Summer Pasta

2 slices of bacon
1/2 c olive oil
2 T minced garlic (6 cloves)
4 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of basil leaves, julienned, plus extra for serving
½ t crushed red pepper flakes
salt
½ t freshly ground black pepper
1 c Kalmata olives
1 pound dried rotini pasta
1 ½ c parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Directions:

Cook the bacon and olive oil in a skillet on high heat; add the garlic after 2 minutes, stir.

Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, basil, salt and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring.

Add the olives, stir.  Cover the skillet and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Stirring regularly.

Bring a large pot of water with a splash of olive oil to a boil and add the pasta. Cook al dente according to the directions on the package.

Drain the pasta well and add it to the skillet.  Stirring to combine the sauce and the pasta.  Mix in parmesan cheese and remove bacon slices before serving. Sprinkle more parmesan on each individual plate.

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Layered Greek Dip

1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 t dill weed or Greek seasoning
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 t lemon juice
1 ½ c hummus
1 c seeded, diced cucumbers
1 c seeded, diced tomatoes
½ c chopped Kalamata olives
1/3 c chopped green onions (about 3 green onions completely chopped)
½ c crumbled feta cheese
1/8 c minced fresh parsley

Directions:
With an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, seasoning, garlic, and lemon juice until light and fluffy. Spread in the bottom of a pie plate or a small, shallow baking dish.

Then spread a layer of hummus.

In order, create layers by sprinkling the cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, onions, Feta cheese, and parsley.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve with pita chips, fresh vegetables, flatbread

Note: You could also use Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese and switch the recipe so the hummus layer is on the bottom.

(courtesy of Designer Bags and Dirty Diapers)

Cornbread Panzanella

1 lb cornbread, cut into 2 ¾ in cubes (about 4 c)
1 c halved cherry tomatoes
1 c cubed fontina cheese (grated parmesan works too)
½ hothouse cucumber, quarterd and sliced
½ c chopped fresh basil

Dressing:
2/3 c olive oil
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 2 lemons
1 t kosher salt
1 t black pepper

Directions:
Combine the cornbread, tomatoes, cheese, cucumber, and basil in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and stir together. Pour over salad. Toss very gently to combine. Serve immediately.

(courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis’ Everyday Pasta)

Basic Lasagna

2 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground beef
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 6oz can tomato paste
¼ c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
½ c chopped fresh basil leaves
salt
pepper
½ lb lasagna noodles
15 oz ricotta cheese
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1 c grated parmesan cheese, plus ¼ c for sprinkling
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
1 lb fresh mozzarella

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the ground beef and cook over medium-low heat for another 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 T of parsley, the basil, 1 ½ t salt, and ½ t pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15-20 minutes, or until thickened.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with the hottest tap water. Add the noodles and allow them to sit in the water for 20 minutes. Drain.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, goat cheese, 1 c of parmesan, the egg, the remaining 2 T of parsley, ½ t salt, and ¼ t pepper. Set aside.

Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9 x 12x 2 inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Then add the layers as follows: half the pasta, half the mozzarella, half the ricotta, and on third the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally, sauce. Sprinkle with ¼ c of parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

(adapted from the Barefoot Contessa’s Family Style)

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

2 1/8 c all-purpose flour

½ t baking soda

½ t salt

12 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

1 c light brown sugar

½ c granulated sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 t vanilla extract

2 c chocolate chips

10 oz caramel candy squares, unwrapped

3 T heavy cream

sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325; grease a 9-in square pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, mix together the melted butter and sugars on medium speed until combined.  Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.  Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on low, just until combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

In a medium microwave safe bowl, combine the caramels and heavy cream.  Microwave on high until the caramels are melted, stirring every 20 seconds.  This will take about 2 minutes.

Press half of the cookie dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with spatula.  Pour the hot caramel over the cookie dough and spread into an even layer, leaving some empty space around the edges.  Sprinkle the caramel with sea salt.  Drop the remaining cookie dough into spoonfuls over the caramel and gently spread the dough with a spatula until the caramel is covered.  Sprinkle the bars with additional sea salt.

Bake the bars for 30 minutes, or until the top of the bars are light golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan.  Cool the bars on a wire rack to room temperature, then refrigerate for about 30 minutes to allow the caramel layer to set.  Cut into squares and serve.

