Chimichurri with Grilled Shrimp

Posted on: Thursday, July 28, 2016

In the midst of this brutal heatwave, the last thing you want to do is turn on the stove. I sometimes find myself in a predicament- how to make tasty meals without making your kitchen a sauna. My go-to approach is to create no-cook sauces like basil pestos, olive tapenades and salsas. Just cut up your ingredients, blend them together, and you’re good to go!
With my ceramic pots overflowing with herbs, I decided to blend up a simple chimichurri sauce. Chimichurri is native to Argentina, typically made from oil, vinegar, garlic, jalapeño and a bunch of herbs. I was first introduced to the tart salsa by an Argentinian friend over steak, and fell in love with the spicy punch it added. The gorgeous green puree adds a pop of color to any grilled meat, chicken or seafood dish. I often drizzle it over steak tacos, over an omelette, or serve it alongside grilled kebobs for dipping. Last night, I decided to grill some lightly seasoned shrimp which takes just a few minutes to cook, and drizzled the gorgeous green chimichurri on top.
Chimichurri with Grilled Shrimp

Chimichurri Sauce
3/4 c EVOO
1/2 c red wine vinegar
2-3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 jalapeño, chopped
1/2 c fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 c fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Generous salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to a food processor and mix until well blended. Set aside until time to serve.

Grilled Shrimp
1.5- 2 lbs medium-sized shrimp, deveined and peeled
1/4 c EVOO
1 T lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 t cayenne pepper or pinch of red pepper flakes (optional for an added kick)
Salt and pepper

Add the shrimp to a shallow dish with the olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper and cayenne, and let sit for 20 minutes to marinate. 

Heat the grill to medium-high. Once ready, thread the shrimp onto sets of 2 skewers, pushing the shrimp so that they are snugly together, with five to six shrimp on each. Grill the shrimp just 3-4 minutes on each side, until they are pink and slightly charred. Transfer the skewers to a serving sheet, drizzle generously with the chimichurri sauce, and serve. Serves 6.

I enjoy the Chimichurri with Grilled Shrimp over a bed of brown rice or with grilled pieces of naan for dipping.

Baked Egg in Avocado Boats with Feta

When weekends are full of summer visitors, I enjoy whipping up a healthy and abundant breakfast before a morning jog or paddle sesh that will satisfy us all until a picnic lunch on the beach. It’s always fun to diversify the breakfast staples. For some, it’s pancakes and bacon or oatmeal and berries. For me, it’s scrambled eggs and avocado toast. This past weekend, I went a step further and cracked the egg into the avocado - it actually worked!
I sliced several avocados in half, removed the pits, cracked an egg inside and baked them off while I sliced some fruit and toasted my favorite When Pigs Fly seeded whole grain bread. Once the egg whites were set and yolks slightly runny (or very runny, depending on your preference), I sprinkled feta cheese and drizzled a bit of Sriracha on top for everyone. The tiny avo-egg bowls were as visually appealing as they were packed with flavor. To enjoy, you can knife and fork each bite, spread the mix on toast, or bite right into the palm-sized boats. These are easy, versatile and pleasing!
Baked Egg in Avocado Boats with Feta

4 avocados, halved and pitted
8 large eggs
1 c crumbled feta cheese
Salt and pepper
Sriracha, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

With a spoon, scoop out about 2 T of the avocado flesh from the center of each half. Place the halves snuggly skin-side down in a small baking dish. Drizzle each half with EVOO, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Gently crack 1 egg into each avocado half. If the whites seep out a bit, that’s okay.

Place the baking dish in the oven and bake until the egg whites are set with the yolks slightly runny, about 15-17 minutes. Remove the avocados from the oven, sprinkle with the feta, a drizzle of Sriracha, salt and pepper and serve. Serves 2.

Feel free to put your own spin on the avo-egg bakes with a sprinkle of chives, drizzle of pesto, or dollop of aioli. 

Cape Cod Escape

Posted on: Monday, July 11, 2016

This past weekend, with Marylou’s iced coffees in hand, we traveled over the Bourne Bridge for a little Cape escape in Barnstable County. While mother nature did not cooperate for a beach day, there was much to do and see. Our home base was a beautiful pond-side colonial in East Sandwich.
We headed to Boardwalk Beach for an afternoon stroll across the picturesque estuaries and along the windy shore. Once our toes touched the angry ocean, we decided it was time for lunch.
We drove about a half hour east to Dennis, and found the cutest seafood shack on Sesuit bay. Sesuit Harbor Cafe is a must for all that is seafood. Whether you enjoy crisp and light fried fish, overflowing lobster rolls, or freshly shucked oysters, this place has it all. For those who are not seafood fans, they have some tasty chicken fingers with honey mustard sauce, too.
After a relaxing lunch dockside, we passed through Barnstable County, in awe of the shingled homes and immaculate lawns overflowing with blooming hydrangeas. As we window-shopped in Barnstable, we brainstormed what to make for dinner. Our friend Taryn brought her taco press, so fish tacos were a no-brainer. We drove to Cape Fish and Lobster and chose a gigantic swordfish steak to grill. On our way home, we stopped at Crow Farm for their homemade beach plum jelly and the makings for a berry and peach pie.
There’s just something so calming and majestic about the Cape. Such a wonderful retreat!

