The last meal I made from Martha Stewart Everyday Food was just ok, so I was a little apprehensive about this one. It sounded like it had to be delicious, though. Zucchini and fresh corn tossed with ricotta cheese, pasta and fresh basil. It was a nice, light dinner served warm, but an even tastier lunch the following day right from the fridge. This is a good summer pasta.
I changed some of the cooking methods. The recipe calls for grilled zucchini left over from another meal, which is a great way to use leftovers, so use extra veggies if you have them on hand. It also says to boil the corn with the pasta. I just chopped the zucchini and sauteed it with the corn. Basil and dill are the herbs in the recipe, but I just used basil. I meant to add some fresh parsley, but forgot about it until my plate was almost clean. I added some chopped grilled chicken Ben had made the night before. I might serve this along side grilled chicken next time instead of mixing it in, at least the first night we eat it. I think they would look good next to each other. And then the chicken would have pretty grill marks and not look as pale and sad as it does in this picture.
The corn is wonderfully sweet and crunchy. The basil is spicy and one of my personal favorite herbs for summertime. The ricotta is not heavy or overwhelming, it just adds a light creamy coating to everything. The only thing I found to be missing was salt. I salted the pasta, salted the veggies and salted the sauce, but still I wanted more. Now that I think about it, a nice squeeze of lemon juice might have done the trick. Acid is important…at least that’s what they say on Top Chef. So taste as you go along and definitely taste after mixing everything up to adjust as you see fit and let me know if you try lemon juice.
Here are some other changes. I used bowtie pasta (and a little penne to make 3/4 pound) but I think you could easily get by with 1/2 pound of pasta. Just throw in another zucchini or two and another ear of corn. You can use fat free ricotta, but low fat might give you more of a creamy and substantial feel. Grill the zucchini and the corn if you can. While I loved the way the corn tasted I couldn’t stop thinking about how much better it would be with slightly charred smoky corn. Grill it on the cob, then cut it off. If you grill the zucchini, use a grill basket or cut the zucchini into long thick strips to grill it, then cut it into proper sized pieces after it cools a bit.
Does anyone have any great tricks for cutting corn from the cob? I always make a ridiculous mess and throw bits of corn all over my kitchen. Please advise.
Basil Ricotta Pasta with Corn and Zucchini
From Everyday Food
1/2-3/4 pound short pasta, such as campanelle
1 cup reserved pasta water
salt and pepper
1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
4-5 small zucchini, sliced and then quartered
1 3/4 cups corn kernels (from 2-3 ears)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for serving
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken (optional)
In a large skillet heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add zucchini and corn and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until zucchini is slightly softened but not squishy. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain.
In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup pasta water, ricotta, and Parmesan. Add pasta mixture, zucchini, and basil, and toss to combine. Add more pasta water if necessary to create a light sauce that coats pasta. Season with salt and pepper and top with more basil and Parmesan.
These little guys come together easily with very little cooking, making them a quick, easy and tasty weeknight meal.
All you need is a rotisserie chicken, a can of black beans, a can of corn, tortillas, feta cheese, avocado, tomatoes, pickled jalapenos, limes and fresh cilantro.
You can change anything about this meal to make it fit your family, the amount of time you have and the time of year. Use flour or corn tortillas, different cheeses, cook your own black beans, use fresh corn and roast it on the grill (yum), cook your own chicken the way you like it, and you can even leave out the chicken altogether for a vegetarian taco dinner.
I found a Honey Jalapeno rotisserie chicken at HEB and it was really tasty with just the right amount of spicy kick and sweetness. I shredded half the chicken and that made 8 generously sized tacos. I used the rest of the chicken throughout the week for lunches.
Prep everything before beginning to assemble the tacos. This just makes life easier, and is necessary if people are going to assemble their own.
You can use room temperature tortillas, but heating them makes the tacos much tastier. Here are some ways you can warm tortillas.
Wrap as many as 12 tortillas in paper towels that have been lightly splashed with water.
Microwave on high for 15 to 30 seconds.
Turn over stack of tortillas. Microwave 15 to 30 seconds longer or until heated thoroughly.
