Summer corn and zucchini lasagna

July 27, 2009 at 2:09 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, My brain, Pasta, Starches, Summer recipes, Vegetable dishes)

When I saw corn at the market I felt a sudden desire to make a light, summery, white lasagna.  Rather than use tomato sauce, I thought I could top the lasagna with the slightly caramelized and jewel-like tomatoes that crown Cook’s Illustrated’s summer gratin recipe (recipe here). This was a great idea–it made a beautiful presentation and the tomatoes were delicious.  The rest of the lasagna turned out great as well–it held together perfectly, was very flavorful, and looked gorgeous. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pasta and Summer Squash with Tomatoes, Basil, and Pine Nuts

July 20, 2009 at 12:33 pm (A (4 stars, love), Alma's faves, Cook's Illustrated, Italian, Monthly menu plan, Pasta, Starches, Summer recipes) ()

I made this recipe tonight and liked it so much I decided to repost it.  It was originally posted on August 17, 2006.

I’ve often tried to make this sort of light/summery pasta dish without a lot of success. Unless I use a large amount of olive oil or parmesan in the past the dish has always seemed rather bland. But this recipe is light and delicious! This is based on a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, but I cut down on oil and pasta, and increased the amounts of squash and seasonings. I give options for a number of ingredients depending on how rich, spicy, starchy etc. you want your dinner to be. Read the rest of this entry »

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Turkish Red Lentil Soup

July 20, 2009 at 1:36 am (AMA, Beans, breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Quick weeknight recipe, soup, Turkish)

An old recipe that was originally posted on Oct 3, 2006.

Based on a recipe from the AMA cookbook. I’ve made this soup many times. I particularly like it for breakfast. It’s pretty authentic I think, since a Turkish friend makes a very similar soup, except he fries dried mint in oil before adding it to the soup, and adds some white rice with the lentils.

Heat in a large (3-5 qt?) saucepan or Dutch oven:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil (you can probably reduce this to 1 Tbs. if you want)


  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, sliced

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften and brown, about 6 minutes. Add:

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1.5 Tbs sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Then stir in:

  • 5.5 cups vegetable broth (unsalted) or water and bouillon
  • 1.5 cups red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped, seeded tomatoes (I used canned diced tomatoes)
  • 1.5 Tbs tomato paste
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until the lentils are very tender and almost completely dissolved, about 30 minutes. After the lentils are cooked you’ll need to add more water (about 2 cups) to achieve the consistency of a very thick soup.

Garnish with fresh minced mint, plain yogurt, and lemon juice.

Yields about 7.5 cups?

My Notes:

I made this today but I ran out of paprika so only had about half the amount. Thes soup turned out less vibrantly red and more brownish, and was somewhat bland. I really like the yogurt in it though. Something about the combination makes even nonfat plain yogurt taste incredibly rich and sweet.

Rating: B (This is a solid recipe that I enjoy.  It’s also healthy and filling and easy to make.  However,  I wouldn’t fight for the leftovers.)

Derek: B (He enjoys it with the mint and yogurt but says it’s not terribly exciting.)

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Summer rice salad

July 19, 2009 at 6:45 am (C (1 star, edible), Italian, Jack Bishop, Salads, Starches, Summer recipes)

I was looking for something to do with some yellow and red bell peppers, and I found a recipe in Jack Bishop’s Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook for a summer salad made with arborio rice.  I normally just use arborio rice for risotto, so I was excited about trying something new with it.  The rice is boiled in salted water like pasta, until al dente (about 16 minutes), and then mixed with a vinaigrette and allowed to cool before the vegetables and herbs are mixed in.

Bishop says to peel and seeds the tomatoes and cucumber, but I just seeded the tomatoes, and peeled neither.  If I made this again, I wouldn’t even bother to seed the tomatoes. I think the pulpy parts would add more tomato flavor.  My cucumbers were the little tiny ones that have small seeds–maybe if you have big, waxy American cucumbers it would be worth seeding and peeling them.   I didn’t have fresh parsley, but I doubled the basil to two tablespoons.  I also forgot to add the one garlic clove that Bishop calls for. The salad tasted okay, but was a bit boring, and the ratio of rice to vegetables seemed too high.  I added one red bell pepper, another kirby cucumber, and two more small tomatoes to the salad.  The extra veggies helped, but it was still a little boring.  Derek thought it needed pesto, and I agree that it definitely needed more than 2 Tbs. of herbs.  After my tweaks the salad was pleasant eaten with scrambled eggs and garlicky chard for lunch, but I wouldn’t make it again without making some additional changes.

Here are the ingredients, with my suggested changes:

  • 1.5 cups Arborio rice
  • salt
  • 1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 small, ripe tomatoes (about 1 pound)
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 small kirby cucumbers, diced
  • 10 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 2 Tbs. minced parsley
  • 2 Tbs. minced basil leaves

Rating: B-

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