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Archive for the ‘Veggies’ Category

Tomato Mozzarella Tart

Posted by booksncooks on June 25, 2011

The day of my evening baking marathon with K (lemon limoncello cupcakes and cosmo cupcakes for S’s birthday), I played hookey from work. I have more vacation time than I know what to do with, so I decided to stay home, read, and play in the kitchen. I knew I wanted to do something fun for our girl’s night, but substantial enough to go with the cocktails I knew we’d be drinking (Limoncello Cosmos, as it turned out!). And, not having the guys there meant that I was able to go meatless. Thus, the Tomato Mozzarella Tart!

I had it both hot and at room temperature. While it was best straight out of the oven, it was also great at room temperature. It was pretty much as expected – sweet tomato, burst of flavor from the basil, warm gooey cheese… it was fantastic! Serve with a side salad as a light meal or, in tartlet form, as an appetizer.

Tomato Mozzarella Tart

Adapted from from Ezra Pound Cake and The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook as seen on Annie’s Eats

Ingredients for the Crust:

  • 1/3 c. fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (or 1 tsp. minced)
  • 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 8 Tbs. unsalted butter, chilled
  • 4-5 Tbs. very cold water

Ingredients for the Tart Filling:

  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 Tbs. minced fresh basil

Make the Crust: Pulse basil and garlic in a food processor until finely minced. Add flour and salt, pulsing until just combined. Add in butter, cut into 1-in. chunks. Pulse until ingredients are incorporated and mixture is in small, pea-sized crumbles. Add water, 1 Tbs. at a time, pulsing in between each addition. Stop when dough forms a ball. Remove from processor, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour.

After an hour (or whenever you’re ready to bake), preheat oven to 425° F. Lightly flour a wooden cutting board or counter and remove dough from fridge. Roll out dough into a 12-in. circle. Lay dough over a 9-in. round tart pan and press into sides, removing excess dough from top. (I used an 8-in. tart pan, and used the extra dough to create 4 tartlets.). Cover with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill with baking beads. (I didn’t have any baking beads, so baked without weighing down crust. It came out fine, the only difference was that bottom puffed up a bit.) Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove baking beads and foil, and bake for another 5 minutes, until crust is just set and slightly golden.

Finish the Tart: Remove crust from oven for the second time. Lower oven to 375° F. Arrange sliced mozzarella and tomatoes over crust. Season with salt & pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Top with freshly grated Parmesan and minced fresh basil.

Return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes. Rotate pan and use a paper towel to sop off any extra moisture that has formed. Cook for another 15 minutes. Crust will become golden brown and mozzarella with be bubbly and lightly browned. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Posted in Appetizers, Vegetarian, Veggies | 2 Comments »

Roasted Tomatoes with Pesto

Posted by booksncooks on June 11, 2011

Have I ever mentioned that my hubby is a picky eater? While he’s gotten much more adventurous since we moved in together 3 years ago, there’s still a number of items I can’t make for him. No tomatoes or bell peppers, unless they’re hidden so he can’t see them. No light vinaigrette in salads (Ranch and honey mustard are his favorites). Squash… not so much. Maybe on the rare occasion when we’re grilling. Polish stuffed cabbage? Hell no.

So what do I do when I want to make dishes using tomatoes (like this Greek Pananella) or another one of the banned items? I try to save them for potlucks with friends, but when that doesn’t pan out, or I get impatient, I call a good friend. K has offered to move in, just so I have someone a little less picky to cook for. Thanks K, but I’ll just invite you over for dinner weekly. 🙂

With an invitation to a friend’s secured and all of the ingredients in the house, I gave these roasted tomatoes a whirl. I loved the way roasting the tomatoes made them slightly sweet and super soft. The basil pesto was a burst of flavor. I imagined eating one of these atop a slice of crunchy French bread or making these as a side to a roasted or grilled fish for an extra punch of flavor. The best part? This recipe can easily be adjusted to serve 1 or 12.

