Showing posts with label grilled vegetables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grilled vegetables. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How to Make Healthier Italian Fried Zucchini by Cleo Coyle

Summer squash offers a great range of health benefits. The vegetable is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It has anti-cancer properties and is believed to promote men's prostate health. Unfortunately, to get any of those benefits, you have to persuade people to eat it!

I'm not one of those who needs persuading. All my life, I've enjoyed zucchini cooked in nearly every way. But my husband cannot stand summer squash, zucchini included. Luckily, he loves this dish, which is my lighter adaptation of a classic Italian method of frying. To wit...

In America, when something is "breaded and fried," the last step almost always involves a breading of some kind – flour, cornmeal, bread crumbs, or panko (Japanese bread crumbs).
Cleo Coyle, fan of zukes
and cukes, is author of
The Coffeehouse

In Italy, however, vegetables and fish are often "dorati e fritti," which translates to fried golden. With this method of frying, the food is dipped in flour, then in egg, and then fried. There is no final dredging in anything before the cooking. The egg coating hitting the oil is what gives the food its final golden color and the dish is almost always finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon. 

I've adapted this classic method by exchanging a deep fry for a light pan saute. This is a delightful way to enjoy zucchini. It's relatively healthy, too, because the vegetable does not have its nutrition cooked away. As for the lightening aspect, I'm using only 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of flour, and 1 tablespoon of butter per serving. I much prefer the butter to the oil for flavor, but you can certainly try this with the same amount of olive or canola oil instead.

We enjoy it often in the summer; and If you make it, I hope you will also... 
Eat with joy
~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle's 
 "Italian fried" Zucchini

To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Servings: This recipe is the perfect amount for two adult eaters.
To serve a family, you can easily double, triple, or quadruple it.


- 1 young zucchini (about cucumber size)

- ¼ cup all-purpose flour

- 2 eggs

- 2 tablespoons butter

- 1 lemon

(1) Wash and cut zucchini: Wash the zucchini’s outside, pat dry, and cut into slices about ¼-inch thick. For a cucumber size zucchini, you’ll get about 20 slices. You want the slices uniform – not too thin, not too thick – so they will all cook evenly. No need to peel the skin. My husband and I actually enjoy the bit of crispness the deep green skin brings to this dish and young zukes have less of a harsh bite than older, larger ones. You'll retain much more nutrition if you leave the skin on, as well.

(2) Dredge in flour: Drop the slices in a zip lock bag with the ¼ cup of flour and shake it baby, shake it! 

(3) Float slices in eggs: Break two eggs into a pie plate or cake pan. Add about ¼ teaspoon of water and whisk. Set the floured zuke slices into the egg mixture. Flip to coat both sides. Let slices soak while you melt the butter.

(4) Melt the butter: Over medium heat, warm up a skillet and throw in 2 tablespoons of butter. Do not let it brown or burn. Once the butter is just melted, swish around the pan to evenly coat the bottom. Now turn OFF the heat. This will give you time to lay out all of your zucchini without worrying about some of them overcooking and others undercooking.

(5) Fry the slices: One at a time, lay the egg-washed slices in the melted butter. Now turn the heat back ON and up to medium. Allow the zucchini to fry about 5 to 8 minutes on each side. Turn each slice over using the tips of two forks, one in each hand. (This is the best method because you can easily separate any clusters that may have fused together.) You may need to flip the slices one or two more times. The trick to this dish is cooking it long enough to get a nice brown color on the slices (see my photos). If you need to do a second or third batch, then continue adding a bit more butter to the pan, but BEWARE: Do not overdo the butter—too much butter will give you a soggy result!

(6) Finish with lemon: This dish is best served hot, right out of the pan. Place the finished zucchini on a plate covered with a paper towel (to soak up any bit of extra grease) and squeeze fresh lemon wedges over the hot slices. Do not skip the lemon! This is not an optional garnish, it’s essential for the Italian fried experience. Just as the bright tang of ketchup is added to French fries and malt vinegar is put on English fried fish to brighten those dishes and cut the heaviness of the fat, the lemon is the final layer of flavor that makes this dish a lively, lovely experience for your taste buds.

