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Posts Tagged ‘Red Peppers’

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella with Eggplant | Relishing It

One of my favorite summer meals is panzanella.  If you’re not familiar with this little dish, it is simply a bowlful of seasonal vegetables with homemade croutons or bread and a dressing of some sort.  And it is wonderful.  This fresh version with tomatoes and peppers is one that I make frequently.

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella with Eggplant | Relishing It

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella with Eggplant | Relishing It

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella with Eggplant | Relishing It

Today I wanted to create something just as pleasing, but a bit different.  I wanted to be both delicious and satisfying as well as be loaded with vegetables.  I know I’ve preached this before, but eating vegetables is key to keeping me feeling good, so I really try to pack them in throughout the day.  One of the vegetables that I wanted to rely on for this receipe is eggplant.  Why eggplant?  Well, because I can’t stop buying it at the farmers market– it’s just so darn gorgeous.  I have a weird relationship with this vegetable.  I don’t generally love the flavor, and at times I find the texture to be a bit…unique.  I needed to find a way to appreciate it, aside from the aesthetic, because admiring its beauty while it sits unused on my countertop is a bit wasteful.  And the other recipes I’ve tried have just seemed ho-hum or so loaded with other unhealthy things that it kind of defeated the point of eating healthy.  So that’s why eggplant.

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella with Eggplant | Relishing It

Thankfully, not only did I find a way to use it, I found a way to actually enjoy it!  This panzanella is everything that I wanted it to be.  Using small globe-like eggplants worked well in this recipe.  The seeds are smaller, which appeals to me.  The vegetables became tender and delicious when roasted.  Tossing them with homemade croutons, a red wine vinaigrette, and feta was a beautiful combination.  The feta melted slightly against the warm vegetables.  It was magical.  The smashed garlic cloves become soft and buttery.  Roast whatever vegetables you have on hand– it will work.  Change up the cheese, if you want.  Goat or ricotta salata will work well, too. Enjoy!

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella with Eggplant | Relishing It

The Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Panzanella with Eggplant

(serves 2)

about 10 small eggplants, diced

1-2 red peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces

handful of small cherry tomatoes

1 small red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 hot pepper, optional

olive oil, salt, and pepper

1/4 – 1/2 baguette, cubed

Feta, goat, or ricotta salata cheese crumbles, to garnish

For the Vinaigrette:

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

about 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed

salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  On a large baking sheet with parchment paper, toss the eggplant, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and garlic cloves together with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, toss the cubed baguette with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread on another baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake on the bottom rack until just crispy, about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven.

Make the vinaigrette by mixing the garlic clove, mustard, thyme leaves, and red wine vinegar together.  Then whisk in the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

When the vegetables are done roasting, mix them together with the homemade croutons.  Then toss everything with the red wine vinaigrette.  Re-season with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Serve with feta crumbles on top and even a few more thyme leaves.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw | Relishing it

I love a good slaw.  Basically, I love any salad that is made from cabbage and crunchy vegetables.  Sure, once summer rolls around I’ll be thrilled to dig into a plate of delicate, tender greens.  But, in the meantime, I never tire of crunchy, hearty vegetables.  They satisfy me when I’m hungry.  They have a great mouth-feel– as in, I actually feel like I’m eating something substantial.  Like I’m eating a meal.

Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw | Relishing It

Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw | Relishing It

Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw | Relishing It

Cabbage (and kale) are really my go-to winter salad fare.  Remember this salad?  I still eat it at least once a week.  The same goes for the one I’m sharing today.  I love combining Asian flavors into a slaw.  It just works.  Making a dressing using plain yogurt is a perfect way to “health it up”, yet still satisfies that need for something a bit more indulgent and creamy.

Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw | Relishing It

I used freshly ground peanut butter in this dressing, but you can buy good organic peanut butter at your market.   Be sure to look for a kind that only contains ground peanuts.  Added salt is fine.  If you have to use something else with other ingredients, just be warned that the flavor of the dressing may be a bit off, as those other kinds generally contain a lot of sugar.  Most of the other ingredients for the dressing are things that you probably have in your refrigerator already.  The lime juice is the perfect backdrop for the flavors.  And as for the vegetables, the combination of red cabbage, carrots, carrots, cilantro, and broccoli are wonderful together.  I love using broccoli in this finely-sliced form.  Broccoli has a wonderful flavor, but I don’t always like chewing on the florets, so this is a nice solution.  I’ve also added golden raisins to this slaw.  Taking a bite with one in it feels like hitting the lottery.  Perhaps I should just toss more in next time?!  Cheers– hope you enjoy the slaw!

Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw | Relishing It

The Recipe: Healthy Asian Peanut Slaw

(serves 1-2)

For the Asian Peanut Dressing:

2 tablespoons organic natural peanut butter (containing only peanuts and salt)

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce

honey (optional)

For the Slaw:

2 medium carrots, grated on the large hole of a box grater

1/4 small head of red cabbage, thinly sliced

5-6 large broccoli florets, thinly sliced

1/4 large red pepper, julienned

small handful of cilantro leaves, stems removed

2-3 tablespoons golden raisins

chopped salted peanuts or cashews, for serving

In a medium bowl, whisk the ingredients for the dressing together.  Set aside.  In a larger bowl, combine all the ingredients for the slaw,  sans peanuts.  Pour the dressing onto the vegetables and mix together using tongs.  You may not want to pour all of the dressing on at once (I generally have a bit leftover).  It’ll depend on your personal taste.  Top with the chopped peanuts or cashews.  Enjoy!

As always, thanks for stopping by Relishing It today!

Laurie

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Paella | Relishing It

I’ve been wanting to share this amazing recipe with you for awhile now, and since Valentine’s Day is approaching I figure it’s finally time.  I’m not sure why, but to me this is a romantic dish.  Maybe it’s the beautiful color, the seafood, the scent of saffron, or even the wine.  In any case, for me this is an ideal Valentine’s Day dinner.

Paella | Relishing It

Yes, the dish looks impressive, but it’s not difficult to make.  It comes together quickly and the cooking time is relatively short.  The most labor intensive task is actually vegetable chopping.  And the flavors– my oh my, they’re unbelievable.  First, there’s the saffron.  Along with providing the beautiful red/orange hue, it adds a wonderful flavor.  Saffron is an impressive spice, but keep in mind it’s also the most expensive one out there.  With that in mind, I’ve given you the option of using between  1/2 – 1 teaspoon for this dish.  I’ve made it both ways, and it’s turned out great each time.  Just don’t skip the saffron entirely, because it makes a difference here.

Saffron for Paella | Relishing It

Spanish Chorizo for Paella | Relishing It

The other main star of the dish is the Spanish chorizo.  This is an aged chorizo with a delicious smokey flavor.  It can be difficult to find, but again, it’s worth the search.  I get mine at the St. Paul Cheese Shop, for those of you who live nearby.  The rice in this dish is supposed to be separated– not creamy like a risotto.  Look for a spanish rice, such as Bomba (also called Valencia) or Calasparra as they will absorb the liquid properly.  Another option is the more readily-available short-grain rice, Arborio.  For my version of paella, I use shimp, mussels, and clams.  I know chicken is often a component, but I stick with the seafood.  You can use whichever you like– you know my theory on making the dish your own.  The seafood paired with the clam juice and wine create a wonderfully intense flavor with a hint of brininess.

