Appetizers/Small Plates · Condiments/Sauces · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Greek Zucchini Fritters {Kolokithokeftedes} with Tzatziki Sauce

June 2016 Fam Din
Kolokithokeftedes.

I know–it’s a mouthful right?

A delicious one.

They are Greek style zucchini fritters and are a perfect dish for summer. Especially if you’re lucky like me and have coworkers who regularly bring you in some of their GINORMOUS, homegrown zucchini.

June 2016 Fam Din
The fritters are filled with tons of fresh herbs, spices and of course, feta.

Mo’ Feta, Mo’ Bettah!

June 2016 Fam Din
I whipped up a batch of these golden beauties as appetizers for our most recent Mediterranean themed Family Dinner. But if you form the patties a bit larger, you could use them in Veggie Burgers or Sliders.

And of course, any leftovers would be brilliant for breakfast or brunch. Just poach up a few eggs and perch them atop a crispy zucchini fritter. Can you imagine that gorgeous yolk oozing over the golden Kolokithokeftedes?

To. Die. For.

June 2016 Fam Din
At dinner, I served them up with my favorite, cool and bright Tzatziki Sauce.

And do yourself a favor, make a double batch of Tzatziki as it stores well in the fridge for a few days. It’s great as a dip with veggies, over grilled meats or fish and as a condiment over sandwiches and burgers.

June 2016 Fam Din
Want a last tip?

The patties can also be formed ahead of time and refrigerated the day before you want to fry them up. Great time saver for casual get-togethers or dinners.

Kolokithokeftedes!!! Kolokithokeftedes!!! Kolokithokeftedes!!!

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Greek Zucchini Fritters {Kolokithokeftedes} with Tzatziki Sauce
Makes approximately 18 fritters

Ingredients:

Fritters
2-2½ pounds zucchini
kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 sprigs fresh scallions, chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh dill, more for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
4 ounces crumbled feta
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs, more if needed
vegetable oil

Tzatziki Sauce
2 cups Greek yogurt
½ cup sour cream
3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely diced English or Persian cucumbers
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Wash and trim the zucchini. Using a food processor or box grater, grate the zucchini. Place the zucchini in a colander over the sink and sprinkle salt over the squash. Toss to combine. Allow the zucchini to sit in the colander/sink for about 2 hours to allow the natural liquids to be drawn out. Every 15 minutes or so, toss and squeeze the moisture out of the squash.

While the zucchini drains, prepare the Tzatziki Sauce. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust with kosher salt and pepper as needed. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour before use.

After the zucchini has properly drained, transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Fold in the cumin, oregano, red pepper, black pepper, scallions, dill, mint, parsley and feta. Taste and add salt if needed. Stir in the beaten eggs and panko. If the mixture seems too wet to form into patties, add additional panko. Cover and refrigerate the mixture for an hour.

Once chilled, form patties that are about 2½-3 inches in diameter. In batches, place the patties in a heavy bottom skillet that has been filled with about ½ inch vegetable oil over medium heat. Fry the patties for about 1-2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove and drain on a wire rack.

Garnish with fresh dill and serve warm with the Tzatziki Sauce.

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Condiments/Sauces

Fresh and Easy Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo2
My confession….

I’ve made pico de gallo at least once a week for the past month.

I can’t help myself — I’m a woman out of control!

Pico de Gallo
Though in my defense, the tomatoes have been beautiful lately—and pico de gallo can be added to everything!

Of course they’re perfect in tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and nachos. It gives an added punch to breakfasts – omelettes, poached eggs, huevos rancheros. And I particularly love to put a few spoonfuls over grilled chicken or broiled fish.

Pico de Gallo4
After all of the pico I’ve gone through, I realized that I’ve never posted a recipe for my basic, tried and true version of it. All of the ingredients are standard items I always keep on hand but it’s just as easy to doctor it up if you’re feeling fancy.

Add some cubed mangoes for a tropical spin.

Diced watermelon to the mix just screams summer loving!

