roasted sweet pepper + summer squash pizza

Oh how I wish I had taken more pictures of this pizza!  Dinner was actually ready before the sun went down, before our toddler went to bed so we got to eat together.  During the daylight.  Win for us!

So we’ll keep this short and sweet.  If you have the time, roast your own peppers until they’re blistered and quickly marinate them in a bit of olive oil and chopped basil.  It makes all the difference in the world. Promise!

Since we add some lemon zest to the sauce, this pizza with all its veggies feels summery and bright.  You might eat 3, 4, 6 slices and not even notice!


roasted sweet pepper + summer squash pizza

  • 1 store-bought pizza crust
  • ½ cup tomato sauce*
  • 6-8 baby sweet peppers
  • 3-4 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
  • 2 handfuls of whatever greens you have on hand (baby spinach, baby kale, arugula)
  • 1c shredded mozzarella
  • pepperoni, optional (the hubby wanted some so I put it on half and it was pretty good!)
  • freshly grated Parmesan, for topping

Sauce

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ tsp crushed red pepper, optional
  • ½ tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes (I love the Muir Glen brand)
  • pinch of sugar
  • zest of one lemon

for the pizza:

Preheat oven to 450º.  Shape dough in a circular pizza pan to the edges and set aside.  Heat a dry sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the sweet peppers and roast on each side until partially blistered.  It’s ok if there are a few black spots.  Remove from heat and slice into rounds.  In a small bowl, toss roasted sweet peppers with the olive oil and chopped basil.  Set aside.

Spoon sauce evenly over pizza dough.  If using pepperoni, add it to pizza first.  Then top with sliced summer squash (though you may not want to use all of it) and the sweet peppers with basil.  Then add your greens and sprinkle the mozzarella over the top of everything.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Once pizza is out of the oven, sprinkle some freshly shredded Parmesan over the top, slice and devour!

to make sauce:

Combine olive oil, red pepper flakes (if using), sea salt and garlic into a cold sauce pan.  Stir while you heat the sauce pan over medium-high heat, about 45 seconds or so, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn.  Add in the tomatoes and just a pinch of sugar; let simmer for a few minutes.  Taste and add more salt if needed.  Stir in lemon zest.

(adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

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Spaghetti with Olives & Capers

Some would say pasta is the ultimate comfort food and I am not here to disagree.  Sometimes it’s as easy as throwing pasta in some boiling water and tossing the noodles with a jar of pre-made sauce and calling it a day.  Though it may be intimidating at first, making sauce from scratch is not that difficult and if you have the inclination to do so, it really is worth the extra effort.

This is a take on a puttanesca sauce, which includes the briny tang of capers and Kalamata olives, however, with a simple pomodoro sauce in mind, I added a bit of ghee (or you could use a pat of butter) to really round out its flavor and then stirred in about a ½ cup of pasta water to make the sauce cling to the noodles.  You can pump up the nutrition a bit by using whole wheat spaghetti or even zucchini noodles or toss in some extra veggies such as squash, broccoli or spinach.  This time, I just wanted a simple pasta dish with a sauce that I could call my own.


spaghetti with olives & capers

Whole-wheat spaghetti tossed in a slurp-able sauce and punctuated with the briny tang of olives and capers really doesn’t get much better!  Unless you top your bowl with Parmesan cheese and basil…and then it does.

(serves 2-4)

  • 2-4 tbs olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, pureed in a blender
    • I used Muir Glen’s fire roasted tomatoes which, to me, are the best!
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup capers, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbs kalamata olive brine
  • 1 tbs caper brine
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 3 large fresh basil sprigs

 

  • 8-10 oz. whole wheat spaghetti, broken in half
  • 1 tbs  ghee (or unsalted butter)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

Heat olive oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-low heat.  Add minced shallot and cook, stirring frequently, about 8-10 minutes until soft.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring,  for 2-4 minutes.  Add the crushed red pepper flakes and cook another minute longer.

Increase the heat to medium and season with kosher salt.  Then add in the pureed tomatoes, kalamata olives, capers, olive brine, caper brine and sugar.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly and flavors come together about 20 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and stir in basil sprigs and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Season with kosher salt and cook spaghetti, stirring occasionally until about 2 minutes before noodles are tender.  Reserve about ½ a cup of pasta water while draining pasta.

Discard basil in skillet and warm sauce over high heat.  Stir in pasta water to loosen sauce, and bring to a boil.  Add noodles and cook, stirring so sauce coats the pasta, about 2 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and add ghee and ¼ cup of parmesan cheese.  Toss together until cheese and ghee melt.

Serve into warm bowls and top with more parmesan cheese if desired.

 

(inspired by Cookie+Kate and Bon Appetite)

 

tomato & cucumber salad {with lemon-caper dressing}

This salad screams summertime!  Though it’s only April, we’re getting summertime vibes over here and I am (somewhat) ready.  I’m ready to walk away from the stove and fire up the grill.  I’m ready to simply toss some veggies together to accompany our meal and call it day.  I’m envisioning sitting with my husband on our back patio at dusk under the twinkling pergola lights, listening to our wind chime dance in the breeze.  While sipping on an ice-cold, crisp glass of Pinot Grigio, I am wholeheartedly enjoying this salad on a perfect summer evening.

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Polenta Bowl with Sautéed Greens & Soused Tomatoes

This is one of those comforting meals I rely on on those days when dinner has become an afterthought.  Hearty and filling, polenta bowls are pretty easy to throw together but can also be completely customizable because of the blank canvas it presents.  My tried and true toppings to this polenta bowl are a simple, salt and peppered bunch of sautéed kale and quick-roasted cherry tomatoes with a bit of olive oil and Italian spices.  However, this time I was inspired by a few different sources and changed up the flavors a bit.  Molly Yeh (from one of my favorite blogs, mynameisyeh.com) used pilpelchuma for her potato salad here.  This intrigued because it’s a spice I had never used before but actually had on hand…weird, I know.  Pilpelchuma is found in Libyan cuisine and thankfully at Trader Joe’s as well.  It’s a spice blend consisting of chili, garlic, cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin and caraway that I was sure would be too spicy for me, because I am a wimp.  I was pleasantly surprised!  It gives the polenta a smoky flavor with a kick of spice at the finish.  Combining pilpelchuma polenta with Tara O’Brady’s soused tomatoes, make this polenta bowl completly packed with flavor.

Polenta Bowls 4

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Soused Tomatoes

Soused Tomatoes 2

Here is another gem from Seven Spoons, Tara O’Brady’s yummy, vibrant cookbook.  We know that roasted tomatoes are pretty amazing, but this is a very unique and in her words, “beautiful” way to treat them. Their delicate flavor is intensified from the slow-roasting and she recommends using them as an antipasti, in a salad with peppery arugula and lots of Parm or squished onto bread or flatbread- all of which sound amazing.  However, I have used them to top my pasta dishes and grain bowls in lieu of sauce, which is also highly recommended.

Beware, these soused tomatoes take about 3-4 hours in the oven, so plan accordingly!

The leftover oil once the tomatoes are gone is definitely something to keep and use as a finishing oil or vinaigrette, mayonnaise or marinade base.

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