Friday Night Favourite -Quick and Impressive!

Food and Friday nights are always tricky…You’ve worked hard all week and just want to order takeout, but you know the weekend is coming and you may not be able to predict healthy eating…so, you want something quick yet healthy, but you are tired and don’t want to spend tons of time in the kitchen, and you might not want to resort to take-out.  Here’s a quick and lovely meal to serve for your seafood lovers. Mussels cooked in a quick tomato sauce, with fresh crusty bread and a green salad is an inviting, and perhaps exotic meal that looks like it took way more time to cook than it did.  

Mussels in tomato sauceAll you have to do is quickly sautee the garlic, onions, tomatoes, and oregano in a little olive oil until the tomatoes break down.  Next, add the fresh mussels and cook with the lid on until the shells open fully. That’s less than 5 minutes. Serve in a bowl with chopped fresh parsley, sliced crusty bread, and a little green salad and you’ll look like a star (or you’ll have a delicious gourmet meal for yourself!!).  If you are in a rush, pick up a prepared salad and use your own oil and vinegar dressing.

Mussels and tomatoes are served in many Italian restaurants.  My Mom and grandmother did not make these dishes at home, but when we started to go to restaurants later in our family life, we often ate these in Italian restaurants.  Courtesy of my favourite Italian chef, Pasquale Carpino, I started to make this mussel dish at home in the mid 80’s. The recipe below is Pasquale’s recipe with minor changes.  Refer to my post from April 20, 2018 for more info on Chef Pasquale.  With the availability of cultivated mussels in the local grocery store, this dish has become very accessible and economical as a quick dinner.

Using cultivated mussels means that you don’t have to scrape the beards off the mussels, which saves time.  In the eastern part of our country mussels are cultivated and sustainably maintained, so they are a great option for this dish.  Typically, our grocery store sells a two pound bag which would serve a two and possibly three diners very inexpensively by adding a salad and some bread.  Use Roma tomatoes as they are meatier and have less water and seeds.  If you are in a hurry, use good quality tomatoe puree.  Here’s the recipe:

Mussels with tomatoes

  • Servings: 3 for dinner - more if serving as appetizer
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

Mussels in tomato sauce

Here’s a lovely dish for seafood lovers that is economical, quick and full of flavour!  Serve it as an appetizer or a full dinner with crusty bread and a green salad. Use Roma or San Marzano tomatoes since they are meatier and do well as a sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of cultivated mussels (this saves scraping and cleaning of beards)
  • About 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 to 4 green onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 to 8 Roma tomatoes, chopped, seed removed
  • 4 oz white wine
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Directions

  1. Heat oil in large pot and cook onion and garlic for 2 minutes or less
  2. Stir in tomatoes, wine and seasoning and simmer until tomatoes are soft and broken down (about 8 minutes)
  3. Add the mussle and cook, covered, until shells are opened.  Serve in bowl sprinkled with chopped parsley.

 

posted by: everydayhomegourmet.blog/  

 

Summer cook ahead #3 – Tri-colour Pasta Salad

When I was young, I was not a pasta fan, which is not typical for kids, and certainly not for kids of Italian backgrounds!  I think it was the soft texture that didn’t agree with me at that time. There were lots of soft foods I did not like. I loved all the sauces my Mom and grandmother made and would enjoy them with crusty bread and their wonderful salads.  When I started to do some of my own cooking in my late teens, I knew very well that most people loved pasta and I wanted to like it too, so I began adding lots of crunchy veggies to my dishes to help me overcome my texture issues. After all, pasta is available in many shapes and colours and is a versatile and affordable food, so I knew I needed to like it!  The pasta salad recipe I developed became a very popular dish at my parties, and a number of my family members now make that salad regularly too. My Mom and grandmother used to call it Macaroni Salad…in fact, I think we referred to most pasta as macaroni in those days. I remember my grandmother asking, “What kind of macaroni do you want?”.

I started making my pasta salad recipe for parties and get-togethers, but for many years now, I‘ve been including pasta salad in my rotation of summer cook ahead salads.  (Check out previous posts for other summer cook ahead dishes and tips).  This Tri-Colour Pasta Salad a great side dish with lots of crunchy vegetables in it and if you top it with grilled chicken or other grilled meat or fish, it can be a complete meal too. For vegetarians or vegans, you can use chickpeas or other beans and legumes as the protein.  I like to use 3 coloured fusilli for this dish, but you can use any pasta you like. For those who require gluten-free dishes, there are many good gluten-free pasta options available as well.

