Orecchiette with Creamy Herb Ricotta Sauce, Grilled Zucchini Pepper Salad

by Jennifer

This dinner was yummy, even though the yellow plate doesn’t do it justice eye appeal-wise.  Get the salad started first as it can sit for a bit (and gets better with the sitting).  For parents of young kids, two of my three (the third is pretty selective, but he did eat some) had huge helpings of the pasta and loved it.  Serves 4 adults.

Orecchiette with Creamy Herb Ricotta Sauce

  • 1 lb orecchiette
  • 3/4 cup fresh whole milk ricotta
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs – I used about half chives, and half a mix of oregano, sage and thyme
  • 1 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil;  cook pasta until al dente according to package directions.  Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup cooking water.

In a large bowl combine ricotta through black pepper.

Stir in pasta and reserved cooking water, mixing well, then serve hot.

Grilled Zucchini Pepper Salad – from Gourmet magazine

  • 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lbs zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4”-thick slices
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into four pieces each
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp packed light brown sugar
  • 2 TBS chopped basil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare grill for medium to medium-high cooking.  Toss zucchini and peppers with 2 TBS oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Grill vegetables 3 – 4 minutes per side, until just tender and grill marks appear.  Transfer peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes.  Peel peppers and cut into 1” pieces;  slice zucchini into 1” pieces as well.

In a medium bowl whisk together remaining 2 TBS oil, vinegar, brown sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Add vegetables and basil, mixing well to coat, and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

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Fresh Corn and Pepper Jack Pizza, Cucumber and Melon Salad with Pepper and Lime

by Jennifer

While I’m a huge fan of grilling pizzas, it was raining tonight and I decided to use the pizza stone in the oven.  Preheat the oven and stone to 450 degrees for at least 30 minutes before you bake the pizza;  keep the oven on to make the S’more Pizza for dessert.  FYI, margaritas went well with the spicy pizza!  This makes one 12” pizza (I made another 12” cheese pizza for my kids, though my oldest preferred this one) and with the salad will serve 4.

Fresh Corn and Pepper Jack Pizza

  • corn kernels from 3 – 4 ears corn (hold corn vertically in a bowl, and cut off the kernels from all sides down into the bowl)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Garlic Oil (a bunch of garlic, chopped, covered generously with olive oil, keeps in fridge)
  • 2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese
  • 11 oz pizza dough
  • Cornmeal for pizza paddle
  • 2 TBS roughly chopped cilantro

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the onions in the olive oil for 5 minutes;  add the corn and saute for another 3 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Roll out the pizza dough to a 12” circle, and place on a pizza paddle or inverted baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Brush dough generously with Garlic Oil.

Top dough with corn mixture.

Sprinkle cheese on top, then slide pizza onto hot pizza stone and bake for 10 minutes, or until crust is golden on the bottom and cheese is melted and golden on top.

Before serving sprinkle with cilantro.

Cucumber and Melon Salad with Pepper and Lime – adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

  • 3 large cucumbers, seeded, quartered lengthwise and sliced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cantaloupe, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces
  • juice of 2 limes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

Chicken Burgers with Shallots, Mustard, and Capers; Japanese Cucumber Salad with Cilantro, Mint, and Ginger Rice Wine Vinegar Dressing

By Ira,

This is a very easy and delicious meal. All you need to do is add shallots, mustard, capers, and lemon zest to ground chicken, form it into patties and cook it. For the side dish, cucumbers need to be finely sliced lengthwise, then topped with cilantro, mint, and then the ginger rice wine dressing.

First, prepare the plate of cucumbers, and make the dressing, but don’t pour it over the cucumbers yet. Then make the burgers, and while they’re cooking, prepare the toppings, toast the buns, and drizzle the dressing over the cucumbers.

Chicken Burgers with Shallots, Mustard, and Capers

Serves 4

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2 tablespoons capers, minced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 generous tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons coconut or grapeseed oil
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Plus Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard to serve

In a medium bowl, add the chicken, capers, shallots, dijon, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Mix gently. Form into 4 equal patties.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil, then the patties. If you have a smaller skillet, then you can cook 2 patties at a time. Cook for 5-7 minutes on one side,

flip, and cook the other side for another 5-7 minutes or until well done. Serve with slightly toasted burger buns, and any other toppings you like.

Japanese Cucumber Salad with Cilantro, Mint, and Ginger Rice Wine Vinegar Dressing

Serves 4 – adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Happy Days with the Naked Chef

  • 4 small cucumbers
  • a small handful of mint leaves
  • a small handful of cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1-inch size piece of ginger, grated
  • zest of 1/2 lime

Finley slice the cucumbers using a mandolin, or a potato peeler. Arrange it on a plate. Top it with torn leaves of mint and cilantro.

In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, rice wine vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, ginger, and lime zest.

Drizzle the dressing over the cucumbers and serve.

Ricotta and Spinach Frittata; Black Bean, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad

By Ira,

This frittata is very creamy and easy to make. You first cook the onion, then add spinach, pour the eggs on top, add the ricotta in dollops and finish cooking it in the oven. You can put together the salad while the frittata is cooking.

Ricotta and Spinach Frittata 

Serves 4 – adapted from Clean Eating magazine

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, grapeseed oil, or coconut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bag baby spinach (about 4 cups)
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup ricotta cheese

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Set it aside.

In a 10-inch nonstick oven proof skillet over medium heat, add the oil, then the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes.

Add the garlic, and stir for 30 seconds.

Add the spinach in batches, and stir until each batch wilts down. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the spinach and onion mixture evenly across the skillet,

then pour the egg mixture evenly on top.

