Photo: Bite Me More

1. Balsamic Grilled Vegetables

Stuck for the perfect side dish? Can’t get your family to eat their vegetables? We’ve got a healthy and simple solution: fire up the barbecue. These balsamic and olive oil-marinated peppers, zucchini and portobello mushrooms are grilled to perfection and then stacked and served with a fresh rosemary sprig.


Balsamic Marinade

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


2 large red bell peppers, quartered lengthwise and seeded
2 large yellow peppers, quartered lengthwise and seeded
2 large zucchini, cut into 1/3-inch diagonal slices, total of 12
6 medium portobello mushrooms (approx. 3-inch diameter), peeled, gills gently scooped out with small spoon
6 rosemary sprigs (4″ in length), leaves removed from the bottom half


1) For the marinade, in a large bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Add red peppers, yellow peppers and zucchini slices, tossing well to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes. Add mushrooms, tossing gently and marinate another 15 minutes.

2) Lightly coat grill with non-stick cooking spray and heat to medium-high heat. Remove vegetables from marinade and keep marinade to brush on vegetables while grilling.

3) Working in batches, grill the vegetables until tender and lightly charred, about 8-10 minutes for the peppers and 7 minutes for the mushrooms and zucchini. Brush with marinade once or twice during cooking.

4) Remove from grill. When you are almost ready to serve the stacks, place the mushrooms upside down on a flat surface. Next, layer with a slice of red pepper, zucchini, yellow pepper and another slice of zucchini. Poke the rosemary sprig through the middle of each stack with the leaves at the top.

Serves 6

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2. Roasted Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza

Forget wishing for Wolfgang (Puck, that is) to walk through the door – with this easy pizza recipe, you can whip up your own scrumptious pie in a snap. Nothing can beat (especially take-out) the wonder of a tender homemade pizza crust loaded up with roasted vegetables and dollops of creamy ricotta cheese.


Homemade Pizza Crust

1 cup warm water
1 tbsp honey
1 pkg (2 ¼ tsp) active dry yeast
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Roasted Vegetable Topping

8 small red potatoes, washed and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 large zucchini, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 yellow pepper, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp dried rosemary
¼ tsp dried oregano

¼ cup pizza sauce
½ cup ricotta cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Olive oil
Kosher salt


1) For the dough, place warm water in a small bowl and dissolve honey in it. Sprinkle yeast over water, cover and let stand 10 minutes. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add flour, salt and olive oil. Using the dough hook attachment, add the yeast mixture on low speed. Turn speed to medium and continue to mix for 4 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Place in a large bowl that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm area for 1 hour.

2) Meanwhile, for the roasted vegetable topping, preheat oven to 450ºF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, toss potatoes, zucchini, peppers, olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and oregano together. Place vegetables on baking sheet and cook 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Remove from oven and set aside. Increase oven temperature to 475ºF.

3) After the dough has doubled in size, knead it for 1 minute. Spread dough into a lightly oiled 14-inch pizza pan. Spread pizza sauce onto dough and evenly sprinkle roasted vegetables over sauce. Using a tablespoon, drop dollops of ricotta cheese on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Lightly brush around the edges of the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake 12-14 minutes, until edges are golden. Let pizza rest 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Yield: 8-10 slices

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3. Farro, Spinach and Grilled Zucchini Salad

Think we’re jumping on the farro bandwagon with this delicious Farro, Spinach & Grilled Zucchini Salad? Not unless you consider ancient Romans trendy, because that’s how long this versatile and hearty whole grain has been around. With a nutty flavor and soft yet crunchy texture, farro delivers fiber, nutrients and protein, and is especially delicious when combined with juicy tomatoes, leafy spinach and grilled zucchini, tossed in a zesty balsamic dressing.


1 1/2 cups farro, uncooked
2 large zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 cups packed fresh spinach leaves, stems removed, thinly sliced
4 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup roasted cashews, chopped

Balsamic Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


1) For the salad, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add farro and cook for about 20-25 minutes over medium heat, until tender but still chewy. Drain well and transfer farro to a large mixing bowl. Let cool slightly.

2) Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Coat zucchini halves with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place the halves, skin side up, on the grill. Grill for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove and let cool. Once cool, cut zucchini into chunks and add to farro. Add cherry tomatoes, spinach and basil.

3) For the dressing, in a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, honey, salt and pepper. Toss salad with dressing and garnish top with chopped cashews. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6

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4. Eggplant and Zucchini Ratatouille Tart

I give Julia & Jacques (as in, Pepin) their due as French food gurus, however I would be remiss if I didn’t include Lisa in this list of culinary luminaries. One bite of her Eggplant and Zucchini Ratatouille Tart – flaky buttery crust, tender eggplant, zucchini and onion, creamy ricotta cheese, sweet Roma tomatoes – and you’ll be tipping your beret to Chef Lisa.


Butter Crust

1 ½ cups flour
½ tsp kosher salt
8 tbsp cold butter, cut into cubes
4 tbsp ginger ale

Vegetable Filling

2 small eggplants, thinly sliced
2 zucchini, thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large white onion, thinly sliced

¾ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup tomato sauce
2 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese


1) For the crust, combine flour, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until coarse meal, about the size of peas. Slowly add the ginger ale, pulsing just until the dough starts to come together. Turn the dough out onto the counter, shape into a round disc and tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

2) Preheat oven to 350ºF. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to fit a 10-inch tart pan (with a removable bottom). Place the dough in the tart pan and trim excess dough. Press aluminum foil over the dough and weigh down with uncooked rice, beans or pie weights. Place tart pan on baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and remove foil. Return to oven, raise temperature to 400ºF and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until no longer shiny and wet. Remove from oven and let cool.

3) For the filling, place the eggplant slices in a colander and sprinkle lightly with a few pinches of salt. Allow to drain for 25-30 minutes. Rinse eggplant under cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray. Lay eggplant and zucchini slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Brush with 2 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in 400ºF oven for 12 minutes, until slightly softened. Remove vegetables from oven and set aside. Lower oven temperature to 350ºF.

4) In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté 5-6 minutes, until soft.

5) To assemble the tart, spread ricotta cheese over baked tart crust. Follow with tomato sauce, spreading evenly over ricotta. Scatter cooked onion slices on top. Starting from the outside of the crust, begin to spiral the eggplant, zucchini and tomato slices, slightly overlapping until the surface is covered. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350ºF for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before unmolding and slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6

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5. Baked Zucchini Fries with Caramelized Onion Dip

Without fail, before we can get these Crunchy Baked Zucchini Fries with Caramelized Onion Dip to the platter, they’re half gone. Baked until golden and crisp, these “fries,” dunked in a richly flavorful caramelized onion dip, are addictive!


Zucchini Fries

3 medium zucchini, peeled and cut into 3-inch-long sticks
2 tsp kosher salt
¼ cup flour
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
2 tbsp olive oil

Caramelized Onion Dip

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large sweet onion, sliced
1 tsp brown sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp yellow mustard
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper


1) Place cut zucchini in a strainer, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Let drain 45 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, prepare onion dip. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions, brown sugar and salt, cooking 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once onions are softened and golden, remove from heat and stir in cider vinegar. Place onion mixture in a food processor or blender. Add honey and mustard, blending until smooth. Place in a bowl and stir in mayonnaise and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

3) Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with non-stick cooking spray. Remove zucchini from strainer, rinsing very well under cold water to remove salt. Pat zucchini dry with a kitchen towel. Place flour in a medium bowl, eggs in another bowl and the panko, Parmesan and Italian herbs in a third bowl. Working one at a time, dip zucchini in flour, shaking off excess. Next dip in egg and coat with panko mixture, pressing well to adhere crumbs. Place on prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining zucchini. Drizzle entire sheet of zucchini with 2 tbsp olive oil. Bake 12 minutes, turn sticks and continue baking 6-8 minutes more, until golden brown and crispy. Serve immediately with caramelized onion dip.

Serves 4-6

Authors of bestselling cookbooks Bite Me, Bite Me Too and Lick Your Plate, saucy sisters Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat love eating, feeding, entertaining and dishing up easy recipes at