After a hot summer of eating out and laying poolside, it’s time to buckle down and get back into school mode. While the start of classes brings unwarranted amounts of reading, unpacking bottomless suitcases of clothing, and excessive trips to Maggie’s, it is also an opportunity to get back in the kitchen and try to save a little money for the upcoming weekend. Cooking your own meals is not only cost effective; it’s the best way to eat nutritiously and deliciously. While it’s still warm out and fruits and vegetables are in peak season (so they’ll be cheaper in the stores), try featuring them in tasty side dishes. Vegetables are extremely versatile whether eaten raw, roasted, grilled, or sauteed. Try out some of these recipes at your next home cooked meal.
1. Tomato, Feta, and Basil Galette: For this recipe you will need: 1 pre-made pie crust (from freezer section), 1 pint of cherry tomatoes halved lengthwise, 1/2 cup reduced fat feta cheese, 1/4 cup small basil leaves, and salt & pepper to taste. First, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Then roll out dough into 13-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place the dough on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Arrange tomatoes and fold up edges of dough to form a crust. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle cheese and bake for an additional five minutes. Let cool for another 5 minutes and sprinkle with basil.
2. Shaved Summer Squash Salad: For this recipe you will need: 1 medium zucchini, 2 medium yellow squash, 2 tablespoons chopped basil, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 3 thin slices prosciutto chopped, and 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese. Shave the zucchini and squash into thin strips using a vegetable peeler and place in medium sized bowl. Toss with a pinch of salt. Combine basil, olive oil, lemon rind, and lemon juice. Pour over zucchini and toss. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat and add prosciutto; cook until crisp. Sprinkle shaved squash with prosciutto and crisps.
3. Peach, Tomato and Corn Salad: For this recipe you will need: 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion, 1/2 pound of peaches cut into cubes, 1/2 pound heirloom tomatoes cut into cubes, 1/4 pound of halved cherry tomatoes, 1 small can of sweet corn, 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, 1.5 teaspoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/4 cup of ricotta salata, and salt and pepper to taste. Combine onion, tomatoes, peaches, and corn in large bowl. Combine vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper; drizzle mixture over the produce. Sprinkle with cheese.
4. Summer Panzanella (Bread Salad): For this recipe you will need: 4 slices of day old country style bread, 4 cups chopped tomatoes, 1 cup chopped onion, 3/4 cup chopped yellow bell pepper, 3/4 cup chopped orange bell pepper, 1/2 cup torn basil leaves, 1 chopped English cucumber, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Prepare grill to medium-high heat. Place bread slices in large saute pan; saute 1 minute on each side or until golden brown with grill marks. Remove from pan; tear bread into 1-inch pieces. Combine tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, basil, and cucumber in a large bowl. Add bread; toss gently. Combine vinegar, black pepper, salt, and garlic in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill 20 minutes before serving.