagus


A great way to cook asparagus is to roast it.  I often steam vegetables, but sometimes I get bored of using my steamer basket day after day, and this is another one of my favorite ways to cook asparagus.  It’s really easy to do, and roasting imparts such great flavor.  After the asparagus is done roasting, drizzle it with a little lemon juice and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, and you have a delicious and healthy side dish that’s ready in less than 15 minutes.  Enjoy!

Roasted Asparagus

(print recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb asparagus spears (thick spears are best for roasting)
  • 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly grated black pepper
  • Lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Wash the asparagus.  Break the tough ends off of the asparagus and discard.
  2. Lay the asparagus spears out in a single layer in a baking dish or a foil-covered cookie sheet.  Drizzle olive oil over the spears and roll the asparagus back and forth until they are all covered with a thin layer of olive oil.  Sprinkle with minced garlic, salt, and pepper.  Rub over the asparagus so that they are evenly distributed.
  3. Place pan in oven and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, depending on how thick your asparagus spears are, until lightly browned and tender when pierced with a fork.
  4. Drizzle with a little fresh lemon juice before serving, and add a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese for an extra touch.

Serves: 4

Recipe adapted from: Simply Recipes

For more information on roasting vegetables, click here.

Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables


I love vegetables, and in my opinion, dinner is not complete unless there is a serving of vegetables with it.  The great thing about vegetables is that there are so many different types of vegetables, and countless ways to prepare them, so they are never boring!  Usually I steam or sauté them, because it’s easy and quick, but every once and a while I like to switch things up, and roasted vegetables are a great alternative.  They have such a wonderful flavor!

A few years ago I came across a very informative article about how to roast vegetables.  It was in the October/November 2007 issue of one of my favorite cooking magazines, Fine Cooking.  I tore the article out of the magazine and filed it away in my recipe binder.  I refer to it frequently, and it has been a great resource.  The article has instructions for how to roast several types of vegetables, as well as ideas for different flavorings for the vegetables.

Most recently, I roasted a combination of butternut squash, red potatoes, and carrots.  I flavored the vegetables with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme.  The vegetable medley turned out to be a great accompaniment to my dinner of baked chicken and spinach salad.  I hope you find the information from this article as helpful as I do!

Recipe from: Fine Cooking Magazine (October/November 2007 issue)

Basic Roasted Vegetables

(print recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. vegetables
  • 1-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt; more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh lemon juice (optional)

Directions

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 475°F.  Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare the vegetables according to the instructions below (preparation and cooking time varies based on the type of vegetable).  In a medium bowl, toss the vegetables with enough of the olive oil to coat generously, the salt, and a few grinds of pepper.  If using a flavoring before roasting (see below: “Flavorings for Roasted Vegetables—Before Roasting”), toss it with the vegetables now.
  3. Turn the vegetables out onto the baking sheet and arrange the pieces so that they are evenly spaced and lying on a cut side (if that applies).  If the pieces cover the baking sheet sparsely, arrange them toward the edges of the baking sheet for the best browning.  Roast according to the instructions below (“How to Prep & Roast Various Types of Vegetables”).
  4. Return the vegetables to the bowl in which you tossed them with the oil, or put them in a clean serving bowl.  If they seem a bit dry, drizzle them with a little extra virgin olive oil.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice or another flavoring, if using (see below: “Flavorings for Roasted Vegetables – After Roasting”).

Roasted carrots, red potatoes, and butternut squash.

How to Prep & Roast Various Types of Vegetables

Sweet Potatoes

Prep: Peel & cut into 1-inch pieces

How to Roast: Roast until lightly browned on bottom, 10 min.  Flip & roast until tender, 5-10 more minutes.

Yield: 3-4 servings per pound

Potatoes (red, yellow, russet)

Prep: Peel or scrub well and dry.  Cut into 1 inch pieces.

How to Roast: Roast until browned on bottom, 10-15 minutes.  Flip and continue to roast until tender, 5 more minutes.

Yield: 2-3 servings per pound

Cauliflower

Prep: Trip & cut into 1-1.5 inch florets

How to Roast: Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until tender and lightly browned, 20-25 minutes total.

Yield: 3-4 servings per pound

Broccoli

Prep: Trim and peel the stem; slice it into ¼ inch thick disks.  Trim and cut the rest of the broccoli into 1.5-2 inch florets.

How to Roast: Roast until the florets begin to brown, 8-10 minutes.  Stir, then continue to roast until tender, 3-6 more minutes.

Yield: 2-3 servings per pound

Carrots

Prep: Peel and cut into 1-inch pieces.

How to Roast: Roast until lightly browned on bottom, 12-15 minutes.  Flip and roast until tender and slightly shriveled, 3-5 more minutes.

Yield: 3-4 servings per pound

Asparagus

Prep: Rinse, try, and snap off (or trim off) tough bottom ends.

How to Roast: Roast for 5 minutes, flip, and roast until tender 5-8 more minutes.

Yield: 3-4 servings per pound

Fennel

Prep: Quarter lengthwise.  Trim the base and core, leaving just enough of the core intact to hold the layers together.  Cut into ¾-1 inch wedges.

How to Roast: Roast until the pieces begin to brown on the edges, 15 minutes.  Flip and roast until tender and nicely browned, 10 minutes.

Yield: 3-4 servings per pound

Brussels Sprouts

Prep: Trim, halve lengthwise.

How to Roast: Arrange cut side down on baking sheet.  Roast until tender and browned, about 15 minutes.  No need to flip.

Yield: 3-4 servings per pound

Parsnips

Prep: Peel & cut into 1-2 inch cubes.

