Tomato and Goat Cheese Galettes

It’s been hot lately, so when my parents planned to visit for lunch last weekend, I wanted to serve light dishes that could be eaten at room temperature or made ahead. The first course was Vichyssoise, followed by these galettes and a healthy barley and herb salad.




We all recently saw Julia & Julia, and I had promised to make Boeuf Bourguignon the next time they came over. But the weather had other plans, so I opted for a French-inspired brunch and the beef stew will have to wait for the cooler months.

I first made galettes about a year ago, and since then have integrated them into my routine on a more regular basis. Once you master the dough (made sweet or savory by adding or subtracting sugar), they’re a template for many ingredients and can be served warm or at room temperature. You can make one large galette or individual tarts. Cover them with mounds of fruit or bake them with a mixture of fresh vegetables and cheese. Eat them with a fork and knife or shove them into your mouth like pizza. To sum up galettes, they’re versatile.


Tomato and Goat Cheese Galettes

Recipe inspired by Gourmet, Ina Garten, and trial and error. Makes 6 individual galettes, or one large galette.

Tomatoes are at their peak this month, so use them while you can. This particular recipe is wonderful at room temperature. They can be made the day you plan to eat them and left on the counter to cool, or sealed in plastic bags for up to 1 day.

For pastry

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water

For filling

3 roma tomatoes, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 sprig thyme, leaves removed
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
fresh basil, cut into ribbons
Parmesan cheese
olive oil

Make dough:

Blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps.

Drizzle 1-3 Tbsp ice water evenly over mixture and gently pulse in food processor until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 Tbsp at a time, pulsing until incorporated, then test again. Less is more with the water--too much will make the dough soggy. Although I've made galettes with semi-soggy dough, well-mixed dough should leave an imprint of your finger when squeezed, and not be crumbly.

Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and with heel of your hand, smear the dough once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together, with a pastry or bench scraper if you have one, and press into a ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Make the filling:

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. If making individual galettes, cut the dough in half, and then into thirds. With your hands, roll each piece into a ball, and, working with a rolling pin, gently roll the dough into about a 6-inch circle. Repeat with remaining dough and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, leaving a 1/2 inch edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart. Crimp up the sides and brush with an egg wash or melted butter.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Tomatoes with Ricotta

Tomatoes look cute all dressed up, don’t they? This dish might be an appetizer, but it became an entrée last week when we had an unexpected snag in the kitchen. I came home from work (planning to make grilled fish and these tomatoes), and smelled gas leaking.
We called the gas company (around 6 pm), who arrived hours later (at 8:30 pm) and munched on cereal while waiting for them to arrive. The fish was saved for another day, but I decided to put these together and keep them in the fridge so we’d have something more savory to eat as a late night snack. As soon as the front door closed (gas problem fixed!) I popped these into the oven, and we devoured them almost before I had a chance to take their picture.

For the recipe, head over to The Pioneer Woman

Roasted Asparagus with Eggs

I know eggs are a treasured ingredient in the culinary world. People put them on everything: toast, tomato sauce, tortillas. I've just never seen what all the fuss is about. My egg memories are of Saturday mornings as a child, when my dad would make them sunny side up  in bacon grease and fold it into a buttered piece of toast. Delicious, yes. But I’m really not a breakfast person.


When Bon Appetit named eggs as one of the food trends of 2009, I dog-eared a couple of the recipes, but still haven’t come around to making them. Then I saw a recipe for roasted asparagus and eggs and something in my brain shifted. First, I had all of the ingredients at home – no extra trip to the store required. Second, aside from eggs, each ingredient has a permanent place in my kitchen (balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, asparagus).

Oh. My. Goodness. The creamy yolk, sweet balsamic vinegar and salty Parmesan are just perfect together. I was convinced after one bite. I knew my husband would be hesitant to try it, but after his first bite, he too was surprised at how much he enjoyed it. We agreed it would be perfect with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a salami and cheese platter, so come summer, you can bet we’ll be making this again for a light dinner on a warm evening. Actually, you could eat this meal for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. Just pick your favorite time of day, and  enjoy.

