From here until the end of time (ok, just the end of summer) don’t be surprised if I talk about how sad I am that summer is basically over in every single post. Guys, I’m so sad! Like, how did this even happen?! Can’t deal. Summertime sadness aside, there is one thing that I won’t be sad to see go- eating in swimsuits. I know that sounds weird, but I have to be totally honest, there is nothing that I dislike more than being dripping wet in a bikini for a cook-out at someone’s pool/beach/lake. I always feel weird, gross, and judged 10 times more than usual for eating that second cheeseburger….with bacon….with potato salad (it’s ok, I know you’re just jealous because you want to be eating that too!). Also, I find it highly comical that girls won’t eat to fit into bikinis to wear to places where they’re going to be eating. Anyone else with me on this? Obviously, barbecues in bikinis are nearly unavoidable so this grilled vegetable salad is part of my solution. It’s quite possibly one of the easiest salads you can make as it is simply grilled vegetables chopped up then topped with a light dressing made from hummus (a great base for creamy dressings when you don’t want to use mayonnaise). This salad is healthy, light and fresh and definitely swimsuit approved! And since swimsuit season is almost over, don’t worry, this salad is also clothing approved!
P.S. This would make a healthy side dish for this coming Labor Day weekend’s barbecue and cookout festivities!
Grilled Vegetable Salad
A vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free vegetarian salad that's perfect on it's own or as a healthy side dish
First, wash and slice your squash, zucchini, and eggplant. Toss it with a little olive oil and proceed to grill as you normally would. The vegetables should take about 5-7 minutes per side. Once they're done, remove from the grill and set aside to cool.
To "grill" the corn, add a dash of olive oil to a medium-sized skillet set over medium heat. Add the corn and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until it begins to char, making sure to stir every few minutes. Remove the corn from the pan then toss the tomatoes in and cook for a few minutes.
Once the grilled vegetables have cooled, chop them into small pieces. Add to a serving bowl and toss with the corn and tomatoes.
To make the dressing mix the hummus, olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice together. Stir until well combined.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad, sprinkle with salt and pepper and finish with shredded dill on top. Toss right before serving. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to a week.
This salad is tasty on it's own for a lighter meal, but it would also be good with a nice crusty bread (almost like a bruschetta), served alongside fish or steak, topped with grilled tofu, or sprinkled with some goat or feta cheese.
This recipe can easily be doubled or cut in half. The vegetables can also be substituted based on preference.
The vegetables can be grilled the night before and stored in the fridge until you are ready to use them the next day.
If you do not have a grill, or it's too cold outside, you could also use a grill pan or roast the vegetables in the oven.
What I’m about to say is going to sound a little odd, especially since part of my job is writing recipes, buuuut……I almost never follow a recipe (don’t worry, I do test all the recipes that make it onto this blog). I have a folder full of recipes that rarely get touched, magazines that only get browsed through, and cookbooks that are used for decorative purposes. About 95% of what I cook, I just wing. I throw in a little of this, a little of that, and a pinch of this (I rarely measure things either) and it just works. This is how I’ve cooked most of my life as has my Mom. I do get inspiration from magazines and cookbooks, but the recipes that inspire me are ones that I usually follow more as guidelines than as an actual recipe. Obviously, then, for me to say I found a recipe that I like and follow almost to a ‘T’ is a big deal. Such is the case with this zucchini casserole recipe. My Mom found this recipe a while back and started making it all the time. When I moved out, it was one of the recipes I made sure to take with me. Mr. RC and I now have it on a pretty regular basis. It’s healthy and light enough for summer but comforting enough for cold winter days. And in case you’re worried about satisfying the carnivores in your life, you’ll be happy to know Mr. RC loves his meat but is constantly requesting this dish. Whether you follow recipes or you don’t, this is one I highly suggest you add to your arsenal.
A tangy and nutty casserole that is both healthy and light while also being the perfect comfort food
6 cups thinly sliced zucchini or summer squash (about 3 small or 2 medium/large zucchini)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
A dash of black pepper
1 cup feta cheese crumbles (5 ounces)
1 cup cottage cheese
1/4-3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (depending on tastes preferences)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (3 ounces)
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced (or a handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced)
1 1/2 tablespoons of sesame seeds (optional)
In a small bowl place the bulgur and the boiling water. Stir and set aside until the water has been absorbed.