Pasta Salad (2)My dressing uses olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.  Cook the pasta according to directions for ‘al dente’. When the pasta is still quite hot add the dressing.  This will allow the pasta to fully absorb the dressing, increasing the flavour of the dish and you won’t have to adjust the seasonings before serving.  Thanks again to our local chef friend, Tim C. for that tip years ago! It has improved all my summer side salads immensely! I used to find it so frustrating to make the potato, rice or pasta salad that tasted great when I first made it, only to find when I went to serve it a few hours later, it tasted like it didn’t have enough dressing, so I’d add more.  Thanks to Tim’s direction, I never have to adjust the seasonings before serving. I love that!

As far as vegetables go, I steam broccoli for 2 minutes leaving it a bright green.  I used to include those miniature canned corn cobs too, which people liked, but I haven’t included those for a few years now, mostly because it’s something that I only used in this dish and I didn’t regularly stock it in my pantry.  (As time has passed, I prefer to keep my pantry stocked with a wide variety of ingredients that I use for multiple dishes. It makes things so much easier! Hmmm…sounds like an idea for another blog post!).  I also like to use green onions, red and green peppers, artichoke hearts, and sliced olives.  Of course, you can use whatever vegetables you like to make this your own. But finishing with fresh basil is a must! I hope you enjoy this versatile dish as much as my family and I do. Head on over to the recipe tab for full instructions. If you create another version, I’d love to hear about it! Happy cooking, friends!

 

Easy No-bake Ice Cream Cake…a Summer Favourite

For most of us summer brings the feeling of a more relaxed pace, probably because everything is a little easier – getting out the door with less clothing, getting around our towns and cities with less traffic and dramatic weather, perhaps less routine since kids are out of school and those around us take vacations or staycations at this time of year.   Many people are more visibly relaxed in the summer. I know I am! It’s always been my favourite time of year. Maybe it’s the ease of getting outdoors daily and the calming effect that nature brings whether you are at a park, cottage, an ocean, or in your own backyard oasis. Our get-togethers and entertaining are usually more relaxed in the summer, and more frequent!

Although many of us entertain more in the summer months, I know we don’t want to spend more hours in the kitchen!  So, my last few posts have contained side dish ideas to help stay ahead of the game in summer. You might notice that I do not post about desserts very often.  The main reason is that I am not a dessert lover, so it’s not really a focus for me. But of course, I always provide dessert when I am entertaining. I used to make lovely cakes, tarts, and pies when I had people over, which of course meant spending lots of time in the kitchen!  So, for many years now, I have opted for satisfying and beautiful no-bake options…(I guess that can be another series of blog posts at some point!!).

I received this wonderful recipe for a very easy ice cream cake from ‘H’, one of my former colleagues.  The first time she made it for our staff, everyone raved about it. And when she shared how easy it was to make, we all begged for the recipe.  I have now been making this cake a few times every summer, and it’s a hit with all ages – every time! The cake is made with store-bought ice cream sandwiches, Cool Whip, and caramel sauce. Only 3 ingredients! The hardest thing about this cake is unwrapping the ice cream sandwiches! :>))

You can make this cake in any size you like.  I have done a small version in an 8” x 8” pan and a large one in a 10” x 15” pan.  When making the small cake, I’ve used about 18 mini ice cream sandwiches, and the large one took about 20 regular size sandwiches.  Of course, you could do the small one with regular sized sandwiches too and would simply need to cut them to fit.

After you’ve unwrapped the sandwiches, cover the pan with one layer of sandwiches.  You may need to cut some to fit your pan. Next, pour caramel ice cream sundae sauce over the sandwiches:  


Spread half a large tub of Cool Whip over top of the caramel sauce.  (If you are making a smaller version, you’ll use less). Repeat another layer with the sandwiches, caramel sauce, and Cool Whip.  I finish off with vertical streams of caramel sauce and then use my knife to create a cross pattern similar to the pattern of a Mille Feuille pastry.  As you’ll see mine is not perfect, but the overall effect is quite nice.  I try to make it prettier each time!  My good friend, S, shared that you can do this with a toothpick also. I will try that next time, as I’ve found I go a little too deep with the knife, at times.