Some ripe avocado would add a creamy texture to the bright pico.

And let’s not forget the option of Fresh Corn Pico de Gallo.

Pico de Gallo3
Super easy to pull together and should definitely be a staple in your fridge — at least for the Summer!

Happy Taco Tuesday!

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Fresh and Easy Pico de Gallo
Makes approximately 4 cups

Ingredients:

3 cups diced tomatoes*
½ cup finely diced red onions
½ – 1 tablespoon finely minced jalapeno pepper (depending on preferred heat)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
2-3 pinches cayenne pepper (optional)
kosher salt
black pepper

In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, cumin, cayenne, ½ teaspoon kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Before serving, check for seasonings and add extra salt kosher salt or black pepper as needed.

*scoop out the seeds of the tomato and discard before dicing

Condiments/Sauces · Salads · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Tropical Summer Salad with Sesame-Ginger Dressing

Tropical Summer Salad Main

When I used to live in San Jose, I used to go to a spot called the Sonoma Chicken Coop quite often. They had a pretty extensive menu with affordable prices…and the food was consistent. I used to always rotate between their Skillet Chicken Carbonara, Rotisserie Chickens and whatever specials they were offering for the day.

Yet, despite all of that goodness–what I miss the most is their Citrus Grove Salad. Essentially, it was a big ol’ plate of mixed greens, avocados, mangos, and various citrus fruits. But MAN—was it delicious! And there wasn’t even any meat!!! Which is a big deal for this carnivorous gal.

Sesame Dressing

Since I’m no longer in the Bay Area (and because I heard that many of their locations are now closed… #SadPanda), I like to make my own variation from time to time–especially when summer fruits are wonderfully sweet like they have been as of late.

I like to use whatever leafy greens I have on hand. I used baby spinach in the pics shown here but an arugula-kale mix would be lovely. I top the greens with slices of sweet mango, avocados cucumbers, kiwis, and pink grapefruit. In addition to all of that goodness, I add some goat cheese crumbles for a bit of richness and toasted macadamia nuts for a bit of crunch. Then the whole thing gets a drizzle of a Sesame-Ginger Dressing that I shake up in a mason jar.

Tropical Summer Salad

The end results in an incredibly bright and light dish that can be served as an appetizer or even a main course. But if you’re wanting something a tad heartier, some grilled prawns, chicken, or grilled fish on top of the salad would really send things to the next level.

With that friends…Have a wonderful week and enjoy the last few weeks of summer!

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Tropical Summer Salad with Sesame-Ginger Dressing
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, roughly crushed
1 tablespoon finely minced shallots
1 garlic clove, finely minced
½ inch knob ginger, finely grated
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey or agave
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 pinches red pepper flakes
2 pinches black pepper, plus more to plate
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
5 cups greens (spinach, arugula, romaine, kale etc.)
½ small ripe mango, peeled and sliced
½ small pink grapefruit, “supremed”
1 small kiwi, peeled and sliced
3 inch piece of cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 small avocado, peeled and sliced
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
¼ cup toasted macadamia nuts

Prepare the dressing. In a jar, add the sesame seeds, shallots, garlic, ginger, mustard, honey, vinegar, olive oil, red pepper flakes, pepper and salt. Secure the lid tightly on the jar and shake vigorously for a minute until the items have combined and emulsified. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Set aside.

Divide the greens between two large plates. Top each plate with the mangos, grapefruit supremes, kiwis, cucumbers, avocados, goat cheese and nuts. Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of the Sesame-Ginger Dressing over each plate and serve.

Appetizers/Small Plates · Condiments/Sauces · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

A few years ago, he and I had a terrible fight….

Trader Joe and I–that is.

What can I say?

He broke my heart — the day he stopped carrying their Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus. Herby, a bit spicy, rich and creamy. I L-O-V-E-D it and would slather it over just about everything.

Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

Then one day when I came in to grab a tub, it was gone. Sure, T.J. offered a three layered hummus that claimed it had my beloved Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus inside. But once you opened the container, it barely had a dollop of the green goodness in it.

What’s a girl to do?

Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

It was then time to take matters into my own hands and make my own version so that I could have my fill of whenever I wanted.

I threw a little bit of this and A LOT of that into the food processor and within a couple of minutes, I had something amazing that I dare say, love even more than the original.

True story.

Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

Just like the original, it’s delicious over breads, to dip all kinds of goodies in, and to use as a sauce.

So T.J., I forgive you for cutting off my hummus supply and still love you for everything else you fill my kitchen with. And let’s face it, who cannot adore that you have your staff wearing Aloha gear? 🙂

Side note: T.J. is now carrying a version of Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus but trust me when I say this–it’s not the same. I don’t know how they altered the recipe but it’s missing some of the old KA-POW the old hummus did.

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Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

Ingredients:

1- 2 bunches fresh cilantro, approximately 4-5 loosely packed cups (more to garnish)
1-2 jalapeño peppers, roughly chopped (depending on your heat preference)
4 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (more to garnish)
1/3 cup tahini
4 garlic cloves
1 can garbanzo beans (15 ounces), drained with juices reserved
2-4 tablespoons juices from the garbanzo beans
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika (more to garnish)

Add the cilantro, jalapeñopeppers, lemon juice, olive oil and tahini into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the items have broken down.

 

Add in the garlic cloves, garbanzo beans, 2 tablespoons of the reserved garbanzo beans juices, kosher salt, black pepper, and paprika. Blend until the hummus is smooth but still thick. If needed, add in the remaining garbanzo bean juices until you reach the desired consistency. Taste and add additional kosher salt if needed.

 

Plate the hummus and garnish with a drizzle of additional olive oil, sprinkle of paprika, and chopped cilantro. Serve as a spread or as a dip.

Condiments/Sauces

Ch-ch-ch–Chimichurri Sauce!

Chimichurri Sauce

Happy CHIMICHURRI FRIDAY!

Ok…it’s not really Chimichurri Friday-–it’s Aloha Friday. But as far as I’m concerned, every day should have chimichurri in it.

Chimichurri Sauce

The sauce originates from Argentina and is FULL of fresh herbs, citrus and spices. It’s incredibly aromatic and bright and is perfect over grilled meats, seafood, in sammiches and as a dip.

And. I. LOVE. IT.

I’ve posted the recipe alongside other dishes before but I thought this showstopper deserved a post on its own.

Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri has similar flavor profiles to pesto as both contain fresh herbs and spicy garlic. But since chimichurri does not contain nuts or cheeses, it can be considered a slimmer substitute for pestos. Both as a spread or even in pastas like my Chimichurri Orzo.

Chimichurri Sauce

So this weekend, break out the grill and throw a few steaks (or chicken…or lamb chops…) and some seafood on the fire. Slather the grilled goodness with Chimichurri Sauce and show all the MOM(s) in your life how much you love them.

Have a fabulous Mother’s Day Weekend!

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Chimichurri Sauce
Makes approximately 2 cups

Ingredients:

1 large bunch fresh cilantro
1 large bunch fresh Italian parsley
6-8 sprigs fresh oregano
4 large garlic cloves
1 large serrano chili pepper*
zest of 1 lime
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon red chili flakes*
1 teaspoon honey or agave
¾ – 1 cup olive oil, more if needed
kosher salt
black pepper

In a food processor or blender, add all of the ingredients except the olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Pulse several times until the herbs have broken down.

Stream in the olive oil and blend until the items have fully incorporated. Sprinkle in ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Pulse to combine. More olive oil can be added if a smoother, loose texture is desired. Check for seasonings and add additional salt and pepper as needed. Refrigerate until ready to be used.

*Chili amounts can be adjusted based on heat level preference.

Condiments/Sauces

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

My seester gave me a jar of pickled onions she made and they lasted exactly 376,901 seconds.

