Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine


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Weekly Recipe: Creole Dipping Sauce with Green Beans

I’m pretty excited about the recipe I’ll be sharing with you today.  When I came across it in The Maine Summers Cookbook, I knew it would be a perfect choice for a summer party we were going to.  It’s fun, different, and healthy – which as we all know can be a challenge to find in any ‘chips and dips’ section!  Typically, these recipes involve mayo, cream cheese, breadcrumbs, and any number of other things that make them deliciously bad for you.

In addition to its healthfulness, it sounded quick and easy (my number one recipe test), and it can be made ahead.  I was sold, and I hope you are too!

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped scallions, white and green parts
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 drops Tabasco sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • Dijon or other mustard
  • 1 lb. green beans
  • 1 lb. wax beans
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • Several flat-leaf parsley sprigs for garnish

To make the sauce, place the vegetable oil, garlic, scallions, celery, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cayenne, Tabasco, paprika, ketchup, vinegar, horseradish, and mustard in a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until the mixture is smooth – about one minute.  Cover and refrigerate. (Easy – check!)

To prepare the beans, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of salt and the green and wax beans.  Cook until just tender, about 4 minutes.  Remove the beans to a colander and rinse under cold water.  Drain and pat dry, then cover and refrigerate.  Bring the beans to room temperature before serving. (Also easy!)

To serve, place the sauce in a small glass bowl on a platter and garnish with parsley sprigs.  Arrange the beans in a spoke pattern around the bowl of sauce.  This recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups of sauce, or 10 servings.

Colorful and flavorful!

Colorful and flavorful!

As you can see, I served the sauce with both green beans and celery sticks – the cookbook also recommends red and green bell pepper strips.  The sauce can be made 2-3 days ahead and the beans can be prepared one day ahead.

I really liked the flavor of the sauce – although it honestly could have been even a little spicier for me.  It had a nice ‘zing’ and satisfied my unhealthy snack cravings with veggies instead!  As the summer parties continue, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for other healthy appetizer / snack ideas to share!  Have you come across any healthy recipes that are easy to take to cookouts and parties?


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Weekly Recipe: Orzo and Vegetable Salad

It should come as no surprise that I tend to be most drawn to salads that include a form of pasta (although, this arguably makes them less healthy and certainly higher in carbohydrates), and I tabbed this recipe as one to try during my first flip-through of my Maine Summers Cookbook.  This dish is a great weeknight meal for us, because it’s quick, easy, and filling.  You could easily add chicken or shrimp to it as well.

Colorful ingredients!

Colorful ingredients!

You’ll need:

  • 2 1/2 cups orzo
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, blanched and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions, green parts only
  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped summer squash
  • Good quality olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the orzo according to the package directions, drain, and cool completely.  Combine the orzo with the tomatoes, peas, red onion, scallions, zucchini, and summer squash in a large salad bowl.  Dress with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve at room temperature.

This salad stores well in an airtight container for up to 3 days, and I actually liked the flavor better on the second day.  This could be a good make-ahead dish for a party or light dinner.  I added some feta cheese to my serving, which was a delicious addition.  It just seemed to go well with the tomatoes, red onions, and other veggies.

Great summer dinner!

Great summer dinner!

As I mentioned above, I think you could certainly add chicken, shrimp, or other seafood to this pasta salad to make it heartier.  The flavor of this dish, not surprisingly, reminded me very much of a Greek Tuna Pasta Salad that I like to make for many of the same reasons – it’s quick, easy, and filling.  I’ll keep that on the list to share with you all sometime!


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Weekly Recipe: Oven-Roasted Summer Squash

When my mom came down to visit a few weeks ago, she also brought a new cookbook for me (thanks, Mom!).  Titled “The Maine Summers Cookbook,” it is by a mother and daughter, Linda Greenlaw and Martha Greenlaw, who live on Isle au Haut in Maine.  Jam-packed with recipes for summer days in Maine, what I’ve discovered and particularly enjoy about this cookbook is that while there is an emphasis on foods traditionally recognized as Maine staples, the recipes often put a new spin on them, incorporating unique ingredients and flavors.

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Naturally, we wanted to try the new cookbook out right away – so we went to the grocery store and picked up the ingredients for several recipes – including the oven-roasted summer squash and Ben’s peppery potato wedges.  And while we were there, a massive thunderstorm rolled through Charlotte (reportedly one of the most damaging storms this year) and knocked the power out in our neighborhood.  It remained out for several hours, so we ended up heading to a local Italian restaurant, Rudy’s.  I always enjoy Rudy’s because of their friendly service, good prices for quality food, and wine specials, but it’s just not the same as trying recipes from a new Maine cookbook!  We did end up making Ben’s peppery potato wedges with salmon the next night (and they were really good!), but my mom had to head back to Maine before we got around to the weekly recipe featured here today, oven-roasted summer squash.

I love summer squash and eat it any number of ways – raw, with hummus or ranch, or roasted, sauted, etc.  I decided to give this side a whirl in addition to baked salmon and wilted kale.  It can be found on page 165.

You’ll need:

  • 2 lbs. yellow summer squash or zucchini
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Ingredients

Ingredients

Preheat the oven to 450, and begin your prep by cutting the squash into 1/2 inch thick rounds.  Scatter them over a 17×11-inch rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper to taste, and rosemary.  Toss by hand to evenly coat.

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

Roast, turning occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until caramelized.  Then enjoy! (this recipe serves 8)

There are a few things I would do differently when making this recipe next time – I’d cut my slices a little more thinly, add a bit more rosemary, and cut down just slightly on the olive oil (I felt they were a little too saturated on oil once caramelized).  Having said that, this was a tasty, easy side to put together for a week night meal, and it rounded out our healthy plate nicely!

Now that's the look of a healthy plate.

Now that’s the look of a healthy plate.