In a medium-sized skillet, sauté the onions and garlic in the oil until the onions are just translucent. Add the zucchini, dried herbs, and black pepper and continue to sauté on medium to low heat until the zucchini is tender. I sometimes cover the pan with a lead to help the veggies cooke faster.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then mix in the cottage cheese and feta cheese.
To the bulgur, add the tomato paste, soy sauce and parsley and stir until combined.
To assemble the casserole, grease a 9x9" pan. Then layer the bulgur mixture on the bottome, the sautéed vegetables in the middle, and finish with the feta mixture. Top with the cheddar and the tomatoes.
Cover with foil then bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. I usually take the foil off after about 30 minutes so that the top gets crustier.
Remove from the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes for easier serving. Store leftovers tightly covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.
This pairs nicely with a tossed salad, some crusty bread and a nice glass of red wine.
To bake this in a 9x13" pan, I only double the bulgur mixture.
I think I may have been drooling all over my keyboard while writing this post. I mean, have you ever seen so many good-looking veggies, er should I say veggie burgers?! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE vegetables and we eat them every day, but sometimes they just aren’t the most appetizing things to eat. In fact when I was making our dinner menu for the month, I thought I’d have to work extra hard to plan some delicious meatless meals for Fridays (due to Lent), but to my surprise we actually eat mostly vegetarian meals as it is. Despite our menu being all “vegged out”, veggie burgers were nowhere to be found. So needless to say I was a little overly excited for this month’s 3×3 food post. Whether it’s for Meatless Mondays or No-Meat Lenten Fridays, Luci’s sweet potato veggie burgers (because we all know my obsession with sriracha can’t be stopped), Grace’s bulgur quinoa burgers (because I can’t get enough quinoa in my life) and my mediterranean mushroom burgers (lemon aioli, feta cheese, phyllo dough “bun”? Yes, yes & yes!) are sure to be on heavy rotation. Hop on over to Luci’s blog and Grace’s blog to get their recipes and continue scrolling down for mine.
Are you a fan of veggie burgers? If so, what is your favorite kind?
Mediterranean Mushroom Burgers
A portabella "burger" topped with mediterranean flavors and served on a phyllo "bun"
2 large portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and dried
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
1 clove of garlic
Dash of salt & pepper
4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 a tablespoon of fresh dill, minced
2 tablespoons of feta cheese, crumbled
Phyllo dough, unthawed
Grilled pepper strips
Place the mushroom caps in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle generously with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (I did about 3-4 tablespoons of each) along with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Cover and let marinate for 3 hours up to 3 days.
When you are ready to eat the burgers, first make the sauces. For the parsley pesto, mix all the ingredients in an immersion blender or cuisinart and puree until smooth and well-blended.
For the aioli, mix the mayonnaise, lemon juice and dill together in a small bowl. Stir in the feta crumbles.
To make the buns, carefully cut at least 10 sheets of phyllo dough to a size a little bigger than the mushroom cap. I cut mine about 1/3 of the way down the sheet, then cut that in half. Feel free to make it as big as you would like and as thick as you would like. Start stacking the phyllo squares on a foil lined baking sheet. In between every couple layers, brush on some melted butter. Finish the top off with melted butter, as well. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-12 minutes, or until golden brown and slightly puffed.
While the "buns" are cooking, place a non-stick or well-oiled grill pan (a regular skillet will work too) over medium heat. Cook the mushrooms on each side for 3-5 minutes.
To assemble your burgers, first place a "bun" on your serving dish. Next spread on about 1 tablespoon of the pesto. Top that with your mushroom patty, the sautéed peppers (if you like), a dollop of the aoili, and garnish with a little dill and some more feta crumbles. Serve immediately.
Food has always been about more than just the dishes being served or the flavors that I’m tasting. Food to me is about a story. A recipe handed down from so-and-so, a special cake made for every birthday, an ingredient reminiscent of a vacation. Many of the recipes I cook or the memories I share have to do with food (with my Italian heritage this should surprise no one), and this recipe is no different.
