Grinding Hamburger Meat 101

Grinding Hamburger Meat 101: The best part about grinding hamburger meat yourself is being able to have control over what goes into your hamburger meat. | TheMountainKitchen.com

I’m here to tell you, buying your own meat and grinding hamburger meat is not overrated.

David and I finally broke down and bought the meat grinding attachment of our mixer to grind our own hamburger meat. We did it! We ground our own hamburger meat!

We have actually made burgers from fresh ground meat a couple of times now and the results were DELICIOUS! Store-bought ground beef is convenient, but grinding your own hamburger meat for burgers, meatballs, chili or even meatloaf are all taken to a whole new level.

Today, I thought I would share a little Grinding Hamburger Meat 101 with you. I’m not saying that grinding meat two times makes us experts on the subject of grinding hamburger meat by any means, but I think we can offer you some insight into the process, based on our recent experiences and share some of the information we have researched about grinding hamburger meat. 

So let’s jump into this grinding hamburger meat, shall we?

Grinding Hamburger Meat 101: The best part about grinding hamburger meat yourself is being able to have control over what goes into your hamburger meat. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Grinding Hamburger Meat 101:

The best part about grinding hamburger meat yourself is being able to have total control over what goes into your hamburger meat. Not to mention you get the freshest quality meat possible. I recently read a disturbing article over at AmazingRibs.com, about what the USDA allows and considers acceptable for human consumption. We’re talking additives, ammonia and who knows how long the product had been frozen before grinding. I seriously don’t want to think about what I have eaten, but it sure was good after being licked by grill flames. Quality is really important to us and quality makes a difference in how your food tastes. Making really great hamburger starts with the meat selection.

#1 MEAT SELECTION: What’s in the Grind

Fat equals juiciness and flavor, people! This is why the lean-to-fat ratio in ground beef is critical for locking in moisture and for great beef flavor. In our opinion, if you want a good burger, 80/20 is definitely the best blend when grinding hamburger meat. 20% fat is ideal if you want to cook your burger anywhere from medium-rare to medium-well. Of course, you may be like my mama and want your beef well done, if you like your burger well-done, then maybe you should be more like 40% fat. If you want it to be really rare, you would bring down the fat content. Trust me, you don’t want a lot of unrendered fat in your burger.

When putting together your burgers cuts of meat, you should always be concerned with the quality of the meat. Sometimes that means paying a little more money. High-end cuts of meat, such as porterhouse or filet mignon are not necessary for really good burgers. If that suits your fancy, by all means go right ahead; just don’t forget to leave money in the budget for good wine and beer. Am I right?!?! 

No matter what meat selections you make, always remember to keep a good 80/20 ratio

Grinding Hamburger Meat 101: The best part about grinding hamburger meat yourself is being able to have control over what goes into your hamburger meat. | TheMountainKitchen.com

SIRLOIN TIP: Sirloin Tip comes from the thigh part of the leg round or hip of the cow. It’s an economically lean horseshoe-shaped cut, with robust beefy flavor.

BRISKET: Brisket comes from the belly of a cow, with moderate to low-fat content, that is really beefy, because it is a muscle that is used everyday. It really makes a nice rich burger.

CHUCK-EYE: Chuck is an amazing cut of beef that comes from the shoulder of a cow. It’s marbled throughout with delicious, juicy fat and a cow has a lot of it, in comparison to other cuts. If you used nothing else, always use chuck. It has the most flavor and guarantees you to create a top-notch burger.

For our burgers, we used a third each of Chuck, New York Strip and Sirloin Tip the first time we ground our burgers and Chuck, Brisket and Sirloin Tip for the second batch. We used the New York Strip the first grind, because of our limitations in the meat case. The main difference in our two burger blends was Brisket versus New York Strip. There was a slight difference in the richness of the burger as well as a textural difference because the brisket tends to add a nice graininess to the meat that we really liked.

Grinding Hamburger Meat 101: The best part about grinding hamburger meat yourself is being able to have control over what goes into your hamburger meat. | TheMountainKitchen.com

#2 THE MEAT GRINDER: The right tool for the job

Even if you do not have a meat grinder at home, you don’t have to miss out on an opportunity to grind your own meat. There are some folks that use a food processor to do the trick. In my honest, personal opinion, I have never been able to get a food process to treat food the way it should or how I want it to, so I do not recommend it. I would use a manual hand-operated grinder before using a food processor. A manual grinder is another option to grinding your own hamburger. This is the same type of meat grinder used in the olden days. They are still available today at reasonable prices and they last forever. Perhaps a grandparent has one in the cabinet that hasn’t been used in decades?