Roasted Asparagus and Eggs

Recipe courtesy Whole Living

1 medium thick asparagus bunch, tough ends removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
4 large eggs
2 ounces shaved parmesan


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet with a rim, toss asparagus with oil. Season with salt. Bake until asparagus is lightly browned and tender, 15 to 18 minutes (timing will vary depending upon thickness of asparagus).

2. In a small saucepan, cook balsamic vinegar and sugar over medium-high heat until syrupy and reduced to 3 tablespoons, about 6 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large skillet with 2 inches of water to a simmer over medium heat. Add cider vinegar and season with salt. Break one egg at a time into a cup, then tip cup into pan. Simmer until whites are set and yolks are soft but slightly set, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spatula, scoop out eggs one at a time and drain on paper towels. With a paring knife, trim edges.

4. Divide asparagus among four plates and drizzle with reduced balsamic. Top with shaved Parmesan and an egg.

Kale Chips

In case you haven’t tired of kale this winter, this is a fun and easy way to eat your greens. With ten minutes of cooking time left, I slipped my hand in the oven and grabbed a small chip to test. As I took a bite, the chip crumbled in my mouth. I looked at the leaf in my hand and marveled at how the simple act of roasting leaves tossed with salt and pepper could result in such a simple but lovely appetizer. The flavor had a bit of heat – slightly spicy and warm in the back of your mouth, a touch of bitterness, and a soft crunch.

I was starting to think I’d eat them all even before they’d finished cooking and before I had a chance to snap a photo. I managed to stop myself from devouring them, but it was hard. They melt in your mouth and you’ll want more than one, so use a few bunches if cooking for a crowd.

It’s not laborious, fancy, and doesn’t require a long list of ingredients. Plus they look pretty standing tall for their portraits. I used Tuscan kale, which Bon Appetit explained is easiest to handle and quickest to cook, thanks to crinkled leaves that are smaller and more tender than leaves of curly kale.

Kale Chips
Recipe courtesy Bon Appetit


12 large Tuscan kale leaves, rinsed, dried, cut lengthwise in half, center ribs and stems removed
1 tablespoon olive oil


Preheat oven to 250°F. Toss kale with oil in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange leaves in single layer on 2 large baking sheets. Bake until crisp, about 30 minutes for flat leaves and up to 33 minutes for wrinkled leaves. Transfer leaves to rack to cool.

Kale and Potato Galette


I’ve been introduced to kale this winter (Thanks, Bon Appetit). Kale is so good for you, it’s really something worth putting on the menu once a week while it’s in season. This galette is a wonderful way to start, especially if you’re unfamiliar with kale, because the leaves are sautéed with garlic and hide between layers of thin potatoes to surprise your taste buds. The flip maneuver takes a bit of finesse, but it’s easy enough and ensures that both sides are golden and slightly crispy. I served this with a dollop of sour cream and chives, and it was perfect for a light dinner.


Kale and Potato Galette

Recipe courtesy Gourmet

1 lb kale, tough stems and center ribs discarded

1 tablespoon stick (1/2 cup) butter, 6 of the tablespoons melted and cooled

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 lb russet (baking) potatoes (4 medium)

Cook kale in a 4- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Drain well, squeezing handfuls of kale to extract excess moisture, then coarsely chop. Heat 2 tablespoons (unmelted) butter in skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 1 minute.

Add kale, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and sauté, stirring, until kale is tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and clean skillet. Peel potatoes and thinly slice crosswise (1/16 inch thick) with slicer. Working quickly to prevent potatoes from discoloring, generously brush bottom of skillet with some of melted butter and cover with one third of potato slices, overlapping slightly.

Dab potatoes with some of melted butter. Spread half of kale over potatoes and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cover with half of remaining potato slices and dab with butter, then top with remaining kale. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Top with remaining potatoes and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Brush a sheet of foil with melted butter, then brush galette with any remaining butter and place foil, buttered side down, on top. Place a 10-inch heavy skillet on top of foil to weight galette.