Add the ricotta in tablespoon dollops across the frittata. Let it set on the bottom for about 3 minutes, then transfer it to the oven and

cook for about 8 to 12 minutes or until eggs are firm.

Black Bean, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad

  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large cucumber, or 2 small ones, diced
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients together and stir gently. Taste for salt and add accordingly.

Green Lentils with Roasted Beets and Carrots, Swiss Chard “Salad”

by Jennifer

The beets and carrots can be roasting, the lentils can be cooking, and the chard can be blanched and cooled all during the same time period;  this dinner can be ready in about 40 minutes, barring interruptions, of course!  The lentils are delicious warm or at room temperature.  One of my kids was sick today so while we hung out at home I decided to make some Semolina Bread to go with dinner, which turned out to be a huge hit with the kids (who says jam with bread can’t go with lentils?).  Serves 4.

Green Lentils with Roasted Beets and Carrots – adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

  • 3/4 – 1 lb beets, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 parsley sprigs plus 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • grated zest from two lemons

For vinaigrette:

  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 5 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toss beets and carrots with 2 tsp olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast

until tender, about 35 minutes.

Place lentils, onion, bay leaf and parsley sprigs in a medium pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer, cooking the lentils until tender, about 25 minutes.

Drain lentils and discard the bay leaf and parsley sprigs.  Combine lemon juice and shallot and let it sit for 15 minutes;  whisk in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl combine roasted beets and carrots, lentils and onions, chopped parsley, lemon zest, and vinaigrette, stirring gently to combine.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Swiss Chard “Salad”

  • 1 lb Swiss chard
  • 2 TBS pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Remove stems and ribs from chard and

thinly slice the leaves.  Blanch chard by cooking it in the boiling water for 20 seconds,

then drain and run under cool water to stop the cooking process.  Squeeze chard dry.

In a small bowl toss the chard with the oil, then the vinegar, seasoning with pepper and adding the pine nuts.

Malaysian Barbecue-Glazed Grouper, Brown Rice, and Cucumber Salad with Garlic and Ginger

by Jennifer

This dinner was delicious and great for summer;  quick to put together, light, and the salad is very refreshing.  The longest thing is marinating the onions for the salad, which takes an hour;  get those going and then do something else for a bit, say, like make a vodka tonic and check your e-mail, which is what I did…. Dinner serves 4.

Malaysian Barbecue-Glazed Grouper 

I’m fairly certain this recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine, and it calls for halibut, which I couldn’t get, but the grouper substitution came out well.  Depending on the thickness of your fish, you may need to cover the pan after searing the first side to help it cook through faster.  Serve with brown rice.

  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs halibut, grouper, or other firm white fish
  • 1 TBS neutral oil
  • 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TBS fresh orange juice
  • 1 TBS honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chile paste with garlic
  • 1/4 tsp cornstarch

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat;  add fish and cook, turning once, until cooked through (fish flakes easily), about 10 minutes total.

Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Boil for 20 seconds,

then brush glaze over fish;  repeat with remaining glaze after you’ve placed fish on dinner plates.

Cucumber Salad with Garlic and Ginger 

This recipe, from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, called for red onion which I didn’t have, so I substituted a small Vidalia onion;  he also has you mash the garlic and ginger with a mortar and pestle, again which I didn’t have, so I finely chopped them both.  It was still fantastic.

  • 3 TBS rice vinegar
  • 2 TBS neutral oil
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 small red or Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Maldon sea salt
  • 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lbs cucumbers
  • 1 TBS toasted sesame seeds
  • 3 TBS chopped cilantro

Whisk together vinegar through sesame oil;

add the onions, mix well, and let sit at room temperature for an hour.

Slice the cucumbers lengthwise, and use a spoon to remove the seeds.  If they’re large, slice each half lengthwise, then slice crosswise at an angle, cutting the cucumbers into about 1/4” pieces.

Place cucumbers, remaining ingredients and onions with their marinade in a large bowl and toss well to combine.  Let the salad sit for 10 minutes, then stir well before serving.

Zucchini and Fresh Herb Fritters, Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad

by Jennifer

These fritters were outstanding, especially with a dollop of Trader Joe’s Cilantro and Chive Yogurt Dip.  Fantastic way to use up the bounty of summer zucchini!  Serves 4.

Zucchini and Fresh Herb Fritters – adapted minimally from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

  • 2 lbs zucchini, coarsely grated
  • kosher salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 bunch scallions, whites and an inch of greens, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 TBS chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
  • freshly ground black pepper, salt
  • neutral oil for frying

Combine zucchini and about a tsp or so of kosher salt in a colander set in the sink;  let sit for 30 minutes.  Rinse with water and squeeze as dry as you can.

Combine eggs through pepper and salt to taste,

then stir in the zucchini.  Lightly coat the bottom of a large skillet with oil and heat over medium heat.

Using a 1/4 cup measure to scoop up the mixture, fry the fritters until they are golden brown on the bottom (a few minutes),

then flip them over to fry the other side.  You can keep them warm on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven until they are all cooked.

Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad

  • 6 ears of corn, shucked
  • 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 TBS extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing corn
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • freshly ground black pepper

Prepare grill.

Brush corn with olive oil and grill, turning occasionally, until the kernels are bright yellow with some charred marks and they start to smell like popcorn.  Remove corn from grill and when cool enough to handle, cut kernels off the ears into a bowl. (Hold ear vertically, standing in a bowl, and cut downwards into the bowl.)

Add remaining ingredients to corn and stir to coat.