Roasted Tomatoes with Pesto

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? (p. 179)
also on Food Network

Serves 6


  • 2 – 2 1/2 lbs. large red tomatoes
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c. pesto
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425.

With the tomato stem facing up, slice tomatoes into 1/2-in. thick slices. Place slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano, kosher salt (~1 tsp.), and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, until tomatoes are beginning to soften, but still hold their shape.

Remove baking sheet from oven. Top each tomato slice with a bit of pesto (~1/4 – 1/2 tsp. on each) and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven for another 7-10 minutes, until Parmesan begins to brown and the tomatoes look softened.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with a little more salt (if desired). Serve hot or at room temperature.

Posted in Barefoot Contessa, Sides, Veggies | 1 Comment »


Posted by booksncooks on May 23, 2011

A month ago, I went to a week-long class for professional development. I was shocked when I arrived on the first day, and was told that they’d be serving us lunch. That’s completely unheard of for most of the professional development courses I am encouraged to attend. What was even more shocking… the food was actually good! No tasteless, unidentifiable entrees that are usually on cafeteria buffet lines (at least where I am), but rather carving stations for ham and turkey, a beautiful salad bar with fresh veggies and berries, pitchers of water flavored by the fresh fruit sitting on top… I couldn’t believe my luck, getting into such a class. I enjoyed great lunches all week, but the star, for me, was the fresh gazpacho I had on the first day.

Ever since, I’ve been craving gazpacho but a little hesitant to make it since I’ve never done so before and didn’t have a tried and true recipe on hand. I tried to satisfy my craving with Greek Panzanella, and then the following week with an improvised Greek salad (diced tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers with a little Italian dressing over them). However, I was still craving the freshness of the Gazpacho – a light treat for the warming weather. An added bonus – a great way to get in extra veggies.

Never having made Gazpacho, I was hesitant to change Ina’s recipe too much, as I’ve loved everything that I’ve tried of hers. However, I wanted to make this a little healthier by the olive oil (I used extra-virgin olive oil) in half. I also cut the amount of white wine vinegar by half. (Both changes are reflected below) Even with these minor adjustments, the soup was wonderful and super easy to make (what’s not easy about throwing everything into a blender and then refrigerating?).


Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (p. 79) and on Food Network

Yields 10 serving (1-1/2 c. each)


  • 8 plum tomatoes
  • 2 English cucumbers, seeded but not peeled
  • 3 red peppers
  • 2 red onions
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 46 oz. (6 c.) tomato juice
  • 1/4 c. white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Roughly cut the tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper, and red onions into chunks, about 1-inch large. Add tomatoes to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped but not pureed. (I left mine a little chunkier, but continue to pulse if you prefer a smoother consistency.) Do the same with the cucumbers, red peppers, and red onions, processing each vegetable individually.

Combine chopped veggies with remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Stir well and cover. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, to allow the flavors to blend, before serving.

Serve cold.

Optional Garnishes: Dollop of sour cream, homemade croutons, sprinking of Parmesan or feta cheese

Posted in Barefoot Contessa, Soups, Vegetarian, Veggies | Leave a Comment »

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Gorgonzola & Pecans

Posted by booksncooks on February 28, 2011

First impressions about Brussels sprouts…. and go….

Let me guess. First thought is “ew.” Followed by something like, “who eats that?” I used to think the same. When we were little my mom would steam them, stinking up the kitchen. My youngest brother was the only one of us fooled into eating the “baby trees” (no, wait, that was broccoli…. well, it was something like that).

Anyway, then one day, when I was in high school or college, my mom roasted the Brussels sprouts until they were crispy. The veggies were non-stinky, so I gave them a whirl. I was officially a convert. Roast ’em and you’ll get a slightly sweet taste and crunchy texture. Throw on some salt and maybe some bacon, and it quickly became one of my favorite sides, and the only way I’d eat Brussels sprouts.

Then this recipe came long. The Brussels sprouts were cooked pretty much the same – sliced instead of halved but roasted until crispy. Tossed with pasta, pecans, and a very light Gorgonzola-cream sauce, this recipe is sure to win over Brussels sprout-haters. Give it a try. Even a doubtful coworker cleaned his plate.

