I like to make this dairy free, vegetarian soup when tomatoes are at their peak ripeness, end of summer. Look for large, meaty plum tomatoes, ideally. Caramelizing the tomato, fennel and shallot amplifies their sweetness, creating many layers of fantastic flavor. I like to serve this garnished with a slice of toasted baguette spread with creamy goat cheese
- 2TBS + 1 Tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large shallots, peeled, trimmed and halved
- 8 Large plum tomatoes, trimmed and halved
- 1 Fennel Bulb, trimmed and cut into quarters, reserving the dark green leafy fronds, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled, trimmed and chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Pre heat oven to 400°F
- Toss tomatoes, fennel and shallot with 2 TBS of oil and spread onto a non-stick sheet pan. Place tomatoes cut side up. Season liberally with salt and black pepper.
- Place pan in hot oven and cook for about 30 minutes, until vegetables start to sizzle and caramelize, looking browned. Remove pan from oven.
- While vegetables are cooking in the oven, heat remaining oil in a stock pot on medium heat. Sauté carrots sprinkled with 2 TBS of the reserved fennel fronds, stirring often for about 5 minutes until wilted and softened.
- Add the contents of the sheet pan, including all of the accumulated juices to the pot with the carrots. Add 4 cups of water, salt and pepper to taste to the pot.
- Simmer the pot on medium for 10 minutes, stirring often and taste for seasoning.
- Transfer contents of pot to a blender, carefully. You may have to do this in 2 or 3 batches; blend all ingredients very well and transfer mixture to a clean pot.
- Re-heat and serve immediately or allow to cool, refrigerating and serving the next day reheated.
Note: Be extra careful when blending hot ingredients in a blender to allow some hot air to escape while blending ingredients, by slightly moving lid to a side position or removing the center plastic part of the lid and covering with a towel so the ingredients don’t splatter. Neglecting this step can cause a hot explosion.
Red Snapper is a favorite fish, as it is sweet, flaky, white and just delicate enough. In this preparation, I top it with a flavorful mixture of artichokes, tomato, feta cheese, lemon and herbs. All that is needed is a Greek sunset!
- (4) 6 oz red snapper fillets (skin on)
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of 2 lemons
- ¼ cup hellmans mayonnaise
- 1 small clove peeled garlic, minced finely or pressed
- 2 tbs greek feta cheese
- 1 tbs reggiano parmigiano cheese, grated
- 14 oz can artichoke hearts in water, drained well and roughly chopped
- 1 plum tomato chopped in small dice
- 1tbs fresh mint, chopped finely
- 2 tbs fresh dill, chopped finely
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 475 degrees (really)
For the artichoke topping
- Mix, mayonnaise, 1 tbs lemon juice, garlic, feta, parmigiano, artichoke hearts, tomato, mint and 1 tbs of dill in a small bowl, combining thoroughly. Season to taste w/ black pepper and salt, being careful with the salt as the feta is very salty.
For the Fish
- Oil the bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil and place snapper fillets, skin side down in pan. Season fillets liberally with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice rubbing into fish well.
- Top each fillet with a generous amount of topping, spreading evenly to coat the top of fish. Roast fish in preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes, until fish is just cooked. Allow fish to rest, loosely covered for 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle remaining 1 tbs of dill onto fillets and serve immediately.
Quickly sautéed mixed colors of summer squash cooked with fresh thyme is simplicity at its finest. I love the sweetness of the caramelized squash combined with the earthy, herbal flavor of thyme
- 4 medium zucchini and yellow squash, trimmed, washed and dried
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 1TBS extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Heat the oil in a medium sized sauté pan on medium heat until hot but not smoking.
- Add squash to the pan, season liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper, add thyme and toss squash in pan for 4-5 minutes until it is nicely browned and cooked through.
- Serve immediately.
Crispy and creamy at the same time, this warm goat cheese disc served with fresh greens and the nutty flavored sherry vinaigrette is a perfect combination of textures and flavors
- ½ Cup unseasoned fresh bread crumbs
- 2 small logs chevre type mild goat cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 6 small handfuls of baby salad greens
- 1 bunch fresh chives, chopped
- 6 teaspoons sherry mustard vinaigrette
- Place bread crumbs on a large dinner plate.