Wrap as many as 12 tortillas in aluminum foil.
Heat in 325°F oven for 20 minutes or until heated thoroughly.
This is my favorite because you can get a perfect crunchy edge if you want it. Don’t let them get too crunchy or they will crack when you try to wrap the taco.
Heat a heavy pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat.
Warm tortillas for 15 seconds on each side or until heated thoroughly.
After heating, keep wrapped in a clean dishtowel while you warm the rest.
Chicken, Black Bean, Corn and Feta Tacos
Shredded chicken, about 2 cups
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained
salt, pepper and cumin to taste
1/2 cup (or more) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 avocado, sliced or cubed
2 limes, cut into wedges
fresh cilantro, chopped
6-8 tortillas, flour or corn, warmed
Combine black beans and corn in a small saucepan with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Warm over low heat and season with salt, pepper and cumin if desired, stirring occasionally until warmed through, about 5 minutes.
Warm tortillas and keep warm while prepping the rest of your ingredients.
Assemble tacos: In the center of the tortilla layer chicken, then bean and corn mixture, cheese then the vegetables of your choice. Squeeze a lime wedge over the taco if desired.
In preparing for our move to Houston I am trying to get rid of things. I have a stack of old Everyday Food magazines that I’ve kept on a bookshelf for years, but haven’t used them for recipes in quite some time. I decided to go through them, rip out recipes I could see myself making (or have made before), and then throw the rest away. This recipe for mini cornbread puddings came from one of the many pages torn from one of those magazines.
They were a cinch to prepare, a little tough to remove from from the pan (despite being greased) and a pleasure to eat, warm and at room temperature the next day. They could maybe use a kick from some cayenne pepper, chopped jalapenos or green chiles. These little treats are much more moist than your regular corn muffin, and I am sure could be done in a regular sized 12-cup muffin tin with some changes in cooking time and temperature.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with rack in upper third. Butter 24 mini muffin cups; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
Make a well in center of flour mixture. In well, whisk together egg, sour cream, and corn. Mix with flour mixture just until incorporated (do not overmix).
Dividing evenly, spoon batter into prepared muffin pan. Bake until tops have browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 10 to 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes in pan; turn out onto a cooling rack. Serve, or cool completely and store at room temperature in an airtight container, up to 2 days.
This tasty potato salad is one of the sides we had on the Fourth of July. While I do have a special place in my heart for a nice mustard potato salad, this one was lighter and fresher in flavor than the traditional yellow side dish.
When dressing this salad I didn’t use the measurements in the original recipe. I don’t like to overdo it on the oil, so I just drizzled a little olive oil, squeezed the juice of one large lemon, sprinkled some salt and pepper, tossed, then tasted. At this point you can add more of whatever it needs. I added a little more lemon, salt and pepper.
This is a nice, simple summer side. Fresh ingredients make such a huge difference, so it’s the perfect time of year to make this salad. I used a combination of red potatoes and baby Yukon golds that came fresh from a garden. The light and lemony dressing make this potato salad a healthier option than those with mayonnaise based dressings. If you like a creamier dressing, I think adding some yogurt would be a good option. Enjoy!
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced thinly (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup)
1 large bunch fresh basil, rinsed, dried, and leaves picked
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large lemons, juiced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
About 15 grinds freshly ground pepper
Place the potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to boil. Cook until just fork tender, about 15 minutes. Fish out the potatoes with a spider or slotted spoon and place them in a bowl of ice cold water to stop them from cooking.
Shuck the corn and break each ear in half. Cook in the same boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes until tender but not soft. Remove the cooled potatoes to a dish-cloth to drain. Immerse corn in the same ice bath until cool. Cut each potato into quarters and place in a large bowl.