I try to use natural ingredients whenever I can in my recipes, so this year I used real whipped cream instead of Cool Whip.  Upon eating the cake, I noticed that the whipped cream tasted a little icier than the Cool Whip, but it still worked and I felt better about having something less processed in there.  Of course, whipping the cream adds another step also, so you’d need some extra time for that.

There are many variations you can try with this cake:

  • Make it one layer if your pan is shallow
  • Use chocolate sauce instead of caramel sauce
  • Use caramel on one layer, and chocolate on the other
  • Add sliced bananas to the middle layer
  • Use blended mixed berries instead of the sundae sauce – they can be fresh or frozen

All in all, this is a definite crowd pleaser that I make again and again.  You can make this anytime and then just pull it out of the freezer ten minutes before you need it.  You can even use small foil takeout containers to make individual servings! The possibilities are endless for this cake and I’m so grateful to ‘H’ for sharing this recipe!  Take this to your next BBQ and listen for the rave reviews! I’d love to hear which version you choose…Go to the recipe page to get instructions for Easy Ice Cream Cake.  

Happy ‘baking’….Happy Summer!

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Summer Cook ahead Option Number 2!

Here’s another great option for a healthy and satisfying side dish, that will complement any summer meal. It’s my Mom’s Famous Rice Salad!  

My Mom is a wonderful cook and she has been my major inspiration for learning how to be a great home cook. From the time I was very young, I have memories of family and friends constantly complimenting my Mom on her cooking and baking. I knew that when I grew up I wanted to be a great cook just like her because it seemed to make people so happy.  And I wanted my home to be a place where family and friends could come and feel welcome and enjoy great experiences and memories of being together, just like our family home was. Growing up, our house was the center of family gatherings for both sides of our large family. It was so much fun for my siblings and me as kids, and as I reflect as an adult, I now realize it was lots of work for my parents. But I do know that they both enjoyed that their home was a welcoming, happy place to be for their kids, family, and friends.

In the 70’s, a number of my Mom’s brothers and sisters got married within a short time of each other and started their families.  My Mom and Dad hosted all the wedding showers, stags, and baby showers in our house. My Mom made all the food, with some help from one of her sisters.  No consideration was ever given to buying food or getting the event catered because money was tight in those days. As a result, most everything was always homemade.  The food was set up as a buffet table with a combination of hot and cold dishes. Rice salad was always a part of these events. As a kid, I was always happy to see that because I didn’t like potato salad or pasta (macaroni!) salad in those days, which also were standard at those gatherings.

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Mom’s baby shower hosting – 1973

I always wondered why we only seemed to have rice salad at these events.  Years ago when my husband and I started this cook ahead plan, we found it easy to do in the fall and winter because you could do casseroles, soups, stews, roasts…When we got to spring and summer, we wanted lighter food and less use of the oven.  We BBQ’d just about every day, so I came up with the idea that I would make a larger batch of those famous salads from our family events that would last 4 or 5 days and then we’d just throw something different on the BBQ each day. It has made a huge difference for us.  Because making a rice, potato or pasta side dish is usually the longest part of cooking a meal, having it done ahead of time means you can have a balanced meal on the table in no time. With the strategy of making one of these salads every 4 or 5 days, we have delicious, summery meals every night and without much prep and cleaning.  (Read my previous posts for more tips on summer cook ahead dishes).

Mom’s original rice salad recipe used white rice, carrots, celery, green onion, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and parsley.  I have adapted the recipe slightly over the years by using brown and wild rice instead of white rice and also adding chives, just because I have lots of them in my garden!  I prefer brown rice because it’s more filling, which means you eat less volume and it keeps you satisfied longer than white rice. As I’ve said before, there is no right or wrong with salads, and you definitely don’t need to follow a recipe to make a delicious salad.  Just use whatever you have on hand. One of my other relatives has made this salad using tomatoes, black olives, basil and onion and it was delicious also! So, go ahead and change up the veggies and seasoning here to suit your preferred flavours. And, as always leave me a comment to share the version you created.  Don’t forget to dress the rice when it is still very warm to hot so it will absorb the dressing. (Thanks again to Tim, our caterer friend for that tip!)

A number of my friends and family have asked for this recipe, which is always a compliment to the cook.  But, the greatest compliments I have received were when my Mom said, “This rice salad tastes better than usual.  What did you do?” – and when I heard my Mom tell her friends that I am a very good cook. There’s nothing like getting a compliment from someone you admire so much.