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Gorgonzola & Pecans

Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 102 (p. 107)

Serves 4-6


  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground back pepper
  • 4 c. (20 oz.) Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 3 1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. dried pasta, such as shells or orecchiette
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c. coarsely chopped pecans
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1 c. Gorgonzola, crumbled

Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Place a heavy rimmed baking sheet on the rack and heat the oven to 500°F. You want the baking sheet hot before you roast the Brussels sprouts.

Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and a bit of salt, for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Prepare the Brussels Sprouts: In a food processor fitted with the slicing disk, slice the Brussels sprouts. When the baking sheet is heated, remove from oven. Place Brussels sprouts on baking sheet, and use a large spoon to toss with olive oil, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper, until Brussels sprouts are coated. (You can also toss the Brussels sprouts, oil, salt, and pepper, in a large bowl, and then spread on the baking sheet, if you prefer.) Make sure Brussels sprouts are spread out in a single layer before roasting, until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes (stirring halfway through).

Cook the Pasta: As Brussels sprouts are roasting, cook pasta according to the box, draining once cooked.

Make the Sauce: In a skillet over medium heat, melt 1/2 Tbs. butter. Add pecans, cooking until pecans are toasted and butter is browned, about 3 minutes. Be sure to stir frequently. With a slotted spoon, remove pecans and place on a plate. In the same skillet, melt the remaining butter. Cook shallots until softened, another 3 minutes, still stirring frequently. Add cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, and add 3/4 c. Gorgonzola, stirring until melted.

Put it Together: In a serving bowl, toss pasta, pecans, Brussels sprouts, and Gorgonzola-cream sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 c. Gorgonzola. Serve warm.

Posted in Fine Cooking, Pastas, Vegetarian, Veggies | 2 Comments »

Acorn Squash with Rosemary and Brown Sugar

Posted by booksncooks on October 18, 2010

This year was the first time I’ve participated in a CSA (community supported agriculture). I love that I’m supporting local farmers and providing them with a reliable source of income. However, I do have mixed feelings on the program. I love the CSA I belong to – I love the variety of fruits and veggies I get, and the quality. However, I don’t like not knowing what I’m going to get each Tuesday. It makes it hard for me to plan, since I do so much planning and cooking on the weekends.

That being said, getting some unexpected surprises has helped me broaden my horizons and test out new recipes. For instance, I’ve mostly only had butternut squash, although I’ve had acorn squash a few times. Every time, I prepare it in the same way – halved, scoop out the middle, and roast it with butter and brown sugar in the middle. This recipe is close, but the rosemary and white wine add a lighter flavor (as opposed to pure butter and sugar). An added bonus? My squash-adverse hubby actually liked this recipe. One more point for Fine Cooking.


Acorn Squash with Rosemary & Brown Sugar

Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 107 (p. 24)

Serves 4


  • 1-2 lb. acorn squash (unpeeled), halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 3 Tbs. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary (be sure to use fresh – dried rosemary isn’t nearly as good!)
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Wash the squash and cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds and then slice the squash along each ridge, so that the squash is in wedges.

Heat a 11-12 in. sauté pan over medium heat. Add butter and oil. When melted, add squash, arranging in a single layer. Cook until all sides are golden-brown, flipping as needed, about 10 minutes total.

Add wine to pan, scraping bottom to get up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle brown sugar, rosemary, lemon juice, salt, and pepper over squash.

Cover and lower heat. Summer until squash is almost tender, about 10 minutes.

Raise heat and cook for another 5 minutes. Sauce will thicken and squash will be tender. Season with more salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot.

Posted in Fine Cooking, Sides, Veggies | Leave a Comment »

Greek Panzanella

Posted by booksncooks on July 18, 2010

When I told K that Greek Panzanella was on the menu for this week, she offered to move in. I mean, since the hubby share the same taste in vegetables that I do, I need someone else living here to help eat tasty dishes such as this one. Well, K, you get to keep your place, share my dish, and even go home with a doggy bag. As soon as we tossed everything together, she and I were picking out the pieces of from this Greek salad well before the rest of the meal was on the table. Hope you enjoyed the left overs and get a chance to make this real soon!

