vegetable and side dishes

Summer squash, with its gorgeous and creamy butter-yellow skin, is in the farmers' markets.

When I was a kid, I ate so much squash - fresh from the garden - that I was sure I'd never suffer another bite. The typical dish we ate consisted of a medley of sautéed summer vegetables - squash, zucchini, onions, tomatoes and sweet corn. It was delicious!

But even the tastiest dishes soon grow old if repeated too often. There really are only so many ways to sauté or stuff a squash.

I was intrigued by these Summer Squash Sloppy Joes featured in the July 2006 edition of Cookie

But since we're trying to cut back on meat, rather unsuccessfully, I might add, I thought we'd try this recipe with mushrooms as a replacement for the ground beef or turkey. You might substitute firm crumbled tofu too.

Summer Squash Sloppy Joes
adapted from a recipe by Melissa Clark


* 3 Portobello mushroom caps, diced
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 1/2 onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
* 1 carrot, grated
* 1 1/2 cups summer squash, diced
* 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
* 1 tablespoon mild chili powder
* 1 teaspoon paprika
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
* 3 ounces cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

* 6 Challah buns

1. Preheat the broiler. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the mushrooms until browned, about five minutes. Add the garlic, onion and carrots, then sauté another two minutes or until just soft. Finally, add the squash and sauté about a minute more.

2. Stir in the tomato paste and 1 1/4 cups water, stirring until the paste has dissolved. Add the chili powder, paprika, and oregano, and season with the salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until the mixture has thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Divide the cheese among the bottom halves of the Challah buns. Transfer both halves of the buns to the broiler, open-faced, and toast until the cheese has melted and the top buns are toasted.

4. Remove the buns from the oven and fill each sandwich with the squash-and-mushroom mixture. Serve immediately.

For a side dish, try this Asian Coleslaw recipe - a nutty-vinegary, sweet and nice counterpoint to the picquant Sloppy Joes.

Chili-lime roasted corn with cheese

Every summer I look forward to sweet corn.  It's my favorite summer crop. There is just nothing better than an ear of roasted corn dusted with a pinch of sea salt and slathered in butter - unless it's Chili, lime and cheese roasted corn straight from the barbecue. 

Last week I was talking to a friend who was raving about Maiz asado con queso.  She'd had some of this delicious sweet, citrusy and spicy corn at dinner with a friend and couldn't get enough of it. 

I love this  roasted corn, ubiquitous at street fairs, but it's not somethng I'd make at home.  And it's not like it's a difficult dish.  It simply isn't a habit.

This is about to change. Here's a recipe you can try too. 

Chili-Lime Roasted Corn on the Cob

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 ears of corn, husked
  • grated Cotija (or mozarella cheese)
  • 2 squares aluminum foil, big enough to wrap corn


This is best cooked on charcoal grill, but can be prepared in the oven (350 degrees F)

Squeeze the lime juice into a resealable plastic bag and add the oil, chili powder and a pinch of salt and pepper. Seal and shake the bag thoroughly to mix. Set aside.

Place an ear of husked corn on top of each aluminum foil square. Turn up the ends of the foil to make a boat for the liquids. Poke a hole in a corner of the bag and squeeze an equal amount of marinade onto each ear, reserving a little marinade to squeeze on just before you eat.

Fully coat the ears and wrap them tightly in foil. Roast for 40 minutes, turning occasionally to cook evenly.

To serve, remove foil and fashion into holders. Drizzle with additional lime marinade and the grated cheese.

What's for dinner: roasted lamb breast & winter root vegetables


I was in the farmer's market early Saturday morning, buying parsnips and lusting over organic rabbit.

My son discovered that Mr. McGregor did not have Peter Rabbit's best interests at heart as we pondered a bag of freshly dressed bunny. 

While I envisioned braised rabbit with wild mushrooms and perhaps some couscous, my son was busy grilling the market woman on the farmer's means of skinning the rabbit. I grew up around outdoorsman, so I know the drill. It was fun seeing him bridge the gap between what we eat and where it comes from.

The rabbit in 2-3 lbs portions at at $6.99 per pound was out of this week's budget, but will definitely make the menu in coming weeks. If you want your rabbit fresh, buy soon because bunnies apparently get lazy in the summer months, so there are fewer to eat!  You can, however, freeze whole rabbit up to a year and pieces up to nine months.

