Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Sweet Corn, Avocado, & Feta

This is old news, but pinterest is the bomb. I think I could easily spend an hour “fetching more pins” and not even notice.

My roommates and I each have our own corner of pinterest that we love to explore.  My roommate Trinity has an entire section dedicated to pugs, and more clothes pictures than my closet could ever dream of. My other roomie Stephanie has enough DIY pins to keep me thoroughly entertained for every rainy day for the next ten years. My contribution to this hot pinterest mess is enough food and drink pins to overload a grocery store. Some might say it’s getting out of control.

This pinterest surplus, however, is what led me to this gem of a recipe, which was truly fantastic. This elegant salad is beautiful, light, and the perfect combination of tangy and fresh. I have enjoyed it as a meal three times in the last two days, and am still loving every bite. Enjoy it while the zucchini and squash are still in season!

In the mean time, I’m going to continue being in denial that there can be too much of a good thing.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2 medium yellow squash
  • 1 can of sweet corn*
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 2 medium ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese*

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the lime juice and olive oil in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Empty the can of corn into a small pot and heat on low while preparing the zucchini and squash.
  3.  Rinse the zucchini and yellow squash, and cut off the ends of each.  Using a vegetable peeler, shave each squash into long thin strips. Start on one side of the vegetable and shave until reaching the center (you’ll see seeds!), then flip the vegetable over and repeat from the other side. Throw the centers away (or better yet, compost them!)
  4. Remove the corn from the heat and drain. Combine with the zucchini and squash ribbons in a large bowl.
  5. Add cilantro, red onion, and avocado to the corn/squash mixture. Crumble feta on top of the salad and season with salt and pepper as desired.
  6. Serve the lime juice/olive oil mixture on the side.*  Enjoy!

Notes and Tips!:

  • Yield: Serves 4-6
  • I used a can of sweet corn in this recipe and it turned out great, however if fresh corn is in season, that is an easy alternative to use! Simply husk and boil two corn cobs for 3-5 minutes, and let cool. Cut the ends off of each ear of corn and then cut kernels off the cob, cutting as close to the center as possible.
  • Another alternative for feta cheese is Queso fresco! This is an ingredient that is not sold at every grocery store, but could easily be found at a Mexican food market. The good news is both feta and queso fresco would be delicious in this recipe.
  • I served the dressing on the side, however it is equally delicious to toss the salad in the dressing before serving.
  • To make vegan, replace the feta with a vegan cheese, or simply omit the cheese all together.
  • Source: two peas & their pod
  • Check out my pinterest page here!
  • Zucchini Fan?! You should check out my Parmesan Zucchini chips, Zucchini Bites, and Roasted Zucchini Wrap!

Roasted Zucchini Wraps

Hello everyone! I am currently writing to you from a beach in South Carolina, where I have spent the last few days enjoying some much needed family vacation.  Vacation for me essentially boils down to one very large puzzle, at least 2 novels, and excessive amounts of cooking. Thus, in typical fashion, I have been in the kitchen a lot the last few days and am very excited to bring a new recipe your way! I concocted these zucchini wraps recently and found them to be refreshing, satisfying, and delicious. Try them as an appetizer or as an entre! You can’t go wrong with fresh veggies and feta involved.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 zucchinis
  • ¼ cup (reduced fat) feta cheese
  • ½ large tomato, diced
  • About 10 Basil leaves
  • 15-25 spinach leaves (about 2-4 spinach leaves per roll)
  • Sprinkle of Italian seasonings* to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse the zucchini and chop the ends off of each.  Slice the zucchini into very thin strips, discarding the very outside strips.
  3. Using a paper towel or dishcloth, pat some of the fluid in the zucchini off, (do not stress over this step- it is not necessary to remove all of the fluid).
  4. Brush a thin layer of olive oil onto a baking sheet. Arrange the zucchini strips on the sheet, and brush the top sides of each strip with a thin layer of oil. (The bottom sides should be coated due to brushing the pan, make sure they are completely coated by moving them around some on the pan.)
  5. Roast the zucchini for 8-12 minutes, just until soft and lightly browned. The time may vary based on the thickness of your slice.
  6. Once the zucchini has completed roasting, blot each strip free of some of the olive oil, using a paper towel or dish towel.
  7. Arrange each zucchini strip by placing one bay leaf, 3-4 spinach leaves, a spoonful of diced tomatoes, and feta on top. Sprinkle with desired spices, roll tightly, and serve. 

Notes and Tips:

  • Yield: 6-8 zucchini wraps
  • My grocery store sells a spice called “Zesty Italian Seasonings” that consist of garlic powder, oregano, parsley, light salt, basil, etc. If you do not have a similar pre-mixed spice option, any combination of these seasonings would work perfectly here!
  • If the shape of the roll is losing form, try spearing it with a toothpick! That may help keep each roll together.
  • Source: A Rented Kitchen

If you like this recipe, you may like Roasted Eggplant with Mint, Tomatoes, and Goat Cheese!

Tortellini Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

My freshman year in college I went to a tiny liberal arts school in the Midwest. Chances are real good you’ve never heard of it. Every day I would walk into the cafeteria, visit with Pam for a minute (the bubbly middle-aged mom who checked our IDs), and would eat whatever was featured in the salad bar. Sometimes there were chickpeas, or real fruit- those were good days- but usually the salad bar consisted of some bagged lettuce, a few dressings, and sparse toppings.