FINAL TIP: The trick to getting this dish right is not using too much butter. You may prefer to execute this dish with canola or olive oil, but the taste will not be as nice, and please remember (if you decide to substitute oil for butter) to use it very sparingly. If you use too much butter or oil, your zucchini will come out soggy and too soft. Keep the fat content low and make sure you cook the zucchini enough to get the slices nicely browned but still a bit al dente (firm). When cooked properly, this is one of the most delicious ways to prepare an inexpensive and healthy vegetable. May you...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

To get more of my recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or learn about my books, including
my bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Grilled summer veggies!

I love summer. I love to barbecue. I love to sit outside and read a book while I barbecue. Perhaps sip a glass of wine. It's like a mini-vacation while making dinner.

And last night, while barbecuing, I thought there must be famous quotes about barbecuing. I mean, we've had all these famous people over the years grilling, having their pictures on the front of a magazine, the front of a newspaper, a grill fork in their hands, sloppy smiles slapped on their faces.

So I looked for a few pithy words,  and I found some of the silliest websites I've ever found. I thought I'd share a bit of their silliness. Hopefully you'll smile. Because we can't take barbecuing seriously, right? 

We want to, and we probably know some that do (the dictators who won't let you near their know who I mean), but we shouldn't take it seriously.

Silly quotes from the Frugal Yankee:

"It is better to have burnt and lost, then never to have barbecued at all" - William Shakespeare

"It is a far, far better barbecue that I have now, than I have ever had before" - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

"BBQ’ing is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration" - Thomas Edison

"Ich bin ein Barbequer" - J F Kennedy

"Spare rib anyone?" - Adam

"Invite couples with children - everyone loves children - espically if they are cooked properly" - WC Fields

Done laughing?
Okay, me, too.

One of my favorite sides to serve with a barbecue is grilled vegetables. You can use whatever looks fresh at the grocers. I like my greens and I love onions and mushrooms, so that's what's on my plate.
You don't need a lot to make them taste fabulous. 

Summer Grilled Vegetables

Grilled vegetables
[I used pumpkin, onions, yellow onions, zucchini, red onions, mushrooms, asparagus]
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Sea Salt
White or black pepper
Parmesan Cheese

Heat your grill to high. ** I like to use a grill grid (something non-stick) that sits on top of the grill. This keeps the vegetables from falling through to the coals.

Slice the onions in wide chunks.
Peel the pumpkin, removing the rind, and slice the pumpkin in thick slices.
Slice the zucchini in thick slices.
Wash the mushrooms.
Brush the vegetables with balsamic vinegar and then with oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Brush the grill grid with olive oil. Set the vegetables on the grid for three to four minutes a side, charring slightly.

Serve with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

For other barbecue-related recipes from our very own Mystery Lovers Kitchen try:

Riley's Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce
Avery's Burgers and Blue
Cleo's Fire-fighters Ribs
Avery's Strawberry Shortcake (Gluten-free)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Book 2 in A Cheese Shop Mystery series launched in May: Lost and Fondue. If you'd like to order a copy, click this booksellers link on my website. To see a trailer, click HERE. To read an excerpt, click HERE. If you you'd like to find out more about the series or want to download a few recipes from me (on recipe cards, including a recipe for fondue), click HERE. And be sure to catch me on my other blog, Killer Characters, and on Facebook and Twitter @AveryAames.  SAY CHEESE!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Something Warm and Toasty—Easy Veggie Soup…in the Slow Cooker


It doesn’t take a whole lot for me to get in the mood for soup.

And when we suddenly experienced a 20 degree temperature difference in just a couple of days time (from the mid-90s to the mid-70s), I decided it was time to bring out soup ingredients!

Lest you think I’m a cold-weather wimp, it is going down into the 40s at night. We think that’s pretty chilly for October here.

But I’m still experiencing the fall-time-crunch. So I brought out my handy-dandyrival_crockpot Crockpot so I could cook my soup slowly and really get the flavors mixing—and have the soup ready at the end of the day when it was time to feed hungry kids.

This recipe is a no-brainer. In fact…there really isn’t a recipe at all for me. I just put things in the pot until I’ve got the consistency where I want it. And the ingredients change, too—they’re just whatever I have on hand at the time.

