Monthly Archives: September 2012

Spicy Asian Steak Salad


I love discovering new foods, or at least new to me. Sometimes this can have, let’s just say, unsavory consequences. However, the challenge of figuring how to incorporate this new ingredient into a recipe is always a fun one.

This summer I discovered society garlic. While perusing the farmer’s market in the late spring, looking for starts to add to my garden, the herb lady there introduced me to this amazing herb.

It has long flat, blade-like leaves and, in the late summer, striking blossoms of light purple appear. What is amazing about this herb is that the leaves taste exactly like garlic. I mean exactly.

I have found that the leaves work very well in salad dressings where I want a hint of garlic. It gives me the flavor of garlic while also adding a nice almost chive-like texture and a pop of green color. And so you will see it incorporated in this recipe.

Now if you aren’t lucky enough to have this herb sprouting in your garden, well you should go find it and add it in. Though you can substitute a finely minced clove of garlic in the meantime.

Recipe of the Week
Spicy Asian Steak Salad


  • 1 lb. raw flank steak, trimmed of fat
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 tsp red chile pepper flakes
  • pinch of coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbsp dry red wine
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil


  • 4 cups shredded leaf lettuce
  • 1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small seedless cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 3 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped


  • 1 tbsp dry red wine
  • 3 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp red curry paste
  • 2 leaves society garlic, chopped (or substitute 1 clove garlic finely minced)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil


Mix together the mint red chile pepper flakes, salt, red wine and sesame oil then pat into both sides of the flank steak. Grill on a propane grill for about 7 minutes on each side for medium doneness. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

In a large salad bowl, toss together the lettuce and basil. Top with the cucumber and tomatoes.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the red wine, soy sauce, rice vinegar, fish sauce, red curry paste, society garlic and sesame oil until well blended.

Serve the salad topped with 2-3 slices of flank steak and 2 tbsp of the salad dressing per serving. Garnish with a dash of sesame seeds.

Serving Size: Makes 4 Servings

Nutritional Information: Calories 314.2, Total Fat 16.6g, Cholesterol 56.7mg, Sodium 972.3mg, Total Carbs 14.3g, Dietary Fiber 1.9g, Protein 25.4g

Grilled Greek Caponata


I have never been a fan of eggplant. I find the texture of cooked eggplant slimy and gag-inducing, I can’t even stand eggplant parmigiana where the hideous eggplant is disguised with loads of tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Yet for some reason, when eggplant is grilled or roasted to point of creaminess, it adds a certain je ne sais quois to a marinara that I find irresistible.

A few weeks ago I was visiting my aunt and uncle in the beautiful Napa valley, and let me just say up front that my aunt is one of the two cooking mentors in my life, the other being my mom. She made this wonderful grilled ratatouille of baby squash and eggplant that was sheer perfection sitting on their patio in the warm California sunshine drinking a glass of infamous Napa nectar.

I love the Italian caponata. It is very similar to ratatouille, but incorporates a bit more garlic and a subtle spiciness in the dish. So I decided to try and recreate my aunt’s dish as more of a caponata, but with a Greek fusion in the form of oregano.

The success of this dish is really dependent on choosing the right ingredients. Don’t go to your giant-mega-super-store looking for these tender, baby vegetables. Think local, head to your farmer’s market.

I love the farmer’s market anyway because it gives me a chance to get to know the hardworking agrarians who grow my food while also supporting the local economy. When you buy your produce at the farmer’s market, you know you are getting freshly harvested garden bounty, not something that was picked green weeks ago and shipped around the globe to end up in the produce section at the store.

For this dish, look for baby zucchini, eggplant and squash that is small and tender, bonus if the zucchini and squash still have their blossoms attached. Stuffed squash blossoms… Mmmm… But alas I digress.

The secret to cooking this dish is to grill the vegetables until the exterior is slightly charred – but not burnt – and the interior is soft and creamy. Then everything just gets smooshed up together – yes, that is a technical cooking term – for a dish that is a little bite of heaven. I like to serve this as a starter when I am entertaining, or just a simple meal scooped atop some bread. If there any leftovers, which there rarely are, I like to toss them with pasta and a little peccorino romano cheese for an easy one dish meal.

Recipe of the Week


Grilled Greek Caponata


  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red sweet pepper, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 baby zucchini
  • 2 baby eggplant
  • 2 baby japanese eggplant
  • 2 baby yellow squash
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 large sprig oregano, stem removed
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 2 lbs fresh tomatoes, cored and halved – I recommend a mix of heirloom and roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt

Heat your propane grill.

Use a large, deep cast iron skillet. Put the onion and garlic in the bottom. Add the pepper, zucchini, eggplant and squash whole on top. Toss with the olive oil and red chili pepper flakes, making sure everything gets well coated with the oil.

Remove the zucchini, eggplant and squash and place directly on one side of the grill. Cook, turning frequently, until the outside is lightly charred and the inside is creamy, around 15 minutes total. On the other side of the grill, place the skillet and saute the onions and garlic until the onions are caramelized. Add the red wine and reduce down by half.

