Grilled Pizza with Roasted Summer Vegetables

Summer vegetables make the most delicious and light pizza toppings for warm weather days, while adding beautiful color to your plate. Dollops of ricotta and fresh mozzarella cheese compliment the slightly sweet roasted vegetables with shredded ribbons of fresh basil on top of my crispy thin pizza crust. Cheers to enjoying the flavors of summer as you savor the last few weeks of the season.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium summer squash, sliced
½ pint cherry tomatoes
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 homemade or store-bought pizza dough ball (about the size of a grapefruit)
⅓ cup part-skim Ricotta cheese
1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
8 to 10 basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Pace squash and cherry tomatoes on a medium backing sheet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned and tender.
  2. Roll and stretch pizza dough to a thin layer, about ⅛ inch thick and 12 to 14 inches in diameter. Prepare the grill for medium-high, indirect heat. For a gas grill, leave one or two burners off and for a charcoal grill, place coals on one side and use the coal free side.
  3. Place crust on the grill (a pizza peel is handy here) and cook for about five minutes, until top of crust starts to bubble and light brown grill marks appear on the bottom. Remove crust from the grill.
  4. Evenly place squash and tomatoes on top of the cooked side of the pizza crust. Add dollops of Ricotta cheese and slices of mozzarella.
  5. Return the pizza to the grill for about five minutes, until the cheese has melted and the bottom of the crust has light brown grill marks. Remove from grill and top with fresh basil before serving.

Black Pasta with Seafood Medley

Made with squid or cuttlefish ink, black pasta has a slight salty taste that makes it an ideal pair with seafood. This trendy style of pasta has been popping up in restaurants and speciality grocery stores. You can also purchase squid or cuttlefish ink from specialty grocery stores or online retail sites and make homemade black pasta by adding 4 teaspoons of this specialty ink into your favorite fresh-egg pasta recipe. Top this pasta with an easy seafood sauce with fresh tomatoes and pair it with your favorite Pinot Noir.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes, diced
½ cup red wine
1 teaspoon concentrated tomato paste
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
12 ounces seafood medley, defrosted if frozen
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ ground black pepper
8 to 10 ounces black spaghetti (made with squid or cuddle fish ink)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add tomatoes and cook until tender, about five minutes.
  2. Add wine, tomato paste, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add seafood medley. Simmer uncovered for at least 10 minutes while you prepare the pasta. Add more wine if needed.
  3. Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Drain and plate noodles, topping with seafood medley sauce and grated Parmesan cheese.

Servings: 4

Summer Fruit and Vegetable Salad

This salad tastes as splendid as a beautiful summer day feels, with sweet melon, refreshing cucumbers and juicy cherry tomatoes. Freshly chopped produce this time of year is delicious served uncooked and the combinations are endless. The addition of cantaloupe takes this salad from simple to spectacular. It is a great dish to pack for a picnic or enjoy at home along with grilled chicken on the patio.

Ingredients:
½ medium cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 medium cucumbers, sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
basil, cut into thin strips
salt and pepper
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Combine equal amounts of cantaloupe cubes, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes and red onion onto small salad plates.
  2. Top with feta cheese, basil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and drizzle lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Servings: 4

Pantry Pasta

We all have those busy nights when the fridge is sparse and we don’t have time to pick up fresh ingredients for dinner. My Pantry Pasta dish is the perfect meal to make during those moments. It takes less than 15 minutes to prepare, giving you more time to relax at the end of the day.

For a fresh version of this recipe during summer months, replace the canned tomatoes with vine-ripened tomatoes fresh from the farm or your backyard. Cheers to making meals that are both healthy and convenient.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15.5 ounce) can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced and no-salt-added tomatoes
¼ cup red or white wine
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
½ pound whole wheat spaghetti noodles

Optional Ingredients for Serving:
Fresh basil, cut into ribbons
Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Add beans, tomatoes with juices, wine, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for about five minutes.
  3. Serve over spaghetti noodles. Top with basil and Parmesan cheese if desired.

Servings: 4

Turkey Taco Soup

This soup is perfect for those chilly spring days when you want a fun and festive meal. The weather may not be warm enough to grill fajitas, but you can serve up a pitcher of margaritas and invite your friends over for a bowl of my Turkey Taco Soup. Don’t let the long ingredient list make you think this recipe is hard to make. It’s super simple, but instead of using a ranch seasoning packet that’s high in sodium, you create the flavor with ingredients you most likely already have in your pantry. Turkey and black beans are great lean protein choices for this dish. If you have farm-fresh canned tomatoes or summer corn stored in your freezer, this is a great use for those gems!

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 medium jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (14.5 ounce) cans no salt added diced tomatoes
2 cups frozen corn
1 (14.5 ounce) can no salt added black beans, rinsed and drained
6 ounces tomato paste
6 cups water
shredded cheddar cheese
light sour cream
scallions, sliced

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute until fragrant.
  2. Add turkey and cook, breaking up with a spatula. Add bell pepper and jalapeños and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and continue cooking for another minute.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, corn, beans, tomato paste and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve with cheese, sour cream and scallions as toppings.

Servings: 6

Steak and BLT Salad

Meat lovers rejoice for this salad that was made for you. The classic bacon, lettuce and tomato (BLT) sandwich is one of my favorite meals to make with farm fresh tomatoes. As an alternative to this time-honored dish, I created a salad and took it up a notch by topping it with grilled steak and blue cheese dressing. This hearty salad is perfect for a relaxing summer weekend and pairs well with your favorite red wine.

Ingredients:

2 (4 to 6 ounce) boneless rib-eye steaks, well-trimmed
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons blue cheese, divided
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
2 cups spring mix lettuce
2 medium tomatoes, diced

Directions:

  1. Bring steak to room temperature and season with salt and pepper. Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat and cook steak to desired doneness. Remove from grill and let rest for a few minutes before carving into thin strips.
  2. Combine yogurt, vinegar and 2 tablespoons blue cheese in a mason jar with a lid and shake until salad dressing is well combined.
  3. Add equal amounts of bacon, lettuce and tomatoes to two plates. Top with steak, remaining blue cheese and salad dressing.

Servings: 2