Summer Herb and Cheese Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Fresh Fried Squash Blossoms with Summer Herbs

Fresh Fried Squash Blossoms with Summer Herbs

This seasonal recipe combines the delicate flavor of squash blossoms with all the delicious organic herbs growing in your garden during the summer months. The spice of the herbs and the heat of the crushed red pepper are balanced by the creamy, rich ricotta cheese while the citrus notes play on your tongue. I highly recommend this recipe for anyone looking for a delicious vegetarian treat that screams “summer is here!”

Summer Herbs and Squash Blossoms Fresh From the Garden

Summer Herbs and Squash Blossoms Fresh From the Garden

Ingredients:

6 fresh organic squash blossoms
1/4 cup fresh organic parsley
1/4 cup fresh organic basil
1/8 cup fresh organic mint
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/8 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 eggs
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying

Wash the squash blossoms inside and out with cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Make sure to remove the pistil from inside the center of the blossom by pinching it off at the base. Rough chop the parsley, basil, and mint and place in a blender. Add the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper flakes, 1 tsp lemon juice, lemon zest, and 1 egg white to the blender. Blend until mixture is smooth and add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon herb and cheese mixture into pastry bag, then pipe generous amount into the center of each squash blossom. Heat oil in cast iron skillet on medium-high to 350° F. Scramble remaining egg in a shallow dish. Pour breadcrumbs into another shallow dish. One by one, coat stuffed blossoms in egg, then coat in breadcrumbs and place on wax paper until all are prepared. Carefully place the squash blossoms in the hot oil and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to remove excess oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve immediately.

Tangy Strawberry, Cucumber & Avocado Salsa

Sweet, tangy, spicy, and creamy- the ingredients for Strawberry Salsa.

Sweet, tangy, spicy, creamy- the ingredients for Strawberry, Cucumber & Avocado Salsa.

This light and tangy salsa is the perfect treat just as the temperatures start to climb towards summer and fresh organic produce becomes readily available. The combination of the sweet strawberries and organic honey are balanced by the acid of the lime and the heat of the jalapeno. It is as if Mother Nature welcomes you to Spring with every delectable bite. This salsa does not keep well so make sure to make only what you can use immediately; actually no matter how much you make there probably won’t be any left anyway.

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh picked strawberries from Twin Oaks Fun Farm, diced
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 cup organic cucumber, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon lime zest
Juice from one lime
2 tablespoons organic Orange Blossom Honey from Hidden Springs Farm, LLC
1/2 jalapeño pepper, finely diced (seeded for a milder flavor, or leave seeds in for extra heat)
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
salt to taste

Chop strawberries into 1 cm cubes (approximately) and place in bowl. Zest the lime and place to the side. Juice the lime into a separate bowl and mix with the organic honey. Pour over the diced strawberries, toss and let mixture stand to macerate. Next, chop the cucumber, avocado and the jalapeno into 1 cm cubes and place into serving bowl. Add the strawberries and about half of the lime juice/honey mixture; too much and the salsa will get runny. Toss with cracked black pepper and salt to taste. Chill for 2-4 hours. Enjoy.

Enjoy this salsa with chips or with grilled chicken or seafood!

Enjoy this salsa with chips or with grilled chicken or seafood!

The key to this dish is to make sure all of the ingredients are chopped to the same size; too small and you will lose the various textures, too large and the flavors will not combine as well.

Adapted from a recipe at Better Homes and Gardens.

Stealthy Mac & Cheese: Comfort Food with a Secret

Delectable Mac & Cheese

Delectable Mac & Cheese

There are some foods, some dishes that are just WORTH IT. Worth the effort, worth the calories, worth the guilt the next day. Most of us here at Atlantis Hydroponics try to be pretty mindful of the food we put into our bodies. Lots of big green salads, whole grains, and organic fruits are consumed in our offices every day. Sometimes, though, you just get that comfort food itch, and it won’t go away until it’s been scratched.

Sometimes, you just gotta splurge.

The king of comfort foods has to be macaroni and cheese. It’s warm, it’s gooey, it’s cheesy, it’s everything you could ever want to fill the belly and soothe the soul, which is what comfort food is all about. Many people tend to shy away from making macaroni and cheese from scratch at home because the recipes seem too complicated or time consuming, which is why much of America grows up thinking the cheesy treat only comes from a blue box. Well, all of that is about to change. This Stealthy Mac & Cheese is a truly simple recipe that packs a gooey punch and won’t make you regret a single delicious bite.

