Tag Archives: Vegetable

Eggplant and Tomato Tian

This Provençal dish is a bright accompaniment to a grilled steak or lamb chop.  The term “tian” refers to both the earthenware dish in which the vegetables are cooked and the gratin of vegetables and cheese itself.


1 large eggplant (preferably Sicilian), thinly sliced

2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced

Fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh basil

Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of a round 9-inch ceramic tart pan.  Arrange the eggplant in a layer on the bottom of the dish, permitting the slices to overlap slightly.  Then add a layer of tomato and season with pepper.  Continue to layer in this fashion until you use all of the tomato and eggplant.  Top with another drizzle of olive oil, and bake covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes.  Uncover, add the cheese, and bake for another 30 minutes until the vegetables are browned and the eggplant is tender.  Top with fresh basil and sea salt before serving.


Sugar Spice and Everything Nice

You purchased some ripe tomatoes and cool cucumbers from the farmers’ market.  While you are enjoying summer’s bounty of vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper and perhaps some fresh basil, you may be seeking new ways to prepare these summertime treats.

If this sounds familiar, check out Sugar Spice and Everything Nice, a business out of Dover, Delaware, selling a myriad of mixes to enhance vegetables and fruits as well as fish and meats.  Visit the online shop at http://www.shopforsugarandspice.com or browse the mixes at a Delaware farmers’ market (the market schedule is listed on the website).

Owner Tina Bradbury offers dip, pickling and cocktail mixes in addition to meat rubs.  Perhaps you wish to make your own bread and butter pickles for grilled burgers…Sugar Spice has a mix for you!

I combined the guacamole mix with some fresh tomatoes and avocado and the roasted garlic and herb mix with olive oil and found both tasty.  Each mix comes with recipe suggestions and instructions, yet you can be creative.  For example, as I am generally not a fan of sour cream and mayonnaise based dips, I would consider blending some of the herb mixes into hummus or into butter to season chicken or fish.

This just scratches the surface of Sugar Spice’s products.  Discover them for yourself this summer…and happy mixing!

Garlic mix

Wax Beans and Fingerlings – A Crisp Summer Side

One of my favorite vegetables is the wax bean, and I am happy to see them appearing at local farm stands and produce markets.  Last night, I prepared these lovely pale yellow string beans, along with fingerling potatoes, to accompany Provençal stuffed tomatoes.

My recipe is straightforward – simply slice off the ends and steam the beans for about three minutes (just enough for them to retain their crispness).  Then, run the beans under cold water to stop the cooking process.  Arrange the wax beans down the center of a large, flat serving dish, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  Season with fresh cracked pepper and sea salt.

To prepare the potatoes, slice on a bias and boil until soft enough to put a fork through; then, drain and toss with extra virgin olive oil, fresh cracked pepper and sea salt.  Arrange the fingerlings along both sides of the wax beans.

For some color and enhanced flavor, I garnished the vegetables with herbs from my herb garden…chives on the potatoes and lemon thyme and a sprig of rosemary on the beans.

Serve at room temperature for a cool, refreshing side to meat or fish.

Wax beans

The Summer’s First Squash Blossoms

Squash blossoms are one of my favorite summer finds.  Although I rarely fry foods, I prepare these lovely flowers the way my great-grandmother did and make a simple batter.

Squash Blossoms

For a dozen blossoms, I use about two heaping tablespoons of flour, one cup of water and one egg.  If the batter seems too thin after mixing these ingredients, add more flour so that it is the consistency of a thick pancake or waffle batter.  The batter should be thick enough to stick to the blossoms – if you are unsure about the thickness, simply dip in a blossom to test.  Also add a few pinches of salt and cracked black pepper to taste.

When ready to fry, heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.  You can test the oil for readiness by adding a drop of water or batter and seeing if it sizzles.  When the oil reaches the desired temperature, dip each blossom in the batter, making sure to coat the entire flower, and lay it in the oil.  You will likely have to fry in two batches.  When one side is golden, use tongs to turn and brown the other side.  Each side will take about two to three minutes.  As you remove them from the skillet, place the blossoms on a plate covered in a paper towel to soak up excess oil.

Fried Squash Blossom

These distinctive tasting delicacies are an ideal summer appetizer and, certainly, a conversation piece.  You will also find recipes for stuffing the blossoms with ricotta, corn and anchovies, for example, but I prefer to let the flavor of the blossoms shine.

June’s Bounty

Check out my June issue of The Judicial Palate.

June’s Bounty

This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of The Journal of the Delaware State Bar Association, a publication of the Delaware State Bar Association. Copyright © Delaware State Bar Association 2015.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Okra on the Side

Fresh okra has probably caught your attention at the farmers’ market this summer.  It has certainly caught mine…

okra 1

If you would like to enjoy this summertime treat without committing to a gumbo, try it as a side dish with another summer star – cherry tomatoes.

To prepare this simple and healthy side, slice a pint of okra into chunks on a bias and halve a cup of cherry tomatoes.  Sauté the okra slices in two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick pan.  This small quantity of olive oil may seem like it is not enough, but it will permit the edges of the okra to brown.  It will also enable the okra to retain its crispness rather than become too slimy.

Sauté for about seven to eight minutes while moving the okra around the pan with a wooden spatula.  Add the tomatoes and cook for another two to three minutes until they are slightly softened.  Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  I also recommend some Aleppo pepper for its medium heat and somewhat salty taste.

Serve immediately and enjoy okra’s pleasant crunch and unique flavor.

okra 2

Easter Egg Radishes in the Summer?

I spotted my favorite root vegetable at a local farmers’ market this morning – Easter Egg Radishes.  The mix of red, pink, white and purple radishes, while smaller in size, stand up to the pepperiness of the larger red variety.

In fact, I prefer Easter Egg Radishes when serving them the French way.  Slice off the roots and the top greens, and arrange the brightly colored radishes on a flat serving dish.   Accompany with French sea salt and a ramekin of room temperature French butter.  Enjoy by placing a touch of butter and then a pinch of salt atop each radish.  This is a light yet tasty hors d’oeuvre, perfect for the hot summer months.

Do not discard the tops! Rather, consider sautéing the leafy greens as a side dish.