Cook galette over moderate heat until underside is golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove top skillet and foil. Wearing oven mitts, carefully slide galette onto a baking sheet and invert skillet over it. Holding them together, invert galette, browned side up, back into skillet. Cook, uncovered, over moderate heat until underside is golden brown and potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Slide onto a serving plate. Galette can be made 6 hours ahead and cooled, uncovered, then kept, on a baking sheet covered with foil, at room temperature. Remove foil, then reheat in a 425°F oven until heated through and crisp, about 20 minutes.

Fettuccine with Butternut Squash and Radicchio


In case it hasn’t been clear from recent posts, I have a deep, deep fondness for pasta. I’m also slightly obsessed with butternut squash. So when Gourmet featured this recipe in their "Quick Kitchen" section of January's issue, I was intrigued. This dish is, essentially, fall in a bowl. I actually savored, slowly, each bite I took. It also didn't hurt that the orange and purple hues were lovely to look at on the plate.


It is surprisingly wonderful, and I say surprisingly because radicchio has a habit of being bitter and unfriendly, but its strong bite is softened by adding sweet butternut squash. As if that weren’t exquisite enough, texture and flavor are only enhanced by adding toasted, butter coated pine nuts. Oh, did I mention the butter is browned? Well, the butter is browned, making the nut flavor even more complex.


Fettuccine with Butternut Squash and Radicchio

Adapted from Gourmet

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (about 2 ½ cups)
1 medium head of radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
1 lb. fettuccine or other long, flat pasta
Parmesan cheese, for garnish

1.    Melt butter and oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts and cook, stirring, until nuts and butter have browned, 1-3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer nuts to a bowl and set aside.
2.    Add squash to skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add radicchio, pinches of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until wilted and just tender, about 3 minutes.
3.    Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and add to skillet. Toss pasta with vegetables, adding cooking liquid in ½ cup increments, stirring over low heat until eheated through.
4.    Serve topped with pine nuts and cheese.

Butternut Squash Latkes with Sage and Pine Nut Yogurt Sauce

I think we’re all a bit surprised that December is already here. There are cards to address, gifts to be wrapped, and new traditions to be made. Even with all the chaos this time of year brings, it’s a great time to try new dishes at your dinner table.



If a recipe calls for butternut squash and sage, you don’t have to ask me twice. I was instantly sold on Bon Appetit’s “Festival of Latkes” feature in December’s issue, and this Jewish potato pancake made a surprise appearance the afternoon my husband and I decorated our Christmas tree. Cumin adds an unexpected warmth, and brown butter and toasted pine nuts….well, need I say more?


Butternut Squash Latkes with Sage and Pine Nut Yogurt Sauce

By Jayne Cohen, Bon Appetit
Makes 38 to 40


Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 2-pound butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
4 tablespoons olive oil (not extra-virgin), divided, plus additional for frying
8 large fresh sage leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup chopped shallots (about 6)
3/4 cup fine dry unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, beaten to blend

Sage and Pine Nut Yogurt Sauce (recipe follows)


Preheat oven to 425°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray foil with nonstick spray. Brush cut side of squash halves with 2 tablespoons oil. Place 2 sage leaves on cut side of each half. Place garlic clove in each cavity. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn squash, cut side down, on prepared sheet. Roast until tender and brown in spots, about 1 hour. Cool on sheet.

Discard sage leaves; reserve garlic. Spoon enough roasted squash into large measuring cup to measure 4 cups packed (reserve any remaining squash for another use); add garlic. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Scrape shallot mixture into processor; add 4 cups squash with garlic, breadcrumbs, cumin, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Blend until just smooth, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Transfer squash mixture to large bowl; mix in eggs.

Add enough oil to heavy large skillet to coat bottom generously; heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches of 7 or 8 and adding more oil as needed, drop 1 heaping tablespoonful batter for each latke into skillet. Dip back of fork into oil in skillet and flatten batter to 2 1/2-inch rounds. Fry latkes until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer latkes to rimmed baking sheets. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm uncovered in 350°F oven 15 minutes.

