Spinach-Tomato-Pesto Pita

This recipe is my default recipe for using up those last odds-and-ends vegetables in my fridge. When I’ve got an extra tomato, half an onion… I turn to this. It’s also a great Sunday night recipe to make for lunch the next week.

It’s healthy, flexible, and tasty – what’s not to love?

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Take the base recipe (originally from AllRecipes) & make it your own: use the leftovers in the fridge, your favorite veggies, or whatever your dinner-partner will tolerate.

4 whole wheat pitas
1 tub of sundried tomato pesto
1 bunch of spinach, rinsed well & dried
2 tomatoes
2 mushrooms
2 bell peppers
handful of basil leaves, rinsed & de-stemmed (parsley & oregano go well too, if you have those on hand)
olive oil
Parmesan cheese
feta or mozzarella cheese
salt & pepper

pre-cook

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toast pita for 5 minutes or until beginning to brown. (If you skip this step, the middle will be soggy from the pesto & olive oil at the end.)

2. While the pita is toasting, deseed and chop tomatos, mushrooms, and bell peppers. Toss together with olive oil. Coarsely chop spinach but keep separate.

3. Remove pita and spread with pesto. Top with a layer of spinach, then spoon out vegetable mixture. Tear basil leaves and sprinkle on top. Salt & pepper to taste. Grate Parmesan cheese and add mozzarella/feta.

4. Return pita bread to oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the edges are crispy.

Serve hot!

Fresh, Tasty, and Easy: Twice Tomato Bruschetta

I had some leftover tomatoes & extra basil to use up, so I decided to try the bruschetta recipe I had stumbled upon earlier this week. I stopped by the store on the way home from work to pick up a baguette, and that was honestly the hardest part making this.

eating

Perfect for a bite-sized dinner side or appetizer!

Doesn’t that look delicious? It’s healthy (bonus if you’re using whole grain bread!) and tastes amazing, especially if you’re using fresh herbs.

3 roma tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 c sun-dried tomatoes (in oil)
1 clove minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4cup fresh basil
salt & pepper to taste
French baguette
6-7 basil leaves, de-stemmed
mozzarella cheese

1. Cut the baguette into thin slices, brush with olive oil, and toast for 3-4 minutes until browned. (Important! If they’re not browned now, they’ll be soggy at the end)

2. De-seed and chop tomatoes, garlic, and basil; mix together in large bowl. Roughly chop sun-dried tomatoes (a messy step since they’re in oil, but I know I have trouble eating the whole ones without making a mess!) and add to the mix.

ingredients

Look at those bright ingredients. Just like Christmas!

3. Add splash of olive oil, vinegar, salt & pepper, mix well. Heap mixture onto toasted baguette slices, add whole basil leaves, and top with chunks of mozzarella cheese.

4. Broil for 6-7 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately, while hot!

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I made mine in a toaster oven, which worked wonderful. They toasted quickly and kept my kitchen from overheating (bonus in the Houston weather! Which is still hot).

Original recipe here.

Growing Season (Stuffed Zucchini Balls)

One of the big advantages to the hot, humid, & sweaty Houston summer is the growing season that comes with it. When I came down here (in late August), I was astonished to see tomato plants & herbs still being sold. Combine that with the farmer’s market within walking distance of my apartment, and I’m in fresh fruit & vegetable heaven.

Going to the farmers market has been a learning experience in itself. I’ve always been a suburbanite, going to the grocery store and getting used to uniform size & colored produce all year long. The farmers market, though… all shapes & colors of peppers, differently colored tomatoes & eggplants, and, I discovered, zucchini balls. I had never never seen a zucchini ball before. Upon seeing my first, I thought, wow. Think of all the OTHER vegetables you could stuff inside!

That led to stuffed zucchini balls.

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They were easy and delicious. I altered several recipes to come up with this one, and it’s flexible – use what you have on hand! I made mine vegetarian, but it wouldn’t be hard to add ground turkey or beef – saute it with the onions at the beginning, making sure to cook thoroughly.

2 zucchini balls
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 med onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
handful of fresh basil & oregano
3 tomatoes, chopped & drained
roasted red pepper
1cup bread crumbs
pinch of crushed red pepper
salt & pepper to taste
3-4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

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1. Cut off the tops of the zucchini balls & scrape out the insides. Set aside the meaty part of the inside, toss the seeds. Make sure to drain it well, otherwise it’ll end up watery (same goes for tomatoes below) Cook in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for around 30-40 minutes, until tender.

2. Saute the onion & garlic in olive oil for 3-4 minutes on medium heat, then add chopped basil & oregano. Let cook for 2 more minutes, or until onion is transparent.

3. Combine chopped (drained!) tomatoes, roasted peppers, 1 c breadcrumbs, crushed red pepper, salt & pepper. Mix well, then add to onion mixture. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, then take off heat & transfer to a medium mixing bowl.

4. Chop mozzarella cheese & remaining basil, add to stuffing mixture, and mix well.

5. If you’re serving it later or planning on leftovers (and they keep well), save this step until you plan on serving it. Remove the zucchini balls from the oven and add stuffing. Make sure to fill it to the top – you want as much of the yummy insides as possible! Top with Parmesan cheese and return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted & insides warm through.

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Enjoy!