Thanks Mom!  You are my inspiration!

Mom’s Famous Rice Salad

  • Servings: 6 to 8
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Rice Salad 2018 (2)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • ¼ cup of wild rice (optional)
  • 1 ¾ cup cold water
  • Diced carrots, approx ½ to ⅔ cup
  • Diced celery, approx ½ to ⅔ cup
  • Sliced green onions, 1 or 2
  • Chopped fresh Italian Parsley
  • Olive Oil (2 parts, about 1/4 cup)
  • White Wine Vinegar (1 part, about ⅛ cup)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Put rice and water in a pot  – cover and bring to a boil
  2. Reduce heat and simmer on low until almost all water is absorbed (about 15 minutes), then turn off heat, keep covered, and allow rest of water to absorb into rice – (this prevents rice from sticking to the pot)
  3. While rice is cooking, chop the vegetables and parsley and set aside
  4. While rice is still warm to hot, add approximately 2 parts olive oil to one part white wine vinegar and salt and pepper.
  5. Mix well.  Taste and adjust seasonings as desired
  6. Once rice is cool, add vegetables and parsley
  7. Mix well together and serve

Variations:  Change the vegetables and seasonings as desired (tomatoes, black olives, onion, feta cheese, different herbs, etc.)

Tips:  Adding oil, vinegar, salt and pepper while rice is still warm to hot will allow dressing to absorb into rice and you’ll have no need to re-adjust seasoning before serving

recipe by: everydayhomegourmet.blog/

Lemon Couscous Salad – Here it is!

My last blog post promised the recipe for this salad, which is a new addition to my make-ahead dishes this summer.  As you read in the last blog post, my summer salads have included, rice, various types of pasta and potato salads.  These are the basis of being able to make delicious, complete weekday meals with little prep and clean up.

On Father’s Day, we attended an extended family party at R & E’s house.  They had a delicious couscous salad with a lemony dressing.  I immediately fell in love with it and thought I should make my own version of this.  I normally use vinegars in my dressings, so using lemon is a nice change of flavour.  Athough I have used lemon as part of a salad dressing before, it’s not a go-to for me, so having the salad at R & E’s house, was a good reminder for me of this alternative. 

When it comes to salads, there is no right and wrong…you can add any vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds or herbs that you enjoy and it will taste great.  There is not much need for a recipe for making salads, so I offer mine only as a guide for you to start out and create your own dish.  I usually just peek in the fridge to see what I have on hand and start there.  On the day I created this couscous salad for the first time, we had carrots, peppers, and green onions on hand, so I thought that would make a lovely taste and colour combination with the lemony couscous.  I have also been experimenting with making my own roasted chickpeas and I had some on hand, so I tossed them in.  They provided a nutty flavour, and crunchy texture.

I did use fresh lemon juice for this since it was one of the main ingredients.  If you are in a rush, give it a try with bottled lemon juice and let me know how it goes!  I also used a lemon zester to get lovely thin ribbons of lemon rind.  It added great flavour and colour, and it didn’t feel as though you were biting into lemon rind.

Although I believe that a salad is just a combination of wonderfully balanced fresh ingriedients that should not require a recipe, there are a few things I’ve learned along the way when creating these grain/starch based salads that may be helpful tips for you:

  • dress the rice, potato, couscous, pasta, quinoa, salad while it’s still warm to hot.  The dressing will be absorbed and you won’t have to adjust the dressing before serving.  (This is a tip I learned from Tim, a local chef and friend who has catered a number of large events for us.  It has made a world of difference for me!  Thanks Tim!)
  • let the dressed grains, pasta cool before adding the vegetables and fresh herbs.  This will prevent the vegetables from cooking and the herbs from wilting and browning
  • never, ever use a bottled dressing…there is way too much of things you don’t need…salt, sugar, multisyllabic things you don’t understand!  Just use two parts quality oil and one part acidity, such as vinegars, lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, tomato juice, salt, pepper and herbs.  You can even make this ahead in a jar or bottle and have your own ready to go dressing.  In a pich, just dress your salad with a sprinkle of good quality olive oil and a squirt of lemon….It’s miles ahead of any bottled dressing you can find on any level…take the few minutes i takes to make a homemade dressing rather than opting for a ready-made product that has all kinds of things you don’t need – or want!  These are things I learned from my Mom growing up and still prove to be true today!

