Grilled Zucchine and Tomato with Mozzarella and Basil

Zucchini and tomatoes are two of my favorite things, and summer time is when they are at their best. This is a light meal that is perfect for a hot summer day. It is healthy, delicious and easy to make. It can be used as a main dish, appetizer or side dish.

Ingredients:
2 – large zucchini
2 – ripe tomatoes
1 – ball of fresh mozzarella
10 – basil leaves
Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Herbs de Provence
Garlic Powder
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:
Slice the ends off the zucchini then slice it in half across the middle.


Cut a thin slice of the skin from two sides of the zucchini length wise. Then cut thick long slices, about 1/4″ in thickness. Next cut thick round tomato slices.

Lay out the zucchini and tomatoes and drizzle a little olive oil over each of them. Then sprinkle each slice with a little salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and Herbs de Provence to taste.

In the meantime, heat the stove top grill and coat it with non-stick cooking spray. When the grill is hot, place each slice of the zucchini and tomatoes on the grill, seasoned side down. While the vegetables are cooking, drizzle the other side with a little olive oil and the seasonings.

Cook the tomato slices about 3 minutes on a medium-high flame before turning over. Do not over cook them or they will fall apart. The zucchini will take longer, about 4-5 minutes, until tender. When ready turn them over and cook the other side in the same manner.

Since the tomatoes cook sooner, you can place them on top of the cooked side of the zucchini to prevent them from over cooking, while the zucchini finishes cooking.

When the zucchini is almost done, place a slice of mozzarella cheese on top of each stack of zucchine and tomato, then place a lid on top to melt the cheese.

Remove each stack from the grill and place a basil leave on top of each one.

Serve immediately

Note:  A little drizzle of a balsamic reduction works very well with this.




Farfalle with Pesto

Pesto, Parfalle, Pasta
Farfalle al pesto

Traditional Pesto alla Genovese is made with seven specific ingredients, basil Genovese, Ligurian extra-virgin olive oil, pine nuts, parmigiano reggiano, pecorino cheese, garlic, and salt.

There are, however, many variations of pesto that are delicious. I find a mixture of vegetables and nuts make a delicious alternative to the original recipe.  You can use basil, spinach, kale, and parsley; whatever you have available.  Pesto is a great after work dinner choice or for those impromptu guests. It is easy and fast to make, and it also freezes very well. I’m sure you have had to buy a large bunch of basil in your local grocery store when you only needed a handful. Basil, unfortunately, does not last long in the refrigerator. It has been my experience that even when it is put in water, it wilts within 24 hours. So, every time I have too much basil I make pesto and freeze it.

You can freeze about one cup servings that will be the perfect amount for one pound of pasta. To freeze the pesto, spoon one cup, of it into a small glass or plastic container that can go into the freezer. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pesto to keep out the air so that it will not oxidize. You can keep it in the freezer for up to six weeks.

Ingredients:
1 – lb. Farfalle pasta
1 – cup packed basil leaves
1 – cup packed baby spinach leaves
2 – cloves garlic
1/4 – cup walnuts
1/4 – cup almonds
1/8 – cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 – tsp. salt
1/4 – tsp. fresh ground black pepper
Pecorino Romano Cheese or Parmiggiano Reggiano

Directions:
In a food processor, blend the nuts and garlic until finely ground. Add the basil and spinach leaves. As you blend the leaves add the olive oil a little at a time until creamy. If it seems too dry add a little more oil. Add salt and black pepper.  I do not add the cheese to the pesto, but add it instead to the pasta when I put it together.  Set the pesto aside until the pasta is ready.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once it is boiling, add 1 tsp. salt and the pasta. Stir so that the pasta does not stick together. Bring back to a boil and cook according to the package instructions. If you want the pasta al dente  (a little firm to the bite), then check the pasta about 2-3 minutes before the time directed.

In a large serving bowl, add 1/2 cup of the pasta water and the pesto. Mix together. Drain the pasta, but be sure to save one additional cup of the pasta water in case you need it. Add the pasta to the pesto and mix. Add the cheese. If the pasta seems too dry, add a little more pasta water. Serve Immediately.

Buon appetito!