Sides: Veggies

Crostini Caprese

I was going to make a fresh mozzarella ball and cherry tomato salad, bought the medallions instead, and ended up creating this. It makes a fresh appetizer or side dish.

1/2 loaf french bread or baguette
3-4 tomatoes
7 oz. fresh mozzarella medallions
1/2 onion (optional)
1/2 green pepper (optional)
Fresh basil (optional)
Italian dressing
Salt and pepper
Slice tomatoes about 1/4″ thick. Discard end. Chop up pepper into a small dice. Slice onion as thin as possible or dice.
On a serving plate, layer a tomato, onion (if using slices), mozzarella medallion, another tomato, etc. I use a square plate and do two rows. Sprinkle with chopped fresh basil and diced peppers if you are using them. Add chopped onions if you’re using them.
Pour Italian dressing over tomatoes, cheese and onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (I prefer sea salt and fresh ground pepper).  Let it sit while you make the rest of dinner.
Right before you serve, slice French Bread very thin, about 1/2″ so you have circles. Toast and place in a bread basket.
You can assemble these in advance or allow people to make their own. To assemble: Top a slice of toast with a tomato, onion slice, mozzarella medallion, basil and peppers. Eat immediately or very soon.

Confetti Salad
I invented this one day. It just kind of came together. It’s so amazing though. Perfect for a summer day. Pairs well with any dish where you need a lightness and a crunch.
2 carrots
1 stalk celery
1 bell pepper (can use green, red, or yellow)
fist sized piece of cauliflower or broccoli
1 cucumber
1 package Ranch Dressing mix
1 c. croutons
Make at the beginning of dinner so salad has time to sit in refrigerator.
Peel carrots. cut off ends. Cut into three pieces. Slice each piece in half. Slice carrots finely, about match stick sized.
Wash celery and remove ends. Cut in thirds. Slice finely into matchstick sliced pieces.
Slice off each end of pepper. Slice in half, removing seeds and veins. Slice finely.
Slice cauliflower thinly, turn and slice again. It’s ok if it falls apart.
Peel cucumber and remove ends. Slice in thirds. Slice thinly, then slice again to get match stick (approximately) sized pieces.
Toss all vegetables except cucumber in a microwave safe bowl. Add 1 Tlb. water and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 2 minutes on high. Remove from microwave. Drain water and remove plastic wrap. Allow cool for a moment.
Add cucumber to bowl. Sprinkle vegetables with salt, pepper, and some of the Ranch mix. Toss or stir. Sprinkle again with salt, pepper, and dressing mix. Again stir. Taste and repeat again if needed, seasoning until you like it. (You will not use all of the dressing packet). Refrigerate salad until dinner is ready.
Right before you serve the salad, place croutons in a bag and crush with a rolling pin. Sprinkle on salad and toss. Serve salad.

Princess Carrots

I was desperately trying to get my kids to eat their carrots, borrowed an idea from my grandma, and called them “Princess Carrots” to try and get my little girls to eat them. It worked!
2-6  carrots
1 Tlb. butter
brown sugar
Peel carrots, slice into coin shaped pieces. Place in a microwave safe bowl. Add 2 Tlb. water and cover with plastic wrap. Cook in microwave for 3-6 minutes, depending on how you like your carrots cooked.
Remove from microwave and drain water. Add butter and a spoonful or two of brown sugar. Stir to coat. Serve warm.

Batter-fried Zucchini Sticks

This is one of my favorites. I pair it with any Italian meal. It’s easy to prepare, but takes a little time. So serve with something easy like spaghetti.
1 c. sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c. milk
2 Tlb. oil
1 lb. zucchini cut into 3 or 4 inch sticks or 1/8″ circles
Additional flour
Oil for deep frying
Sift flour with baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt. Combine egg, milk and 2 Tlb. oil. Slowly add to dry ingredients, beating until smooth.
Pat zucchini sticks or circles very dry and dredge lightly in flour. Dip pieces, one at a time, in batter. Fry in deep oil heated to 375 degrees until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Serve immediately with any red sauce.

Vegetable Kebabs
recipe grilled vegetable skewer kabob

Perfect side for a summer grilling party. Make in advance and cook up quick with your meats. They look great, taste great, and cook quickly.
Your favorite vegetables (or whatever you happen to have in the house!) washed and cubed (ideas: tomatoes, carrots, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, anything that grills well)
Bamboo or other skewers
1 stick of butter
seasoned salt
salt and pepper
In advance, prepare the vegetables and alternate on skewers. Set aside until ready to grill. About 10 minutes before you’re ready to cook, melt butter in a sauce pan, add a dash of seasoned salt, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and about 1/4 tsp. dill or your other favorite herbs. Cook until the butter melts. Brush on vegetables.
Grill vegetables on a hot grill until you reach desired doneness. Serve warm.

Baby Tomato BLT
You will need:
1 container cherry tomatoes
several slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Mix crumbled bacon with enough mixture to bind it together. Cut of top of cherry tomato and scoop out the inside. Slice a tiny bit off the bottom to make it stand upright. Fill tomato with the bacon mixture. Plate and serve.

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