Serve latkes with yogurt sauce.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Cinnamon Butter


I recently made this side with an Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast (recipe coming soon) and it was a perfect fall side. As soon as I tasted the cinnamon butter I vowed to find several more dishes to smother it on. And don’t forget to roast the seeds for a crunchy snack!

Roasted Acorn Squash with Cinnamon Butter

Recipe courtesy Everyday Food

2 acorn squash, unpeeled, quartered lengthwise, and seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil
coarse salt and ground pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss squash with oil; season with salt and pepper. Arrange on sheet, cut side sown, and roast until easily pierced with a paring knife, 35 to 45 minutes.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium, stirring, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Immediately pour into a small bowl; stir in cinnamon. Place squash on a serving platter; top with cinnamon butter.

Individual Zucchini, Lemon, and Ricotta Galettes

Let me begin this post with a warning: Do not attempt this recipe after five. Between sautéing, chopping, cooling, rolling and baking, you’ll be lucky if you eat by eight o’clock. I would instead suggest the following: Prep the ingredients on Saturday and bake them the morning of Sunday brunch with your in-laws or friends. When you finally cut a bite from these individual galettes, you should share your labor with as many people as possible.

Personally, I found the most laborious task for this dish to be all the dishwashing. Now, this might not affect those of you with dishwashers, but I did more loads of dishes than I can remember now. I think it may have put me in a bad mood…I have to admit that when I began drafting this post, I had just pulled the plastic-wrapped pastry dough from the refrigerator, done another round of dishes, and had yet another fifteen minutes to wait before beginning the next step. But when the galette’s started baking and the smell of a buttery crust began filling the kitchen, I started to relax.
Because of its numerous steps and waiting periods, the saving grace of this recipe is that it can be served at room temperature. Again, unless you have an entire afternoon free, I highly recommend making each component the day before you plan on serving them. The dough can be made 2 days in advance. The zucchini and onion mixture can be sautéed, then cooled in a separate bowl, as well as the ricotta mixture. On the day of all you’ll have left is to roll out the dough (where I used lots of flour, though the recipe failed to mention it), fill them, and bake.
I tend to not do well with pastries or baking of any kind (yes, I’m working on it), but I was pleased that it seemed that even I couldn’t mess up this dish. The result is a flaky crust with a creamy, flavorful inside. I particularly enjoyed the addition of lemon. It hits your palette at the end of your bite – just enough to harmonize with the other flavors but not overpower them.

Individual Zucchini, Lemon, and Ricotta Galettes

Bon Appétit | October 2008


2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons (or more) ice water


5 2/3 cups coarsely grated zucchini (about 1 1/3 pounds)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
4 tablespoons butter, divided
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Fleur de sel*

For crust:
Whisk flour and salt in medium bowl. Using fingertips, rub butter into flour mixture until coarse meal forms. Add 4 tablespoons ice water, 1 tablespoonful at a time, stirring until dough forms moist clumps, and adding more water by teaspoonfuls as needed if dough is too dry. Form dough into 2 balls; flatten each into disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before rolling out.

For filling:
Place zucchini in colander set over large bowl. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt and toss to coat. Let drain 30 minutes. Working in batches, squeeze zucchini in kitchen towel to remove as much liquid as possible.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add zucchini and lemon juice; reduce heat to medium-low and cook until zucchini is tender, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Whisk ricotta cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan, egg, lemon peel, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Stir in cooled zucchini mixture.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out 1 dough disk to 1/8-inch thickness. Using 6-inch-diameter plate, cut out 3 dough rounds. Repeat with remaining dough. Place 3 dough rounds on each baking sheet. (Nicole note: I cut each round into thirds, gently rolled those into small circles, and rolled them out using plenty of flour. I used the plate technique only once. It’s easy enough to keep the dough in a fairly even circle, and any unevenness won’t really matter when you roll up the sides before baking.)

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Spoon 1/2 cup filling into center of 1 dough round, leaving 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inch border. Carefully fold up border, pleating dough edges to create round pastry with about 2 to 21/2 inches of exposed filling in center. Repeat with remaining filling and dough rounds. Brush crusts with melted butter. Drizzle any remaining melted butter over filling in centers. Sprinkle galettes with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel.

