Grilled Caprese Sandwiches

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I love Caprese salad, with its layers of fresh mozzarella, juicy tomatoes and brightly flavored basil. It really is the essence of summer. But Caprese salad is hard to eat while hot footing it to a softball practice, so this is Caprese in sandwich form. Grilled. With some smoky prosciutto. And pesto. Yum! Summer on the run!

Grilled Caprese Sandwiches (makes 1 sandwich)

  • 2 slices fresh bread
  • 1 tablespoon basil pesto
  • 2 slices fresh tomato
  • 1 large slice fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2 thin slices prosciutto
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Heat 1/2 tablespoon butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. While butter is melting, assemble the sandwiches by spreading the basil pesto on one side of a slice of bread. Top pesto with tomato, cheese and prosciutto. Add second slice of bread.
  3. When butter stops bubbling. Add the sandwich to the pan, browning one side.
  4. Using a spatula, lift the sandwich up, put the last 1/2 of the butter in the pan and flip the sandwich to brown the other side.
  5. Sandwich is done when the bread is nicely browned and crispy and the cheese is melty.

Summer Field Peas

I like pretty much all kinds of peas and we here in North Carolina are high into field pea season. If you haven’t tasted home cooked field peas, you really must get in your car NOW and head south. Unlike tender, fragile spring peas, field peas are hearty, soul satisfying and meaty. They are amazing in chili or with collards or just cooked with a ham hock until rich and creamy. I was going to do some research on field peas, when lo’ and behold, I saw this blog. Done and done. This is a great resource about field peas, how to store them for later and how to cook them. Now I just need to buy some ham hock 🙂

http://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/08/17/have-you-ever-heard-of-summer-field-peas/

 

Red Pepper Tart

I’m not sure why this isn’t called “Zucchini Tart” because it has more zucchini in it than red pepper, but the pepper sure makes it look pretty. This is another recipe adapted from the Under the Tuscan Sun Cookbook, which is rapidly becoming a favorite of mine. This tart was delicious–it is like a quiche, but with more vegetables and MUCH less fat (no milk or cream in this baby!). So light and delicious–I will definitely make it again. Ellie didn’t care for the zucchini, but she might try it with another vegetable subbed in. I think it would be great with asparagus in the spring or even with thinly sliced potatoes. Or Kale…or broccoli…or…well, you get the picture. Super easy, healthy and versitile. That is MY kind of recipe!

Red Pepper Tart

  • 4 farm eggs
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced very thin
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced very thin
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil, plus scant amount to coat pepper
  • 1 c. shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 9″ pie crust
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Roll the pie crust into a 9″ pie pan and keep refrigerated until ready.
  3. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent–about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced zucchini and cook another 3 minutes until soft.
  5. Spread the zucchini and onions onto the bottom of the pie crust.
  6. In a bowl, wisk the eggs together. Add the cheese and blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over vegetables.
  7. Toss the red pepper slices in a scant amount of olive oil to coat. Arrange red pepper slices on top of the tart in a spoke pattern. Press them into the egg a bit.
  8. Bake tart for 30 minutes or until eggs are set and crust is lightly browned.

Roasted Red Pepper Ketchup

I am, overall, not a fan of standard tomato ketchup. Tomatoes, I love. Ketchup? Not so much. It’s too sweet for me and tastes nothing like the juicy summer tomatoes I adore. I found this recipe for a roasted red pepper ketchup that is so far superior to store bought ketchup that it almost needs a new name. It is full of tomato flavor, but also spicy. I canned a bunch of it and we have used it on pork chops, beef, hamburgers and potatoes. It is awesome. Is it obsessive to make my own ketchup? Maybe. Will you become obessive after you try it? Most likely. Yes, it’s that good.

This recipe is derived from Put ‘Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton.