The one special ingredient that this recipe has that I think helps out a lot with the taste is vegetable juice as the base. I use a low-sodium V-8 juice because, if you use canned vegetables at all then you’ll definitely get enough sodium. And the V-8 juice gives a nice spicy taste to the soup without the need to add spices.

This recipe makes a lot. I usually freeze about half of it. So you’ll want to adjust it down if you’d rather not freeze any.

IMG_20101005_171343 Easy Veggie Soup

1 bottle vegetable juice (I used the 46-oz. size. It makes a lot.)
1 cup lima beans
1 small onion
3/4 can of beef broth
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup cubed, peeled potatoes
1 1/2 cups corn
2 peeled and sliced carrots
1 package frozen soup vegetables/mixed veggies
1/4 cup red wine

Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

And enjoy the warmth! :)

Delicious and Suspicious (July 6 2010) Riley Adams
Finger Licking Dead (June 2011)… Riley Adams
Pretty is as Pretty Dies –Elizabeth Spann Craig

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Let's all Veg Out Part 2

Last week I talked about grilled veggies prepared via indirect heat (or even, in a pinch, roasted in the oven). Today I'm taking a more direct approach.

While last week's recipe was one I've used many, many times, today's is brand new for me. This dish is not only easy and delicious, it can be served as a main entree if you're looking to veggie up your diet.

Adapting a recipe from MORE (can you tell I love that magazine?), here is a version of ratatouille, prepared on the grill. Yep, you read that right.

Grilled Veggie Ratatouille

1 red bell pepper
1 green pepper
2 medium to large yellow onions, cut into thick slices
2 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
2 yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise
5 plum tomatoes
handful of fresh basil leaves
extra-virgin olive oil

First off - I felt like Krista's Diva when I made this. The original recipe called for fresh thyme leaves. My grocery store was out, so I planned to use a little dried thyme at home. Guess what? I had run out!! (The Diva Runs out of Thyme). So I did without. You may want to add it back in...

I was cooking on a gas grill, so adjusting the heat was easy. Here goes:

I oiled the grates with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil and that paid huge dividends. Don't miss this step. Nothing stuck!

Once your grill is heated, place the whole peppers on the grates and roast them, turning often, until they're charred all the way around. Put them aside to cool.

Brush your other vegetables with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and grill them all -- until the onions are translucent and the zucchini and squash are slightly charred. Grill tomatoes until soft and bursting.

When the grilling is finished, cut all the veggies into half-inch pieces and toss with basil leaves. The original recipe suggested adding balsamic vinegar and we might try that next time, but we wanted to taste them plain this time. And they were wonderful. Grilling just adds such a wonderful flavor to vegetables. Plus it makes clean up a breeze. This version of ratatouille is one we'll come back to over and over again.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Let's all Veg Out Part 1

Before I go any further... do you all know what today is?

I bet you do!

Today is release day for Avery Aames' debut mystery, THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE! It's also the day Avery announces the winner of her "You Be the Sleuth" contest. Check out the results on Avery's website here.

Today is also the release day for ...

Riley Adams first Memphis Barbecue mystery DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS!

Please join me in congratulating my blog sisters on this exciting day. I encourage everyone reading this blog to rush out and pick up both these books. Not only are they filled with suspense, fun, and excitement, there's a lot of great foodie information in both as well. Don't miss them!

This week and next week I'll be talking about veggies on the grill. This week is one of my go-to side dishes that's always a hit in my house and can be prepared outside or inside. For next week, I'll try something new (but still very veggie) and report on the family's verdict -- which side dish wins top honors in the Hyzy house!

As I've mentioned before, my youngest daughter is vegetarian. That's been good news for all of us because we've been cutting down on the amount of meat we consume here. Not completely, of course, but a bit. It's been a real challenge for me to come up with new and different items to serve that can be used as main dishes. And although we haven't had 100% success, we're certainly having fun!

