Category:  Vegetables

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Stuffed Mushrooms

In Appetizers / Starters, Holidays, Vegetables On December 8, 2016 0 Comments

Need a great starter to go with the bubbly at Christmastime? Assemble these stuffed mushrooms a few hours ahead and refrigerate them. At serving time, preheat the oven and bake them. Made with all-vegetarian ingredients, the mushrooms will be devoured in no time. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Prep time (stuffing): 15 minutes
Bake time: 15 to 17 minutes
Makes 12 to 14 stuffed mushrooms

Ingredients:
One 8-ounce package white mushrooms, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely-chopped brown or white onion
3 to 4 slices day-old Italian bread
1 large egg, beaten
3 tablespoons grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
2 to 3 tablespoons minced, fresh mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash ground black pepper

Directions for the Stuffing:
1. Remove stems from mushroom caps; finely chop the stems and set aside in a small bowl.

2. In a 10 or 12-inch skillet, heat the oil on high.

3. As soon as the oil is hot (it should not smoke), lower it to medium-high and stir in the chopped mushroom stems.

4. Using a wooden spoon or cooking spatula, stir-fry the chopped mushroom stems on medium-high heat for about 2 minutes.

5. After 2 minutes, add the chopped onion and stir-fry for an additional 2 minutes or until onion is translucent.

6. Transfer the mushroom-onion mixture to a bowl – set aside to cool for a few minutes.

7. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.

8. Take 3 bread slices and quickly pass them under cold water; squeeze the excess water out of bread slices.

9. Discard the crusts and crumble the softened bread into a 2-cup bowl.

10. Add the beaten egg, grated cheese, minced mint leaves, salt and black pepper; stir to combine.

11. Stir in the mushroom-onion mixture. If mixture is too wet and does not amalgamate, soak the remaining bread slice (discard crusts) and crumble it into the mushroom stuffing.

12. Taste stuffing for salt level. If needed, add a tiny amount of salt.

13. Divide the stuffing onto the inverted mushroom caps.

Directions for Baking the Stuffed Mushrooms:

1. Oil a baking sheet and place the stuffed mushrooms (stuffing side up) on it.

2. Set the baking sheet with stuffed mushrooms on a rack positioned in center of oven.

3. Bake the mushrooms for 15 minutes.

4. After 15 minutes, check to see if stuffed mushrooms have turned light golden brown. If not, bake them for an additional 2 minutes. Serve stuffed mushrooms hot.

Text and Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

Grilled Eggplant & Tomatoes

In Appetizers / Starters, Vegetables On July 18, 2016 0 Comments

With work and summer weather, I don’t feel like heating up the kitchen. But I still prefer eating delicious and healthy vegetables at home.

So here’s what I’ve been makin’ in minutes – grilled eggplant! Serve Grilled Eggplant & Tomatoes as an appetizer or side dish. It tastes so good!

Prep time: 16 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1 large eggplant, tips cut off and discarded & flesh cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
olive oil (for brushing eggplant slices)
Salt (for lightly sprinkling over eggplant slices)
8 to 10 cherry tomatoes
Fresh rosemary leaves, to taste

Directions:
1. Line an 18 X 12 baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

2. Place some olive oil in a small bowl.

3. With a basting brush, coat the lined baking sheet lightly with oil; set aside.

4. Place the eggplant slices on the oil-coated baking sheet.

5. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt.

6. Transfer the baking sheet with eggplant slices to an oven rack positioned 6 inches from oven’s top broiler element (this is the electric conduit at top of oven that turns red when control knobs are set on “broil”).

7. Broil the eggplant slices for about 7 to 8 minutes per side or until they turn golden brown.

8. Using oven mitts, transfer baking sheet with eggplant slices to a counter.

9. Turn the eggplant slices over. Repeat oil coating and salting directions.

10. Return baking sheet with eggplant to oven rack. Broil eggplant slices for 7 to 8 minutes or until they are golden brown.

11. Transfer baking sheet with eggplant to a counter.

12. Gently transfer eggplant slices to a serving platter.

13. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place them intermittently on top of and around eggplant slices.