Roasted Pepper Ketchup (about 4 cups)

  • 2 pounds tomatoes
  • 2 pounds red bell peppers
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  1. Prepare an ice-water bath in a large bowl or clean sink.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the tomatoes into the water, no more than 1 pound at a time, and return to a boil. Blanch for 1 minute.
  3. Scoop the tomatoes out of the water with a spider or slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice-water bath. Continue blanching the tomatoes in batches. Remove from the ice bath and drain. Peel, core, and crush the tomatoes.
  4. Heat a grill. Coat the red peppers lightly in olive oil and put on the grill on medium heat. Let peppers char and turn every few minutes so all the sides of the peppers are charred and blistered.
  5. Remove peppers from the grill and put in a large paper bag (a grocery bag works well). Close the top of the bag and let peppers sit for about 10 minutes.
  6. Remove peppers from the bag and let cool. Slip the skins off the peppers, remove the stems and seeds. Roughly chop the peppers.
  7. Combine the tomato pulp, peppers, onion, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves in a large nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Remove from the heat and puree with a stick blender.
  8. Return the puree to the heat and simmer over low heat until thickened, about 2 hours.
  9. Remove from the heat.
  10. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or can using a boiling water bath.
  11. To can, ladle into clean, hot 4-ounce or half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark plance for up to 1 year.

Rustic Blackberry Jam

Blackberry

This blackberry jam is a hybrid between jam and jelly. Jellies are clear, sparkling creations that have had the pulp, seeds and skins removed. You must strain the mashed berries slowly so none of the fruit particles remain to cloud the final product. True jellies are refined. This jam is not. Why? Because I can’t bear to part with all the goodness that comes in our summer blackberries.  I’m okay with some cloudiness and imperfection if it means more blackberry flavor. So this recipe is a fun, full-of-itself cousin to true jelly. A little rough around the edges, but still a lot of fun. Think of it as that rogue cousin who shows up at a family funeral with a six pack of beer instead of a pound cake. You know exactly who I’m talking about, don’t you? Well, okay, maybe it’s just me…

While this jelly won’t earn any ribbons for beauty at the State Fair, it is delicious, full of flavor and would be good on a biscuit or on a pork tenderloin. The reason it isn’t crystal clear and sparkling, is because I use a food mill instead of cheesecloth to extract the seeds. This leaves in some of the fruit pulp that makes the jelly opaque instead of clear. I don’t care. When I have blackberries, I’m using every little bit of them I can!

Rustic Blackberry Jam

  • 8 cups of fresh blackberries
  • 3 tsp. calcium water (this comes with the Pomona Pectin)
  • 3 cups pure cane sugar
  • 3 tsp. Pomona’s Pectin
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. Rinse the berries and put in a nonreactive stock pot. Add the water. Mash the berries with a potato masher and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes.
  2. Put a food mill with a fine blade over a large bowl. Fill the food mill half way with the cooled blackberry mixture. Process until there are just seeds remaining and dump the seeds into a container for composting. Continue until you have processed all the berries.
  3. Pour 3 cups of the processed blackberries into the pot and bring to a boil (NOTE: if you have more than 3 cups of processed blackberries, adjust the amounts of the remaining ingredients accordingly).
  4. Add the calcium water and bring to a boil again. Mix the pectin and sugar in a bowl. Add to the boiling blackberries and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  5. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Scrape off any foam.
  6. Either refrigerate the jelly or ladle into clean, hot half-pint jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow jars to rest in the hot water for 5 minutes. Remove from the canner and set aside. Check seals after 24 hours and if seals are good, store for up to 1 year.

Yellow Squash Muffins

There are some food combinations that immediately speak to me–chocolate and hazelnut, tomato and garlic, bacon and, well, anything. Other combinations make me wonder–is this a joke? This recipe falls in the latter category. Yellow squash and applesauce? Blech. Since I had some homemade applesauce and large, lovely yellow squash on hand, I thought I’d throw caution to the wind and give this a try. This recipe is from Food.com, but was shared with me via our weekly Produce Box. How was it? Abso-freakin-lutely delicious. These taste more like corn muffins, but they don’t have any corn in them. We loved them. They are moist and light and not too sweet. Perfect with our acorn squash and apple soup and they would be delicious with chili as well. We ate our fill and froze the rest for some future fall soup nights!