Bake galettes 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake until crust is golden and filling is set and begins to brown, about 25 minutes longer. Run spatula under galettes to loosen. Let rest 5 minutes. do ahead Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Serve individual galettes hot or at room temperature.

*A type of sea salt; available at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.

Brussels Sprout and Cauliflower Gratin + Fall Produce Obsessions

It’s that time of year again. Pumpkins are overflowing in the produce aisles, and squash varieties are everywhere you turn. Bon Appetit’s November issue recently made me giddy with all the delicious Thanksgiving inspired recipes it offered. So I decided to make a plan. I may not be in charge of my family’s Thanksgiving menu this year, but you can bet I won’t be missing out on all the season’s offerings.


With many recipes starred and several other food magazines yet to be received, I’ve decided to work all kinds of holiday dishes into my weekly menus. This means that sometimes we’ll be having side dishes for dinner, which I’m fine with. Since there are only two of us, unless we have company (giving me an excuse to go all out) I’d rather highlight one dish than risk having way too much leftover food.

Tonight was one of those side dish events. I served this gratin with an arugula salad and we devoured everything until it was gone. And let me tell you, it smelled good even before it started baking. The warmed sage, toasted breadcrumbs and steamy vegetables covered in melting cheese were mouth watering. And once a bite finally reached my mouth, it was even better.


And since you're here, let me say a few things about Brussels Sprouts, the sometimes overlooked, misunderstood vegetable. I thought through my food memories and could not remember an instance when I actually ate one. My childhood was not tainted with images of being force-fed an overcooked variety, but their bad rap is due to just that. Overcooking actually releases sulfur compounds in the vegetable that give it an unpleasant smell. When cooked properly, they possess a delicate nutty flavor, complimented well in this dish by Parmesan cheese and their cousin in the vegetable world, cauliflower. If you have an aversion to Brussels sprouts, try this recipe and you just might be over your fear.
Brussels Sprout and Cauliflower Gratin

Recipe courtesy Bon Appetit

1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed, quartered lengthwise through core
1 1 1/2- to 1 3/4-pound head of cauliflower, trimmed, cut into small florets
2 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided


Fill large bowl with ice and cold water. Cook brussels sprouts in large pot of generously salted boiling water 2 minutes. Add cauliflower to same pot; cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes longer. Drain. Transfer vegetables to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well.

Combine cream, shallots, and sage in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until mixture is reduced to 2 1/2 cups, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs; stir until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl; cool. Stir in pine nuts and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish; arrange half of vegetables in dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then 1 1/2 cups Parmesan. Arrange remaining vegetables evenly over, then sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 cups Parmesan. Pour cream mixture evenly over. DO AHEAD Breadcrumb topping and gratin can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill. Bring to room temperature before continuing.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cover gratin with foil. Bake covered 40 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle breadcrumb topping over and bake uncovered 15 minutes longer.

Tuna and Green Bean Salad

Since I went to college near wine country in California, I became obsessed with picnicking shortly after turning 21. With their mature oak trees and captivating views, wineries are absolutely ideal for relaxing the afternoon away. Whenever we made the trip, our plan was usually the same: Leave at 10 am, arrive by 11 am, head to Winery 1, then Winery 2, then stop for a scenic picnic around 1 pm and if we weren't too tired (it's amazing how wine tasting and sunshine takes the energy right out of you), visit Winery 3 before heading back.

Part of the fun was always deciding what to pack in our picnic. This was one of the first salads I started with several yeas ago, and though I have a new affinity for Orzo with Grilled Shrimp and Pesto, I still rely on this salad for picnics. Besides, with all the picnics I tend to go on, the same salad at them all would get a bit boring. To ensure freshness, separate the salad from the dressing while you transport it, and toss just before serving.

In terms of picnic menus, I like to have a main dish (like this salad, or grilled steak with pesto dipping sauce, or Barley Salad with Roasted Tomatoes) to anchor the meal, several sides like cheese and crackers, fruit, pita chips and hummus, and something sweet like brownies for dessert. Aside from a bottle of your favorite wine (many wineries sell their bottles pre-chilled for just this occasion), it’s all you need for a perfect afternoon.

