I LOVE banana peppers on sandwiches and salads. They add a little heat and a ton of flavor….however (for me), only if they are pickled. Our garden is kicking off some serious banana peppers already, so I couldn’t waste time preserving these beauties as more are ripening right behind them!
These were literally all picked within the last 3 days.
I cut the tops off, ran my knife around the inside to seed and devein, then sliced away.
After transferring the peppers to a mason jar and topping with about a teaspoon of minced garlic, I combined 3 cups white vinegar, 2 cups water, 2 tablespoons salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar and whisked over medium heat until the salt and sugar dissolved. Let it cool completely, then pour mixture into your mason jar.
Refrigerate for at least 24 hours ~ these puppies just get better with age.😋
Tip of the day: Eggplant is another veggie that many folks seem to avoid. The most common complaint is that they taste bitter. Well, the simple secret to bringing out their wonderful flavor without a trace of bitterness is salt. Peel and slice your eggplant. Arrange a layer of slices in the bottom of your colander and salt HEAVILY on both sides. Now stack the remaining slices on top of each other ~ now you only need to heavily salt the top (see what I did there?!). Let those beauties sit in the colander in their salt rub for a good 30-45 minutes. Now rinse well, dry, and they are ready for your grill, oven or pan.🍆🍆🍆
Aside from eggplant lasagna, eggplant parmesan is one of my favorite dishes. It’s a bit labor intensive, but so worth it!! Once you have prepared your eggplant slices, coat each in beaten egg then Italian style breadcrumbs. I place 4-5 slices at a time in EVOO warmed to a medium heat. They take about 3 minutes per side depending on thickness. Once all of the slices have been lightly fried and placed on a paper towel lined plate, prepare your marinara as follows:
This is how golden I like mine. (I have a freezer meal business and this is a top seller. This pic is from a meal prep.)
One pot of homemade marinara (or you can use a store bought jar if you like) plus 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes and 2 8 oz cans of tomato sauce.
Layer your eggplant in a baking dish, top with marinara, then mozzarella and parmesan. Repeat.
Finish with a healthy amount of cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes until hot and bubbly. Enjoy!
Adapted from: EatingWellSpendingLess
Pasta salad is one of the most delicious side dishes in my opinion. It is a summer food that pairs perfectly with everything from burgers to chicken to mile high sandwiches. The key to amazing pasta salad is using the freshest veggies and fruit during the peak of the season.
I start with a nice hearty pasta cooked al dente such as a penne or rotini. Then I combine the following in a large bowl:
-A container of mixed rainbow cherry tomatoes, 2 small zucchinis sliced into half moons, 1 red pepper thinly sliced, 1 cup corn sliced off the cob, a few green onions sliced finely, 2 ripe, firm peaches sliced, 2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken (optional), and a handful of fresh basil and cilantro chopped.
Now, you can put just about any homemade dressing on top but this one tastes perfect with this salad:
Combine 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, 1/2 cup EVOO, juice and zest of a lemon, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, and 1/4 cup chopped basil. Pour over mixture, combine, then fold in your pasta. Enjoy!!!
Adapted from: Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen
Here is another one of my favorite sides to eat with all of our Mexican inspired dishes. This one is a low-carb option bursting with flavor.🌽
Roasted Mexican Corn Salad:
~Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat in a heavy skillet.
~Add corn kernels from 5 cobs. Don’t stir it, just let it char for 5-6 minutes, then stir and let char again for 3-4 minutes.
~Add 1-2 seeded and diced jalapeños, sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
~Remove from heat.
~3 tablespoons mayonnaise
~1 grated clove of garlic
~2 sliced green onions
~1 handful chopped cilantro
~Juice of 1 lime
~2-3 tablespoons crumbled feta or cotija cheese
Pour your corn and jalapeño into the mixture and fold together. Sprinkle with chili powder. Top with chopped avocado.💃🏻
We LOVE eggplant at my house. One of my 2 year old’s favorite things besides Eggplant Parmesan is my Eggplant Lasagna. This low carb meal can be served meatless or with the ground meat of your choice. Essentially the eggplant replaces the pasta, and the flavor goes through the roof!!The easiest way to slice the eggplant is with a mandolin, and I use the largest setting (1/4 inch). (Peel them first!)
Warm a couple tablespoons of EVOO in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Sauté salted eggplant slices for a couple of minutes on each side until they soften. I only do a couple at a time and then place on a paper towel lined plate. Once you finish sautéing all of your eggplant, prepare the sauce of your choice. Construct just like lasagna:
Eggplant Slices ~ Ricotta ~ Sauce ~ Mozzarella ~ Shredded Parmesan ~ Repeat
Finish with a layer of eggplant topped with cheese.😋
Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for about an hour until browned and bubbly.☺️
We grow lots of eggplants. Most of the veggies we use come from our garden during the summer months including the eggplants I use in my freezer meals. So much fun!
Look how beautifully the eggplant slices replace boring ole lasagna noodles.
Fresh from the oven. It’s impossible not to have seconds. 🍆🍆🍆
For some reason, most folks don’t get too excited over brussels sprouts. They happen to be one of my favorite things to eat with a nice, juicy steak. My version of this underrated veggie may just change your mind.😉Wash your sprouts and halve them lengthwise. Coat them with a couple tablespoons of EVOO. Now pour them onto a lined baking sheet, sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste, and roast in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together 1 tablespoon EVOO, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, and 2 tablespoons honey (plus a bit more S&P). Toss roasted spouts in your mixture and serve. I even eat the leftovers cold on a salad the next day ~ yum!!