Yellow Squash Muffins (makes 18)

2 lbs. yellow summer squash
2 eggs
1/2 c. melted butter
1/2 c. applesauce (we used our crock pot applesauce)
1 c. sugar
3 c. flour (we used whole wheat pastry flour)
5 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tin with liners or lightly grease cups.
2. Wash squash, trim the ends and cut into 1-inch slices.
3. Put squash in a medium saucepan along with 1/2 cup of water and cook for about 20 minutes or until very soft.
4. Drain squash very well and mash with a potato masher.
5. Measure 2 cups of the cooked squash into a medium mixing bowl and add eggs, butter and applesauce. Stir well and set aside.
6. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of mixture and add wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.
7. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
8. Bake about 20 minutes or until lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
9. Cool 5 minutes in the tin and remove muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Summer Ravioli with Corn and Tomatoes

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Even though it is still in the 90s outside, I needed a change of pace from all the cold salads we have been eating. We had some frozen pimento cheese ravioli from local pasta maker Melina’s Pasta, so I concocted a new recipe using that wonderful ravioli and some fresh corn, sweet onion, garlic and cherry tomatoes that came in our Produce Box. The result? We will definitely make this again! You can use any cheese stuffed ravioli, it doesn’t need to be pimento cheese (although that was pretty terrific). Definitely add the crispy prosciutto if you are not vegetarian–it really brings everything together.

Summer Ravioli with Corn and Tomatoes (serves 2)

8 large stuffed ravioli
2 slices prosciutto
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large, sweet onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 fresh ears of corn (preferably organic)
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes
Kosher salt and ground, black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Being a large pot of salted water to boil for pasta.
While water is coming to a boil, shuck the corn and use a sharp knife or a corn scraper to remove the corn from the Cobb. Set corn aside.
Wash cherry tomatoes and cut each tomato in half. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the prosciutto and cook until crispy and slightly browned. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and reserve.
Add the ravioli to the boiling water and cook according to directions, about 7 minutes.
While ravioli is cooking, add the onion and garlic to the hot sauté pan and cook until soft, but not browned, about 2 minutes.
Add the corn and tomatoes to the pan and sauté for about 4-5 minutes. Stir frequently and season to taste.
Add the cooked ravioli to the sauté pan, toss carefully to coat the pasta.
Plate the pasta and vegetables, topping with crumbled prosciutto and Parmesan cheese.
Serve immediately.

Summer Ratatouille and Pasta

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I have found myself both busy and distracted in the past few weeks, and as a result, I haven’t been posting (or cooking) as much as I would like. Life is like that–full of surprises, choices, decisions and turning points. I’m feeling pretty good about some decisions I’ve made lately, although they have taken my attention away from SOLE Food Kitchen for just a teeny minute. I’m trying to get back in the groove!

This dish is a wonderful vegetarian creation based on the dish ratatouille, although it’s a bit messier than the neatly sliced and arranged dish. It is hearty, but not heavy and, if you use soy cheese (or no cheese), it is also a vegan dish. We served just the vegetable mix as a side dish with fish this week and served the leftovers over organic bucatini pasta–a thicker, chewier version of spaghetti. You could use any vegetables you want in this dish as long as they are fresh. We used the traditional eggplant, tomatoes, fennel, onions and garlic. It was very good, and used up a lot of vegetables we had from our Produce Box this week.