This recipe is adapted from one by Chef Alex Guarnaschelli of Food Network fame. The original recipe is a great basic framework that can be adapted to your needs and preferences. For example, I almost always change up the cheeses based on what I have in my kitchen or what I’m in the mood for. I have listed suggestions for the types of cheese to use, but feel free to get creative and use what you like.

Cheese, cheese, cheese

Cheese, cheese, glorious cheese.

I also tried to lighten the recipe up a bit, since the original calls for a quart of heavy cream(!). You can get a perfectly creamy, decadent sauce without using all of that. Use any combination of cream, half & half, and milk, as long as you keep the amount the same. This recipe isn’t fat free, by any stretch of the imagination, but there are some ways to make it feel a little lighter and a little healthier while remaining completely indulgent.

Which brings us to its stealthiness. This mac and cheese has vegetables in it! Well, vegetable. The addition of macaroni-sized florets of cauliflower brings a surprising lightness and satisfying texture to the dish. Cauliflower is a pretty incredible superfood, too. It is low in fat and carbohydrates, but high in dietary fiber and vitamin C; it even contains compounds that may protect against cancer! All of that and it’s absolutely delicious, especially when coated with a delectable cheese sauce. Of course you can make this dish without the cauliflower, but I think sneaking some into macaroni and cheese is a brilliantly devious way to get picky eaters to eat some vegetables.


Stealthy Mac & Cheese
Serves 6-8

10 cups water
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni (whole-wheat or regular)
1 cup organic cauliflower, chopped into very small florets
1 quart organic local half & half (or 1 pint half & half and 1 pint milk, or part milk and part heavy cream, it’s up to you)
2-3 cloves homegrown or local organic garlic, peeled and lightly crushed with the back of a knife
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 to 3 1/2 cups grated extra sharp Cheddar cheese (or Gruyere, or Monterey Jack, or Swiss, or whatever you like)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (or Asiago, or Romano…)
1/2 cup grated Havarti cheese (or Gouda, or Jack, or bleu, you get it)
Freshly ground black pepper
White pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
Hot sauce, to taste
1/3 to 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot, bring the water to a rolling boil. Add a good bit of salt. When you taste the water, it should be quite salty, like sea water. Add the macaroni, stirring to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. After the macaroni cooks for about 5 minutes, add the chopped cauliflower and continue cooking until both are almost al dente, about 3 to 5 more minutes. (You can also choose to steam the cauliflower over the boiling water to preserve some of the cancer-fighting compounds).

Before you drain the macaroni and cauliflower, ladle out approximately 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Pour the pasta/cauliflower into a strainer over the sink and drain well.

Return the pot to the stove and add the half & half/milk/cream mixture, garlic cloves, and reserved cooking liquid. Bring to a simmer, then add Dijon mustard and stir well. Little by little, add all but ½ cup of the cheeses, stirring constantly until the cheese has melted and integrated with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and simmer again until smooth. Add Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and white and cayenne peppers to taste. Stir well to blend and taste for seasoning. Remove and discard the garlic cloves.

Gently, add the macaroni and cauliflower to the cheese sauce and stir to blend until all is well coated. Let the mixture rest on the stove with the heat on low 5 to 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Transfer the mixture to a 13” x 9” baking dish and top with bread crumbs and the remaining cheese. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Sneaky Mac & Cheese completes a delicious, nutritious meal.

Stealthy Mac & Cheese completes a delicious, nutritious meal.

Contest Update!

Kate’s Squash Casserole

Hungry yet?

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday and ate lots of delicious food. Doesn’t that squash casserole look amazing? It tasted pretty amazing…

Anyway, before I get lost staring into the face of pure squashy-cheesy glory, I will get to the point! We are changing up the rules of this holiday recipe contest. This will now be a two-parter.

  • Part 1: Holiday Recipe Contest. Any delectable holiday recipe is welcome and will be considered for the top prize. It doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving-related.
  • Part 2: The Great Feast Photo Contest. You know you took pictures of your awesome spread or plate-full-of-goodness over the holiday. Just shoot an email of your best pic to robin@atlantishydroponics.com and we’ll feature the top three on the blog.
  • Deadline: extended until Monday, December 3, 2012

For the full scoop, including the recipe for Kate’s Squash Casserole, check out the original post.