Where’s the Beef—-steak?

Tomato, Squash, and Red Pepper Gratin

In this case the beefsteaks come in the form of juicy ripe tomatoes.  Combined with other fresh garden vegetables, quinoa, and eggs this casserole is a meal in itself.  We are making an effort to go meatless at least one day a week, so when I found  this recipe I decided to try it out.  It turned out to be  so hearty and satisfying all you need add is a green salad.

Quinoa is the new darling of the grain world and if you have not tried it yet this dish “hides” it so well you will not know it’s there.  Quinoa has double the protein and fiber of rice so I felt that I owed it to myself to give it a try.  I must admit I was not overly taken with it when served plain, but when combined with other ingredients it is enjoyable with its nutty flavor.   If you know someone who is a little hesitant to try something new,  this recipe will be a good way to introduce them to quinoa.

TOMATO, SQUASH, AND RED PEPPER GRATIN

SERVES    6

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 pound yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced basil, divided**
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme**
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat milk ( 2%)
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese; Gruyere, Swiss or other good melting cheese.
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • cooking spray
  • 1 cup seasoned croutons
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, cut into 8 slices

** If fresh basil and thyme are not available you may use the following dried herbs:  1 teaspoon basil and 1/2 teaspoon thyme.

DIRECTIONS

1.   Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare an 11 x 7 inch glass or ceramic baking dish by coating with cooking spray.

2.  Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add 4  teaspoons oil; swirl to coat.  Add onion; cook for 3 minutes.  Add bell pepper; cook 2 minutes.

3.  Add squash and garlic; cook 4 minutes.  Place vegetable mixture in a large bowl.

Stir in quinoa, 1/4 cup basil, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper.

Egg mixture with dried herbs, added.

4.  Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, milk, eggs, and cheese in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add milk mixture to vegetable mixture, stirring until just combined.  Spoon into prepared baking dish.

5.  Place seasoned croutons in a food processor; pulse until coarse crumbs form.  Instead of that, I like to put them in a zip-lock bag and pound lightly with a meat mallet to form coarse crumbs.     (no extra dishes to wash!)

Ready for the oven.

6.  Arrange tomatoes evenly over vegetable mixture.  Top evenly with crumbs.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until topping is browned.  Sprinkle with remaining basil before serving.

  

SOURCE:   Cooking Light,  August, 2012

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Chicken and Tortellini with Asparagus and Zucchini

Most of us love pasta with red sauce.  They go together like peanut butter and jelly, or iced tea with lemon.  But let’s face it when the days are beautiful and warm we’d much rather be outdoors than in the kitchen making the sauce, cooking pasta and eating a heavy, hot meal.  Right about now I’m lightening up our meals, and including as many fresh,  seasonal, vegetables as I can work into our diet.  Pasta(s) still have their place, but are used a little differently.  The pasta assumes a secondary role rather than being the main focus.  In this recipe chicken and vegetables are the main focus and tortellini helps round out the meal for an all-in-one-pan entree, quick and easy to prepare.

Chicken and Tortellini with Asparagus and Zucchini

SERVES   4-6

  •  1 pound chicken tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
  •  1  9oz.package refrigerated tortellini ( herb and chicken or any other flavor of choice)
  • 1  lb. fresh asparagus
  • 1 small-medium zucchini, cut into half-moons
  •  1/4 cup chopped green onions
  •  2 Tablespoons olive oil
  •  1 med. size red pepper, cut into thin strips
  •  1  8-10 oz.jar basil pesto (pictured here, homemade pesto)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 Tablespoons sliced black olives (optional)

1.  Prepare tortellini according to package directions.  Meanwhile, snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus, and cut the asparagus into 2-inch pieces.

2.  Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Saute in hot oil in large skillet over medium-high heat 6-7 minutes or until almost done. Remove to a platter and keep warm.

3.  In the drippings remaining in the skillet, sauté the onions  and red pepper over medium heat 1-2 minutes or until softened.  Increase heat to medium-high, add asparagus and  zucchini  and sauté 5-6 minutes.

4.  Stir in pesto,  and return chicken to skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, 2-3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Save aside about 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.  Drain the tortellini and add to skillet with additional cooking water to loosen the sauce as desired.

Sprinkle with Parmesan and sliced black olives if desired.  Serve immediately.

SOURCE:  adapted from  Southern Living Magazine