Happy cooking, fellow ‘everydayhomegourmet’ friends…please share your comments and tips!

Lemon Couscous Salad

  • Servings: 6 to 8
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 ¾ cup water
  • Juice of one lemon, plus approx 1 tbsp lemon rind (very thinly sliced)
  • ¼ cup olive oil (use extra virgin for more robust flavour)
  • ⅓ cup carrots, chopped
  • ½ large green pepper, diced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • ⅓ to ½ cup roasted chickpeas (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I use just a sprinkle of salt and about ½ tsp pepper)
  • 4 large basil leaves, sliced thinly
  • Approx. 2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley (sometimes called ‘flat parsley’)

Directions

  1. Place water in saucepan.  Cover and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove pot from heat, stir in couscous.  Cover and let stand about 3 minutes.
  3. Once water is absorbed, couscous is cooked.  Fluff couscous with fork and let cool for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. While the couscous is still hot, transfer to your serving bowl and dress with olive oil, lemon juice, lemon rind, salt and pepper.  Fluff with fork to combine.
  5. Once couscous is completely cool, add chickpeas, vegetables and herbs.  Stir to combine and fluff with a fork before serving.

Variations:  Use any vegetables or herbs you like!

Tips:  Using a lemon zester will give you lovely thin ribbons of lemon rind.  Also, if you have leftovers, the roasted chickpeas will soften overnight for the next serving and will still taste delicious.  

recipe by: everydayhomegourmet.blog/ 

Keep it Easy in the Summer Kitchen…Cook ahead!

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know I am a big fan of spending some time on advance preparation to make healthy and delicious weekday meals and to make clean up easier.  Usually, when we think of cooking ahead, soups, stews, and casseroles come to mind, but typically that is not food most of us would want to eat on hot summer days. Now that we are well into the summer heat, many people want to spend as much time outdoors and as little time in the kitchen as possible.  Of course, we still need to eat healthy balanced meals, so how can we put all that together?

Once again, for me the key is choosing cook ahead options, but with a summer flair!  When I was growing up, our house did not have air conditioning and on those hottest summer days our Mom would announce in the morning, “Tonight we are having ‘cold supper’!”  These meals were not less work for my Mom, but it was time spent chopping rather than time spent using a hot stove or oven that would heat up the house even more. I always loved “cold supper” because we got some great salads that Mom made like tomato and cucumber salad, homemade coleslaw, marinated green and yellow beans, potato salad and our favourite Italian cold cuts or cold roasted chicken from the grocery store.  The store-bought chicken was a rare occurrence because our Mom usually made everything from scratch. It was all delicious and there was lots of variety in those meals!

In my own kitchen, I’ve used the memory of those dinners to keep cooking easy in the summer and always have cold salads and fresh marinated veggies on hand to make quick and easy meals.  Planning ahead also takes the guesswork out of what you are going to make and also ensures that you have a healthy meal on hand. Each week, I spend an hour or two making either a rice, pasta, couscous or potato salad and then prepare some fresh beans to marinate, or Mom’s tomato and cucumber salad, or some grilled asparagus or zucchini.  Then, throw a quick marinade on your favourite protein and grill away! I usually make enough of the salads and side dishes for four days worth of meals and we usually add a fresh green salad too.

As an example, here is how my 4 nights of summer cook ahead options looked when I made a rice salad, coleslaw, and marinated green beans a couple of weeks ago:

Day 1:  Make the Rice Salad, coleslaw and green beans and have it with a burger

Day 2:  Grilled chicken, rice salad, coleslaw, green beans (and a green salad, if you like)

Day 3:  Grilled fish, rice salad, coleslaw, green beans (and a green salad)

Day 4:  Grilled steak, rice salad, coleslaw, green beans (and I always add sauteed mushrooms with steak!  It’s worth the extra few minutes of effort…)

 

Some skeptics might think this is a bit repetitive, but when you vary the protein, everything tastes different – and you’ll be so happy with the ease of not having to build an entire meal from scratch, while still getting to eat a great meal.  Once you have all the sides decided on and prepared, it takes very little thinking or time to add the meat, chicken, or fish to complete the meal, which reduces the stress of the question…”What are we having tonight?”