Tuna and Green Bean Salad

Recipe courtesy Giada de Laurentiis

1 1/2 pounds slender green beans, trimmed, halved crosswise
3 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
2 large red potatoes, diced
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
9 ounces canned tuna packed in oil, drained

Cook the green beans in a large pot of boiling water until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Using a mesh strainer, transfer the green beans to a large bowl of ice water to cool completely. Drain the green beans and pat dry with a towel. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the same cooking liquid and bring the liquid to a simmer. Add the potatoes to the simmering liquid and cook until they are just tender but still hold their shape, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to the ice water to cool completely. Drain the potatoes and pat dry with a towel.

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, garlic, oil, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the tomatoes, basil and parsley in a large serving bowl. Add the tuna and toss gently to combine. Add the green beans and potatoes and gently combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.

Asian Grilled Salmon + Sautéed Asparagus and Snap Peas

With summer in full swing I've been trying to eat more fish and make good use of our outdoor grill. This marinade is incredibly simple, and gives the salmon a sweet, mild flavor. Crunchy vegetables with a bit of heat are a wonderful compliment to the tender fish.

Asian Grilled Salmon

Recipe courtesy Ina Garten

4 salmon filets

For the marinade:

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons good soy sauce

6 tablespoons good olive oil

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Light charcoal briquettes in a grill and brush the grilling rack with oil to keep the salmon from sticking.

While the grill is heating, lay the salmon skin side down on a cutting board and cut it crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle half of the marinade onto the salmon and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a wide spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. The salmon will be slightly raw in the center, but don't worry; it will keep cooking as it sits.

Transfer the fish to a flat plate, skin side down, and spoon the reserved marinade on top. Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Sautéed Asparagus and Snap Peas

1 pound asparagus

3/4-pound sugar snap peas

2 tablespoons good olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Red pepper flakes, optional

Sea salt, for serving

Cut off the tough ends of the asparagus and slice the stalks diagonally into 2-inch pieces. Snap off the stem ends of the snap peas and pull the string down the length of the vegetable.

Warm the olive oil in a large saute pan over a medium heat and add the asparagus and snap peas. Add the salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, to taste, if desired. Cook for approximately 5 to10 minutes until al dente, tossing occasionally. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve hot.

Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte

Smitten Kitchen made this last week, and it looked like the perfect summer side. I went to the store after work to get a few of the ingredients I needed and was disappointed to find that the store was out of Yukon potatoes, so I took red ones in their place. Oh, and I also forgot to grab the fresh thyme and used dry instead. Doesn't that always happen? Even with my organized lists, I sometimes manage to forget one small item and by the time I get home don't even entertain the idea of going back. But, the great thing about this type of a recipe is you can easily adapt it to what's available.

Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte

Bon Appetit, June 2001

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds

12 ounces yellow crookneck squash or regular yellow summer squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds

6 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans. (I used an 8x8 square dish for a thicker torte). Set aside 1/4 cup sliced green onions. Toss remaining green onions, cheese, flour, thyme, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend.

Layer 1/6 of potatoes in concentric circles in bottom of 1 prepared pan, overlapping slightly. Layer 1/4 of squash in concentric circles atop potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture. Repeat with 1/6 of potatoes, then 1/4 of squash and 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture. Top with 1/6 of potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture and press gently to flatten. Repeat procedure with second cake pan and remaining potatoes, squash, oil, and cheese mixture.

Cover pans with foil. Bake until potatoes are almost tender, about 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until tortes begin to brown and potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes longer. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cool. Cover with foil and chill. Rewarm, covered with foil, in 350°F oven until heated through, about 30 minutes.)

Cut each torte into wedges. Sprinkle wedges with 1/4 cup green onions; serve.