Remove corn from water and also let drain. Use a chef’s knife to cut the kernels off each ear. Add kernels to bowl. Add grape tomatoes, onion, and whole basil leaves. Add olive oil and lemon juice and toss gently to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
When spring and summer arrive there is a need for fresh and light side dishes to serve with all of your freshly grilled foods. This quinoa recipe is perfect next to fajitas, fish tacos, chicken, steak, or all by itself. It is even better after sitting in the fridge overnight. So, you can make it the day before and make getting the meal on the table easier. Or you can make more than you need and have leftovers. I’ve had this for lunch the past two days and it is so nice not to have to prepare anything and still get something really nutritious.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a really amazing food. It is loaded with protein. It has a good amount of fiber and it is gluten free. It is also incredibly simple to prepare. It takes about as long as white rice, and is much better for you. The downside to quinoa is that is is a bit pricey. I paid $6 for a 1 pound bag.
This recipe came from My Kitchen Addiction. Here is the link. As with most recipes I try for the first time, I followed this one almost exactly. Here are my minor changes.
I used a can of corn instead of fresh.
I cut back the olive oil by 1 tablespoon with fine results.
I substituted honey for the agave syrup since that is not something I have in my pantry.
The second time I made this, a mere week later, I added some dried oregano and a dash of cumin.
This is a great salad that I’m going to play with some more. The possibilities seem almost endless! I might try a quinoa salad with diced cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, feta, fresh parsley, mint and a vinaigrette of olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and Greek oregano…quinoa tabouli! Yum.
Southwest Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
(or about 2 cups cooked black beans)
3 ears of steamed corn, cut off the cob
(or 2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed OR 1 can, drained)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, chopped
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped (about half a cup)
1 lime, zested then juiced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon agave syrup or honey
Freshly ground black pepper
Combine quinoa and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
While quinoa is cooking, combine beans, corn, red onion, red bell peppers and cilantro in a large bowl.
For the vinaigrette, whisk oil, vinegar, honey, lime juice and zest, spices and salt and pepper to taste.
Combine cooked quinoa with vegetables, then mix in vinaigrette. Serve room temperature or refrigerate.
Finding tasty, refreshing vegetable side dishes can be difficult. I am all for a nice salad, but sometimes that just doesn’t cut it. Steamed or roasted veggies are delicious, but when the weather is warm I want something cool. This salad is the perfect solution to all these problems! Using seasonal ingredients like fresh corn and juicy tomatoes is a great way to celebrate summer. The fresh basil and mint in the salad make it even more delicious.
I only made one slight change to this recipe. Since I am not a huge fan of drowning a salad in dressing, I simply drizzled the dressing over each individual serving of salad. You don’t need much to add a nice zesty, and tangy flavor to this salad. I left one serving completely naked except for a light sprinkling of salt and thought it was great. The herbs provide so much flavor alone that you could do without the dressing completely. It is up to you.
I served this with Quick Tandoori Chicken, here is the link. I used chicken breasts instead of thighs. The flavors were robust and yummy, but I wouldn’t serve these two things together again. Serving this salad with a simple grilled steak or simple flavored grilled chicken would be wonderful so that you don’t have competing flavors.
2-1/4 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 3 medium ears)
2 Tbs. plain low-fat yogurt
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. clover honey
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
1 heaping cup quartered cherry tomatoes (about 15)
1/4 cup very thinly sliced fresh mint
1/4 cup very thinly sliced fresh basil
Cook the edamame according to package directions. Drain and set aside to cool completely.
Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kernels are golden brown in patches, about 9 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the yogurt, lemon juice, honey, garlic, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Slowly pour in the remaining 4 Tbs. olive oil, whisking constantly until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a medium serving bowl, combine the cooled edamame and corn, the tomatoes, and the herbs. Gently toss. Add half of the vinaigrette and gently toss. Add more vinaigrette and salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.
This salad was a big hit at the Superbowl party I brought it to last weekend. It is technically a salad, but a lot of us ate it like a dip with tortilla chips instead. I ate mine over a little mound of crushed chips. The chips add a nice crunch and saltiness. The flavors in this salad are very refreshing. It was a good complement to the heavy chili and queso at the party. The black beans and avocados are healthy and substantial and give the salad some weight that makes it an appealing thing to even the manliest of men. I made mine a few hours before serving and it was great; not soggy at all. I ate some the next day after it had been sitting in the fridge all night, and it was still delicious. The avocado was still green and creamy without any nasty, slimy, brown spots. I really liked the dressing. The addition of lime juice, cilantro and cumin makes the ranch dressing so much tastier. I am thinking about mixing some more of it up just to have on hand. Adding some minced jalapeno might be nice too.
