Tag Archives: Parmesan Cheese

Grilled Artichoke and Yogurt Dip

Hot and bubbling, straight out of the oven - yum!

Hot and bubbling, straight out of the oven – yum!

Wow! So many possibilities to get creative with this recipe, where to start?  At the beginning, I guess…  Our friends brought us a bag of grilled artichokes as a hostess gift the other night.  They looked yummy and the next day I decided to turn them into a healthy baked dip.  I did not have time to go to the store, so in true Creative Recipe fashion, I used whatever I had on hand.  I did not have mayo, which is the classic ingredient for a baked artichoke dip, but I did have fat-free plain yogurt (not Greek style), and I was going for healthy.  Searching online, I learned that yogurt can curdle a bit if baked at too high a temperature.  Absolutely does not affect taste.   There are tricks, according to my search, such as adding cornstarch to the yogurt or baking at a lower temperature.  But I wanted a nicely browned dip, and I’m a believer in just starting somewhere and changing one ingredient or technique at a time in the quest for perfection.  So I simply started with the yogurt, no thickener, a high enough oven to brown the dish and determined to note the results.  The flavors and texture were delicious, it browned beautifully, and yes…. the yogurt did curdle slightly.  Next time, I will add a thickener such as corn starch or rice flour to the yogurt to note that difference.  You could get very creative with some sautéed spinach and/or zucchini or summer squash to really load up the veggie quotient.  Here is the first go-round on this recipe and as you would expect, quantities are eye-balled:

Ingredients

1 bag grilled Artichoke Hearts, chopped (6 ounce bag) – These grilled hearts are certainly worth seeking out, but you could used canned artichoke hearts, drained and chopped.  There are also frozen artichoke hearts that may work, though I would recommend thawing and draining well first.

ARTICHOKE YOGURT BAKED DIP 4 (1280x956)

Roasted Red Peppers, chopped (hmmmm…. 1/2 cup or so?)

A few Celery tops, minced

Minced Vidalia Onion – about 2 tablespoons

Garlic – if desired (I omitted because the grilled artichokes were flavored with garlic.  If I used canned, I would add some garlic)

Fresh Lemon Juice – about 1 teaspoon

Dill Weed – 1 to 2 teaspoons, to your taste.  Basil would also be good, maybe tarragon or oregano, depending on your veggie choices.  Get creative!

Plain Non-fat Yogurt – approximately 1 cup

Cheese – I used a combination of shredded Parmesan, Goat Cheese and Feta Cheese – about 1 -1/2 cups.  Cream cheese would also melt nicely.  Get creative, but perhaps avoid cheeses that get too “oily” as they melt.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

ARTICHOKE YOGURT BAKED DIP 1 (1280x956)ARTICHOKE YOGURT BAKED DIP 2 (1280x956)

Place in an 8 x 8 square glass pan (I did not grease).  Top with some more Parmesan Cheese.

ARTICHOKE YOGURT BAKED DIP 3 (1280x956)

Bake, uncovered, approximately one hour or until browned and bubbly.

Variations:

If you add veggies with a high water content such as fresh spinach or squash, I would recommend grating the squash and chopping the spinach.  Then sauté in a small amount of olive oil until the liquids that naturally leach out evaporate.  That way you will not have a watery dip.

Maybe some bread crumbs (gluten free or Panko) or potato chip crumbs would be good on top?  Just brainstorming…

This would be a great topping for a baked potato bar or veggie burgers – try the Quinoa and Black Bean Veggie Burger.  What creative ideas and variations do you have?

Grilled artichoke yogurt dip is a zesty, cheesy topping for these burgers.

Grilled artichoke yogurt dip is a zesty, cheesy topping for these burgers.

 


Crispy Baked Zucchini Parmesan

The baked zucchini and tomatoes seemed kind of retro to me, so I pulled out my 60's thrift store plate! Fun!

Today at work, a co-worker who is trying to healthy up her family’s eating style asked if I knew a good way to make “deep fried zucchini” without deep frying.  I first replied, “No, I’ve never even thought about that,”  but then I immediately remembered a quick trick I use to bake “crispy” fish and chicken breasts.  I use Parmesan Cheese and Good Seasons Dry Italian Salad Dressing Mix – a great trick I learned from the “back of the box.”  The fish and chicken bake up really crisp on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside.  Sometimes, I add Panko breadcrumbs, too.  Panko crumbs are made to “brown” through some miracle of food science, so I thought, hmmm… I wonder if that would work with zucchini?  I wasn’t sure if the crumb mixture would stick to the zucchini, so I decided I would do an egg wash.  And I wasn’t sure if the squash would weep too much liquid and make a soggy mess out of the baking pan and crispy crumb coating, so I thought I should salt the zucchini slices and let them drain in a colander to remove some liquid to stave off any weeping.  But honestly, I was too hungry and too tired to salt and wait and who wants the extra salt anyway – so I just went for it.  The results were amazing.  The crumb topping was cripsy and lightly browned, the bottoms were crispy brown (yum), the zucchini was just tender, hot and steamy, not even close to mushy and not weepy at all.  It was pretty scrumptious!  And the leftovers held well in the oven, too, after I turned it off and served up dinner.  Too well…. I kept opening the oven while cleaning up and ate all the leftovers!  Final bonus – the pan cleaned up easily!

Ingredient List:

Fresh Zucchini – washed and sliced thick – I used a small zucchini.  Large zucchini can tend to be bitter and besides, the small zucchini makes perfectly-sized round slices

This is it - the entire "small" zucchini sliced.

Panko Bread Crumbs – (true confessions – I did not measure at all – so maybe about 1 cup? And p.s. the measurements on the remaining ingredients are guesses, too…)

Parmesan Cheese – about 1/2 cup, grated

Good Seasons Dry Italian Dressing Mix –  1 to 2  teaspoons

1 whole egg

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and and Italian dressing mix in a bowl.

Beat the egg in another bowl

Dip each zucchini slice in the egg and then into the Panko and cheese mixture.  Carefully place on a baking sheet (I used a calphalon non-stick baking sheet and did not grease the sheet. 

Ready for the oven - I love these baking sheets

Make sure the oven is preheated.  Bake about 20 to 25 minutes until the zucchini feel tender yet firm to the fork. 

I had some egg and crumbs left over and a bowl full of ripe red tomatoes from the garden, the oven was already hot, so I tried another creative cooking feat…  I combined the egg and crumbs – kind of like a paste, but not overmixed at all, just blended.  I sliced a tomato very thick and seeded the slices.  I placed them on another cookie sheet and put the egg/crumb mixture on top.  Popped them in the oven with the zucchini and they, too, came out beautifully browned.  For the taste test, the flavors were great!  Really good.  But the egg/crumb mixture was a little chewy – didn’t really work for me.  I would try this again in the future, but I would skip the egg and just sprinkle the crumb mixture on top to have just the crisp. 

Closeup, you can see the difference in the toppings