You could also ask your butcher to grind up a meat selection of your choice, but where’s the fun in that?

If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, you can purchase a relatively inexpensive grinding attachment. We are impressed with ours. The grinder attachment is easy to assemble, dismantle and clean, with a very consistent grind using a coarse or fine grind metal die, that are included. You will want to use the coarse grinding die for grinding hamburgers.

#3 GRINDING THE MEAT: How to grind chunks of meat into burgers

Using a sharp knife, remove any silverskin, cartilage and bones. Our first batch of ground hamburger had to be stopped midway through to clean out the die. The silverskin is tough and will not grind.

Cut the meat into 1 to 1 ½-inch cubes.

Grinding Hamburger Meat 101: The best part about grinding hamburger meat yourself is being able to have control over what goes into your hamburger meat. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Now it’s up to you whether or not to chill the meat. Most articles I have read say to chill the meat well after cutting it. Some even go as far as to put the meat into the freezer for about 20 to 30 minutes prior to grinding. In our experience, the meat was still pretty chilly from the refrigerator, and we did not bother. David worked fast to cut it up and the meat ground up nicely as it was. However, it is important to keep in mind that the warmer the meat gets, the softer it becomes and the fat tends to become pulpy and mealy when it’s ground.

SAFETY FIRST!

Food-related illnesses can be life threatening! Cold meat is important for food safety. Meat should remain cold at all times. Don’t let it sit out while you go outside to talk to your neighbor or something. Make sure you wash your hands and keep the surface clean before and after grinding the meat. 

Grinding Hamburger Meat 101: The best part about grinding hamburger meat yourself is being able to have control over what goes into your hamburger meat. | TheMountainKitchen.com

When you finish grinding the meat, clean the grinder thoroughly with hot soapy water, even before it goes into a dish washer. If you do not have a dishwasher (why the hell don’t you?), it may be a good idea to submerge the parts of the grinding mechanism in hot boiling water to sanitize them.

Store any unused ground meat in an airtight zip top bag inside the fridge or place the meat in a freezer bag until ready to use.

The best way to check out the flavor of your efforts is to form the ground meat into patties, crack open a beer and fire up the grill! That’s exactly what David and I did this past fourth of July. We celebrated with fresh ground good ol American cheeseburgers!

Grinding Hamburger Meat 101: The best part about grinding hamburger meat yourself is being able to have control over what goes into your hamburger meat. | TheMountainKitchen.com

We used our Build A Better Burger guide and made some amazing cheeseburgers with this amazingly fresh beef. David made his famous BBQ Bacon Cheese Burgers (I should probably share the recipe with you sometime?) and painted on some Classic Barbecue Sauce on his. We even threw on a few hot dogs too!

Grinding Hamburger Meat 101: The best part about grinding hamburger meat yourself is being able to have control over what goes into your hamburger meat. | TheMountainKitchen.com

When the patties were about done, David cheesed them all up.

Grinding Hamburger Meat 101: The best part about grinding hamburger meat yourself is being able to have control over what goes into your hamburger meat. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Grinding Hamburger Meat 101: The best part about grinding hamburger meat yourself is being able to have control over what goes into your hamburger meat. | TheMountainKitchen.com

That evening we sat down to some pretty amazing cheeseburgers!

Grinding Hamburger Meat 101: The best part about grinding hamburger meat yourself is being able to have control over what goes into your hamburger meat. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Burger blending is an art and it involves a lot of trial and error. Take control of what you consume and try grinding your own blend. We can’t wait to experiment some more. Perhaps we will do some sliders with Mix-Ins? Stay tuned…

Have fun and enjoy!


Squash Blossom Quesadillas

This squash blossom quesadillas recipe only has three ingredients. With each bite the quesadilla has a delicate zucchini flavor wrapped in gooey cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

As promised, I have another squash blossom recipe to share with you this summer. It’s a recipe for Squash Blossom Quesadillas. You’ll be delighted to know that this recipe only has three ingredients. Yes, THREE!

A farmer at one of our favorite farmers’ market stands told us that squash blossom quesadillas were his favorite way to eat squash blossoms. The idea sounded delicious and David and I had to find out for ourselves.

The quesadillas were so easy to make and in a matter of minutes we sat down to eat. With each bite of the quesadilla, you get a delicate zucchini flavor wrapped in gooey cheese. It’s heavenly!

This squash blossom quesadillas recipe only has three ingredients. With each bite the quesadilla has a delicate zucchini flavor wrapped in gooey cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

If you grow your own zucchini, pick the flowers from the vine and try these quesadillas for yourself. It’s the best way to avoid this sometimes, pricey delicacy.

