Vegetarian

Grilled Zucchini and Herbed Ricotta Sandwiches

I planted a second round of tomatoes in the garden last week. And while I was at it, I went ahead and stuck a new zucchini plant in.

Because this is the first year I haven’t wanted to wretch at the mere sound of “zucchini” before the 4th of July. I seriously cannot get enough of it. And I haven’t even made zucchini bread, the sure sign that Zucchini Fatigue has set in, once.

(Muffins are a different story. For next week.)

But this dish. Pure zucchini amazingness. I took my favorite summer side dish (that has already gotten the sandwich treatment plenty this summer) and gave it the Annie’s Eats sandwich treatment: served on some crusty ciabatta with a beautifully simple and creamy herbed ricotta.

I made my own ricotta. You don’t have to. But I highly recommend it. Because it takes like 20 minutes, a candy thermometer, and some $3 cheesecloth.

And your 4 year old will look at you with complete wide-eyed amazement because she just helped you make cheese. “Real cheese but it’s cheese that we eat with a spoon.” (And eat with a spoon she will until you take it away.)

Grilled Zucchini and Herbed Ricotta Sandwiches

Creamy herbed ricotta and grilled vegetables served on crusty, grilled ciabatta bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb zucchini, sliced into 1/3-inch rounds
  • 1 red onion, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + more for spraying/brushing
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup ricotta
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 large basil leaves, minced
  • 1 lb loaf of ciabatta

Instructions

  1. Heat grill to medium.
  2. Carefully thread the onion rounds onto skewers (this will keep them in tact as rounds while grilling), making sure the skewer goes through every onion ring.
  3. Brush onions and zucchini rounds with 1/4 cup olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill vegetables 9-10 minutes each side, until nicely caramelized.
  5. Cut the ciabatta loaf in half horizontally and lightly spray/brush with olive oil - transfer to the grill for 1-2 minutes until crisped.
  6. Stir the ricotta with the lemon juice and zest, garlic, and basil leaves in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Spread ricotta over the bottom half and top with zucchini and red onion slices.
  8. Spread any remaining ricotta on the top half of the bread, place on top, and then cut into serving sizes (smaller for appetizer; larger for entree).

Notes

Yields: Servings vary

Adapted from Annie's Eats

Estimated time: 30 minutes

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Watermelon Salad with Tequila Lime Vinaigrette

Last week, a picture of a pumpkin cheesecake popped up in my Facebook feed and I was like no.

And then I went all Tracy-Morgan-from-Cop-Out.

NO. NONONONONONO.

HELL. NO.

It’s July. And I want no part of pumpkin creamy salted apple Thanksgiving caramel candy corn baked casserole pumpkin anything.

What I do want? Sweet, figure-friendly summer fruit. Doused in figure-unfriendly tequila.

And we all know that fruit and tequila go together perfectly.

Watermelon Salad with Tequila Lime Vinaigrette

One of my favorite throw-together summer side salads is watermelon, red onion, feta, jalapeno, and a big handful of cilantro, sprinkled with just a little salt and a squeeze of lime. It has everything you could want in a summer side, except tequila.

Cut in larger chunks, it makes a fabulous salad. Cut in smaller dice, it’s makes a fabulous salsa for a no-cook chips-and-salsa dinner on the patio.

So it’s no surprise that one of my favorite recipes from Pastry Queen Parties is a similar blend of flavors taken to the next level with a tequila-lime vinaigrette. It has everything you could want in a summer side, including tequila.

The Pastry Queen serves her spiked watermelon salad in scooped out personal-sized watermelon bowls. So fancy. I opt for the no-fuss approach: a 12-year-old tupperware bowl that’s missing its lid.

Watermelon Salad with Tequila-Lime Vinaigrette

Watermelon and feta salad get a summery kick from a tequila and lime vinaigrette.

Ingredients

  • For the salad:
  • 5 generous cups 1.5-inch dice watermelon (about 1 small watermelon)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 3 oz crumbled feta
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (optional - but go for it)
  • For the vinaigrette:
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tequila
  • 1-2 Tbsp honey
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Instructions

  1. Lightly toss the watermelon, onion, cilantro, feta, and jalapeno in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice, tequila, 1 Tbsp honey, salt and red wine vinegar together.
  3. Taste for sweetness and whisk in the extra honey, if desired.
  4. Pour over immediately before serving.
  5. If you anticipate having leftovers, only dress half the salad with half the dressing - the watermelon will water down the dressing the longer it sits. Dress additional salad as needed.

Notes

Yields: ~8 servings

Adapted from The Pastry Queen Parties

Estimated time: 20 minutes

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Avocado and Grilled Pineapple Eggrolls

Before we start talking about the insanity of what almost amounts to deep-fried guacamole, let’s talk about safety.

Because there are some things you shouldn’t do on a school night. Like drinking most of a bottle of wine all by yourself.

And then come the things that you shouldn’t do after drinking most of a bottle of wine yourself on a school night. Like getting anywhere near an open flame and hot, splattering oil.

But there is one thing that you should totally do with hot, splattering oil when you have all of your fine motor skills about you so you probably won’t burn yourself 4 times in 10 minutes (how am I even still alive?): Make these Grilled Pineapple & Avocado Eggrolls.