Summer Ratatouille and Pasta (makes about 6 serving)

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small fennel bulb, washed and sliced thin
4 medium or large tomatoes, washed, trimmed and quartered
1 pint cherry tomatoes, washed and stems removed
1 large eggplant, washed and cubed
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb. bucatini pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese

Put a large pot of water on to boil for pasta.
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium low heat.
Add onions and garlic. Sauté for 1-2 minutes until onions start to soften (do not let the garlic brown).
Add the fennel and continue cooking another 1-2 minutes. Lower heat if necessary to keep garlic from scorching.
Add the quartered tomatoes and sauté for about 3 minutes or until tomatoes start to release their juices.
Add eggplant and cherry tomatoes. Season with herbs, salt and pepper. Stir well and cook over medium low heat for about 15 minutes.
Add capers, stir well. Correct for seasoning, if necessary.
Season boiling pasta water with a generous amount (3 tablespoons) of salt. Cook pasta according to directions (the bucatini take about 8 minutes).
Drain pasta and toss with the vegetable mixture.
Serve hot with a sprinkle of Parmesan or soy cheese.

Roasted Okra

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When I say “okra”, people either respond positively or wrinkle up their faces and express their hate for “slimy” vegetables. Few people are undecided about okra. The funny thing is, when fried or roasted, okra has none of the viscous texture that it has when sautĂ©ed or stewed (I still like it that way, too, though!). We found that roasting okra in the oven makes for a crispy and delicious summer side dish that has the crunch of fried okra without the fat (or the mess). We have roasted okra as a french fry replacement with sandwiches and with grilled food. Here we are having it with BLT sandwiches with local bacon. All the yummy, salty crunch of fried food, but with fiber and vitamins, instead of fat. A summer win-win!

Roasted Okra (makes 3-4 side servings)

  • 1 quart of okra (younger, smaller pods will be more tender)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (optional).
  2. Trim the stem ends of the pods and wash the okra.
  3. Dry well with a tea towel and put the dry okra in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Add oil and salt to the bowl and toss so all the okra is coated.
  5. Spread okra across the baking sheet in one layer.
  6. Roast for 15 minutes. Stir okra. Roast for another 15 minutes or until okra is crispy and browned (your timing will depend on the size of the okra pods).
  7. Serve hot.

Chili Lime Shrimp Salad

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There is nothing like fresh shrimp, straight from the coast. It is hot here on North Carolina–not as hot as usual, but it is definitely summer. This salad is another in our summer series of foods that will help you stay cool and healthy in the hot weather. I love shrimp salads, but I don’t like a lot of mayonnaise on a hot day. This salad uses lime juice to keep the salad flavorful and interesting, but not heavy. I may try this again with some butterfly pasta and make a shrimp pasta salad version of this. Soooo yummy!

The original version of this recipe came from Gina’s Skinny Recipes (here). I added some fresh cucumber and some fresh corn to the mix (who doesn’t love shrimp and corn?) as well as some smoked paprika to the dressing. I also added more lime juice and left out the cilantro because I have not acquired a taste for it. All good! The version below is my version, but you could alter this to suit your own tastes!

Wondering where to buy your shrimp? Before you head out shopping check THIS past SOLE Food Kitchen post on why local shrimp is important!

Chili Lime Shrimp Salad (serves 4 as a main dish)

1 lb. shrimp
1 medium tomato, washed and chopped
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
1 jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed, diced
1 cup fresh corn (about 1 ear)
1 avocado, peeled and diced
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 3 limes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Peel and devein shrimp. Put shrimp in a deep sauté pan, cover with water and poach for 2-3 minutes, until shrimp is pink and opaque. Drain and let cool.
While shrimp is cooling, mix lime zest, juice, oil, paprika, salt and pepper together. Whisk until well combined. Set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except avocado. Pour dressing over all and carefully stir the salad so all ingredients are coated with dressing.
Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Just prior to serving, add the avocado and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and correct if necessary.
Serve chilled.

Other shrimp dishes:

Pasta with Shrimp, Green Beans and Tomato

Roasted Broccoli and Shrimp

Pasta with Shrimp, Asparagus and Mushrooms

Local Shrimp Pad Thai

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