I combined many different recipes to come up with this salad. A lot that I looked at use chips or cornbread as a layer in the salad, but I am not a fan of soggy bread in anything besides stuffing at Thanksgiving. So, I left the chips out, and served them on the side instead. If you want to add chips, cruch up about 2 cups and use half as a layer in between the corn and lettuce layers.
Mexican Layered Salad
2 – 3 heads of romaine, chopped
1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
3 grated carrots
3 – 4 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 avocados, cut into 1/4 inch chunks and tossed with about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
6 – 8 green onions, chopped
1 large can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans whole kernel corn, drained
2 cups shredded cheese, a combination of cheddar and monterey jack is great
1 1/2 cups ranch dressing
3/4 teaspoon cumin
3 – 5 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Tortilla chips for serving
In a small bowl combine tomatoes and scallions.
Combine romaine, cabbage and carrots in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine dressing, cumin, lime juice and cilantro. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
In a trifle dish, layer half of the beans, then half of the corn.
Top half of the lettuce mixture and press down.
Top with half of the tomato mixture, then half of the avocado.
Sprinkle with half of the cheese, then drizzle with dressing.
Repeat layers again, pressing down as needed.
Top with cheese, then cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 1 hour. Can prepare 1 day ahead.
My sister Lisa gave me this cookbook a few years ago for Christmas saying, “It may just end up being a coffee table cookbook, but I thought you’d like it.” It really is a beautiful book. It is also larger than your average cookbook, so it does look great just sitting out in my house. I will admit though that for the 3 years I have had it I have merely perused its pages and admired the lovely photos and descriptions of dishes by Marcus Samuelsson. He is an Ethiopian-born Swedish chef and co-owner at Aquavit in New York City. I have never eaten there, but maybe I will someday. You may have seen Samuelsson on Top Chef Masters and heard of his catering of a White House dinner this past November.
This recipe for mashed potatoes has been one that I’ve looked at and considered making more than once. It seemed like the perfect side dish to serve with our steaks.
These potatoes are a step up from simple mashed potatoes with the addition of corn and thyme. The potatoes are cooked in milk and cream, and this cooking liquid is used to create the consistency you like for your potatoes. I did buy a new utensil for this recipe: a potato ricer! I love it. So what if it may only serve one purpose? It made the potatoes so creamy and smooth. Sometimes I really like a more rustic mashed potato with chunks and little pieces of the skin in there. But there is something very special about the incredibly smooth and silky texture of potatoes once you squeeze them through the ricer. This might be one of my most favorite tools to use in the kitchen. The potato goes in whole and comes out in long lanky strings! Fun stuff.
The corn adds a delicious sweetness and contrast in texture. The thyme is a lovely herb to use in these potatoes. I won’t try to tell you that these are something you should eat weekly. These potatoes are decadent and rich, so consume in moderation!
This was the side dish for last night’s dinner, but I could have eaten this as my meal and been very happy and satiated. While contemplating dinner I had to consider a few things. What did we have the last few nights? Thai curry and spaghetti casserole. What kind of food is appropriate for the weather? It’s cool, but not quite soup or chili weather yet. How much time do I want to spend? An hour tops. Should I make something that is left-over friendly? Yes! Always yes. After carefully considering all of these issues, I chose a Mexican style chipotle chicken and creamed corn.
The chicken was delicious, and served double duty in chicken tacos the following night. However, the creamed corn was the star of this meal in my opinion. I used canned whole kernel corn instead of corn cut fresh from the cob because I am lazy. It still turned out great. The preparation and total cooking time are minimal. Using canned instead of fresh corn makes it even quicker. I really liked the combination of whole kernels and creamy corn puree. The contrasting textures are wonderful. This side probably serves 4-5, but is great re-heated and would easily double, so go ahead and make a double batch. It is that good.