Sicilian-Style Spaghetti

You’ll see a lot of pasta on this blog – I love it and refuse to stay away. For many people, pasta congers images of mushy fettuccine drenched in white cream sauce or spaghetti smothered with Prego, but the Cooking After Five kitchen refuses to eat either of these. If my pasta has red sauce, it was made in my own stock pot, or I’ll use Bertoli’s organic sauce, one of the few canned marinara sauces I truly enjoy.

This is a dish with a fair amount of preparation. When the time comes to toss everything together, your counter will be filled with bowls of parsley, bread crumbs, pine nuts, and olive oil, but preparing these elements while the cauliflower is roasting will give you plenty of time to clean up before finishing the recipe. 20 minutes before the cauliflower finishes, begin boiling the water. This way the spaghetti will be ready at the same time as the cauliflower.

With my butternut squash “food phase” coming to an end after last year’s holiday season, I retired many of my new favorite recipes to their appropriate binders and moved on to new obsessions. My latest phase: cauliflower. I’ve made soup, cauliflower steaks (recipes coming), and eaten florets like popcorn after roasting them in the oven.

Tyler Florence’s Sicilian Spaghetti is one of my favorite dishes from my search for the most delicious ways to use cauliflower. I had to double the amount of cauliflower from one head to two (one just isn’t enough, maybe because I eat too many florets before they reach the serving bowl?).

I also made several other minor changes to the cooking process, but nothing that changes the essential flavors of the dish. I used Itailan-style bread crumbs instead of Panko, and substituted anchovy paste for filets - both ingredients I already had.

Sicilian-Style Spaghetti

Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence

2 heads cauliflower, cored and broken into small florets

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tsp. anchovy paste

½ cup toasted pine nuts

¾ panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or Italian-style bread crumbs

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound whole wheat spaghetti

¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Juice of ½ a lemon

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For the cauliflower, toss broken florets on a large roasting pan with ¼ cup olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast for 35-40 minutes, until florets are golden brown and tender. Toss florets halfway through.

In a small saucepan, heat ¾ cup olive oil over medium heat. Add anchovy paste and break apart with a spoon. Continue cooking on low heat for five minutes more, until olive oil is infused. Transfer to a glass bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, toast the bread crumbs for several minutes over medium heat until golden brown, set aside.

When the water comes to a boil, cook spaghetti for 8-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain the spaghetti and place it back into the cooking pot. Add cauliflower, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice. Toss to combine, adding additional olive oil if the pasta is too dry.

To serve, arrange pasta on individual plates and toss evenly with bread crumbs and pine nuts. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Orzo with Grilled Shrimp and Pesto





I know I recently said that this barley salad is perfect for summer picnics, but Orzo with Grilled Shrimp and Pesto is equally perfect. (Ok, it might be one of my favorite pasta salads of all time.) I scrambled to make this on my lunch break so it could chill before a picnic later that night, but most of the preparations can be done the day before.


To make things easier, I used frozen, pre-cooked shrimp I already had in the freezer. You'll get bonus points for making your own pesto (just blend basil, toasted pine nuts, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese and garlic in a food processor; stream in olive oil), but using store bought pesto is completely acceptable. Also, don't be afraid of a little salt. Add some when you first combine the ingredients, then taste the mixture after it has had a few hours to chill and add salt accordingly. The flavors are greatly enhanced if it's salted properly. Just add slowly, combine, and taste. Repeat as needed.




Orzo with Grilled Shrimp and Pesto


Adapted from Bon Appétit | June 2008


3 cups orzo


6 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided


4 tablespoons red wine vinegar, divided


2 medium zucchini or summer squash, cut lengthwise

1/4 cup store-bought pesto (or more/less, depending on your preference)

2 cups large shrimp (the recipe has you grill them, but I saved time and thawed pre-cooked shrimp)


2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved


1 8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes


1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves


Juice of 1 lemon


salt and pepper to taste




Cook orzo in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite (about 8 minutes), stirring occasionally. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain well. Transfer to large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon oil. Allow orzo to come to room temperature before tossing with other ingredients.


Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Whisk 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons vinegar in small bowl. Brush zucchini and bell pepper with oil mixture, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill for 3 minutes per side and let rest. Cut into ½ inch pieces and set aside.


