Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mixed Green Salad with Gorgonzola, Dried Cherries, and Pine Nuts

I created this salad from some random ingredients that I had on hand, and the combination was delicious.

Serve it as a light lunch with some crusty bread, or as a side dish or first course for dinner.


1 to 2 tablespoons pine nuts, to taste
4 to 6 ounces (4 to 6 cups) mixed salad greens (e.g., spring mix, mesclun, field greens, or your favorite mixture)
4 to 6 tablespoons Honey-Lemon Balsamic Vinaigrette (or your favorite prepared balsamic vinaigrette)
1/3 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
3 tablespoons dried cherries

Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over low to medium-low heat for few minutes until lightly golden. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the mixed salad greens in a large bowl. Add the dressing to the salad greens, tossing well. Use only enough dressing to lightly coat all of the greens with the dressing.

Add the gorgonzola, dried cherries, and toasted pine nuts to the salad. Toss lightly, and serve.

-- 2-4 servings

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Polenta with Stewed Peppers, Tomatoes, and Green Beans

For this dish, I started with my beloved recipe for Polenta with Stewed Peppers, Tomatoes, and Chickpeas and substituted fresh green beans in place of the chickpeas. It turned out to be a delicious variation.

Serve with some crusty bread to soak up all the delicious sauce.


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into julienne strips
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes (preferably petite-cut), undrained
8 ounces fresh green beans, ends trimmed, and beans cut into 1-inch pieces (or slightly longer as desired)
1 cup vegetable broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
1 tube of prepared polenta (plain)

In a deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, and saute for 2-3 minutes, until soft.

Add the garlic and paprika, and saute for another minute or two. Do not let the garlic burn.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for another minute.

Add the diced tomatoes, green beans, and broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Raise heat to high, and bring almost to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, or longer as needed, until the green beans are tender.

Uncover, add 1/2 tablespoon of the parsley, and simmer over medium to medium-low heat for another 15-20 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly.

Meanwhile, cut the polenta into 8 slices. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet or grill pan over medium heat. Add the polenta slices, and cook, turning once, until heated through and lightly browned on both sides.

To serve, arrange polenta slices on serving plate(s). Top with the vegetable mixture.

Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley, and serve.

-- 4 servings (2 polenta slices per serving)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Pesto Pizza with Tomatoes, Mushrooms, and Goat Cheese (12-inch)

This recipe was inspired by a pizza I enjoyed recently at a gourmet bistro. My own version is every bit as delicious as the restaurant's pizza.


1 Basic All-Purpose Pizza Crust (12-inch) or Thin Pizza Crust (12-inch) (or your favorite 12-inch pizza crust)
1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
1 cup shredded mozzarella, divided
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces brown (crimini) mushrooms, sliced
3 Roma (plum) tomatoes, thinly sliced
3-4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare the pizza crust and press into a 12-inch pizza pan, or form it into a 12-inch round on a baking sheet, with the edges slightly thicker to contain the toppings.

Spread the pesto evenly over the pizza crust. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella.

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, along with salt and pepper to taste. Saute for 4-6 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked through and most of the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated. Set aside.

Arrange the Roma tomato slices on the pizza in a single layer, and then top with the sauteed mushrooms and the goat cheese.

Top the pizza with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella.

Bake for 12-18 minutes, until golden.

Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

-- 3-4 servings