Zucchini Tomato Mozzarella Sliders

July 27, 2012 § 4 Comments

Zucchini. It doesn’t stop.

Turn around for a minute and the long green veggie is 3 inches longer on the vine. Not kidding. Hold off on picking it for a day and … well … it becomes a billy club. Growing up, we’d throw the very large zukes into the pig pen. Healthy, zucchini-loving pigs, that’s what we had.

Lately, thoughts during my 25-minute walk back home from yoga have turned to how to use that day’s zucchini. Pizza. Pasta. Salad. I’ve done them all and wanted something different. Last night, my craving for a burger—really, the craving for something meaty between two bready buns—decided dinner for me. Why should sliders be reserved for meat eaters? Zucchini can play that game, too.

Ingredientszucchini tomato mozzarella sliders
1 5-6 in. zucchini
2 tbs olive oil
1+tbs balsamic vinegar
1 spring oregano
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 small French rolls, cut into top and bottom halves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1-2 tbs olive oil
1 deliciously red heirloom tomato
mozzarella

1. Slice zucchini into rounds slightly thicker than 1/2 in. Discard (or eat!) the smaller rounds. Shoot for using 12 rounds.

2. Combine oil, vinegar, oregano, a big pinch of kosher salt and several turns of the pepper grinder in a medium bowl. Dip your finger in there and adjust seasoning if you’d like (more vinegar? more oil? It’s your food—make it taste the way you like!). Add zucchini slices and toss. Put aside.

3. Smash those garlic cloves with the back of your chef’s knife (on a cutting board, of course) and schmear it together until the garlic becomes kinda pasty. You can add a sprinkle of salt or not. Add this to a small bowl of 1-2 tbs olive oil. Brush this oil onto the bun halves.

4. Set a grill pan onto medium-high heat. When it’s hot, place buns, cut side down, onto the pan and flatten slightly. 10-15 seconds will do. Put grilled buns into a bowl and cover with a tea towel for now. Turn off grill pan.

5. Meanwhile … we’re still waiting for the zucchini to marinate a bit. Take this time to make a small side salad and whip up a quick vinaigrette.

6. Okay, done with the salad? Time to move on. Get that grill pan back up to medium high. Place your zucchini rounds onto the grill pan. Using a brush, dab some of the liquid remaining in the bowl onto each slice. Let them sit for 4-5 min, or until they get some nice-looking grill marks on the bottom.

7. While those are grilling, slice the tomato into 6 slices and add to whatever liquid remains in the bottom of that bowl.

8. Mozzarella. Time to slice it. Slice it about 1/4 in. thick or less, and into whatever size will sit nicely on top of a zucchini round.

9. Back to those zucchinis. They should be ready to flip onto the other side. Do that. Then place a bit of mozzarella on top of each. Let them grill for a minute.

10. Get your buns ready, working with one top and bottom at a time. This part is optional: Make some room in that grill pan and place the buns cut side down into the goodness the zucchini has been cooking in. Only takes a second, and remove quickly. If not doing that: Place one zucchini slice onto the bun bottom, and overlap a second on top of that. Add a slice of tomato. Top it off with other half of the bun. Repeat with the remaining zukes and buns.

Super. Good. I ate one and a half. Coulda had two. Or three.

Enjoy. I’m off to make zucchini bread now.

Do you have a favorite zucchini recipe? Share it in the comments section.

 

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Tomato and Pesto Sandwich

September 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

Leaves falling from trees, temperatures dropping, plants succumbing to the elements, days shortening … The world as we’ve known it these last few months is coming to an end. We must eat as many fresh tomatoes and as much basil as possible.

tomato and pesto on toasted sourdough

Our world is collapsing. Eat tomatoes and basil while you can.

I’ve taken up that challenge, gladly. Who wouldn’t? Fresh tomatoes and bright bristly green basil is the ultimate garden combination, really perking up the mouth with the pairing of acid and mellowness. I don’t have to describe it—you know all too well how delectable the two are together.

Maybe one of the simplest pairings of tomato and basil is in a sandwich. I know, it’s not really a recipe. It’s more of a lunch suggestion. And if you’re like me and disregard the miniscule amount of Parmesan cheese in pesto, tomato and pesto on toasted sourdough becomes a vegan meal. The tomatoes—homegrown. The pesto—homemade, with the added “yeehaa!” of the basil being homegrown. The sourdough—made by my own two little hands.

Want to share lunch with me? There’s enough here for at least five more sandwiches.

tomato and basil sandwich

Kinda looks like a big smiley face, don't it?

Your favorite tomato—basil combination? Do tell. (please! feel free to share below!)

tomato and basil sandwich

Nothing but goodnes here.

Trout with Rainbow Chard & Roasted Tomato-Caper Salsa Over Cous Cous

January 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

“One of the best meals you’ve ever made.”