Remove the grilled vegetables from the grill and let cool slightly until you can handle them. Place the tomatoes directly on the grill, cut side down first, for about 2-3 minutes on each side until soft and juicy. Meanwhile, chop up the zucchini and squash and add to the skillet. Cut open the eggplant peel and scoop out the meat and add to the skillet. Once the tomatoes are cooked, add them to the skillet with the salt and use a wooden spoon to smash everything up and cream it together.

Serve immediately, scooped on whole wheat baguette (not included in the nutritional breakdown).

Serving Size: Makes 4 servings of about 3/4 cup each

Nutritional Information: Calories 154.5, Total Fat 8.0g, Cholesterol 0.0mg, Sodium 304.8mg, Total Carbs 17.7g, Dietary Fiber 4.8g, Protein 3.3g

Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Nectarine Salad


As summer draws to a close and the grilling season starts to flame out, I have a confession to make.

I am a year round griller.

Yes, that’s right. While the sunshine lures me outside to the grill more often, I have been known to fire up barbecue in the dead of winter, complete with ice and snow.

There’s something about grilled food – not just meat, but vegetables and even fruit – that is infinitely better than stovetop or oven cooking. In my opinion, the flavors are more intense and the meat is more tender. Of course, grilled meat is also better for the waistline as the fat drips away, down into the coals, during the cooking process instead of congealing on the meat or in the bottom of a pan.

So why limit this deliciousness to summer? It might be a little chilly outside in the off season, but the result is entirely worth it.

Recipe of the Week


Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Nectarine Salad


  • 1 lb. boneless pork tenderloin
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dry rose wine
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • pinch coarse sea salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 bulb fennel, rinsed, trimmed and halved across the width
  • 6 cups shredded leaf lettuce
  • 1/2 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 2 nectarines, halved and pitted

Preheat your grill and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Rinse and pat dry the tenderloin. Set aside.

Whisk together the olive oil, wine, honey, vinegar, garlic, salt and tarragon. Divide in half and set half aside – this will be the dressing later on.

With the other half, brush the mixture over first the halves of the fennel bulb and then the tenderloin, coating well and making sure not to cross-contaminate the fennel with the pork. Grill the fennel and pork about 7 minutes on each side. Also grill the nectarines about 3 minutes on each side.

Once everything is grilled, let sit for 5 minutes to allow time for the juices to settle in the pork tenderloin and the fennel and nectarines to be cool enough to handle.

Layer the lettuce and red onion in a large salad bowl. Thinly slice the fennel and add to the salad. Slice the nectarines and add. Serve the salad topped with slices of the pork tenderloin and drizzled with the dressing that you set aside earlier.

Serving Size: Makes 4 servings

Note: I have cut the nutritional value of the dressing/marinade by 1/4 since approximately half of the mixture that is used on the tenderloin and fennel is lost in the grilling process.
Nutritional Value: Calories 346.3, Total Fat 16.6g, Cholesterol 89.6mg, Sodium 220.8mg, Total Carbs 12.3g, Dietary Fiber 2.5g, Protein 34.9g

Grilled Eggplant Panzanella


I’m not sure there is anything better than a tomato freshly picked from the garden.

I especially love heirloom tomatoes. The hearty Red Brandywine is my favorite, but I also love the dark Purple Cherokee and vibrant Green Zebra. Picked fresh from the garden, they are still slightly warm from the sun and as thick and juicy as a grilled steak. I love a slice simply drizzled with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Divine!

While this special bounty of summer is fantastic just by itself or in a salad, I also use it for cooking. The brandwine makes for a great marinara or tossed with some pasta. Lately I have actually been grilling tomatoes on the barbecue with zucchini and eggplant for a Greek Caponata that is out of this world good.

Today I am recycling a recipe that I first published last summer. With a recent trip south to visit my grandma on the heels of an unexpected move, I am behind in my kitchen experiments. But I made a version of this dish for some coworkers recently and it was a big hit, so I thought this would be a great time to pull it back out and dust it off.

Panzanella is a traditional Tuscan bread salad, created by savvy Italians looking to salvage their stale bread. Needless to say, it is best made with bread that is 2-3 days old as it gets crusty and soaks up the juices of the tomatoes and dressing beautifully. I’ve put a bit of a twist on it by adding in some yellow zucchini and grilled eggplant. I am normally not a big fan of eggplant, but when grilled it takes on a sweet, creamy flavor that is irresistible.

This dish makes for an easy, light entree salad best enjoyed on a sunny patio with a chilled glass of rose. Try using a couple of nice big heirloom tomatoes instead of the roma tomatoes for a little extra flavor. You can also serve it on the side of a grilled Albacore Tuna Steak as seen in the video below. Mmmmm….

Recipe of the Week


Grilled Eggplant Panzanella


  • 1 small eggplant, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 baby yellow zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 6 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained
  • 1 cup loose basil leaves, chopped
  • 4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 loaf (8 oz.) day old ciabatta bread, cubed

Grill the eggplant and zucchini directly on a grill sprayed with nonstick olive oil cooking spray. Grill about 3-4 minutes per side until tender. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Combine the tomatoes, capers, basil and mozzarella cheese. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper then drizzle over the tomato mixture and combine well. Dice up the grilled eggplant and zucchini and mix in. Add the ciabatta bread and combine well so that the bread gets soaked with all the juices. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes before serving.

