Baked zucchini stacks

Hello, new favorite appetizer. This dish makes me crave summer. Also, anything with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and balsamic glaze is pretty much guaranteed to please.

I don’t have a lot to say about this dish, other than holy cow, it’s so simple and easy and tastes SO good. If you’re having people over for dinner and want to impress them with a great appetizer, try this one out. It’s so simple and has big flavor.

Just be careful how thick you slice your zucchini and tomatoes – and how high you stack them. They’re prone to falling over if you move too quickly. (How do I know? Because two of them fell over while I was trying to get a damn picture. Cursing ensued.)

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So if you want tall stacks, slice things thin. If you want small stacks, slice things thick and just use one slice of each ingredient. It will still be a perfect bite to get your appetite going!

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So many layers of delicious.

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Recipe courtesy of Eat.Drink.Love.

Ingredients:

For the balsamic glaze:

  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs. brown sugar

For the baked zucchini:

  • 1 zucchini, sliced into about 12 1-inch slices
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

For the stacks:

  • Baked zucchini slices
  • fresh mozarella, sliced
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • balsamic glaze
  • fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.
  2. To prepare the baked zucchini, beat the egg in a shallow bowl. In another bowl, mix together the flour, panko bread crumbs, and the salt.
  3. Dip each slice of the zucchini into the egg and then into the bread crumb mixture. After all of the slices have been coated, arrange them on the baking sheet and spray the tops with non-stick spray. Bake for about 10 minutes, flip them over and then bake for another 5 minutes or until the slices are golden.
  4. To make the glaze, add the balsamic vinegar and stir in the brown sugar in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Bring to a simmer and heat until the vinegar is reduced by half. Turn off the heat, but leave the pan on the stove.
  5. To make the stacks, layer with a slice of zucchini, followed by a tomato slice and then the mozzarella. Repeat. Drizzle some of the glaze on top. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve promptly.
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Two Salad Sunday

This nasty winter is making me crave fresh, healthy salads. I’ve been on a major grapefruit kick and since they’re in season right now, I wanted to incorporate them into a salad. I saw this recipe for a grapefruit/beet salad a couple weeks ago and have been dying to try it out.

Since I couldn’t find white grapefruit OR white beets, I had to improvise.  I grabbed a regular pink grapefruit, blood orange, and golden and red beets.

In the end, it was a lot of work for not a lot of payoff. It wasn’t awesome, but it wasn’t horrible either. What I gained from it was learning how to cook beets (tricky to peel after they’ve been roasted), and also that cutting citrus into nice hexagon or pentagon-shaped slices is a pain in the ass and will take some more practice.

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Fortunately, I had better luck with the next salad.

The second salad today was this quinoa salad with sweet potatoes and apples from Food & Wine Magazine. I’ve had a bag of quinoa sitting in my pantry forever and this seemed like the perfect recipe to put it to use. The flavors of everything together, along with the sweet potatoes were just the sort of thing I had been craving. We gobbled this one up in no time!

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Recipes

Grapefruit and White Beets with Yogurt and Tarragon (Adapted from Bon Appetit)

  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 4 medium white or Chioggia (candy-stripe) beets (about 1 lb.)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 white grapefruits
  • ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Toast pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 6–8 minutes; let cool.
  • Increase oven heat to 400°. Place beets on a sheet of parchment paper set on top of a sheet of foil; rub beets with oil and season with salt. Close up parchment and foil around beets. Place packet on a baking sheet and roast beets until tender, 40–50 minutes. Unwrap beets and let cool.
  • Peel beets and thinly slice into rounds. Toss beets and vinegar in a medium bowl; season with salt and let stand 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, finely grate ½ tsp. zest from 1 grapefruit and set aside. Using a sharp, small knife, cut all peel and white pith from both grapefruits; discard. Thinly slice grapefruit into rounds.
  • Place yogurt in a small bowl; season with salt and mix well. Spoon onto plates. Top yogurt with beets and sliced grapefruit, then tarragon, toasted pine nuts, and reserved grapefruit zest.
  • DO AHEAD: Beets can be roasted 2 days ahead; let cool. Cover and chill. Pine nuts can be toasted 1 day ahead; store airtight at room temperature.

Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Apples (Adapted from Food & Wine)

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 packed cups baby greens, such as arugula or kale (about 6 ounces)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the quinoa and toast over moderate heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add 3 cups of water, season with salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer the quinoa for 16 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa, spread it out on a baking sheet and refrigerate until it is chilled, about 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, on a baking sheet, toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring once, until golden and softened. Let cool.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil with the vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Add the quinoa, sweet potatoes, apples, parsley, onion and greens and toss well. Serve right away.

Make Ahead: The quinoa and sweet potatoes can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.