Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer food! Summer vegetable bake and cherry tomato salad

There are many factors to blame for my post-slacking, but the most prominent one would have to be a case of the blahs in terms of finding exciting new recipes that are both delicious and fairly healthy. But now...well, that's all over. Because summer is here! I've discovered that, despite the sometimes brutal heat, spring and summer are my favorite times of the year for making meals. The heat brings out a natural inclination to eat fresh, nutritious foods (who wants a heavy, creamy, cheesy fried thing when it's 110 degrees outside?). And the stores and farmers markets are stocked with colorful fruits and vegetables that are just begging to be bought and experimented with.

To kick off what I hope will be an abundance of awesome summer recipes, I offer my new favorite veggie dish. Isn't it lovely? And the best part is, it's super simple and easy to prep ahead of time, which makes it BBQ or potluck friendly. 

Summer Veggie Bake


1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
4-5 yellow squash, sliced in thin rounds
4-5 zucchini, sliced in thin rounds
4-5 tomatoes, sliced in thin rounds
fresh basil
olive oil
1 bag mozzarella cheese
Italian seasoning or oregano (optional)


Saute the onion in olive oil until soft. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (be careful not to burn). Spread the onion and garlic mixture onto the bottom of a 13x9 inch casserole dish (if you want to make less, use a 8x8 square pan). 

Season the tomatoes, squash, and zucchini with some salt, pepper, and (if you like), some italian seasoning or dried oregano. Stack the veggies on their edges, alternating between the squash, zucchini, and tomato. Once the pan is full, tear off the basil leaves and poke them down in between some of the veggies (use as much or as little as you want). 

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for approx 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the foil and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the whole pan, spreading evenly. Put the pan back in the oven and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly. You may want to turn on the broiler to get that nice brownish crust on the top of the cheese.

*I haven't tried this yet, but it just occurred to me that this might be really good served with a little warm marinara sauce spooned over the top - especially if you're serving it to kids.

And secondly, I offer you a link to a cherry tomato salad I recently made, which was also delicious, light, easy, and BBQ friendly. When my husband saw the recipe lying on the counter, he said "Buttermilk? That's not light." Oh, but it is! Thanks to my obsessive Food Network watching, I know that buttermilk is very low in fat. The reason it's called buttermilk, is that it's the residual liquid left over after butter is churned. The dressing on this salad tastes like ranch, but is much lighter while still remaining totally natural (unlike the "lite" version of most ranch dressings).

Patrick and Gina Neely's Cherry Tomato Salad with Buttermilk Basil Dressing

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to try the Cherry Tomato Salad as we have cherry tomatoes and basil growing in our garden!