Today's super easy dish is a side, for sure. Next week's could stand in as a main dish. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

We use the following as a side when having dinner here. While my husband and other daughters may have a chicken or beef entree, our youngest enjoys a veggie burger or tofu-based dish. But, what we've come to love most of all is that these veggie leftovers make *phenomenal* additions to sandwiches. We all love our panini maker (thanks for the suggestion, Krista) and we use these veggies with provolone cheese (or sometimes pepper jack) on great breads. Who needs meat at that point? These sandwiches are incredible.

So, if you're looking for a side dish that keeps on giving, try...

Grilled vegetables - indirect heat

1 or 2 green bell peppers
1 or 2 red bell peppers
pint (or so) of mushrooms - I used baby bellas
1 purple onion
1 head garlic

I don't know why I prefer the green peppers cut into 1/2 inch chunks, and the red peppers cut into strips, but I do. Cut up the peppers however you like into good-sized pieces. This is not the time to chop. Remove mushroom stems and discard. Depending on the size of the mushroom caps, cut them in half or quarters. Cut the purple onion in half, then half again. Keep at it until the pieces are about 1/2 inch each (give or take). Separate garlic into whole cloves, smash and peel. I sometimes throw the whole cloves in if I'm feeling lazy, but I usually chop them up a bit to share the garlic wealth.

Place all veggies in a grill-safe pan, add a glug or two of olive oil and toss to coat. I don't salt or pepper these until they're finished.

Set your grill to indirect heat and place the pan in the center. These don't cook up super fast -- you'll have to keep checking and re-tossing as they roast. But eventually the peppers soften, the mushrooms lose their liquid and the onions become translucent. That's when they're ready. Bring them in, place in a serving dish... and there they are.

These veggies can also be roasted indoors in a 350 oven. We make these year-round because we enjoy them so much!

Next week - Time to veg out with direct heat!!


Friday, June 4, 2010

Quickies Challenge: MISSION...POSSIBLE!

Eyes Only

Take on the Quickies Morning, Noon and Night Cooking Challenge

Avocado and Feta Cheese must be used!

Open – add any ingredients to complete the dish


Chef and author Denise Fletcher of Quickies on the Dinner Table; Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks; and Natasha of Five Star Foodie Culinary Adventures.

Although one of the prizes for winning this challenge is Denise’s gorgeous cookbook, Quickies: Morning, Noon and Night, I must confess that I already purchased it, and I’m so very glad I did.

Quickies: Morning, Noon and Night
by Denise Fletcher
Denise's Quickies is not just a book of recipes. It's a joyous, vividly illustrated trek through breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, and desserts with a knowledgeable culinary professional by your side chatting wonderfully witty insights as you go. The recipes themselves are by turns eclectic, exciting, comforting, and inspiring. (I LOVE this book!)

In fact, inspired by the many useful tips she includes throughout (like how to pair wine and food or choose a tender cut of meat), I decided to make my own cheap, little visual aid to go with this recipe. Just click the arrow in the window below (and please hold your guffaws until you've finished reading the entire post…).

So what is my mission here? Amuse Denise, Lazaro, and Natasha with my own fumbling attempts at a recipe using any ingredients I wish as long as they include avocado and feta cheese.

Okay, here we go…

My first try working feta and avocado into the same recipe was this savory cheese tart. Pretty, isn’t she?

The filling for my tart (ricotta and feta) was delicious with the tomatoes and thyme. I planned on creating an avocado-cilantro coulis to drizzle over the slices, but ... I took a wrong turn with the crust. Instead of pastry dough, I wanted to try something very different. Too different as it turned out. You see, I’d just made a graham cracker crust for a frozen key lime pie (a Terry Odell special, stay tuned for that delicious recipe) by pulverizing sweet crackers and mixing in butter.

I decided to try the same kind of press-in crust method by swapping seasoned bread crumbs for the graham crackers and olive oil for the butter. Sounded logical. Tasted like shite.

Try, try again, right? But as I prepared to re-make the tart, another thought struck me. With the start of summer here in the USA, many households will be looking for meals to make on the grill or stovetop—anything to keep from using that oven.

I also thought about the ricotta, which is a very neutral carrier of flavor, just like...avocado. So, why not just mix the avocado pulp with the feta cheese? A generous squeeze of lime was a no-brainer for flavor and to keep the avocado pulp nice and green. (Note better living through food chemistry – an acid will prevent your avocado’s flesh from darkening right away.)

