Thursday, September 6, 2012

Summer Vegetable Casserole

Squash, zucchini, tomatoes... summer bounty! It's the end of the season, and we're all looking for ways to use the warm weather harvest. I decided to put my favorite warm weather veggies into a casserole-- perfect for when the days are getting cool enough to heat up your oven. Baked with a layer of crunchy panko breadcrumbs on top, it's a crisp and flavorful way to enjoy an end-of-summer dinner.

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 4 TBSP butter, plus a little extra for the baking dish
  • 1 summer squash, sliced thin
  • 1 zucchini, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced thin (approximately 2 cups)
  • 1/2 large onion, diced (approximately 1/2 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, broiled and cut into 1 inch pieces (Need instructions for how to broil asparagus? I shared a recipe a while back--
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 TBSP italian seasoning
  • 3 cups "italian blend" cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, asiago, provolone, fontina, etc.)
  • salt and pepper (on the asparagus), to taste
To Make
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat up a skillet, add the olive oil, and sauté the onions and garlic until translucent and lightly browned. Add a little salt if you like. 
  3. Grease an 8x8 baking pan with butter. 
  4. Layer your casserole: First a zucchini and squash layer, then onions and garlic, then asparagus, then tomatoes, then cheese. Repeat until you reach the top of the pan and top with cheese. 
  5. Melt the 4 TBSP butter and stir into the panko and italian herbs. 
  6. Top the casserole with the panko blend and any remaining cheese. 
  7. Cover the dish with foil and bake, covered, for 25-30 minutes.
  8. Uncover the baking dish, raise the temperature of the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake the casserole for another 5-10 minutes... until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Be sure to keep an eye of things during this stage; the breadcrumbs can burn very easily.
  9. Allow the cooked casserole to rest for 10 or so minutes before serving to give it the opportunity to set.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Salem Bake

I'm by no means the first person to come up with the idea of putting chopped vegetables in a foil packet on the barbecue, but I give you my family's version: The Salem Bake. Named for Salem, New York, the town where my Dad first put the Salem Bake together and placed it on the grill, this is a great dish to throw together when you're looking for a vegetarian-friendly alternative to the usual veggie kebabs. There's no recipe, just "guidelines." This truly is one dish you can make up as you go.

What You'll Need
  • root vegetables, chopped into small-medium bite size pieces 
    • Examples: Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips, etc.
  • more vegetables, chopped small
    • Examples: Carrots, Sweet Onions, Asparagus, Squash, Zucchini, etc.
  • garlic, minced
  • your favorite herbs and spices
    • Examples: salt and pepper to taste, fresh or dried rosemary, sage, etc.
  • fat
    • olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, butter, etc.
To Make
  1. Heat up your grill!
  2. Layer a couple large pieces of foil as the bottom foundation of your bake. 
  3. Fill the foil with your veggies of choice. When you're doing this, make like you're filling a burrito-- add too much and you will make your bake unwieldy when you go to move it to your grill.
  4. Add a little oil and/or dot with butter.
  5. Toss in your herbs and spices. Not sure what to add? The basic kosher salt and freshly ground pepper have never failed to disappoint!
  6. Close up the bake with another layer or two of foil, and pat into a rectangle.
  7. Put your foil packet on the grill. The cooking time will depend on how big you chopped your vegetables and how hot your barbecue is, but my time usually averages about 45 minutes. 
  8. To test for doneness, tear a little whole in the top of the foil (watch out for steam!) and poke your biggest vegetable with a fork (just like poking a baked potato in the oven). If the fork comes in and out easily you are done!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Salsa Salad

I'm stoked for fall to get here. I've caught myself looking longingly at the sweaters in my closest and planning when I'll bake my first apple pie this season... lighting pumpkin-scented candles even!

But, it's going to be pushing ninety degrees in New York City this weekend. Labor Day Weekend is coming; let's send summer out with a bang!

  • one avocado, chopped
  • two large tomatoes, diced
  • one jar Trader Joe's Corn and Chile Tomato-less Salsa
  • one jalepeño, minced (add only if you want your salad to have a little extra "kick")
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked or canned black beans (if using canned, be sure to drain and rinse)
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper (any color), diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

To Make
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or container. Allow the salad to meld in your 'fridge for an hour or two. 
Does it get any easier than that?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Mexican Lasagna

A twist on an old favorite, this recipe for Mexican Lasagna layers enchilada sauce, corn tortillas, refried beans, vegetables, and cheese that reaches ooey gooey levels of deliciousness as it bakes in your oven. Enjoy it with some fresh cilantro or a dollop of guacamole and a glass of sangria (this one or this one would do nicely) for a dinner you won't soon forget!

  • 1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce (jarred, canned, or homemade)
  • 18-20 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 1 can refried pinto beans, with or without chiles/jalapeños/salsa-style/etc. depending on your taste
  • 1 can refried black beans, with or without chiles/jalapeños/salsa-style/etc. depending on your taste
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1-3 jalapeños, minced: Use one for a mild lasagna... more to add heat!
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar or "mexican blend" cheese
  • cilantro or guacamole for garnish
To Make
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Blend the two cans of refried beans using a spoon or food processor. Add a little water if necessary to make them more spreadable.
  3. Combine the tomatoes, jalapeños, and onions in a bowl.
  4. Coat the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish with enchilada sauce. 
  5. Add a layer of tortillas.
  6. For the next layer, spread half of the beans over the tortillas. 
  7. Spoon half of your vegetables on top of the beans.
  8. Sprinkle on a layer of cheese.
  9. Add a second layer of tortillas. 
  10. Coat the tortillas with more enchilada sauce. 
  11. Spread the remaining beans on top of the sauce. It's okay if they blend a little bit.
  12. Distribute the rest of the vegetables and another coating of cheese on top of the second bean layer.
  13. Finish off with a final layer of tortillas, the rest of your sauce, and the last of the shredded cheese. 
  14. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.
  15. Allow the lasagna to set up for at least 10-15 minutes after removing from the oven to avoid a runny dinner plate.