Paella | Relishing It

Paella | Relishing It

Seafood Paella | Relishing It

There are many different methods to cook paella.  I settled on heating the oven really hot (to 500°F) and placing a pizza stone in it.  I use a 14-inch stainless-steel skillet, so it’s nice in that it heats evenly in the oven as opposed to sitting on a small burner.  The pizza stone adds additional heat to the bottom of the pan in hopes that it will create a tasty, caramelized crust on the bottom called socarrat.  If you have a smaller 12-inch pan– feel free to cook it on the stove top.  Just be sure to move the pan around a bit for an even heat, while being diligent about not stirring it. If you do use a 12-inch pan rather than a 14-inch, you won’t be able to fit as much meat/seafood into the dish.  Use your judgment, and it’ll turn out just fine.  And of course, if you’re lucky enough to be able to cook it over an open flame outdoors, kudos to you!

Paella | Relishing It

Paella | Relishing It

The Recipe: Seafood Paella

(serves 4)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, finely chopped,

1 white onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tomato (preferably from a local greenhouse), finely chopped

2 teaspoons concentrated tomato paste

1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 cup bottled clam juice

1 cup dry white wine, more if necessary

2 1/2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)

1/2- 1 teaspoon saffron (crushed using a mortar and pestle)

2 cups short grain rice–Bomba (Valencia), Calasparra, or Arborio

8 ounces (1/2 pound) spanish chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/2 pound littleneck clams

1/2 pound mussels

1/2- 1 pound shrimp (peeled and deveined)

Lemon wedges, fresh parsley, and red pepper flakes  for garnish

Place a pizza stone into an oven and heat to 500°F for about a half hour.  Combine the chicken stock, clam juice, white wine, and saffron into a large sauce pan and bring to a high simmer.

Meanwhile, using a 14-inch skillet or a paella pan (12-inch will work, too) heat the olive oil and cook the chorizo over medium heat until some of the fat has rendered.  Remove the chorizo from the pan and add the red and green peppers, garlic, and the onions.  Sauté for a few minutes until tender.  Then add the tomato paste, spanish paprika, and the rice.  Sauté for about 1 minute.  Add the hot liquid and the chorizo to the skillet and place pan onto the pizza stone in the oven.  Do not stir after this point.  After 10 minutes, add the chopped tomatoes, mussels, and clams to the pan– crack side up.  Then, after 5 more minutes, push the shrimp into the rice and cook for about 5 more minutes.  If at any point the rice seems to be drying out too quickly, add more broth, water, or wine (go for the wine!) to the pan.  If the rice seems to be done cooking (it will only take about 20 minutes total) before the shrimp is done or the clams and mussels have opened up– just place tin foil over the entire dish to trap some of the steam.  I tend to do this when I place the shrimp into the dish. Discard any mussels and clams that ultimately never open up.  Serve with lemon wedges and fresh parsley.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Laurie

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Just in case I haven’t been clear, I LOVE the colorful array vegetables available this time of season.  For today’s recipe, I put together one of my favorite beautiful, delicious salads.  Panzanella is an Italian salad that usually consists of soaked stale bread and tomatoes.   My version includes a greater variety of ingredients, and a little more crunch from the bread.  Now a purist may say that it isn’t panzanella, but when it tastes this good, why quibble over the name?  Panzanella it is, and it’s marvelous.

This was the first week that I finally found red peppers at the farmers’ market.  My kids and I love them as a snack.  Here I used mini sweet multi-colored peppers.  Cute and tasty!  Since fresh cucumbers and red onions are plentiful now, I added those as well.  For the cheese, I used (surprise!) ricotta salata.  Yes, it’s my go-to addition, but the creamy texture and saltiness work perfectly in so many dishes.  It seems I’m always poking around for another piece of it with every bite.   The ricotta salata also makes this salad a bit more substantial– we ate it as a light meal rather than a starter.

Of course the star of the salad is the crusty bread and red wine vinaigrette.  I like to tear my bread rather than cut it– more dressing seems to get into the crevices.   I could eat the bread and dressing alone, which I guess that’s the point of the salad— it’s nice to get some healthy vegetables in there, too.  When assembling the salad try to keep most of the vegetables relatively the same size.  I love this combination of flavors– it’s one of my favorite things to eat during the summer.  It makes a nice, light meal that I find myself eating pretty much every day for lunch.