Avocado and Grilled Pineapple Eggrolls

Several years back, I made a clone of the Cheesecake Factory Eggroll recipe. It was… work. There was cream cheese and sundried tomatoes in the filling with the avocado and I’ve always found that kind of an odd combo. Although I will totally dominate a plate without complaint and call it dinner once a year.

And then the sauce had a couple new-to-me ingredients that were pricey and ended up going to waste because what else was I supposed to do with the rest of a $12 jar of tamarind paste? You know, besides not buy it in the first place.

But the one thing that recipe did get right? Wrapping chunky avocado in a thin, crispy fried shell. It’s basically fried guacamole. And it’s not at all hard to accomplish.

Avocado and Grilled Pineapple Eggrolls

I basically made an extra chunky version of my very favorite guacamole, which is loaded with sweet and smokey cubes of grilled pineapple, wrapped that up in an eggroll wrapper, and fried for ~1 minute on each side. The dipping sauce was a crudely-measured, raid-the-pantry combination of soy sauce, honey, garlic, red pepper, and cilantro. Sweet, salty, savory, and slightly spicy all in a single bite.

And my poor burned fingertips (WHY DIDN’T I USE TONGS) have nearly completely healed.

Grilled Pineapple and Avocado Eggrolls

Avocado and juicy grilled pineapple are served inside crispy eggrolls.

Ingredients

  • For the eggrolls:
  • Oil for cooking (enough to be ~1-inch deep in your pan)
  • 4 small avocados, diced
  • 2 rings grilled pineapple, diced*
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt
  • 1 pkg (16 count) eggroll wrappers
  • Small bowl of water
  • For the sauce:
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 minced clove garlic
  • 1 Tbsp minced cilantro

Instructions

  1. *If you aren't working with leftover pineapple, remove the husk, slice into ~1/2-inch thick rings, and place on a preheated grill.
  2. Cook ~4-5 minutes each side until nicely caramelized.
  3. Pour cooking oil into a pan and heat over medium high.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the avocado, pineapple. salt, lime juice, red onion, and pepper together.
  5. Lay a single wrapper on your work surface, dip your fingers in the water, and lightly moisten all four the edges of the wrapper.
  6. Place ~3 Tbsp of filling onto your eggroll wrapper and roll (I didn't get photos buy you can see the step by step here.
  7. Working with 3-4 eggrolls at a time, place them in the heated oil (it should sizzle with a drop of water) and fry ~1 minutes each side, until golden brown.
  8. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate and serve hot.
  9. To make the dipping sauce, whisk all ingredients together.

Notes

Yields: 16 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 40 minutes

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Green Tomato and Chipotle Mac & Cheese

Hello, summer. With your abundance of tangy green tomatoes, your abundance of soul-melting heat, and your abundance of why-waste-my-time-flat-ironing-my-hair-when-it’s-just-going-to-look-like-crap-in-11-seconds-anyway humidity.

I can only help you with one of those things. The other two can typically be fixed by drinking any one of these.

Green Tomato and Chipotle Mac & Cheese

This summery mac & cheese is spiked with minced chipotles in adobo and layered in a baking dish – and then topped – with thinly-sliced green tomatoes. The tangy tomatoes help cut the richness of the cheesy dish while the chipotles give you just enough heat to justify cooling off with that Fudge Bomb for dessert.

You know, if you’re still looking for an excuse.

Green Tomato and Chipotle Mac & Cheese

Green Tomato and Chipotle Mac & Cheese

A summery mac & cheese topped with tangy green tomatoes and spiked with spicy, smokey chipotle peppers.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb macaroni pasta
  • Salt
  • 16 oz grated cheese (I used half sharp cheddar, half colby jack)
  • 6 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • Pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp deli-style mustard (I use Creole)
  • 1-2 Tbsp minced chipotles in adobo (2 Tbsp for a spicier mac)
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (2 slices of bread sent through a mini processor works perfectly)
  • 3 large green tomatoes, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Bring salted water to boil and cook pasta for half the time suggested on the package.
  4. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the pasta from cooking.
  5. Leave the pasta draining in the sink and return the empty pasta pot to the cooktop over medium heat.
  6. Melt 4 Tbsp butter and whisk in 3 Tbsp flour.
  7. Let cook ~3 minutes, whisking occasionally.
  8. Add the garlic and whisk, cooking 1 minute more.
  9. Add the mustard, chipotles, and then slowly stream in the milk while whisking.
  10. Add a generous pinch of salt, fresh ground pepper, and let the sauce cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture beings to bubble.
  11. Add the cheese and stir until it is completely melted.
  12. Turn off the heat and add the pasta back to the pot, stirring until evenly coated.
  13. Transfer half of the pasta to the baking dish and then layer half of the green tomatoes on top.
  14. Top with the remaining pasta and the remaining green tomato slices.
  15. Melt 2 Tbsp of butter and stir into the bread crumbs.
  16. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the dish.
  17. Bake for ~30 minutes, until the breadcrumbs have crisped to a golden brown and the pasta is bubbling.

Notes

Yields: 8-12 servings

Adapted from The Pastry Queen Parties

Estimated time: 1 hour

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