Grilled Vegetable and Quinoa Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

This salad is fresh, clean and super easy to make–it’s just grilled vegetables, quinoa and a simple vinaigrette. I absolutely love grilling fresh veggies in the summer! They develop this amazing caramelization that brings out their natural sweetness, so you don’t have to add anything to them other than a little olive oil and salt to make them delicious. That’s probably why the dressing for this salad is so simple–just lemon juice, Dijon mustard and olive oil. Add some basil and mint for more fresh flavor, some slivered almonds for a crunch and BAM! Simple, healthy, delicious salad.

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This salad would be a perfect accompaniment to anything cooked on the grill. With all the protein from the quinoa and the almonds, you could even eat this as a tasty vegetarian, even vegan, entreé.

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Zucchini Parmesan

I realize zucchini season is basically over at this point, but this recipe is definitely one to file away for next summer, especially if you’re one of those people with your own garden who inevitably ends up swamped with tons of zucchini during the summer. This is a great way to use up those zucchini and it’s WAY more interesting than just making another loaf of zucchini bread. This dish is a creative, summery twist on chicken or eggplant parmesan.

This would be a great meal option for a time when you have to feed both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Just leave the prosciutto slices out of some of the stacks for a vegetarian option.

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This recipe has quite a few steps and honestly it’s pretty time consuming. It’s not at all hard to make, but it’s certainly not something you’re going to whip up on a weeknight in 30 minutes or less.

I didn’t follow the sauce recipe that’s included below. I had several batches of my own homemade marinara in the freezer, so I just used that. This sauce recipe would be great if you have fresh tomatoes from your garden. If not, I’m sure you could substitute a large can of crushed tomatoes for the fresh ones or you could just use a jar of your favorite tomato sauce.

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Having my finished food look like the picture that accompanies the recipe in a book or magazine is one of the best feelings in the world. It’s a feeling I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of.

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Goat Cheese Tart with Marinated Tomato Zucchini Salad

This tart is a somewhat rustic yet elegant way to showcase the fresh vegetables that are so delicious this time of year. The veggies have a slight tang from marinating in a super simple vinaigrette, which perfectly complements the creamy cheese in the tart. This dish would be great as a summer appetizer or side dish. It would also be fabulous for brunch, or even dinner served alongside a fried egg with a slightly runny yolk. If goat cheese isn’t your thing, you could make the tart with just ricotta, or substitute in another soft cheese such as cream cheese.

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This tart ABSOLUTELY has to be made with fresh, in-season produce. The raw tomato and zucchini salad won’t taste even remotely the same if made with out of season produce purchased at the supermarket in the middle of January. I highly recommend visiting your local farmer’s market not only to get the ingredients for this tart, but for fresh, flavorful produce for other meals as well. At the market I was able to find heirloom cherry tomatoes that were so delicious I could have eaten the whole pint plain, and I’m not a raw tomato person AT ALL!  When I got home from the market, I weighed all my goodies and calculated what I would have paid for them at the grocery store. I ended up paying at least 35% less, got food that probably tasted better, and had the added bonus of knowing I was helping support farmers in my area. That’s a win, win, win if you ask me!

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6-Layer Greek Dip

My Greek kick continued this past weekend when I made this dip to bring to church on Sunday. As I mentioned before, I always try to bring at least one healthy option on the weeks I’m signed up, but for some reason I always have a hard time picking something healthy to make. When I’m planning what to bring I always have TONS of cookies, cakes, pastries, etc. that I want to make, but never any ideas for a healthier option. After scouring my Pinterest boards, and sifting through the multitude of pages I’ve torn out of magazines, I finally settled on this Greek dip.

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I apologize for this absolutely horrible picture. After setting the time for my alarm on Saturday night, I forgot to actually turn it on and so woke up an hour later than I intended to. That means I ended up running around like a crazy person trying to get myself and the food ready in time to leave for church. Although if you ask Greg, I’m sure he’d say that I run around like a crazy person every Sunday morning, even when I don’t have food to get ready.

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Watermelon and Haloumi Salad

If you’ve never tried haloumi cheese, you should definitely go to the store right now and get some. It’s the coolest cheese ever! Haloumi is a salty Greek cheese that you can grill. That’s right! You can throw this cheese straight onto a grill or into a pan and cook it! Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Lauren, you’re crazy! I know what happens when I’m grilling burgers or making a grilled cheese sandwich and some melted cheese oozes and comes into contact with the grill or pan. It burns almost instantly and I have a huge mess to clean up.” I’ve experienced that many, many times myself, but this is no ordinary cheese! When haloumi is heated it softens and gets slightly gooey, but keeps its shape and develops a beautiful golden crust on the outside. It’s all the goodness of a grilled cheese sandwich without the bread!

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Haloumi is a very salty cheese. It’s easily just as salty, if not more so, than feta, so I wouldn’t recommend just buying a hunk of haloumi and planning on coming home, grilling it up and eating it straight. You probably know that watermelon tastes great with a bit of salt, which means it pairs perfectly with this salty cheese.

The original version of this recipe simply involved topping some slices of grilled haloumi with cubed watermelon that had been tossed in dressing. I could tell though that the recipe would make much more dressing than you’d need, so I decided to put the whole thing over a bed of romaine and make a meal out of it.

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Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

I made this dish for dinner for my family’s Father’s Day celebration. This recipe is great because it will serve a lot of people, and you can make it in advance and just pop it in the oven a half hour before you want to eat.

This recipe is about as close to a guilt-free pasta dish as you can get. I make it with whole wheat penne, and it’s loaded with so many vegetables that there’s almost more veggies than pasta.  With all those hearty vegetables and the smokiness from the smoked mozzarella, this meal will please vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

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