Since I already had lamb breast, an economical and delightfully delicious cut if a bit fatty, my quest was to pair it with some root vegetables for a meal that all went into the oven while I relaxed on the couch and listened to music.  Along with a few stalks of celery, the parsnips, carrots, and baby potatoes (red, purple, and white) made the cut. 

Parsnips are a new addition to my repertoire and a happy one at that.  I love the flavor - a little sweet, a little nutty.  They played nicely with my other root vegetables and all made fast friends with the lamb. 

Roast Lamb Breast

3-4 pounds lamb breast

1 Tbs kosher salt

4 garlic cloves, finely minced

2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves cleaned from the stem & finely minced

1/4 cup of white balsamic vinegar

drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

At least 24 hours before roasting, clean the lamb breast with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.  Then rub the breast with kosher salt, front and back, following with the garlic and rosemary.

Roasted Parsnips, Carrots  & Potatoes

3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut in slices

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut in finger-sized chunks

3 baby purple potatoes, quartered

3 baby white potatoes, quartered

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon herbs of Provence

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup water

In a mixing bowl, coat vegetables with the olive oil, then add salt and herbs. Transfer to a glass, clay baking dish or a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. Add water. Roast uncovered, tuening gently once or twice during roasting, for 45 minutes to one hour in an oven preheated to 400 degrees Farenheit (200 degrees Celsius).  Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to brighten the flavors.

Wild Arugula, Sweet Corn & Pasta Salad

I'm going to be sad when summer is done. There will be no more salads piled high with fresh greens and assorted wonderful vegetables, the crisp sweet corn, vine ripened tomatoes, crunchy carrots, beautiful beets!

This salad, another lovely layered one, is so easy to make and so delicious. I made a meal of it with some Pugliese artisanal bread from Sullivan's Bakery and a glass of pinot noir.

Wild Arugula, Sweet Corn & Pasta Salad

2 cups of wild arugula

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1 1/2 cups cooked pasta, mixed with 1/4 cup pesto

2 ears of sweet corn, grilled & planked

red pepper cored, thinly sliced

4 oz of goat cheese, medallions or chunked

1/4 cup extra virgin oil

of one lemon

and pepper to taste

ingredients: arugula, carrots, pasta, sweet corn, red pepper, and goat cheese. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the salad, season to taste. Plate and serve.

Late Night Snack at Maharaja Sweet Shop

Little_india_food_pix_061_2 The best things in life seem to happen organically.

One minute you're dreaming and the next minute you're doing.

I believe in the pure connection between creativity and action, the interesting and satisfying way that imagination charges outcome, the feeding of curiosity. 

The reasons I continue to eat - aside from the obvious - and cook are directly linked to this belief. I love to see and, of course, taste the ways that people explore their creativity through the palate and cuisine.  It's an endlessly fascinating subject.

I'm now browsing a cookbook aptly named Seductions of Rice by the authors Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, who together have penned and photographed a number of stunning cookbooks that are filled with exquisite recipes, photographs and travelogue.  Their cookbooks, to me, are a perfect way to while away a day.

What generally happens when I'm reading a book like this (or browsing a site like FoodBuzz), I want to pack my bags and hit the road, noshing everywhere along the journey. To satisfy the craving to travel and taste, I usually grab my Metro card and go.  I'm very fortunate to eat and live in a major metropolitan area that has a lively dining life.

Recently, I jumped on the train to little India in Jackson Heights, Queens, to relive in a couple of hours my visit to the subcontinent and my cravings for the hot fresh breads, spicy chutneys and pickles that we ate there morning noon and night.  Lovely!

Sunday Dinner


I have fond memories of fabulous Sunday dinners en famille.  The whole house smelled of good food cooking. And we enjoyed the preparations and time together as much as the meals we ate.

Sunday dinner is still special to me, despite having a much, much smaller nuclear unit.  Now with my son away for the summer with Dad, it's just me. But I still like to take care of myself as well as I would a whole house full.

Food_pix_026_2 Sunday night's supper: fried cornmeal crusted squash blossoms sprinkled with sea salt and a bean, sweet corn, tomato and basil salad.   Red stripe beer on the side,  Good eating!