Turkey Zucchini Burgers

Posted on: Thursday, June 30, 2016

For a refreshing day trip away from rural Connecticut, I ventured to the mountains. About an hour north from Pomfret, Wachusett Mountain State Reservation offers hiking trails for all ages and types (dogs encouraged). As Patrick, Shiloh and I climbed up the slightly steep terrain, I took in the lush greenery and cascading views. Growing up I only knew Wachusett as a ski destination, so it was amusing to be on top of the mountain slopes sans snow. Feeling invigorated after our descent down the rocky paths, my next thought was dinner inspired by a soulful, healthy day in nature.
Turkey burgers are a staple in the summertime. They are leaner than ground beef burgers, and are incredibly versatile, depending what you add to the mix. In our Spiced Up version HERE, Marni and I incorporated BBQ sauce, sauteed onions and red peppers to the mix. Overcome by green during my hike, I decided to add grated zucchini which added a bit of moisture to the sometimes dryer patty. I also boosted the burger mix with an array of herbs from my garden. Once grilled, I layered a creamy Tzatziki Sauce, salty feta, and thick and juicy tomato slices on top. The flavors melded beautifully in my whole wheat bun. Healthy and tasty!
Turkey Zucchini Burgers with Tzatziki and Feta

Tzatziki Sauce
16 oz plain Greek yogurt
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and grated
1 t salt
1 clove minced garlic
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 t dried mint
1 t dried oregano

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve atop the burgers.

1 large zucchini
1 lb ground turkey
1 T chopped chives
1 T chopped parsley
*any variety of fresh herbs
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
Generous salt and pepper throughout

6 whole wheat rolls, cut in half
Crumbled Feta
Sliced tomato

Preheat your grill to medium-high. Grate the zucchini onto a plate and gently squeeze the pulp over a sink with your hands to rid of excess water. Place the grated zucchini into a large bowl and add the ground turkey, herbs, garlic and spices. Gently combine with your hands. Form the mixture into 6 equally-sized patties. Place each patty onto the grill grates and cook for about five minutes per side. Remove from the grill when the patties are browned and cooked through. 

Place each patty on the bottom of each whole wheat roll. Top with a dollop of Tzatziki Sauce, crumbled feta, tomato, and serve! Serves 6.
Variations: If you are not the zucchini type, substitute chopped mushroom to add moisture. If you are not the bun type, serve atop mixed greens.

Beachside Muffaletta

Posted on: Tuesday, June 21, 2016

This past weekend, I was up in Manchester-by-the-Sea to kick off summer. I spent the day at the beach, took a break to regroup, then returned that evening for a casual evening picnic. The start to summer -with long sunny days and crisp evening breezes-is by far my favorite time of year.
I selected easy-to-prepare, travel-friendly dishes inspired by my trip to New Orleans. The star of the picnic was a wonderful layered Muffaletta sandwich. First created in the early 1900’s at the Central Grocery in New Orleans, the Sicilian-inspired sandwich combines cured meats and preserved vegetables piled inside sliced bread (instead of alongside it, which was the classic lunch fare of that time).
I began with the pickled vegetables, tweaking the classic recipe a bit with the addition of Greek Kalamata olives and some capers. I spooned the veggies atop half of my fresh focaccia loaf (I couldn’t find a Muffaletta loaf on the North Shore so had to improvise), then rapidly layered slice upon slice of the sliced meats and cheeses. I wrapped the sandwich tightly, placed it in a cooler with some cajun cole slaw and potato salad, put on a sweater, packed the car, and was back beachside as if I had never left. Once my family and friends were seated on beach chairs with a cold drink in hand, we sliced into the the Muffaletta, eager to see the assortment of layers inside. 

1/2 c pimento-stuffed olives, chopped
1/2 c pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 c roasted red peppers, chopped
2 T capers
1/4 c chopped fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
1 t dried oregano
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T red wine vinegar
1/4 c EVOO
Salt and pepper

1 large round bread loaf (boule or focaccia)
1/3 lb thinly sliced capicola
1/3 lb thinly sliced salami
1/3 lb thinly sliced deli ham
1/4 lb thinly sliced provolone cheese
1/4 lb thinly sliced mozzarella cheese

In a medium bowl, stir together the pimento-stuffed olives, Kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, capers, flat leaf parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, garlic, red wine vinegar, EVOO and salt and pepper. Cover and let meld for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Cut the Italian bread loaf in half on a work surface. Spoon the olive salad on the top half of the bread and spread evenly. On the bottom half off the bread, arrange the mozzarella, then capicola, then salami, then deli ham then provolone cheese. Carefully close the sandwich. Wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Unwrap the sandwich, cut into slices and enjoy. Serves 6.

I will be making variations on this beach-friendly stack all summer and encourage you to do the same! 

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