Serving Size: Makes 6 servings

Nutritional Information: Calories 209.5, Total Fat 8.4g, Cholesterol 6.7mg, Sodium 479.7mg, Total Carbs 26.8g, Dietary Fiber 3.5g, Protein 8.2g

Turkey Keftede Burgers and Parmesan Zucchini Fries


I love zucchini.

There, I’ve said it. Let the great zucchini debate begin.

I am fully aware of the dreadful reputation this tender summer vegetable has in some circles. I include my sister in that group, she who, when we were kids, would hide her zucchini under the rim of her dinner plate or at the bottom of her glass of milk.

But I, being the oddball that I am, really do love it. It’s one of the staples in my summer vegetable garden. In French, zucchini is called “courgette”. Who couldn’t love a vegetable with a beautiful name like that?

I love taking the giant zucchini flowers and stuffing them with goat cheese and herbs. The flowers have a slightly peppery taste, and, when stuffed then rolled in olive oil and baked, they are a little bite of heaven.

Baby zucchini, however, are my favorite because they are so versatile. I love grilling them up with other fresh veggies like eggplant, onions, garlic, squash and tomatoes for a grilled caponata that is out of this world. I love them sauteed and tossed with some pasta, sundried tomatoes, herbs and parmesan cheese. One of my all-time favorites, though, is a gratin-like dish my mom made when I was a kid that consists of layers of zucchini, squash, tomatoes, onion and garlic topped with crispy  bread crumbs and parmesan cheese then baked.

Only when my garden is in over-drive do my zucchini make it to larger proportions. These larger zucchini are seedier and tougher then their baby selves so don’t fare as well as the star of the dinner show. Instead, they are better as a shredded supporting player, like in my Turkey Keftede Burgers featured below.

Keftedes are a traditional Greek meatball that starts with sauteed onion, shredded zucchini, and garlic then mixed with mint, bulgar and ground lamb, formed into balls and fried in olive oil. They are delicious but, alas, high in fat. I have taken all of the flavors of Keftedes and substituted a lean ground turkey then formed them into burger patties and grilled for a delicious, lowfat alternative. The shredded zucchini in these burgers is subtle, adding a moistness to the patties without overpowering it. You won’t even know it’s there.

By the way, these burgers are especially good topped with Tzatziki, a traditional Greek salad made from cucumbers, yogurt and mint.

I like to serve these burgers with a much more in your face zucchini dish: Parmesan Zucchini Fries. I seed the zucchini, cut it into french-fry-like sticks, toss them in egg white, then toss them with a mixture of panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese and bake them. They come out golden, crispy and absolutely delicious.

So what are you waiting for? Go get some zucchini and start experimenting today!

Recipes of the Week

Turkey Keftede Burgers


  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup bulgar
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 1 lb. raw lean ground turkey

Heat a skillet over medium heat, coat lightly with nonstick olive oil cooking spray. Add the onion then mix in the salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is transparent. Add the zucchini and garlic and continue cooking until the onion browns and caramelizes. Mix in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the crusty bits at the bottom of the pan. Let cook just a bit longer until the wine has reduced by at least half. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine the mint, bulgar, egg white and turkey. Mix in the onion-zucchini saute mixture once cooled. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the meat mixture to firm up.

Form the meat mixture into 6 patties of equal size. Grill on a propane grill for 3-4 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Serve immediately.

Serving Size: Makes 6 burger patties

I love to serve these stuffed into a whole wheat pita pocket and topped with a dollop of Tzatziki (recipe below). Neither are included in the nutritional breakdown of this recipe.

Nutritional Information: Calories 152.2, Total Fat 5.5g, Cholesterol 53.3mg, Sodium 141.1mg, Total Carbs 7.8g, Dietary Fiber 1.9g, Protein 16.6g



  • 3/4 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped chopped fresh mint
  • 1 large cucumber, scored and seeded
  • 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt

Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, and lemon juice. Stir in the garlic, mint, cucumber and sea salt. Serve immediately.

Serving Size: Makes 6 servings of about 3 tbsp each

Nutritional Information: Calories 68.6, Total Fat 4.7g, Cholesterol 0.0mg, Sodium 83.3mg, Total Carbs 3.4g, Dietary Fiber 0.4g, Protein 3.1g

Parmesan Zucchini Fries


  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 1/4 cup panko style breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large baby zucchini, seeded and cut into sticks about 3/4″ thick

Preheat the oven to 425.

Toss the zucchini sticks with the egg white then toss with breadcrumbs, cheese and pepper. Spread onto a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn each of the fries over then bake for another 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serving Size: Makes 4 servings

Nutritional Information: Calories 46.1, Total Fat 2.1g, Cholesterol 4.9mg, Sodium 138.9mg, Total Carbs 2.8g, Dietary Fiber 0.2g, Protein 4.1g