Jul 31

Summer’s abundance of fresh vegetables makes them an ideal item for grilling. Using an array of vegetables adds color, texture and a healthy bite to your meal. Just brush or drizzle the vegetables with a little olive oil (be careful not to add too much oil or the excess could drip into the fire and flare up) and season with salt and freshly ground pepper to bring out their delicious flavors!

Tip 1: Eggplant and zucchini should be sliced thinly—into about 1⁄16-inch thick slices.

Tip 2: To get peppers flat and to make sure they have a sweet taste, carefully remove the bitter white ribbing.

Tip 3: Cut fennel in quarters. The root will help it stay together on the grill.

Tip 4: Cut onions into 1-inch thick slices. It will make it easier to keep the rings together when turning over.

Tip 5: Turn vegetables with tongs once they’re lightly charred—a fork can tear them.

Tip 6:  Arrange grilled vegetables on a large platter and serve as a side dish, or increase the quantities and make them the main course.

Jul 22

It’s always disappointing when vegetables go bad, not to mention a money waster. Whether you’re buying them from the farmer’s market, picking them up at your local supermarket or gathering them fresh from your garden, here is how to store a favorite piece of summer produce, tomatoes:

Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature. Placing them in the refrigerator will hasten the ripening process and ruin its flavor. Also, if stored with bananas, both fruits will ripen quicker. Tomatoes should be placed in a paper bag on your counter if they need to ripen faster.

Now that you know how to store them, here is a great recipe that will help you use them:

 

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta

This simple appetizer, bruschetta al pomodoro, is a favorite at pizzerias, since the thick slices of rustic country bread toast quickly a wood-burning oven.

4 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons red onion, diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra
4 leaves fresh basil, torn into small pieces
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 slices crusty Italian bread
1⁄2 garlic clove

In a small bowl, mix the tomatoes with the onions, the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the basil and season with salt and pepper. Lightly toast the bread on a grill or under the broiler and rub with the cut side of the garlic. Arrange the garlic toast on a platter, sprinkle with salt and drizzle generously with olive oil. Spoon the tomato mixture on top of each piece of toast and serve immediately. Serves 4

Jul 15

When you think of the word “tartare,” beef usually comes to mind. But the cover recipe from the July issue of Cibo is one fit for vegetarians as well as healthy eaters. It’s also a kid-friendly recipe and is a good way for adults and children to get their daily serving of vegetables.

1 red bell pepper, seeds and inner

white ribbing removed, shredded

3 tomatoes, seeds removed, diced

1 head radicchio, shredded

2 small zucchini, shredded

4 scallions, white and light green parts only, diced

salt and freshly ground pepper

1⁄2 lemon, juice only

1⁄2 cup ricotta, drained

1⁄4 cup mayonnaise

Drain the peppers and tomatoes to remove any excess liquid. In a bowl, combine the peppers, tomatoes, radicchio, zucchini and 3 scallions. Set 1⁄4 cup of the mixture aside for garnish. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and add the lemon juice, ricotta and mayonnaise. Mix well and, using a fine mesh sieve set over the bowl, drain the excess liquid. Place a round cutter in the center of a plate. Fill the cutter with the mixture leaving 1⁄4-inch space at the top. Press down with the back of a spoon to make sure it is compact and fill the empty space with the reserved vegetable mixture. Remove the mold and repeat with 3 more plates. Serve immediately. Serves 4

  • Wine Pairing: Light to medium-bodied white wine, such as an Italian Sauvignon Blanc
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Jul 8

With the temperatures soaring into the triple digits this week in parts of the U.S., there has never been more of a need for a cool summer treat. Instead of the typical ice cream, why not try the Italian icy sweet granita? Best of all, you can make it yourself at home with just some simple ingredients and your freezer.  To learn more about granita, and check out the recipe below for an energizing espresso granita.

  Espresso Granita 

2 cups brewed espresso
3 tablespoons sugar
whipped cream for garnish (optional)

While the espresso is still hot, add the sugar and mix until it dissolves. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch baking pan and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, carefully remove the pan and place it on a steady surface. Using a fork, stir the mixture thoroughly, making sure to break up any ice crystals that have formed along the sides or bottom of the pan. Return the pan to the freezer and repeat the same stirring process every 30 minutes, making sure you break up any large chunks that form, until frozen but slightly slushy, about 2 to 3 hours. Serve immediately garnished with whipped cream, if desired, or return to the freezer for up to 4 days. Serves 4