If grilling shrimp, sprinkle with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil, then grill for 2-3 minutes per side. Otherwise, thaw frozen shrimp in warm water for 5 minutes. Cut off tail and cut shrimp into ½ inch pieces. Add shrimp to bowl with zucchini.


Add remaining vinaigrette, pesto, tomatoes, sliced basil, zucchini, shrimp (if using), lemon juice and mozzarella to orzo; toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover; chill.


Garnish with basil sprigs and serve cold or at room temperature.




Hummus and Grilled Vegetable Wrap

This was easy night. I wanted to make something healthy and uncomplicated. Although this combination of terms can often mean boring, tonight I was pleasantly surprised to discover how delicious these wraps were. Smooth avocado and hummus alongside crunchy, sweet vegetables can’t go wrong – especially for a warm, summer night (and I know we’re having a LOT of those).

Don’t feel bound to the recipe – use what you have already or pick your favorite vegetables to grill. I glanced at Ellie Krieger’s version for inspiration, but ended up using arugula instead of spinach (because I already had some), adding the rest of my tomatoes to the grill, and omitting the onion and mint.

I decided to make my own hummus (recipe below), but store-bought makes this recipe even easier. The hummus is also perfect on its own with soft pita wedges.

For Wraps

2 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

1 cup store-bought hummus

4 pieces whole-wheat wrap bread (about 9 inches in diameter)

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 ounces baby spinach leaves (2 cups lightly packed)

1/2 cup red onion thinly sliced into half moons

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

Preheat the grill or grill pan over medium heat. Brush both sides of the zucchini slices with the oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Grill until tender and slightly browned, about 4 minutes per side.

Spread 1/4 cup of the hummus over each piece of bread. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of pine nuts on top. Top with 3 slices of zucchini, 2 pieces of red pepper, 1/2 cup of the spinach, a few sliced onions, and 1 tablespoon of the mint. Roll each of them up and cut in half on a diagonal.

For Hummus

Recipe courtesy Ina Garten

4 garlic cloves

2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste) - Tahini paste was nowhere to be found in my kitchen, so I used a tablespoon or so of sesame oil instead

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

2 tablespoons water or liquid from the chickpeas

8 dashes hot sauce

Turn on the food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop the garlic down the feed tube; process until it's minced. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Taste, for seasoning, and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Barley Salad with Roasted Tomatoes

If you need something to take to a picnic or BBQ this summer, try this. Barley salad can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature, making this a great option for travel.

Barley has existed for centuries, dating back to ancient Egypt when it was used to make bread and beer. Today, barley is available in most grocery stores, so it's easier than ever to enjoy this healthy, light salad.

I first came across a similar recipe in Martha Stewart Living under the guise of Roated-Tomato Tabbouleh. It called for bulgur wheat, which I couldn’t find (FYI – bulgur is in the baking aisle, not the grain aisle), so I substituted barley and found it to work just as well. After adding water, the barley takes care of itself on the stove for about 45 minutes.

While the barley cooks, you can prepare the other ingredients and roast the tomatoes. Many similar salads call for halved cherry tomatoes (which I also love!), but taking time to roast them brings out their sweetness and adds a depth of flavor that you wouldn’t experience by simply tossing in raw, diced tomatoes.

Barley Salad with Roasted Tomatoes

2 cups barley

1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 cup fresh parsley, chopped

10 large mint leaves, chopped

6 plum or Roma tomatoes, halved

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons red wine or sherry vinegar

1-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Juice of 1 lemon

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook barley according to package directions and set aside in a large glass bowl.

Combine chopped herbs in a bowl, reserving 2 tbsp. basil and parsley. Toss tomatoes with garlic, vinegar, 1 teaspoon oil reserved parsley and basil mixture, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until tomatoes begin to soften, about 15 minutes. Let cool, and chop into smaller pieces.

Add roasted-tomatoes, remaining herbs, scallions, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and oil to barley ad gently toss. Salad can be served warm, chilled or at room temperature.