25 June 2009

Zucchini - Tomato Gratin

The latest issue of Vegetarian Times had a Zucchini - Tomato Gratin recipe, and as luck would have it, I had baby zucchini and tomato sitting on the counter tonight. The VT recipe seemed a bit predictable to me, so I have changed it up, and you can do most of it outside on the grill if you want.

I'm confident that anyone who tries this recipe will add it to their regular rotation. The fresh tarragon and oregano bring a bright and unexpected pop of flavor that you are bound to enjoy.

Zucchini - Tomato Gratin

3-4 medium tomatoes, in 1/4 inch slices
4-5 small zucchini, thinly sliced (1/8 in or so)

2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbs Earth Balance butter substitute
1/2 tsp sea salt

1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbs chopped fresh French tarragon
2 Tbs chopped fresh oregano leaves

8 oz of your favorite melting cheese or cheese substitut, grated I normally use Teese when I want a substitute mozzarella cheese

1) Drape tomato in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let it drain for about 45 minutes. In the sink or a sheet tray, of course...

2) While waiting - spread zucchini on a baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with salt and let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse well and pat dry.

3) Preheat oven to 375F inside, or light grill outside. Bring the grill temperature to approximately 375F. Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium heat.

4) In the heated non-stick skillet, add 1 tsp of oil and half the Earth Balance. Saute zucchini for 3-4 minutes until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate. You'll likely need to do 2 batches so you don't crowd it, so add the rest of the oil and Earth Balance for the second batch.

5) Using an 8 inch square baking dish or cazuela: layer half the zucchini slices and lightly salt. Add half the tomato slices, half of all the herbs and 1/3 of the cheese (not half). Repeat another layer. Be sure and salt the zucchini layers lightly

6) Sprinkle with all of the remaining grated cheese/cheese substitute.

7) Cover with foil and grill/bake 15 minutes.

8) Remove foil and bake for 20 minutes or until bubbling and the cheese is melted.

9) Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a slotted spoon.

21 June 2009

Tomatillo Guacamole

One of the best Mexican cookbooks I've ever had is 'A Gringo's Guide to Authentic Mexican Cooking' by a guy named Mad Coyote Joe. Really... The recipes bring the chile laden, clean flavors of New Mexico cooking right back into your mind and taste buds.

This recipe is based on one of his, but with a few additions, and made especially for grilling.

Tomatillo Guacamole

4-5 tomatillos
1/2 Vidalia onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
1 jalapeno, stemmed
1 Tbs olive oil
1 t salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 bunch cilantro

1 tsp agave nectar (if needed)
1 ripe avocado, peeled and cubed

Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse off the sticky residue.
Toss them into a grill-safe open pan along with the onion, garlic and chiles.
Drizzle the olive oil over the top and grill on high until tomatillos are browned or collapsed and the jalapeno is soft.
Let the vegetables cool to a little above room temperature.
Dump the veggies and all the juices into a blender or food processor with everything else except the agave and the avocado.
Blend until nearly smooth.
Add the avocado and blend for another minute.
Taste the guacamole. If it is too spicy for you, or the tomatillos are too sour, add the agave and blend again for another 30 seconds.

18 June 2009

Grilled Japanese Eggplant

Years ago, when I was living in Manhattan, a Japanese restaurant opened on the same block that I lived on. I hadn't had much Japanese food then, and rapidly got addicted to it. At the time, my favorite dish was an appetizer of Japanese eggplant with a rich sweet/savory sauce broiled on top.

Here in the Midwest, you don't see a lot of Japanese eggplant except once in a while at the Farmer's Market or at the Asian grocery store in Columbia. So, when I was in Columbia, I picked up a few eggplant for grilling.

It's been too long ago to reconstruct the sauce I used to have in Manhattan, but I developed one with a lot of flavor that can be brushed on right after grilling. It is also great on split zucchini or yellow summer squash.

Grilled Japanese Eggplant

3-4 Japanese eggplant, split in half
1 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 T canola oil
1 T sesame oil
1 t soy sauce (low sodium)
1 Tbs white miso
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3/4 t grated ginger
1 t agave nectar
1 T hoisin sauce
2 oz Teese Blue Cheese, grated (optional)

Preheat the grill.
Brush the eggplant with the olive oil.
Put eggplant on the grill, cut side down. Leave several minutes without touching to get good grill marks.
While the eggplant is grilling, make the glaze. Add all the remaining ingredients except cheese to a small bowl and whisk.
Turn the eggplant cut side up and brush lightly with the glaze, two or three times.
Cook from the bottom until the eggplant are nearly cooked through.
Remove from heat, sprinkle with grated blue cheese, if desired, and serve immediately or at room temperature.

Note: the easiest way to mince garlic and ginger for a sauce like this is to grate it on your microplane, right into the bowl.

Even the dog loved the yellow squash cooked this way. She ate it with grilled broccoli and chopped tomato, and cried for more...

05 June 2009

Roasted Tomato Flatbread Pizza

Roasted Tomato Flatbread Pizza

Servings: 2 very large, 4 normal

8 oz cherry tomatoes, (grape, pear or cherry tomatoes will work fine)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Flatout Light Original Flatbread (vegans - see note at bottom)
8 oz Teese Vegan Cheese - Mozz
4 oz green chiles, canned or fresh, diced or in strips
2 corn ears, fresh, kernels only
1 tsp sea salt (optional)
1 tsp ground dried chile de arbol powder (optional)

1) Wash and dry cherry tomato. Slice larger ones in half.
2) Toss with olive oil and 1 tsp kosher salt and place into a cazuela or baking pan
3) Preheat oven to 350F with the tomatoes in the oven
4) Roast tomatoes until they pop, around 15 minutes.
5) Lay two flatbreads onto a baking sheet
6) Grate Teese evenly over the crusts
7) Add roasted tomatoes
8) Add diced mild chiles
9) Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes
10) Turn oven to broil and broil crusts until tops are starting to brown.

This makes two very large portions or 4 smaller portions. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, if needed. And, in my opinion, it just isn't finished until you have shaken a little dried ground chile de arbol over the top...

Flatout Light Flatbread Original, does not contain any dairy like some of the other flavors do. However, it is processed in the same plant and probably on the same equipment as the other products that might contain whey. If this matters to you, you might want to look for a substitute flatbread. See the Flatout FAQ for more info here