Who doesn’t like to hear that from their partner? It was a seriously delicious meal, I agree. Did I have my doubts while I was cooking? There have been times when I’ve deviated from a recipe—as I did in this case—and it turned out terribly wrong. Terribly. Wrong. I dunno, maybe I have a new confidence in the kitchen. And, I gave myself plenty of time to cook. Rushing never ends with good results for me.

whole trout fillets

Cute lil' fishies

This meal was based on a recipe we saw once on a Food Network program hosted my Michael Chiarello, Lunchbag Swordfishwith Mediterranean Tomato Sauce and Linguini. Except sans swordfish and linguine. Morse Fish Market didn’t have swordfish, but they did have these cute lil’ whole filleted trout. Foodie’s had rainbow Swiss chard on special, especially ideal since eating your greens is a very healthy thing. And, last deviation, no one needs linguine when whole wheat Israeli cous cous makes such a nice side dish.Oh, wait – the last deviation: There was absolutely no lunchbags used in preparing this meal.

I did stick pretty close to the “tomato sauce” recipe, but prefer to call it a roasted salsa.

Recipe for Trout & Tomato-Caper Salsa

(the salsa roasts along with the trout!)

  • 3 cups plum tomatoes, cored and thinly wedged
  • 1 tbs chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tbs chopped parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup or less of minced red onion (my red onion was a bit strong, so I used less)
  • 2 tbs drained capers
  • 1/2 of a large red pepper, chopped (original recipe calls for 1/2 cup roasted red pepper – didn’t have time to roast!)
  • Juice of whole lemon (original calls for 2 tbs – oh well)
  • 4 tbs EVOO
  • 2 8+ oz. whole trout fillets
  • 1 lemon sliced thinly
  • 2 tbs parsley, finely chopped
  • kosher salt & pepper

-Set oven to 450-ish.

-Prepare and combine tomatoes, herbs, garlic, red onion, capers, red pepper, lemon juice and EVOO in a medium bowl. Add a couple turns of a pepper mill. Set aside for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

tomato-caper salsa

The tomato-caper salsa sits for about 30 minutes

-Remove fish heads and tail (and reserve for stock). Rinse fish and pat dry. Working with one fish at a time, season the inside of whole fish with salt and pepper (the two fillets just kinda flap open – easy to do!). While fish is still open, layer lemon slices (remove any seeds you see) and sprinkle with about 1 tbs of chopped parsley. Close up fish. Set aside. Prepare next fishy.

-After tomato-caper mixture has married for about a half hour, place it in the bottom of a rectangular glass baking dish. Salt and pepper fish where they are, then flip them upside down onto the salsa. Salt and pepper them again.

trout over tomato-caper salsa

Trout overtop tomato-caper salsa before it hits the hot box

-Place in the oven for about 16 minutes, checking occasionally after about 12 minutes.

While the salsa is sitting, you can get your ingredients ready for the chard and cous cous so everything is ready to go. Timing is always one of my biggest hurdles!

Recipe for Rainbow Chard and Israeli Cous Cous

For best timing, set liquid for cous cous to boil a couple minutes before putting fish in the oven. And start cooking chard while the fish cooks.

  • 1 1/4 cup (or less by just a tad) boiling water or chicken stock
  • 1 cup Israeli cous cous (it’s the larger-sized cous cous – more substantive, that’s why we like it)
  • 1 small swig EVOO
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bunch of rainbow Swiss chard, washed and patted dry, roughly chopped
  • a touch of chicken stock
  • salt and pepper

-Add cous cous to boiling water in a small pot. Cover. Let sit until the rest of the meal is complete.

-Add EVOO to a medium sauce pan and turn on heat to medium. Let that heat up a bit. Add garlic – it should sizzle a tad – and give it a good shake or two. Let that saute until fragrant – less than a minute.

-Add chard. Sprinkle in a dash of salt and pepper. Toss it around in the garlic and oil with tongs. It will wilt a bit right then. Add a glug of chicken stock so the chard has something to steam in. Cover. Let cook 5 minutes or until leaves are tender and stalks still have a tiny bit of crunch. If leaves are black-black, you’ve gone too far!

The whole meal came together pretty much at the same time. Yay!

Plating

This is where I learned two lessons. The chard was divided between the two plates, and the fish was placed on top. Next, each plate received a big scoop of cous cous, and that was topped with some of the roasted salsa from the baking dish.

Whole trout with rainbow chard and roasted tomato-caper salsa over cous cous

Whole trout with rainbow chard and roasted tomato-caper salsa over Israeli cous cous

Here’s where that might have been improved.

1) I couldn’t access my chard easily. Remember, the fish still had its skin and was filled with lemon. There was a lot of manual labor to be done on that fish, and placing the fish to the side of the chard would have been better. Had that fish been a skinless single fillet of something else, I think it would have been okay.

2) The roasted salsa was juicy – flavorful, but juicy. I’m not a big fan of juice running all over my plate. Use a slotted spoon!

Overall, a delicious meal. And today I have fish heads and tails in the freezer for a future batch of fish stock – even better.

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