PS – This dish be prepared ahead of time, and tossed together 30 minutes prior to serving.

Greek Panzanella

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa on Food Network

Serves 6

Ingredients for the Salad:

  • Olive oil
  • 6 c. French bread cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3/4 a baguette)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 bell peppers, in a large dice
  • 1 cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices, then quartered and seeded
  • 1 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 a red onion, in a large dice
  • 1/2 lb. feta cheese, cut into cubes (or 8-oz. crumbled feta)
  • 1/2 c. calamata olives, pitted (optional)

Ingredients for the Vinaigrette:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black peppers
  • 1/2 c. olive oil

Prepare the Salad:

Brown the bread cubes, either in a large saute pan on the stove (medium heat, tossing frequently for 5-10 minutes) or on a baking sheet in the stove (450F for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through). Bread cubes should be drizzled with olive oil (about 3 Tbs.) and salt before toasting. Set aside to cool slightly.

Place cucumber, onion, peppers, and tomato in a large bowl, while setting aside the feta, olives, and toasted bread.

Make the Vinaigrette:

Whisk together all ingredients except olive oil. Add olive oil slowly, still whisking. Pour 3/4 of vinaigrette over vegetables and set aside.

30 minutes prior to serving, toss vegetables with bread, feta, and olives. Allow flavors to blend. If needed, add remaining vinaigrette.

Serve at room temperature.

Posted in Barefoot Contessa, Sides, Veggies | 4 Comments »

Scalloped Tomatoes

Posted by booksncooks on June 29, 2010

I was really happy to see Pink Parsley Catering picked Scalloped Tomatoes for one of this month’s Barefoot Bloggers recipe. I had seen Ina make it earlier this year and have been wanting to try it, but my hubby doesn’t eat tomatoes. Glad I got the excuse to make this, even if I was eating it all by myself. It reminded me of warm bruchetta – the crunch of the bread and Parmesan with the wonderful basil and tomatoes. Another great one from Ina!

Note: I did edit the dish to serve 2 instead of 6, and used slightly less tomatoes than called for (reflected below).

Scalloped Tomatoes

Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa

Serves 2


  • olive oil
  • 3/4 c. dense bread cut into 1/2-inch diced (I used day old French bread with crust but Ina calls for a French boulle without the crust)
  • 4 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • scant 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • scant 1/4 c. julienned basil leaves
  • scant 1/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.

Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add bread cubes and stir to coat, drizzling a little more olive oil if needed. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring periodically, until cubes are evenly browned. Then add tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil.

Pour tomatoes into a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan and drizzle with 2 tsp. olive oil. Bake 30-40 minutes until top is browned and tomatoes are bubbling.

Posted in Barefoot Contessa, Sides, Veggies | Leave a Comment »

Couscous & Grilled Veggie Salad

Posted by booksncooks on June 17, 2010

One of the great things about summer are the BBQs and all the time outside. Almost every week, a bunch of us would head to the park with all sorts of goodies to grill on the park’s charcoal grill. We’ play volleyball or soccer, watch the kids on the playground, and maybe go for a walk or go kayaking. Then, we’d crank up the grill and enjoy lunch or dinner in the sun.

This salad is the perfect accompaniment to a summer BBQ. It can be made up to 3 days a head of time and served warm or at room temperature. Add as much fresh herbs you’d like – I loved it with lots of fresh basil.

Couscous & Grilled Veggie Salad

Adapted from Fine Cooking #73 (p. 59)

Serves 10-12

Ingredients for the Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 c. red-wine vinegar
  • 1/8 c. chopped black olives
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil

Ingredients for the Salad:

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored and cut into 1-inch strips
  • 3 small carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 2 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 small bunch scallions, trimmed

Ingredients for the Couscous:

  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-3/4 c. uncooked couscous
  • 2+ Tbs. chopped fresh basil (or mint, parsley, or a mix)
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • lemon juice, to taste

Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, 1 Tbs. of the olives, mustard, and olive oil. Whisk in the remaining olives. Season to taste with pepper.