When I was younger, we rarely ate out, so it was pretty memorable when we did. One place in particular, the 3 Sisters Cafe, was a restaurant in a house that was situated next to our health food store. I remember eating breakfast there on several occasions, I remember the food was delicious, but I don’t ever remember what I ate. Except for these potatoes. These I got every.single.time. They were nutritious and healthy (parental-approved) but also cheesy and delicious (child-approved). I haven’t been to that restaurant in years, but that hasn’t stopped me from eating these powerhouse potatoes as a side with my eggs, as my lunch with a salad, or for dinner along with some fish or a steak. After all, when it comes to recipes, it just doesn’t get better than one that is easy, healthy, delicious, customizable, and versatile.
Potato Tofu Scramble
A simple, but healthy and nutritious, potato dish that packs a powerful punch for brunch, as a side dish, or for a main meal
4 large potatoes, cut into cubes (and peeled, if you prefer)
7 ounces tofu
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 1/3 cups salsa
1/2 cup cheese (cheddar, feta, or goat's cheese are all good)
A large handful of fresh parsley (about 1/3 cup)
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a small saucepan, add your potatoes and cover them with water. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10-12 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender enough to be pricked with a knife/fork, but not falling apart. Drain the water and give the potatoes a rinse in cold water to stop the cooking.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the tofu and potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, then stir in the salsa and at least half the parsley (more or less depending on your taste preferences). Stir to combine everything and cook for another minute or two.
Scoop into serving bowls and top with a sprinkling of cheese and a little more parsley.
Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container for up to three days in the refrigerator.
Serve as a side at brunch (goes well with eggs) or as a side dish with a main meal. Also makes a great lunch or light dinner served along with a salad.
This dish is highly customizable. You can use regular potatoes, red skin potatoes, or even sweet potatoes (also, this is a great way to use up leftover baked potatoes). Use a corn salsa or salsa verde in place of the regular salsa. Add in some olives, mushrooms, or peppers. Replace the parsley with cilantro, dill or basil, and feel free to top the whole thing off with a little ketchup or sriracha. The possibilities are endless.
This is just so typical of me. One week I’m shoving cupcakes down your throat and the next I’m giving you a bowl of roasted vegetable dip. Shocker! Speaking of unhealthy foods, I tried a cragel this weekend. You know that crazy thing that is half croissant, half bagel. It basically rocked my world. Oh, and we also tried a french toast bagel…with cannoli cream cheese. Yes, cannoli cream cheese. Like the amazing filling inside those delicious cookies. Mixed into cream cheese. Slathered on my bagel. OOOO.EMMM.GEEEE! Forget rocking my world, that combo took my taste buds beyond the stratosphere! Once I snapped back to reality, I realized my body was screaming “Houston, we have a problem,” and I desperately needed some vegetables in my life. The veggies in the veggie cream cheese just simply wouldn’t cut it, so I whipped up a batch of roasted vegetable dip. Because it’s easy, it’s delicious, it’s low-fat, it’s gluten-free, it tastes good plain, on sandwiches, with pita or veggies and it has almost no calories in it. Basically, it wipes out my trip to the bagel shop and ensures that my heart will continue beating after all that cannoli and bagel goodness.
P.S. I made a similar version of this for a Super Bowl party a couple of years ago and it was a big hit! Be sure to add this to your Super Bowl menu, it will cancel out all the wings and chips you eat and your guests will love you for providing the one dish that people won’t feel guilty eating.
Roasted Vegetable Dip
A yummy and nutritious low-calorie, low-fat, gluten free dip that's perfect for snacks, appetizers, parties or even as a sandwich spread
1/2 a large eggplant (or one small eggplant), chopped into thick slices
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped into thick slices
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
A large handful of parsley
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet with aluminum foil, then spread the veggies on top. Drizzle with the olive oil and vinegar, then sprinkle on a generous amount of salt and pepper (I probably used about a 1/2 teaspoon of each for my veggies). Give the veggies a slight toss to coat, then roast them in the oven for 35 minutes or until brown. Let them cool for about 10-15 minutes, then transfer them to a food processor. Add in the parsley and pulse to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl or store it in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Serve with crackers, pita bread, or veggies.
I have also made this with zucchini in place of the parsnips along with a head of fennel and a handful of basil and the results were just as tasty. Don't be afraid to play around and substitute different vegetables.