14. Lightly sprinkle olive oil over eggplant and tomatoes.

15. Remove rosemary leaves (they are spiky) from stems; garnish eggplant and tomatoes with rosemary leaves.

16.Serve immediately or cover until ready to serve.
Text and Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

Tomato-Ricotta Tapas

In Appetizers / Starters, Vegetables On June 2, 2016 0 Comments

Tapas is Spanish for “appetizers”. In Spain, these small bites are made with all sorts of ingredients – eggs, seafood, ham and vegetables.

Since tomatoes are abundant right now, serve these Tomato-Ricotta Tapas as a starter to any meal.

Ingredients:
8 vine-ripened, mediu-sized tomatoes (they should be about 2 to 2-1/2 inches in diameter)
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese (whole-milk or part-skim)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
8 fresh oregano leaves (whole, for garnish)
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Using a sharp knife, slice off the tomato tops and discard.

2. With an espresso spoon, gently remove the pulp inside tomatoes; discard.

3. Set tomatoes aside on a serving plate.

4. Meanwhile, transfer the ricotta to a 2-cup bowl.

5. Using a spoon, stir in the thyme and finely chopped oregano leaves, salt and pepper.

6. Stir the ricotta mixture well until all ingredients are blended.

7. Transfer the ricotta mixture to a piping bag fitted with a star tip.

8. Fill each tomato with ricotta mixture.

9. Garnish the filled tomatoes with whole oregano leaves (1 per tomato).

10. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, up to one hour.
Text & Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

Organic Spinach & Onion Heat

In Vegetables On September 15, 2015 0 Comments

Need to kick up organic spinach so that it tastes awesome?

Spinach.Colander

First, add some “heat” to onions by sautéing them with fresh chiles in extra virgin olive oil. Next, toss in the spinach. In minutes, you’ve created a hot and spicy side dish for meat, poultry or fish. Alternatively, enjoy Organic Spinach with Onion Heat atop some toasted Italian bread.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 brown or white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 fresh, red or green hot chile, sliced
12 ounces organic, baby spinach leaves, washed and spun-dry
salt, to taste

Directions:
1. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the oil on medium-high setting.

2. When oil is hot, add the onion and chile; stir-fry until onion is translucent and light golden.

3. Toss in the spinach leaves.

4. Using tongs, gently mix to bring the onion slices to the surface of the spinach.

5. Stir-fry, constantly mixing with tongs, on medium-high heat just until the spinach has wilted and barely looks cooked.

6. Add salt, to taste. Serve immediately.
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real

Vegan Cauliflower Salad with Oranges & Raisins

In Salads, Vegetables On July 21, 2015 1 Comment

These days, the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market and other farmers’ markets in California provide us with fresh, seasonal cauliflower. Cauliflower is high in Vitamin C, low in carbs and fat and rich in dietary fiber. The longer cauliflower is cooked, the more its nutritional value dissipates. Therefore, it is recommended to cook this vegetable until it is barely “al dente” or crunchy-tender.

CauliflowerFresh

 
Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6 (as a side dish)

Try this exciting cauliflower salad, flavored with olive oil, lemon, bits of fresh oranges, raisins and fresh oregano. Serve it at a barbecue, lunch or dinner this summer. Vegan or not, they’ll all chow down this colorful, healthy salad in minutes!

Ingredients:
One cauliflower head, leaves removed & discarded and white florets separated into 2-inch chunks
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lime or lemon
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 orange, peeled, rind removed and fruit cut into 1-/4-inch pieces
3 tablespoons white or dark raisins
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

Directions:
1. Place the cauliflower florets in a 4-quart saucepot; barely cover with cold water.

2. Cover the sauce pot and bring the cauliflower to a boil.

3. Boil the cauliflower for approximately 2 minutes.

4. After 2 minutes, pierce one cauliflower floret with a fork to check for tenderness. Do not overcook the cauliflower.

5. If fork resists piercing, it means the cauliflower is still raw. If needed, cook for an additional 1 or 2 minutes.

6. After 1 minutes, check doneness of cauliflower with fork and/or taste it. The cauliflower should be “al dente” or crunchy-tender.

7. Drain the cauliflower in a colander set over a sink. Let it cool slightly, for 5 minutes.

8. After 5 minutes, transfer the drained cauliflower to a glass or porcelain serving bowl.

9. Add the olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, raisins and fresh oregano leaves. Stir to combine.

10. Taste the cauliflower salad and adjust seasonings, if needed.
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real