The Heat Is On!

The temperature is rising here in Chicago so lighter meals and salads are now on the menu.
This extremely delicious salad just screams summer! It’s fresh and bursting with healthy vibrant color, how could you resist?
Ribbons of yellow squash and green zucchini take center stage on a bed of mixed greens tossed in a light vinaigrette.
 The other components are, sliced mini heirloom tomatoes of various colors, red and orange pepper strips, purple onion,
peas and grilled corn, ( which I grilled inside) finished off with dots of creamy goat cheese and crunchy hazelnuts and a drizzle more vinaigrette.

Crispy bread and a tall iced tea and your set for the perfect summer meal, of course feel free to add in some grilled chicken for a little heartier fare, but I was totally satisfied.
There are no exact ingredients here just add in as much as you want, you can’t go wrong. I layered a platter with mixed greens to start. For mine I used 2 zucchini and 1 yellow squash, the ribbons were made with a vegetable peeler.  It was way too hot to go outside and grill so I put 2 ears of corn in the microwave for 5 minutes then threw them on my grill pan inside to give them a good char.

It looks beautiful spread out on a big platter because of all the colors, so keep this in mind for your July 4th cookout, it would work great as a side.

Stay Cool!


Tiny Tomatoes: Big Taste

Even though it’s not tomato season in my area yet I can always find those sweet little grape tomatoes along with Campari tomatoes on the vine, and just recently I’ve been buying the mini heirlooms packaged as Gourmet Medley, all of them have such great flavor in every bite.

Recently I went a little overboard in the tomato department and had to find ways to use all that I had, besides I can’t bare to waste them! Great in salads but also great to cook with, which I often do. Here are a couple of ways to enjoy them along with another idea from a former post I did on my Tomato Bread.

Zucchini Boats

Just cut a zucchini in half lengthwise and trim a little off the bottom so it sit still in a baking dish*** Scoop out the center where the seeds are with a spoon*** Brush the surface with a mixture of crushed garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper*** Arrange halved grape tomatoes into the grooves, sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes*** Remove and place diced fontina or mozzarella in between the tomatoes, place them back in, but now under the broiler til golden and bubbling***Remove and drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkling of grated parmesan. You will love this as a side dish!

Caprese Tart

This comes together so quickly, I even used a store bought pie dough. I love the flavor of the tiny heirlooms which makes this tart taste spectacular!

Place your pie dough on a removable bottomed tart pan, I used a 9 inch one here*** Prebake your pie crust in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes*** Remove from oven and reduce the temperature to 375 degrees*** Drizzle olive oil on top of the crust along with fresh snipped basil and a sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese*** Layer the bottom of your crust with slices of fresh mozzarella, and since I had some fontina left from my zucchini boats, I mixed that in as well*** Arrange your halved tomatoes all around the tart right on top of the cheese*** Add more snipped basil and another drizzle of olive oil*** Bake for about 25 minutes*** Let it cool down before you cut into it. This, with a nice tossed salad is perfect for dinner!
Enjoy and Buon Appetito!

A Blast from the Past…Heirloom Tomatoes

Have you ever tasted heirloom tomatoes? We’re actually trying to grow them in our garden this year, the ones pictured here are not mine, I bought these beauties from Whole Foods the other day, I just couldn’t resist that fluted one! Normally a whopping $5.00 dollars a pound, the day I was there they were just 2.99! Such a deal!!

Heirlooms are grown from seeds handed down through generations, somewhere between 50 and 100 years old. There’s no genetic modifications, they are cross- pollinated, and they are not cookie cutter hybrids.

They come in all shapes and sizes, lumps and bumps, hundreds of varieties, with almost every color of the rainbow to choose from.
Heirlooms generally have much more flavor than hybrids, it’s that good old fashioned taste of a real tomato I remember as a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I have tasted some duds, but that was mainly because of where they were grown.

When you see them popping up at the farmers markets ask to taste them, you’ll quickly pick out your favorite ones. Or better yet, trying growing your own if you can!
I loved how the fluted one looked after I cut into it, I didn’t want to hide it with a bunch of cheese. They look beautiful on a platter dressed up with the simplest of ingredients, don’t you think?

With some good crusty bread, a glass of wine, you can make a meal out of these, they’re that good!!
Have an enjoyable weekend, and Buon Appetito!