While you can certainly eat this yummy feta guacamole with tortilla chips, I had a much better idea for lunch. You see, I live in Queens, New York, a short hike from the neighborhood of Astoria, where Greek immigrants bake the most delicious pita bread in the US (IMO). So I decided to make the base a pita bread—Naan bread, flatbread, or a pre-baked round of pizza dough will work just as well.

Toppings? When nobody’s looking, I’ll be piling it on (red onions, roasted peppers, black olives, anchovies…) but since my Quickies pita pizza needs to be photographed, I decided to stick with sweet, brilliant and currently plentiful grape tomatoes. A little chopped cilantro adds aromatic floral fun for the olfactory senses as you bite and chew.

And that’s the ticket. Probably not a dish that will get me hired onto Wolfgang Puck’s gourmet pizza brigade, but a nice, light summer lunch just the same—easy, healthy, colorful, and best of all Quickies-inspired.

Quickies Challenge

A “Quickie”
Fresh Summer Pizza
with Feta Guacamole

Makes 1 serving


1 round of pita bread (or Naan or 8-inch round of flatbread or baked pizza dough)
1 tablespoon olive oil (approximately)
1 small ripe avocado (I use Hass)
1 teaspoon lime juice
2 ounces (about 50 grams) feta cheese
8 grape tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped


Step 1 - Toast the pita bread: For an outdoor grill: lightly coat the pita on both sides with olive oil. Place the round over the heat of your grill and turn several times until bread is toasted and crusty. For a stovetop: Coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil. When the pan is good and hot, add the pita bread, turning several times. Bread should not be soft when you remove it. You are doing more here than simply heating the bread; you are making it firm and crunchy. Plate the bread.

Step 2 – Make the feta guacamole: Remove the flesh from the avocado and mash it with the prongs of a fork. Mix in the lime juice. Crumble the feta cheese and continue mixing with a fork or spoon until you’ve created a smooth paste.

Step 3 – Assemble, top, and serve: Spoon the feta guacamole onto the toasted pita and use the back of the spoon to work it into a smooth, even layer. Place the grape tomato halves on top of the pizza, sprinkle on the cilantro. Slice into quarters and serve.

Additional topping ideas: This pizza is also delicious with roasted red peppers, black olives, anchovies, and red onions. Instead of cilantro, you might try chopped parsley or thyme leaves. You might also try tossing the grape tomato halves with olive oil, cumin, oregano, and sea salt before placing on the pizza. Then...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Cleo Coyle's Italian Fried Zucchini

Cleo Coyle's Italian Fried Zucchini

In America, when something is “breaded and fried,” the last step almost always involves a breading of some kind – flour, cornmeal, bread crumbs, or lately (for us fancy foodie folk) Japanese panko.

In Italy, vegetables and fish are often “indorati e fritti,” (or “dorati e fritti”) which translates to “gilded and fried”. With this method of frying, the food is dipped in flour, then in egg, and then fried. That’s right, there’s no final dredging in anything but egg.

The egg coating hitting the oil or butter in the pan is what gives the food its final gilded or golden color and the dish is almost always finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon. This is a delightful way to enjoy zucchini. How do I know? My husband can’t stand zucchini. But he absolutely loves this dish.

Like so many beloved dishes from native countries, an “Italian” recipe for a certain dish might differ from region to region, family to family, even house to house.

In the house where I grew up, in Western Pennsylvania, the zucchini were plentiful at the end of summer. Every morning my dad would bring in the day's freshly picked veggies from his garden and my mother and her older sister (who lived with us) would prepare them in different ways on different days.

I learned a lot from my Italian-born mother and aunt. Even so, their way of cooking Italian dishes is not always exactly my way. But daughters do grow into wives and mothers...and this is my house now.

For my own recipe of this classic Italian method
for frying zucchini, click the link below...
To get my recipe for
"Italian fried" zucchini,
click here

The recipe will appear in PDF format.
You can print it out or save it to your computer.

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about the books in my culinary mystery series,
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