How to Roast: Roast until browned on bottom, about 10 minutes.  Flip and roast until tender, about 5 more minutes.

Yield: 2-3 servings per pound

Green Beans

Prep: Trim ends.

How to Roast: Roast until tender and slightly browned, about 15 minutes.  (No need to flip).

Yield: 4 servings per pound

Butternut Squash

Prep: Peel and cut into ¾-1 inch pieces.

How to Roast: Roast until browned on bottom, 15 minutes.  Flip and roast until tender, 5-10 more minutes.

Yield: 4 servings per pound

Mushrooms (cremini or small white button mushrooms)

Prep: Wipe clean and trim stems

How to Roast: Roast stem side down until brown on bottom, 20-25 minutes.  Flip and roast until browned on top, 5-10 more minutes.

Yield: 3-4 servings per pound

Flavorings for Roasted Vegetables – Before Roasting

-        Rosemary Thyme Lemon Oil

  • Pairs well with butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, fennel, mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, and sweet potatoes
  • Yield: enough for 1 batch of roasted vegetables
  • Ingredients:
    • Zest of 1 large lemon, removed in long strips with a vegetable peeler
    • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil; more as needed
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Directions: In a small saucepan, combine the lemon zest and oil.  Set over medium-low heat and cook until the lemon zest bubbles steadily for about 30 seconds.  Remove from the heat and let cool briefly, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the herbs and let sit at least 20 minute before using.  Substitute this flavored oil for the plain olive oil in the master recipe and toss with the vegetables and salt and pepper before roasting.  Once the vegetables are on the baking sheet, pick out and discard the lemon zest.  If the vegetables seem a little dry after roasting, toss them with additional oil before serving.

-        Moroccan-Style Spice Rub

  • Pairs well with butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
  • Yield: About 5 teaspoons, enough for 5 batches of roasted vegetables
  • Ingredients:
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • ½ teaspoon chili powder
    • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
    • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
    • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
    • Pinch ground cloves
  • Directions: In a small bowl, mix all of the spices.  In addition to the oil, salt, and pepper in the master recipe, toss 1 teaspoon of the spice blend with a batch of vegetables before roasting.

Flavorings for Roasted Vegetables – After Roasting

-        Sesame Salt

  • Pairs well with asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans, parsnips, and sweet potatoes
  • Yield: About 2 tablespoons, enough for 3 batches of roasted vegetables
  • Ingredients:
    • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
    • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Directions: In a small dry skillet, toast the sesame seeds over medium heat, stirring almost constantly, until light golden brown, 3-5 minutes.  Add the salt and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds.  Transfer to a small bowl and cool completely.  Put the salted seeds in a clean spice grinder and pulse a few times to grind coarsely – you should still see a few whole seeds in the mixture.  Toss about 2 teaspoons sesame salt with a batch of vegetables after roasting.

-        Caramelized Shallot Butter

  • Pairs well with asparagus, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, carrots, fennel, green beans, mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
  • Yield: About ¼ cup, enough for 3 batches of roasted vegetables
  • Ingredients:
    • 3 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 large shallot, finely diced (1/3 cup)
    • ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
    • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
    • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Directions: Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat until melted.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned, 8-10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the thyme.  Cool completely.  In a small bowl, combine the shallot mixture with the remaining 2 ½ tablespoons butter and the lemon zest.  Stir to blend well.  Lightly season to taste with salt and pepper.  Scrape the butter onto a small piece of plastic wrap, mold into a log shape, and wrap in the plastic.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  Toss about 1/3 of the butter (a generous tablespoon) with a batch of vegetables after roasting.

-        Ginger Lemon Soy Splash

  • Pairs well with broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and mushrooms.
  • Yield: Enough for 1 batch of roasted vegetables
  • Ingredients:
    • 1-inch piece fresh ginger
    • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    • ½ teaspoon soy sauce
  • Directions: Set a small strainer in a small bowl.  Extract the ginger juice by pressing the ginger into the sieve with a small spoon.  Transfer ½ teaspoon ginger juice to another small bowl (discard the rest).  Stir in the lemon juice and soy sauce.  Toss with a batch of vegetables after roasting.

-        Toasted Garlic & Coriander Oil

  • Pairs well with asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, green beans, and mushrooms.
  • Yield: Enough for 1-1 ½ batches of roasted vegetables.
  • Ingredients:
    • 1 ½ Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped garlic (2 large cloves)
    • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
    • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Directions: In a small saucepan, combine the oil and garlic.  Set over medium-low heat and cook until the smaller pieces of garlic turn light golden-brown, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the coriander and cook for about 20 seconds.  Immediately remove from the heat and transfer to a small heatproof bowl to prevent overcooking.  Keep warm.  Sprinkle the roasted vegetables with the lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper, and arrange on a serving platter.  Spoon the toasted garlic oil over the vegetables.

Tips

-        Make sure the vegetables are cut in evenly sized pieces.  This will ensure that they cook evenly and at the same rate.

-        Make sure to line the baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the pan.

-        To Roast a Medley of Vegetables: A mixture of vegetables with different cooking times should be kept separate from each other, to accommodate for different cooking times.  Either use different baking sheets, or different sections of the same baking sheet.  That way you can remove each type of vegetable when it is done cooking.  You can then combine them after roasting.

-        Leftover idea: Add the leftover roasted vegetables to a pot of simmering jarred marinara sauce and simmer on low until the vegetables and sauce are hot.  Serve the sauce/vegi mixture with cooked rigatoni pasta (or any type of pasta) and parmesan cheese for an easy and healthy weeknight dinner.


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