The Recipe:  Panzanella

(The measurements are vague — make as big of a salad as you want.  You will have plenty of dressing.)

2 large cucumbers, chopped

2 cups mini multi-colored peppers, chopped  (or 1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped)

6 Roma tomatoes, chopped

3 mini – red onions, thinly sliced  (or 1 small red onion)

handful of fresh garden lettuce, torn

12-15 basil leaves, whole

1/3 cup cubed ricotta salata cheese  (feta can be substituted)

1 baguette, torn into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped  (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)

Red Wine Vinaigrette

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

To Toast the Bread:  Preheat oven to 375°F.  Toss the torn bread with 2 tablespoons olive oil,  1 teaspoon fresh thyme, salt and pepper.  Put onto a baking sheet and bake until the bread chunks are golden brown and have a nice crunch to them — about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.

To Make the Vinaigrette:  In a medium-sized bowl, mix the vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and mustard.  Using a whisk, slowly add the extra-virgin olive oil, whisking all the while.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

To Assemble the Salad:  In a large salad bowl, add the garden lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, ricotta salata cheese, red onion, basil, and toasted bread.  Pour some of the dressing onto the salad.  Toss.  Let sit for a few minutes before eating so the dressing has a chance to soak into the bread a bit.  Add more dressing, salt, and pepper, if necessary.  Enjoy!

I hope you are enjoying your summer produce as much as we are.  This is a beautiful time of year!  Have a great weekend.  Take Care.

Laurie

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Gazpacho

Gazpacho.  Cold soup.  Not much of a selling point is it?  But for those of you who have had gazpacho, you know just how refreshing it is.  Gazpacho is a Spanish tomato-based raw vegetable soup.  It originated in the sunny southern region of Andalusia as a fresh, cool meal to combat the summer heat.  There are many different versions, though this one is my favorite.  For those of you who are hesitant to eat a cool soup, I can only say this: give it a try– I guarantee you’ll make this one every summer as the temperatures get above 90 degrees.  It’s one of the most refreshing dishes you’ll ever taste.

The soup is a combination of the all the wonderful usual suspects from your late-summer garden or farmers’ market– cucumbers, red peppers, purple onion, garlic, and fresh tomatoes.  They’re finely chopped in a food processor and then combined with tomato juice,  a bit of white wine vinegar, and a really good olive oil.   For gazpacho, you’ll definitely want to go with the best olive oil you have as it’s flavor is central to the soup.  I also used my homemade, canned tomato juice, though as my stock is running low (canning tomatos will be available soon!) I can’t lend you an extra jar.  If you can juice, use it as you’ll notice the difference in the final flavors.  As an alternative, several grocery stores carry high-end juices which should work well.  If you instead use a nation-wide brand, use Sacramento.  I personally think it tastes better than any of the other well-known brands.

Gazpacho is the perfect make-ahead dish.  It tastes better the longer it sits– the flavors have a chance to meld together.  I like to make some homemade croutons to top it all off with.  Hope you enjoy!

The Recipe:  Gazpacho

2 medium-sized garden cucumbers, halved and seeded, but not peeled

2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded

5-6 Roma tomatoes

1 red onion

3 large garlic cloves

3 cups good quality tomato juice

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

scant 1/4 cup good extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes for a little heat, if desired

For the Croutons:

2 – 3 cups crusty bread, such as a baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

To make the croutons: Preheat oven to 375°F.  Toss cubed bread pieces with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place on a baking sheet.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until they have reached your desired crunchiness.

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into small pieces, roughly a 1-inch cube.  Put each vegetable into a food processor fitted with a steel blade, separately.  This is important for texture.  Pulse until it is coarsely chopped.  Make sure not to over-process.

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Mix well and chill before serving.  The longer it sits, the better it will be.  Before serving top each bowl of soup with a handful of homemade croutons and some torn basil, if desired.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Thanks for stopping by!

Laurie

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