Bruschetta Pomodoro

Very good one for summer.  I hate tomatoes but for some reason I can eat them chopped, soaked in olive oil and punched up with basil on bread. Bruschetta Pomodoro

4 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped

2 cloves garlic, fine dice

a long healthy pour of olive oil (about a 1/4 cup)

large handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped

salt and pepper

Grilled bread slices, for serving

Mix tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and basil in a bowl.  Heavily salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon onto slices of crunchy grilled bread.

Wedge Salad

Classic! Who can say no to a wedge salad. Iceberg Wedge Salad

1 head iceberg lettuce, washed, cored, cut into wedges

bleu cheese dressing

1 tomato, sliced

1/2 red onion, sliced

bacon, cooked and crumbled

Top each wedge of lettuce with tomatoes, onions, bacon and dressing.

a roasted side

This is a good choice if your making a whole dinner because the preparation is minimal; giving you time to ready all the other parts of the meal while these lovely little pieces of sweet potato roast in the oven.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

4 Sweet Pototoes, washed and dried and cut into bite sized pieces

1 red onion, coarsely chopped

few sprigs fresh thyme

olive oil

salt and pepper

Heat oven to 425.  Toss all ingredients on a large baking sheet and bake about 45 minutes to an hour until fully cooked.  Stir once or twice during cooking.

Broccoli Rabe

Also called Rapini.   Slender, leafy and slightly bitter.  The blanching brightens the color and tames the bitterness.  To blanche, bring water (enough to cover broccoli) to a boil.  Add broccoli and cook for 2 minutes.  Immediately place broccoli in ice bath or rinse with very cold water to stop it from cooking.  Dry with towel or spinner.  Broccoli is now blanched.  After blanching, stems can be cut in half or left whole.

Broccoli Rabe

1 bunch broccoli rabe, washed and blanched

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves garlic, fine dice

red pepper flakes

juice of half a lemon

salt and pepper

In a pan, heat olive oil.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes, saute for about a  minute.  Add rapini.  Cook about 5 minutes.  Finish with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

In a Pickle

On a trip to Trader Joe's last week I was forced to purchase an eight ounce container of jalepenos even though I only needed one. Eight ounces is about 8-10 chilies.  I ended up sneaking in one or two here or there but was still left with a small surplus, enough for escabeche or pickled jalepenos.

Pickled Jalapenos

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, sliced

1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces

6 jalapenos,halved lengthwise, seeds and ribs removed

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled

4 bay leaves

1 tablespoon thyme

2 tablespoons  kosher salt

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon corriander

1 teaspoon oregano

1 1/2 cup vinegar (white or cider)

1 1/2 cup water

Saute onions until clear, about 2 minutes.  Add remaining veggies and cook 2 minutes more.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer about 30 minutes.  Cool.  Will last about one week refrigerated.

Peppers

These little lovelies can be difficult to find. I stumbled on these shishito peppers at dean and deluca. Padron peppers could also be used and are almost identical. Both are small delicate peppers that generally are mild in taste although every one in ten you might find a spicy one.

Blistered Peppers 1/2 lb (or any amount) shishito or padron peppers coarse salt olive oil

Wash and dry peppers. Some one told me each pepper should be pricked with a pin before cooking but this seems fussy and I never do it. In a pan heat a drizzle of olive oil and add peppers. Cook until they blister and deflate. Salt to taste. Serve hot. Eat everything but the stem.

Calabacitas

Spicy, citrusy and salty.  All the qualities one wants in a taco.  These are vegetarian but suitable for any meat eater.

Vegetarian Taco Filling

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 zucchini, sliced and cut in half

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1/2 - 1 jalapeno, grated

Juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper

1 teaspoon each: dried oregano, chili powder, garlic powder

Saute olive oil, zucchini, jalapeno and mushrooms in pan about 2 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and cook until desired texture is reached. (About 5 minutes more.) Serve fajita style or fill taco shells and pile on toppings.   I suggest sour cream, pico de gallo (or salsa), guacamole,  shredded cheese, lettuce, black beans, rice and olives.

Twice Baked Potatoes

no meal is complete without a potato.  This one is dressed up and a fun to make, happiness inducing addition to a holiday or entertaining menu.    They take a bit of time, but most of the work is done by the oven.  These are the sour cream and chive variety but many variations are possible. Who doesn't like a bacon cheddar twice baked potato?

Twice Baked Potatoes

4 large baking potatoes (idaho or russet types)

olive oil

2 tablespoon butter

handful of fresh chives, diced about 1/2 cup

1/2 cup milk (i use fat free)

3/4 cup sour cream (full flavor, but you can use low fat)

salt and pepper

Scrub and dry potatoes.  Stab each with fork a couple times to prevent potato explosions in the oven and rub with olive oil.  This will keep the skin from drying out and provide a little extra flavor.  Bake potatoes at 400 degrees for one hour and fifteen minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.

Cut off tops of potatoes to make little boats ( makes 4 portions)  or cut them in half evenly (makes 8 portions).

Scoop out flesh into a bowl.  Mix and mash this with sour cream, milk, butter, chives, salt and pepper.

Fill Potatoes.  (This would be a good time to sprinkle with cheese, bacon or any additions you may have decided on)

Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until hot, 15 minutes.

Vegetable Chili

It's 60 something degrees in brooklyn today and I'm already in sandals and ready for foods that remind me of warmer, sunnier seasons. This chili is one of them.

(a lot of) Vegetarian Chili

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 28oz can peeled, diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cup water

1 yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1 bell pepper, diced (i used orange)

1 zucchini, diced

1 or 2 jalapenos, diced (wear gloves!)

2 tablespoon oregano

2 heaping tablespoons each: paprika, cumin, chile powder

Fresh cilantro, cut

Salt/Pepper

Juice of one lime

1/2 cup corn, frozen or off the cob

3/4 cup edamame (without shells)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Saute onions and garlic with olive oil in large pot, about 2 minutes, until soft. Add remaining vegetables, cook 2 minutes more. Add tomatoes, water, herbs and spices, simmer for one hour. Add lime juice, corn, edamame and beans. Cook additional 10 minutes.