Tag Archives: Mozzarella

Grilled Zucchini Caprese Sandwiches

26 Aug

 

1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 6 slices
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 (2-ounce) ciabatta rolls, split and toasted
8 large fresh basil leaves
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

1. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Place zucchini in a shallow dish. Add 2 teaspoons oil and garlic; toss to coat. Arrange zucchini in grill pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until grill marks appear. Cut each zucchini piece in half crosswise. Return zucchini to shallow dish. Drizzle with vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
2. Brush bottom halves of rolls with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Top evenly with zucchini, basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella.
3. Brush cut side of roll tops with remaining liquid from shallow dish, and place on sandwiches. Heat the sandwiches in pan until warm.

Jackie Newgent, Cooking Light, August 2011

At this time of year, there is absolutely no excuse for not eating locally farmed, locally crafted food in Chicago.  The vegetables are literally pouring off the tables at the farmers markets, peaches on being sold at reduced prices and you simply can’t go wrong with buying blueberries straight from farmers in bulk.  The reasons are endless: on average you spend the same or less than major supermarkets but your money goes straight to the hands of small farmers (no corporate middle man), you can talk to the farmers about where your food was grown, their methodologies, even the kind of weather they’ve had all week, if you’re interested.  By the end of the summer, you’ll know their faces and you’ve probably seen or made a handful of friends at the market.   It helps the environment by cutting down on fuel for shipping and encourages varied-crop farming which decreases erosion often found on massive single-crop farms and, let’s face it, it’s a whole lot nicer to look at than an endless field of corn (and yes, I am from Iowa).   And let’s be serious, the biggest reason is taste.  There is simply no comparison.  Luckily, all of these ingredients can be purchased at the farmer’s market in Lincoln Square except the salt and pepper, which hopefully you have in your pantry already.

This is one of those recipes that shines in its simplicity, bringing out the fresh tastes of the basil (from my garden), tomatoes and zucchini.  The acidity of the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar are perfectly balanced by the sweet mozzarella.  The crispy, warm bread, slightly softened by the garlicky olive oil and vinegar is the perfect texture for the softened cheese and veggies.  And I appreciated that this was a one-pan-wonder, ready in 15 minutes since I, and many others, returned back to school this week.

Portobello Parmesan

22 Feb


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the dish
  • 3 portobello mushroom caps
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 4 fresh basil leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • 4 ounces buffalo mozzarella cheese, sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Scrape out the gills of the portobellos with a spoon, then halve the mushrooms horizontally to make 6 thin rounds.

2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic; cook 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, add the tomatoes and basil and cook until the garlic is soft, about 15 more minutes. Transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Combine the panko, 1/2 cup parmesan, 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a shallow bowl. Whisk the eggs and 2 tablespoons cold water in another bowl. Put the flour in a third bowl.

4. Dredge the mushrooms in flour, shaking off the excess. Dip in the eggs and then in the panko mixture, pressing to coat both sides. Heat 1/2 inch peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry the mushrooms until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

5. Spread a layer of the tomato sauce in the prepared baking dish. Add the fried mushrooms, then cover with the remaining tomato sauce. Top with the mozzarella and the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan. Bake until browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.

Courtney Credle, Food Network Magazine, March 2011

Let me start by saying that the tomato sauce for this recipe with a little parmesan would be worth making in itself as a simple tomato sauce for nearly any dish.  The parmesan tames the acidity of the tomato and adds a nice sweetness while thickening the sauce.  Second, it is absolute genius to deep-fry portobellos and cover them in cheese.  The panko-pamersan combination crisps up perfectly as it fries, allowing the portobellos to retain their shape and texture despite being covered in sauce and baked.  I was pleasantly surprised to find none of the mushiness I had fearfully expected.  This is a hearty vegetarian dish, both filling and packed with flavor.  The only change I made was that I used less oil for the frying (about 1/8 inch) which I thought was plenty.  I also nearly doubled the crushed red pepper for added spice and the basil for added flavor.  This is a recipe that encourages play – you could use slight variations of the sauce or add an additional layer – but it’s also perfect just the way it is.  Though not for those of you on a diet!

Spaghetti with Two Tomato Toss

5 Feb

  • 1/2 of a 7- to 8-oz. jar  oil-packed dried tomatoes
  • 4 cloves  garlic, minced
  • 2 pints  red and/or yellow cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 tsp.  cracked black pepper or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp.  salt
  • 1 14- to 16-oz. pkg.  dried corn meal, multigrain, whole wheat or regular spaghetti
  • 4 oz.  bite-size fresh mozzarella cheese balls (bocconcini), halved
  • 1/2 cup  chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or fresh basil

1. For sauce, drain dried tomatoes, reserving 1 tablespoon oil. Halve large tomatoes. In 12-inch skillet cook garlic in oil from tomatoes over medium heat until tender, about 1 minute. Add cherry and oil-packed tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until fresh tomato skins blister, about 8 to 10 minutes. Season with pepper and salt.

2. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti, with 1 tablespoon salt added to water, according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water (*Using Pasta Water, see below). Drain pasta.

3. Toss spaghetti with tomato mixture in skillet, adding enough cooking water to thin sauce. Serve immediately with fresh mozzarella balls and parsley. Makes 8 servings.

Better Homes & Gardens

I have been making this at least once a month for the last two years.  It is simply a staple at our house.  I can make it in less than 20 minutes but it packs a major flavor punch.  I love that all of the ingredients taste to fresh and no single ingredient overpowers any of the rest.  The citrusy tomatoes are complemented perfectly by the sweet mozzarella.  Also, I am a major sucker for any pasta dish with sun-dried tomatoes.  Doesn’t get much better.

Baked Vegetable Lasagna

31 Jan

  • 3  tablespoons  olive oil, divided
  • 1/2  cup  chopped white onion
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  teaspoon  kosher salt, divided
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 1  (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh basil
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh oregano
  • 1  cup  ricotta cheese
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1  (14-ounce) package water-packed firm tofu, drained
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2  cup  thinly sliced green onions
  • 3  cups  finely chopped red bell pepper (about 2 medium)
  • 2  medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1/3  cup  finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Cooking spray
  • 12  cooked lasagna noodles
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add white onion; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute or until golden. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, sugar, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, crushed red pepper, and tomatoes. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in basil and oregano. Cool.

3. Combine ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, tofu, egg, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor; process for 10 seconds or until blended. Stir in green onions. Set aside.

4. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, zucchini, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan; sauté 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and liquid evaporates. Remove from heat; stir in parsley and remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

5. Spread 1/2 cup tomato mixture in the bottom of a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with 3 noodles. Spread 3/4 cup tomato mixture over noodles; top with 1 cup tofu mixture and 1 cup zucchini mixture. Repeat layers twice, ending with noodles. Spread remaining 3/4 cup tomato mixture over top. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes or until bubbly; top with mozzarella cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 10 minutes.

Corrine Trang, Cooking Light, JANUARY 2010

I made this exactly as instructed except I do not have a food processor so I used a hand mixer instead.  Preparing each of the three layers takes quite a bit of time and effort so I would recommend making this dish on a night where you have a little extra time and are looking for a more involved cooking project.  Is the work worth the effort?  Yes and no.  This is not your standard lasagna which I knew going into it, but I was still disappointed.  Oddly enough, though, it was actually better leftover.  I don’t think the flavors had enough time to blend in the original cooking stages, but they really came together after a night in the fridge.  Also, if you’re a lasagna fiend looking for a healthier fix, this might be just the trick.

In case you’re weary of the tofu addition to the cheese (I was), no worries: the texture is actually incredibly similar to ricotta and, of course, it merely took on the flavor of the other cheeses in the cheese blend.

Smoked Mozzarella and Chicken Sandwiches with Italian Barbecue Sauce

27 Nov Smoked Mozzarella and Chicken Sandwiches Italian Barbecue Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 large cloves garlic, chopped or grated

1 14.5 oz. can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

1/2 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt & Pepper

4 pieces skinless boneless chicken breast, halved horizontally

12 thin slices smoked mozzarella (1 pound ball)

2 cups loosely packed baby arugula

1/2 cup basil leaves shredded or torn

1 loaf ciabatta bread, split lengthwise and cut into 4 pieces

1. Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil, 2 turns of the pan.  Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and chicken stock and heat through, about 5 minutes.  Stir in vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and lots of pepper.  Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 7-8 minutes.

2. Drizzle chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cook on the grill pan, turning once, for 6 minutes.  Remove from the pan and layer 1 chicken piece with 2 mozzarella slices, another chicken piece and another mozzarella slice.  Repeat 3 more times to make 4 double-decker chicken stacks.  Tenant with foil for 1 minute to soften the mozzarella cheese.

3. Combine the arugula and basil.  Pile one quarter of the greens on each of the 4 bottom pieces of ciabatta.  Pile the chicken stacks on top, then cover with the barbecue sauce and bread tops.

Everyday with Rachel Ray, December 2009

This recipe is great for a quick, hearty dinner.  The size of the sandwich and abundance of sauce makes for a messy meal, but it’s definitely worth the napkin consumption.  I made this last night for my boyfriend and me so I only used two chicken breasts. I skipped the stacking of the chicken and cheese under Step 2 and simply melted the cheese on top of the chicken during the last few minutes of cooking.  The sandwich is messy enough with a single  layer – I’m not sure how one could eat a double-decker version.  I also used the fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles from Trader Joe’s because they are always out of plain fire-roasted tomatoes, but I thought the chiles added a nice hint of spice to the peppery sauce.  I wouldn’t actually call this meal Italian or barbecue, more a mix of both with a dash of sloppy-joe American, but it certainly satisfies the best of both worlds.