At the end of day 1, put all of your pre-prepared salads and side dishes in containers and you’ll be so happy on day 2, 3, and 4 when all you have to do is pull out those containers from the fridge and grill your favourite protein!  (Maybe it’s tofu for vegetarians or vegans!).IMG-2411 (2)

 

If you follow this plan, your prep and clean up will be a breeze.  You can also follow this plan when entertaining large groups. Get as much done ahead of time as you can and all that will be left to do is the grilling and socializing!

 

In summary, here are my tips for easy summer cooking and eating:

  • Fill your freezer with a variety of meats – buy what’s on sale in large quantities and bag them in freezer bags in smaller portions for easy use
  • Marinate your beef, poultry, fish, pork, or lamb ahead of time with your favourite flavours and put the portions and marinade in a freezer bag for later use.  (This saves time and clean up on the night you cook)
  • Choose either a rice, pasta, couscous, or potato salad and make enough for about 4 nights to keep your weekday prep and clean up simple
  • Decide on a vegetable side dish that can also be made ahead to complete the meal (my favourites are steamed marinated green beans, grilled asparagus, grilled zucchini and tomato/cucumber salad)
  • Add a green salad to any meal for some variety, leafy greens and extra veggies
  • For desserts:  keep ice-cream, frozen yogurt and individual sponge cakes on hand.  Top them with seasonal fruit, caramel or chocolate sauce and/or whipped cream.  These are minimal prep, delicious and fresh tasting options

I’ll be featuring my make-ahead salad and side dish recipes for the next few weeks, so be sure to check back to get the recipes…Lemon couscous salad will be the next recipe!  It’s yummy! Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave a comment with your tips for summer cooking, eating and entertaining! I’d love to hear your ideas.

Happy cooking!

 

Tomato Stuffed Grilled Peppers – great for summer BBQ’s!

In my last post, I talked about our five couple dinner group that’s been together for many years.  Part of the reason that the group has been so successful in maintaining the five times per year joint dinner parties is that the dates are set one year in advance.  Typically, we get together in September, December, February, April, and June. If you’ve caught the subtlety of where I started the year of get-togethers, you might guess that a number of people in the group are involved in education.  September is the start of the new year for educators!! And that means that June is year end!

Our June party happened around the middle of the month, and this is typically the most casual of the get-togethers since it’s a backyard / pool party, and the start of easy, breezy times with family and friends.  As a host, it’s probably the least complicated in terms of food prep. One couple brings appetizers. The hosts barbeque the main course, other couples bring salads and dessert. We hosted the June party and did Greek flavoured chicken and beef brochettes for the main meal, using this awesome marinade my brother made for us last summer.  We also served Greek flavoured lemon potatoes and an interesting side dish that I’d been wanting to try for a while.

About 5 years ago, I cut a recipe out of the Boston Globe Magazine on a trip to Cape Cod for Roasted Peppers Stuffed with Grape Tomatoes that I knew I would love to try.  So, five years later, I finally tried it!!  It was so pretty and elevated the simple, healthy ingredients to something special, and it’s definitely doable for all home cooks!  These are ingredients that I always have on hand and are presented in a way that makes everyone think you did something fancy. To me, that’s the essence of being an ‘Everyday Home Gourmet’….use simple ingredients, make them tasty, and present them in a visually interesting way!  No need for fancy or complicated ingredients or cooking methods! Simple is beautiful…it’s the essence of Mediterranean cooking.

This was the first time I made this beautiful and tasty side dish, and I’ll definitely do it again!  The original recipe involved roasted peppers stuffed with the uncooked tomato salad and served at room temperature.  In our version, we grilled the peppers slightly, then stuffed them with the marinated tomato salad and roasted them in the oven until the tomatoes were warm and slightly blistered.  

They were delicious and would be amazing as intended in the original recipe or warmed as we did. The key is to roast the peppers enough to get grill marks and the amazing roasted pepper flavour, but still keep the peppers firm enough to stuff.  Also, the original recipe called for sardines, but I’m not a big fan of sardines, so I used sliced Kalamata olives instead to get the salty flavour and contrast in texture as compared to the tomatoes. This can be made ahead and is such a pretty and tasty dish that will satisfy and impress your guests!  I love healthy everyday ingredients that are elevated into something special! It’s what makes the ‘everyday turn into home gourmet’….Happy cooking everyone!  Experiment and be well.