I ate that same salad everyday for a year and half- frequently for 2 meals a day.  I got into this routine due to limited vegetarian friendly options available, and for the time being I didn’t really have a problem. I do love a good salad! However, when I transferred schools and started cooking for myself I could not face another salad for months. All the sudden I had tons of vegetarian options, and all of the sudden I realized just how burnt out on salads I was.

Funny how time works though, because, without that daily salad bar option, this body of mine has started to crave some good raw veggies again. Thus, I have begun the project of reincorporating salads in my life, but am trying to make salads that are fresh and new for me- not boxed in by the regular salad bar ingredient list.  Ergo, fellow salad lovers, I introduce to you the Tortellini Salad! It’s a great way to make a healthy entre a little more filling while still getting your nutritional benefits. Give it a try! Who knows, it just may be your new favorite thing.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Package of cheese tortellini
  • 1 bag of rinsed and dried romaine lettuce
  • 3 ounces Feta cheese
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper as desired

Directions:

  1. Prepare the tortellini as directed on package instructions, boiling for 8-12 minutes.
  2. Drain tortellini thoroughly.
  3. Rinse lettuce and toss dry.
  4. Combine the lettuce, tortellini, diced tomato, and feta cheese, mixing together well.
  5. Top with grated parmesan cheese and serve with dressing on the side.
  6. Dressing: In a separate small dish, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, oregano, garlic powder, and salt and pepper (optional) with a fork.

 

Notes and Tips:

 

Balsamic Bruschetta

There are probably a million ways to eat bruschetta. At the bistro I work at, it’s all about the pesto. For some, it’s all about the add-ins (ie capers, cheese, onion, etc.).  For others, it is all about the bread, or all about the tomato variety. Fortunately, however you choose to do bruschetta, it’s pretty hard to mess up.

After playing around some in my tiny rented kitchen, I found this combination of flavors and ingredients to be my favorite. This dish is perfect as an appetizer, or as a meal served along side a delicious fresh salad. This recipe is also perfect for these late summer months, while the tomatoes are fresh and can easily be found at the farmer’s markets. Celebrate these last few weeks of summer! Enjoy some balsamic bruschetta.

Ingredients:

  • 1 baguette, sliced into ½ inch thick slices
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained
  • 2(+) Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinaigrette
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Black pepper and salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Arrange the slices of bread on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of each bread slice with a coat of olive oil.
  3. Bake the bread 5-8 minutes, or until crispy on the bottom and turning a golden brown.
  4. While the bread is cooking, mix the remaining ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
  5. Serve each slice of bread with a spoonful of the tomato mixture- garnishing with crushed black pepper and/or salt as desired.

 

Notes and Tips!:

Feta, “Sausage,” and Tomato Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Sooo, I have a confession to make. This recipe was not originally vegetarian. There was bacon involved. Lots of bacon involved. After reading through the directions and ingredients however, these little Portobello mushrooms looked way too delicious to not try, so I made some alterations. I know some people do not like fake meat products, and I don’t blame them.  I like almost every food ever, but I can agree that fake meat just doesn’t taste quite like the real thing. In my opinion, bacon is the worst to try and substitute (Which is such a shame because real bacon is so good!) Therefore, in this recipe I swapped out the omnivore’s bacon with a few crumbled vegetarian sausage patties- and guess what?! It was delicious! These flavor filled little mushroom caps make the perfect appetizer, side dish, or even main course if served with a hearty salad or roasted potatoes. Give them a try! Serve it with real bacon or with veggie sausage- which ever you prefer.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 large Portobello mushrooms caps, with stems removed, or six mini portobello mushrooms (either works just fine!)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of crumbled feta cheese (replace with a vegan cheese or omit the cheese all together to make this dish vegan!)
  • 1 whole tomato, diced
  • 2 crumbled “sausage” patties (I use the Morningstar variety)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly chopped basil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place a layer of aluminum foil in the bottom of a baking dish.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and balsamic vinegar until well combined.
  3. Brush a thin layer of the balsamic vinegar and oil mixture onto both the aluminum foil covered pan, as well as the tops and bottoms of the mushroom caps.
  4. Lightly sprinkle the mushroom caps with salt and pepper and arrange them on the baking dish gill side down.*
  5. While the oven preheats: chop the red onion into small, thin strips, wash and dice the tomato, and microwave the sausage for one minute.
  6. Crumble the “sausage” and combine in a small bowl with tomato. Set aside.
  7. Sauté the onion in a medium sized saucepan in 1 tablespoon of the oil and vinegar mixture, until the onion is translucent.
  8. While the onion is sautéing, place the baking dish in the oven and bake the mushroom caps for five minutes. After five minutes flip the mushroom caps over and bake for an additional five minutes.
  9. Remove the mushroom caps from the oven and fill each cap with a combination of onion, tomato, crumbled feta, and crumbled “sausage.”
  10. Sprinkle each mushroom cap with salt and pepper (if desired, feta can be pretty salty on it’s own!) and basil.
  11. Bake for an additional five minutes to warm the tomato and melt the cheese.
  12. Serve and enjoy!

Notes and Tips!:

  • The gill side is the open side, where the stem would be if it had not been removed. So when the recipe says place the mushrooms “gill side down” you should see the smooth tops of the mushrooms, not the stem side.
  • If you prefer to use bacon as opposed to vegetarian sausage, use 3 slices of fully cooked bacon, and crumble.
  • This recipe was adapted from food blog, “How To: Simplify.”