- Slice cheese into cylinders ¾” each with a knife which has been warmed in hot water and thoroughly dried (this will aid in slicing the soft cheese).
- Dip each slice of cheese into the beaten egg and then roll gently in the bread crumbs . Place crumbed cheese slices onto a cookie sheet lined with foil and chill for 1 hour. (can be prepared up to 4 hours ahead). (Make as many cheese discs as servings you are preparing)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Bake cheese slices in preheated oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until lightly browned. While cheese is baking, toss salad greens well with vinaigrette and divide evenly onto 4 plates. Top each salad with a slice of warm cheese, sprinkle with chives and serve.
Sherry Mustard Vinaigrette
- 1 clove fresh garlic peeled & mashed to a paste or pressed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon smooth french dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly chopped herbs (parsley, chives, mint)
- In a mixing bowl, mix garlic & salt w/ a small whisk until well combined.
- Add mustard and vinegar combining well.
- Slowly whisk in olive oil to emulsify dressing.
- Taste for seasoning and add herbs.
Rumor has it that in Rome, ladies of the night who were voraciously hungry after a long night on the job, would come home and prepare pasta using staples always on hand in the pantry. This pasta dish, which is lusty and full of bold flavors, was named for the ladies. It is one of my favorites.
- 1 pound imported dried Penne
- Extra virgin olive oil to coat bottom of pan
- 1 can whole tomatoes, San Marzano if available
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped finely
- 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
- Dried crushed red peppers to taste
- 1 oil packed anchovy (optional but authentic and delicious)
- 2 tablespoons small whole capers in brine (drained) or chopped large capers
- ¼ cup good quality black olives, pitted & chopped
- 3 tablespoons salt plus additional for seasoning
- Liberal amounts of freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped italian parsley, plus additional for garnish
- ¼ cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- Boil a large stockpot full of water for pasta, while preparing sauce.
- Heat olive oil in another large saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and saute for one minute, stirring. Add garlic, red pepper (if using) and anchovy and continue to saute for several minutes until anchovy starts to dissolve. (do not allow vegetables to brown, but to look translucent).
- Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as they are added to the pot. Add capers, olives and black pepper. Increase heat to medium high heat and boil sauce for eight to ten minutes to reduce and thicken.
- Add 3 tablespoons of salt to pasta water. Prepare pasta according to directions minus 2 – 3 minutes, until slightly underdone. Drain pasta very well, reserving ¾ cup of pasta cooking water.
- Add drained pasta to pot of sauce gradually, mixing and adding reserved water as needed, to help moisten and bind the sauce together with the pasta, tossing as you add more pasta and water, until all of pasta has been added to sauce.
- Garnish with cheese and chopped parsley, serving immediately.
Serves 2-3 as entree, 4 as first course
photo by Kristi Senat
Black beans make a dramatic, dark colored dip that pops with flavor from lime, jalapeno and cilantro. Make this a day or two ahead of your party and bring to room temperature prior to serving
- 2-15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
- 1 clove garlic, smashed, peeled & chopped
- 1 small red onion, peeled and diced finely
- 1 small red pepper, seeded and diced finely
- Minced, seeded Jalapeno pepper, to taste (optional)
- 1 tsp cumin
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 TBS sherry vinegar
- 2 tsp Kosher salt to taste
- 2 TBS chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
- 2-3 TBS cold water
- Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan on medium high heat. Sauté garlic, onion and pepper(s) with cumin, until translucent.
- Transfer sautéed vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade along with black beans, lime juice, sherry vinegar and salt. Process until smooth, tasting for seasoning.
- For a Summer, no cook version, add vegetables raw to beans before processing.
- Add water to thin and additional salt, if necessary.
- Transfer to a bowl, drizzle w/ oil and garnish with cilantro.
- Serve warm or at room temperature, with tortilla chips and/or crudités as a dip.