Tuesday, July 21, 2009

So Tasty We're Considering Becoming Vegetarians

Last night I grilled some vegetables and mixed them with pasta. The meal was so tasty that my daughter and husband were seriously talking about being vegetarians. Since we all still enjoy meat, we decided to just eat more vegetarian meals - like this one. This recipe can easily be adapted to whatever grill-able vegetables you have on hand. Adjust the amount of vegetables to your taste (e.g., less zucchini, more tomato, no onion). The key to the flavor of this dish is the lemon zest added to the olive oil. Try it and let me know what you think.


1 lb penne (or other short pasta)

1 eggplant

1 teaspoon salt, divided

2 medium zucchini

1 red bell pepper

1 tomato

1 onion

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

  • Peel eggplant and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices.
  • Place eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon of salt.
  • Let stand for 30 minutes and then rinse with cold water.
  • Cut zucchini into quarters, lengthwise.
  • Seed and quarter red pepper.
  • Cut tomato in half and quarter onion.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Brush all vegetables with olive oil and save remaining oil.
  • Place on hot grill. Grill vegetables for 5 - 10 minutes, turning as needed. Vegetables will be softer, and somewhat charred (but not burned) when done.
  • Cut grilled vegetables into one-inch pieces.
  • Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining olive oil, lemon zest, and herbs.
  • Combine pasta, vegetables, oil mixture and cheese. Toss well and serve.

Serves 6.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Experimenting with Frozen Spaghetti

Last month I hosted my daughter's softball team for a pre-game pasta dinner. I probably had about a pound of leftover plain, buttered spaghetti. It just seemed like too much to throw out so I put it in a ziploc freezer bag and found space for it my freezer. Up til now I have only frozen pasta dishes that are oven-ready, like lasagna and baked ziti. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with this frozen spaghetti and I had my doubts about how it would taste. I went through my recipe folder and found a recipe I had ripped out of a magazine (I think it was Family Circle, but it doesn't say on the page) for spaghetti pie. So I decided to experiment with this recipe and use my frozen spaghetti. I'm happy to report it was a hit. Granted, my oldest, most sauce-avoidant and picky eater was not home, but the rest of us all liked this very much. So here's the recipe:


1 lb (or less) cooked spaghetti (previously buttered, frozen, and defrosted)

3 cups homemade marinara (or jarred)

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

3 ounces Canadian bacon, diced

1/2 cup pitted black olives, chopped

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup bread crumbs

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut spaghetti into 3-inch pieces.
  • In a large bowl, mix together spaghetti, marinara sauce, mozzarella, Canadian bacon and olives.
  • Add the eggs.
  • Coat a large pie pan with cooking spray.
  • Sprinkle the pan with bread crumbs.
  • Spoon spaghetti mixture into the pan.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Sprinkle on grated cheese and bake another 10 minutes.

Serves 6.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer Contest Winners

Congratulations to the Dinner Together Summer Gift Card Giveaway and No-Cook Recipe Contest winners!

Our recipe contest winner is Jenna H. of Brooklyn, New York. Jenna owns Rosaberry (http://www.rosaberry.com), a business which provides personal chef services and private cooking lessons. Her delicious recipe for Tuscan Tuna and White Bean Salad will be published in next month's Dinner Together newsletter. Sign up now at www.dinnertogether.com to be on the newsletter mailing list. In the meantime, check out Jenna's website; my mouth waters just looking at it!

And the winner of the $50 Target gift card, chosen by random selection, is Gina R. of Beaverton, Oregon. I'm so excited to have a subscriber in Oregon!

I appreciate everyone's efforts to help me spread the word about Dinner Together near and far. Thank you especially for all who took my parenting topics survey. I really appreciate your taking the time. More to come on parenting....

And thanks to the recipe contest judges, Michelle Stern from What's Cooking (www.whatscookingblog.com) and Janis Bowers from The Dinner Spin, (www.thedinnerspin.com).