Ok…more like a week. But nonetheless, I inhaled those pickled onions. Tart, slightly sweet with a bit of a crunch. They’re the perfect accompaniment to just about anything—

In sammies….

Over salads……

On top of barbecue…..

And my favorite, inside tacos.

Pickled Red Onions

So since I gobbled up the jar she gave me, I had to restock for Cinco de Mayo. My version is quick to make and you can easily add/remove any spice you like. Need some ideas on what to serve these purty Pickled Red Onions with for Cinco de Mayo? How about:

And yes, the bright fucsia color is all natural. Isn’t it lovely?

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Pickled Red Onions

Ingredients:

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar (more if you prefer a sweeter pickle)
1/8 teaspoon coriander seeds*
1/8 teaspoon peppercorns*
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 dried bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2-3 pinches kosher salt
1 medium sized red onion, peeled and sliced into 1/2 circles

In a pot, add all the ingredients except the onions. Place the pot over medium heat and stir until the sugar and salt has dissolved. Stir in the onions and cook for 1 minute.

Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Place the onions with the liquids in a jar or container and refrigerate. The pickled onions are ready to be enjoyed after a few hours in the refrigerator and can be kept (in the fridge) for a few weeks.

*To release more of the spice flavors, you can use the flat side of a chef’s knife to slightly crush the coriander and peppercorns.

Condiments/Sauces

Oven-Roasted Tomato Salsa : Cinco de Mayo Countdown Begins!

Oven-Roasted Tomato Salsa

Alrighty Folks, it’s time to get organized because Cinco de Mayo is exactly one week away!

What have y’all got planned? Is the menu set yet?

Because if not–you’re in luck!

Oven-Roasted Tomato Salsa

For the next week I’ll be posting muy delicioso menu ideas to ensure that your Cinco de Mayo festivities will be filled with good eats and thirst quenching cocktails.

To start off a fiesta, you’ve got to have chips and dips. I recommend dunking your crispy tortilla chips into a Roasted Poblano Guacamole, Fresh Corn Pico de Gallo, or this mouth-watering Oven-Roasted Tomato Salsa.

Oven-Roasted Tomato Salsa

Because this gal is ALL about salsas.

I usually make my standard salsa using canned plum tomatoes. It’s super easy to whip together (thank goodness for food processors!) and I smother everything with it. Over grilled proteins (fish, chicken, beef), inside tacos and burritos and of course–with chips.

Oven-Roasted Tomato Salsa

I decided to make a small tweak to my go-to salsa recipe by swapping out the canned tomatoes with oven-roasted tomatoes. By roasting the tomatoes in the oven, it concentrates the flavor and adds a different layer to the salsa. It’s still easy to make but it does use a good amount of fresh tomatoes (they shrink through the roasting process) and you need to wait about an hour for them to get their roast on in the oven.

The salsa can be kept in the fridge for about a week and actually tastes even better the day after you make it as the flavors have time to marry. But let’s be honest, you and your peeps will gobble down this salsa so fast that I doubt it will be in the fridge that long.

And with that, let the official countdown to Cinco de Mayo begin!!!!

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Oven-Roasted Tomato Salsa

Ingredients:

4 pounds plum tomatoes, cut in half, seeds removed
1 large jalapeno pepper, sliced in half
olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
½ small yellow onion, quartered
2 scallions
2 large garlic cloves
1-2 small serrano chile peppers, seeds removed (depending on your preferred heat level)
1 teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon chile powder (optional)
2 pinches sugar
zest of one lime
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ bunch cilantro (about 1½ cups)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the tomatoes and jalapeno in a single layer, cut side up, on baking sheets. Drizzle olive oil over them and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Roast for 60-70 minutes until the tomatoes have become slightly browned and shriveled. Allow them to cool until room temperature.

Put the roasted tomatoes, jalapenos, ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and the remaining ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until desired consistency. Taste the salsa and add more kosher salt and black pepper as needed. The flavors will intensify as the salsa flavors marry.

Pour the salsa into a container and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.