Grill the vegetables: Heat grill on medium-high heat. Brush veggies with oil and season with salt. Grill until veggies are marked and tender, turning as needed. The zucchini, peppers and scallions with be ready first, the eggplant second (be sure to make sure it’s still a bit crunchy), and the carrots last. Let cool slightly.

Put together the salad: Bring 2 c. water, oil add salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add couscous, stir to combine, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.

Chop veggies into 3/4-inch pieces. Toss with half of the vinaigrette.

Fluff couscous and toss with veggies, remaining vinaigrette and fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Posted in Fine Cooking, Sides, Veggies | Leave a Comment »

Orzo Salad with Grilled Zucchini & Red Peppers

Posted by booksncooks on May 31, 2010

One of the things I love about summer is the BBQs and fresh foods. While so many pasta salads are made with mayo or Italian dressing, I like to mix it up a bit. I’ve made this pasta salad a couple of times, varying both the veggies and herbs that get mixed in.

Orzo Salad with Grilled Zucchini & Red Peppers

Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 80 (p. 36, 39)

Serves 6-8

Ingredients for the Rosemary Oil

  • 1 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped off and minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Let cook about 5 minutes, until the flavors fused and the oil is bubbling (let oil bubble/sizzle 2-3 minutes).  Set aside to cool. Extra oil may be stored in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Ingredients for the Salad:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 1/4 lb. zucchini
  • 5+ Tbs. rosemary oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 lb. orzo pasta (or fregola or other small pasta)

Grill the Veggies: Heat grill to medium heat.

Note: If you’re using a grill basket to grill the veggies, its easiest to cut into 1-inch chunks before grilling. If not, slice both peppers and zucchini into quarters.

Toss veggies with 2 Tbs. oil, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Grill until veggies have nice grill marks and are tender, tossing as necessary. Remove from heat.

Make Pasta Salad: Cook pasta according to instructions. Drain.

Toss grilled veggies, pasta, red wine vinegar, and remaining 3 Tbs. rosemary oil. Add additional rosemary, oil, salt, and pepper to taste.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

Posted in Sides, Veggies | Leave a Comment »

Roasted Green Beans with Lemon, Pine Nuts & Parmigiano

Posted by booksncooks on February 8, 2010

This green bean salad was quick and easy. It’s easy enough to change up the recipe according to your taste and season – more/less lemon, different nuts or herbs, etc. My husband and I had the green beans as our only side with the Barefoot Contessa’s Indonesian Ginger Chicken, and it was perfect for the two of us. It’s definitely a recipe that I’ll be making again and again. Enjoy!

Roasted Green Beans with Lemon, Pine Nuts, & Parmigiano

Adapted from Fine Cooking 82, pp. 55 


  • 1/3 lb. fresh green beans, rinsed well, stem ends trimmed
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (1 lemon), plus 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 c. pine nuts
  • 1/4 c. coarsely grated or shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 tsp. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

In a large bowl, combine green beans, garlic, and lemon zest. Sprinkle in pepper and salt to taste. Toss with olive oil until just coated (2-4 Tbs.)

Spread the beans on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the top third of the oven for 10 minutes. Stir, and continue roasting for another 10-15 minutes. Green beans and garlic will be slightly browned.

While green beans are roasting, toast the pine nuts, either on a rimmed baking sheet or in a small skillet, for about 5 minutes, until slightly browned.

When green beans are done, transfer to a bowl or serving dish.

Option 1 to Finish: Toss with lemon juice and another 2 tsp. of olive oil. Sprinkle with pine nuts, Parmigiano, and parsley.

Option 2 to Finish: Skip the lemon juice and olive oil and toss with pine nuts, Parmigiano, and parsley.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Posted in Sides, Veggies | Leave a Comment »