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Q. Many years ago there was a wonderful French restaurant by the name of Le Festival in Coral Gables. They made a delicious creamy white dressing for their house salads. I would love to have the recipe.
2 large eggplants, peeled
Vegetable or olive oil spray
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound ground turkey, lean beef, sausage or protein crumbles
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
16-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
1 bell pepper, chopped into 1/2- inch pieces
15-ounce can diced tomatoes
24- to 28-ounce jar tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste; optional)
2 cups low-fat ricotta or cottage cheese
2 eggs or equivalent substitute
10-ounce bag fresh spinach, chopped fine or 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 cups shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cut eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut into strips about the size of lasagna noodles. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a broiler pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil, or coat with cooking spray.
Place the eggplant strips on pan in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, garlic powder and Parmesan. Bake 5 minutes; turn slices and bake 5 more minutes. The eggplant should be nicely golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees.
Place ground meat in a skillet, break up with spatula, add 1/2 cup water and cook over medium heat, continuing to break up any large pieces, until no longer pink. Drain. (No cooking needed for meatless crumbles.) Transfer to sauce pot.
In the same skillet, sauté onion and garlic in the olive oil 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and bell pepper and cook 5 minutes longer, until mushrooms are golden and liquid has cooked off. Add to sauce pot along with tomatoes, sauce and spices. Simmer at least 15 minutes.
In the meantime, pulse ricotta with eggs in a food processor until blended. Add spinach and pulse until distributed.
Spread about a third of the tomato sauce in bottom of 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place half the eggplant sizes in a layer over the sauce, then half the ricotta mixture. Repeat with sauce, eggplant and ricotta. Add a final layer of sauce and sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan on top.
Cover pan with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes, until cheese is lightly browned. Allow to rest at least 10 minutes before slicing. Makes 12 servings.
Per serving: 246 calories (32 percent from fat), 9.2 g fat (5.3 g saturated, 1.9 g monounsaturated), 84 mg cholesterol, 27 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 5.6 g fiber, 753 mg sodium.
Crusty Tomato Basil Bread
1/4-ounce envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup very warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup minced fresh basil (or 2 tablespoons dried)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
10-ounce can condensed tomato soup
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste; optional)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Sprinkle yeast over warm water in a measuring cup. Stir to moisten, add 1 teaspoon sugar and let stand 5 minutes, until foamy. Place 2 cups of the flour in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture, remaining sugar, basil, Parmesan, tomato soup, tomato paste, olive oil, salt and crushed pepper. Stir to incorporate. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough.
Turn onto a generously floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form into a ball, coat with butter or oil, and return to the bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down and knead again for a minute or two. Shape into a ball and flatten into a round. Place on a greased cookie sheet, cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes in warm weather. Meanwhile, heat oven to 375 degrees.
Slice an X into the top of the loaf and brush with cold water. Bake 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix tomato paste, brown sugar and about a teaspoon of water — enough to make coating the consistency of thick paint. Brush coating on loaf and return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool at least 20 minutes before slicing. Makes 1 large round loaf, about 16 slices large enough to be cut in half for 32 portions.
Per serving: 52 calories (13 percent from fat), .8 g fat (.2 g saturated, .4 g monounsaturated), .5 mg cholesterol, 1.8 g protein, 10.6g carbohydrates, .5 g fiber, 136 mg sodium.
2 cups coarsely chopped peaches plus 1 pitted peach cut into 8 wedges
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 6 lemons)
4 cups ice
Combine 4 cups water, chopped peaches and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes.
Place mixture in a blender and let stand 20 minutes to cool. Place lid on blender, removing center piece to let steam escape. Place a clean towel over blender lid to avoid splatters, and blend until smooth. Refrigerate at least 3 hours.
Press peach mixture through a sieve, reserving liquid and discarding solids. Stir in lemon juice. Place 1/2 cup ice in each of 8 glasses. Pour about 2/3 cup peach mixture into each glass and garnish with a peach wedge. Makes 8 servings.
Per serving: 102 calories (2 percent from fat), .2 g fat (0 g saturated, 0 g monounsaturated), 0 mg cholesterol, .6 g protein, 26.4 g carbohydrates, .9 g fiber, 0 mg sodium.
Q. My husband and I enjoy eating at an Italian restaurant in South Miami. I love their vegetable lasagna. It is made without any pasta, and has eggplant, spinach and perhaps other vegetables in it. I believe that the eggplant substitutes for the pasta. I would love to have the recipe.
The restaurant, alas, did not respond to my request, but here’s my recipe for a no-pasta lasagna. You can make this with zucchini slices rather than eggplant as a noodle stand-in. I sometimes add a layer of chopped carrots and zucchini as well when my garden is bountiful. You may have more than will fit comfortably in your pan, depending upon its depth. Just layer any extra in a smaller baking dish if that happens.
Q. My family loves the tomato basil bread at Panera, but we can’t seem to replicate it. Any suggestions?
Panera does not share its recipes, but I hope you enjoy the loaf here, adapted from a recipe my late father made in his Italian bread bakery. I substituted condensed tomato soup for some of the tomato paste to replicate the sweetness of the chain’s bread. I also added a sweet coating to replicate the sticky, sweet crust that makes the Panera version distinctive.
I got my first care package of ripe mangoes from a South Florida friend whose tree is heavy with the fruit. I went looking for something new to try with the really ripe ones, and found this wonderful peach lemonade in Cooking Light’s Pick Fresh Cookbook (Oxmoor House, $21.95).
Both the original peach and the pitcher I made substituting mangoes were delightful — perfect as a cold refresher on a muggy afternoon or as a cocktail with a shot of bourbon or rum. The cookbook is helpful for those of us who haunt produce stands and farmers market, with lots of tips on how to choose, cook, store and grow 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables.
What is your favorite recipe from the iconic Pillsbury Bake-Off? Mine might be Orange Kiss Me Cake (1950) or possibly Peanut Butter Blossom cookies (1958).
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