(courtesy of Brown Eyed Baker)

Tomato, Squash and Feta Gratin

6 oz zucchini sliced 1/4″ on long bias
6 oz yellow squash sliced 1/’8′ on long bias
2 scallions chopped
1 ½ t minced garlic
1/3 c fresh basil julienned
1 t dried oregano
2 oz feta cheese, crumbled (or more)
parmesan
12 oz tomatoes cut in half then sliced 1/4″thick crosswise
2 t olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
Toss zucchini and yellow squash with salt & pepper and a touch of olive oil. In a separate bowl mix scallions, garlic, oregano, basil and feta. I added a little olive to this mixture too. Don’t add too much olive or your dish will be too soggy.

Lay zucchini slices in pan slightly overlapping like shingles. Top with a layer of tomatoes slightly overlapping. Sprinkle on half of the scallion mix. Top with a layer of yellow squash & another of tomatoes. Top with remaining scallion mix then drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle on more parmesan. (Note: you can do layers of mixed zucchini and squash)

Bake for 30 min at 400 degrees or until top is slightly browned. Allow to sit for 10 min then cut into wedges & serve.

(courtesy of Designer Bags and Dirty Diapers)

Scalloped Tomatoes

5 T good olive oil
2 cups (1/2 in) diced bread from a round rustic bread, crusts removed
3 lbs plum tomatoes (1/2 inch diced – 14-16 tomatoes)
1 T minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 T sugar
2 t salt
1 t black pepper
½ c basil leaves, sliced
1 c parmesan

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350.

Heat 3 T of the olive oil in a large (12 inch) sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 minute, stirring often, until the cubes are evenly browned.

Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the tomato mixture to the bread cubes and continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil.

Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow (6 to 8 cup) baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the parmesan cheese and drizzle with the remaining 2 T of olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm.

(courtesy of The Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy Is That?

Healthier Scalloped Potatoes

olive oil spray (or butter)
6 medium peeled yukon gold potatoes, sliced 1/8-inch-thick (2 lb 4 oz peeled)
2 T light butter, melted
salt and fresh pepper to taste
½ t. garlic powder
3/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar
1 c. fat free milk
1 bay leaf
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 t. thyme

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425. Spray an 11 x 7-inch baking dish with cooking spray (or butter the dish).

In a large bowl, combine potatoes, butter, salt, garlic powder and fresh cracked pepper.

Arrange half of the potato slices in the baking dish; top with ¼ c. cheese. Add the remaining potatoes.

In a small saucepan, bring milk, thyme, bay leaf and nutmeg to a boil; pour over potatoes. Top with remaining cheese and bake uncovered, for 45 – 50 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

(courtesy of Skinny Taste)

Roasted Tomatoes with Basil Pesto

2 to 2 ½ lbs large red tomatoes
3 T good olive oil
2 t. dried oregano
salt
½ t. freshly ground black pepper
½ c. pesto, store-bought or homemade (recipe follows)
½ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Core the tomatoes and then slice them across (not through the stem) in 1/2 inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a sheet pan. Drizzle the tomatoes with the olive oil and sprinkle with the oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper.

Bake the tomatoes for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven, spread each slice with pesto, and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Return the tomatoes to the oven and continue baking for 7 to 10 minutes, until the Parmesan is melted and begins to brown. Using a flat metal spatula, put the tomatoes on a serving platter, sprinkle with extra salt, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Pesto:
¼ c. walnuts
¼ c. pine nuts
3 T diced garlic (9 cloves)
5 c. fresh basil leaves, packed
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ c. good olive oil
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Place the walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process for 30 seconds. Add the basil, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use immediately or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top. Makes 4 cups.

(courtesy of The Barefoot Contessa and the Food Network)

Penne with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

1 (2-pound) butternut, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 onion, chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 lb penne pasta
1 c. goat cheese, crumbled
1 c. coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/3 c. finely grated parmesan

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425.

Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss on sheet to coat. Bake for to 20 to 25 minutes until the vegetables are golden and cooked through. Turn squash pieces over and scatter onions around squash and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Boil pasta per package directions. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Put the pasta, goat cheese and 1 cup of pasta water in a large serving bowl. Toss until the cheese has melted and forms a creamy sauce.  Add the squash and onion mixture, the walnuts and the basil. Toss well and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle parmesan and serve.