July 19th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Organic tomatoes and zucchini are top seasonal produce picks, and they marry as well as Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne (minus the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll).
In the hands of former Top Chef contestant Fabio Viviani, executive chef/owner of L.A. hotspots Firenze Osteria and Café Firenze Italian Restaurant and Martini Bar, they’re the foundation for today’s savory appetizer.
As the photo illustrates, Viviani’s Roasted Tomato & Zucchini Salad is a restaurant-quality dish, with vertical stacks of veggies and cheese that are pleasing to both the palate and eyes.
Best of all, the ingredients should be available at a well-stocked natural and organic food store—and many are likely on display at your local farmers’ market.
Roasted Tomato & Zucchini Salad
6 Roma tomatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2 balls of buffalo mozzarella (6 ounces each), cut into 3/4-inch slices
Approximately 10 large leaves of fresh basil
Shaved Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
- Cut tomatoes into 1/2-inch slices.
- Cut zucchini lengthwise into 1/8-inch ribbons.
- Season both with minced garlic, salt and pepper; drizzle with olive oil.
- Roast on grill, with cut side up, for about 10 minutes, or until evenly roasted.
- Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
- To assemble the salad, place the tomato, zucchini (folded) and mozzarella on top of each other, like a tower, with a basil leaf in between layers. Season layers with salt, pepper and a drizzle of dressing.
- Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese.
Photo courtesy of Bertolli
Read More:Roasted Tomato & Zucchini Salad
May 7th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Seasonal homemade soup can be a great Mother’s Day gift. Pour the finished product into a large mason jar, adorn the top with a bow, and add a fresh baguette from your favorite organic bakery or market.
Zucchini Soup with Herbed Cream is a fresh way to savor squash. Whenever possible, purchase your organic vegetables and herbs from local farmers’ markets or community-supported agriculture (CSA) groups.
Prep time for today’s recipe is 15 minutes, and cook time is 30 minutes.
Double the batch, and you’ll have enough for gift-giving and your own family meals.
Zucchini Soup with Herbed Cream
Makes 6 servings (1¼ cups each)
1/2 cup sour cream
4 teaspoons chopped fresh basil leaves
4 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
4 medium zucchini, thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups organic vegetable broth
- Stir sour cream, 1 teaspoon basil and 1 teaspoon oregano in small bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
- Heat oil in 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook until tender.
- Add zucchini and black pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until zucchini is tender.
- Add broth, remaining basil and remaining oregano. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
- Place one-third of the zucchini mixture into a blender or food processor. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into large bowl.
- Repeat blending process twice more with remaining zucchini mixture. Return all puréed mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until hot.
- Divide soup among 6 serving bowls, and top with about 1 tablespoon sour cream mixture, using a spoon to swirl cream in a decorative pattern on soup surface.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Swanson
Read More:Zucchini Soup with Herbed Cream
May 3rd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
If your mom loves to garden—or if you’d like to help her get started—pick up a container or two of Ecosource’s Organic Grow Your Own Seedling Starter Kits for Mother’s Day.
Nine USDA-certified organic varieties are available for last-minute shoppers (ground, 2-day or overnight shipping):
- Bell Pepper
- Heirloom Tomato
A Strawberry Kit is also available, but the seedlings are not organic.
Each kit ($15.99) contains instructions, an eco-friendly tray, high-quality soil, a reusable “greenhouse bag” and biodegradable seedling starter shells, all housed in a decorative container.
Users can start up to 10 seedlings and then transplant them into their gardens.
Ecosource founders Chad Callihan and Chuck Rose quit the corporate world and started the Decatur, GA-based company in 2006 to develop stylish, affordable and eco-friendly products.
“We’re not trying to be perfect, but we’re learning every day about how to make better choices for ourselves and the future of our children’s planet,” they state. “We hope that by sharing our experience, you’ll want to do the same.”
Read More:Mother’s Day Gift Idea: Start an Organic Garden
April 11th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
To maximize your organic garden’s yield, plant vegetables and herbs that are easy to grow and versatile in a variety of dishes.
Here are the six top springtime picks from the experts at Bonnie Plants, a green-garden wholesaler in Union Springs, AL:
- Tomatoes. The most popular fruit in U.S. home gardens, tomatoes are hard to beat in terms of taste, health benefits and versatility.
- Yellow squash and zucchini. While their growing season is shorter than the tomato’s, squash are very productive. You’ll pick them every day once the season starts.
- Lettuce. As long as weather is mild, leaf lettuce will continue to produce. If you regularly enjoy salads, growing your own lettuce can offer substantial savings.
- Cucumbers. Grown in a cage or on a trellis, a single cucumber plant can produce five to 10 cukes. You can place two or three plants in a cage just 18 inches in diameter and 4 feet high. Your yield: 15 to 30 cucumbers from a slice of ground no bigger than an end table.
- Specialty peppers. Price jalapeños and other specialty peppers in the supermarket, and you’ll realize the benefit of growing your own. These peppers produce especially high yields in areas with a long, hot summer.
- Herbs. Also pricey in supermarkets, fresh herbs are easy and economical to grow. Consider planting sage, rosemary, mint, thyme and chives (one plant each), plus at least three basil plants. Try different basil varieties: sweet, cinnamon, Thai and/or boxwood.
Photo courtesy of Bonnie Plants/ARA
Read More:6 High-Yield Organic Vegetables & Herbs
March 15th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
In addition to tomatoes, peas and peppers, we’d like to highlight four vegetables that are easy to grow in an organic garden.
The base for most salads, myriad lettuce varieties (right) make versatile sandwich toppings and wrap fillings.
Seeds should be planted between 8 and 16 inches apart. Water in the morning to prevent disease from developing.
Delicious in: Grilled Sweet Gem with Gorgonzola
This green or yellow Italian squash is rich in potassium, folate and manganese, making it a healthful addition to any meal.
Zucchini take about a month to mature. They grow on vines and produce large flowers before bearing fruit.
Delicious in: Fresh Tomato and Zucchini Salad
A beet’s bright purple color tells you it’s chock-full of essential vitamins and minerals.
Freshly roasted beets are a wonderfully rustic side dish or salad ingredient.
Delicious in: Roasted Portobello Mushrooms with Beets and Goat Cheese
A subterranean-growing veggie, carrots require moist soil as they germinate.
As plants mature, they require less water.
Delicious in: Turkish Leeks and Carrots
Read More:4 Easy-to-Grow Spring Veggies