Monday, August 15, 2011

Mango & Red Pepper BBQ Sauce, Orzo Salad with Basil, Zucchini Lasagna,and Grilled Peaches

We haven't yet put away our grills, and with so much of the country feeling the heat, this week we're back out on the grill with a cool summer orzo salad that was difficult to stop tasting before it got served. We've also got an original lasagna dish in case, like so many with home gardens, you have zukes the size of little league bats coming out of your ears. 

Grilled Chicken with Mango & Red Pepper Barbecue Sauce
We let the chicken marinate while getting everything else ready. Once dinnertime rolled around, the chicken went on the grill, adding the BBQ sauce right at the end. I served it with the orzo salad and a side of stir-fried broccoli.  I didn't have 2 lbs of chicken breasts, so I used a pork tenderloin and 1 lb. of chicken breasts.  Lesson learned:  it works great on pork too!

Easy Chicken Marinade

2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts
1/2 t salt
1/2 t thyme
pepper to taste
1/3 c red wine vinegar
1/3 c oil
garlic powder

Marinate for 2-4 hours.  Grill.  If using Mango BBQ Sauce (see below), grill until 2-3 minutes from being done, and dunk the chicken pieces into the sauce, or baste if you prefer. Grill until done, and pour reserved sauce over to serve. 

Mango and Red Pepper Barbecue Sauce
We adapted this slightly from  It's simple and good, with more of a Caribbean flavor than Asian. If you have a habit of putting every other mango chunk in someone's mouth, you might want to buy an extra mango for this recipe. 

2 T olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
1 medium red bell pepper chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 c red wine vinegar
3 T molasses
2T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 medium mango, peeled and cut into chunks
2-3 jalapeno diced, with seeds removed

Saute onions and peppers in olive oil. Add salt and cook until veggies are soft.  Stir in vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, and allspice.  Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for one more minute. Let cool.  Spoon into blender, add mango, and blend until smooth.  Use as topping or basting for meat, but reserve some extra sauce for dipping or drizzling before you serve.

Orzo Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing
This salad was so light, unlike a lot of summer pasta salads. The original recipe calls for feta and olives, but we adapted it to the ingredients in our fridges and really liked this version. It kept well for the next day, too.

12 oz. orzo pasta
3 T olive oil
1 c finely diced red pepper
1 c finely diced zucchini
4 green onions, chopped
2 T capers
1/2 c cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese


3 T lemon juice, fresh squeezed if you have it, with a bit of lemon zest for extra pop
1 T white wine vinegar
1 T minced garlic
1/4 c fresh chopped basil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp ground cumin

Cook pasta according to instructions (al dente preferred) and drain. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with olive oil.  Add red pepper, zucchini, green onions, tomatoes, and capers.  Whisk together dressing ingredients, and pour over top. Season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with fresh parmesan and toasted pine nuts if you have them.

Zucchini Lasagna
At the last minute during our cooking session this week, we threw together a zucchini lasagna that was the sleeper hit of the month. Inspired by a coworker's description, and saddled with a large number of zucchini on their last legs (a few had actually started growing legs), we came up with this dish that was a complete hit. And, after making a loaf of zucchini bread as well, no wasted zukes. I had some leftover red sauce, and for convenience, used a jar of premade light alfredo sauce. You can make your own if you like. This makes enough for 2 dinners so you can freeze one for later.  As an added plus, if you are doing a low-carb thing, this has no pasta in it!

2 large zucchini, sliced as thinly as possible lengthwise
32 ounce tub of ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 c spinach, chopped
3 T fresh basil, chopped
1 small shallot, sliced (or 1/4 large onion, sliced)
1 lb. sweet italian sausage (we used turkey sausage)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c tomato sauce
1 jar alfredo sauce (15 oz)
1 1/2 cup total grated white cheese (mozzarella, havarti, gouda, parmesan)

Mix the ricotta, egg, spinach, and basil together in a medium mixing bowl. Saute the sausage with the onions and garlic until cooked. Using two 8x8 baking pans or one 9x13 baking pan, layer the zucchini along the bottom. Add the red sauce. Press the ricotta mixture into an even layer. Sprinkle the sausage mixture, then add a zucchini layer. Pour a thin layer of alfredo sauce and press another layer of ricotta mixture. Top with another layer of zucchini, the rest of the alfredo, and generous sprinkling of the white cheese blend.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes covered, then 25 minutes uncovered until cheese is golden brown.

Grilled Vanilla Almond Peaches
I know this is probably obvious. but serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Oh my.

4-6 peaches, cut into thirds
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
3 T brown sugar

Mix the vanilla, almond, and brown sugar together, and drizzle over peaches.  Toss gently if needed so they are evenly coated. Grill with cut side down until the peaches have nice grill marks. You may have to turn them a little so that both sides are evenly grilled.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Zucchini Bread
I gave Claire the zucchini that didn't make it into the lasagna, and she returned volley with this.  It didn't last long. 

3 eggs
1 c canola or vegetable oil
3 tsp vanilla
2 c sugar
2 c grated zucchini
3 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp grated orange peel

(1 c chopped walnuts optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Beat eggs until light in color. Add oil, vanilla, sugar and zucchini.  Mix well, then blend in dry ingredients.  Grease and flour 2 large loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour.  Also makes 4 mini-loaves, but reduce baking time.

Strawberry Pretzel Dessert
No doubt about it.  This is a retro, women's magazine, summer classic that kids will love. Strawberry jello and Cool Whip, universal kids' treat. Mmm.  Fair warning:  if you let toddler twins self-feed this dish, it might take you over an hour to clean up the kitchen.

1 1/2 c crushed pretzels
4 T sugar
3/4 c butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

1 c white sugar
2 x 8 oz pkg cream cheese
1 x 8 oz container Cool Whip
1 tsp vanilla

1 x 6 oz package strawberry flavor jello
1 c boiling water
1  c cold water
1 x16 oz package fresh cleaned, trimmed, and quartered strawberries (can substitute frozen)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together crushed pretzels, 4 T sugar, melted butter, and vanilla.  Press firmly into 9x13 pan.  Bake for 10 min. Let cool completely. In medium-sized bowl mix, sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla.  Fold in Cool Whip.  Spread evenly over cooled crust, pressing out to the edges so you can't see any of the crust.  Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

In a bowl stir jello and boiling water together. If you are using frozen strawberries, mix them in with the jello at this point. Pour jello/strawberry mixture over cream cheese.  If you are using fresh strawberries, pour the jello mixture over the cream cheese, then layer in the strawberries. (They will sink a little.) Let set at least 4 hours or overnight.

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