Here’s how you make these delicious squash blossom quesadillas:

This squash blossom quesadillas recipe only has three ingredients. With each bite the quesadilla has a delicate zucchini flavor wrapped in gooey cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Squash Blossom Quesadillas | Servings: 2 | Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 10-inch flour or corn tortillas
  • 1 cup Mexican Cheese Blend
  • 8 to 10 squash blossoms

Directions:

Prepare the squash blossoms: Using your fingers to carefully separate the flower petals, without breaking them and remove the pistil in the center. Rinse the flowers under cold water, paying attention not to damage petals. Lay them spaced out on a paper towel and gently pat dry and cut away the stems. ~ Learn more about this HERE.

This squash blossom quesadillas recipe only has three ingredients. With each bite the quesadilla has a delicate zucchini flavor wrapped in gooey cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Heat a heavy pan over medium heat. Place the tortilla in the warm pan; heat the tortilla for about 15 seconds on each side. Sprinkle half of the tortilla with about ¼ cup of the cheese. Top the cheese with 4 to 5 squash blossoms, then top with another ¼ cup of the cheese. Fold the tortilla in half and press down lightly with a spatula. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for about a minute more, or until the tortilla is thoroughly warmed and the cheese has melted.

This squash blossom quesadillas recipe only has three ingredients. With each bite the quesadilla has a delicate zucchini flavor wrapped in gooey cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Repeat to make the second squash blossom quesadilla, using the remaining ingredients.

Serve warm.

This squash blossom quesadillas recipe only has three ingredients. With each bite the quesadilla has a delicate zucchini flavor wrapped in gooey cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Once again we were blown away by the flavor of these versatile blossoms. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on some squash blossoms you’ve got to make these quesadillas. You’ll love them!

This squash blossom quesadillas recipe only has three ingredients. With each bite the quesadilla has a delicate zucchini flavor wrapped in gooey cheese. | TheMountainKitchen.com
Print
Squash Blossom Quesadillas
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

This squash blossom quesadillas recipe only has three ingredients. With each bite the quesadilla has a delicate zucchini flavor wrapped in gooey cheese.

Course: Appetizer, lunch, Main Course
Servings: 2
Author: Debbie Spivey
Ingredients
  • 2 10-inch flour or corn tortillas
  • 1 cup Mexican Cheese Blend
  • 8 to 10 squash blossoms
Instructions
  1. Prepare the squash blossoms: Using your fingers to carefully separate the flower petals, without breaking them and remove the pistil in the center. Rinse the flowers under cold water, paying attention not to damage petals. Lay them spaced out on a paper towel and gently pat dry and cut away the stems. 

  2. Heat a heavy pan over medium heat. Place the tortilla in the warm pan; heat the tortilla for about 15 seconds on each side. Sprinkle half of the tortilla with about ¼ cup of the cheese. Top the cheese with 4 to 5 squash blossoms, then top with another ¼ cup of the cheese. Fold the tortilla in half and press down lightly with a spatula. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for about a minute more, or until the tortilla is thoroughly warmed and the cheese has melted.
  3. Repeat to make the second squash blossom quesadilla, using the remaining ingredients.
  4. Serve warm.

Grilled Stuffed Flank Steak With Spicy Capicola and Provolone

Grilled stuffed flank steak is a juicy steak rolled into a pinwheel with rich garlicky Italian meat, cheese and herbs, on a skewer. Italian Meat Lollipops! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Imagine a lean, boneless and tender flank steak rolled up into a pinwheel with rich garlicky Italian meat, cheese and herbs, on a skewer, grilled to perfection. This grilled stuffed flank steak is just like a giant lollipop! Yes, I’m talking about juicy Italian Meat Lollipops!

Having this blog lets me travel back in time. I can revisit recipes that we have tried. I could not believe that the first time David and I made grilled stuffed flank steak was almost three years ago. Time sure has gotten away from me. I had big visions and intentions of stuffing other flank steaks with all kinds of things, but I failed to make that happen. Since it has been so long since we had this grilled stuffed flank steak I wanted to revisit this recipe. I needed a stuffed flank steak taste bud refresher.

Grilled stuffed flank steak is a juicy steak rolled into a pinwheel with rich garlicky Italian meat, cheese and herbs, on a skewer. Italian Meat Lollipops! | TheMountainKitchen.com

This time,  we stuffed the flank steak with an Italian spicy capicola instead of prosciutto. We originally set out to follow the previous recipe, but we could not get into the parking lot at our regular grocery store and we abandoned the store and went to another one. We searched the deli counter over and there wasn’t a single slice of prosciutto anywhere. Perhaps if we had inquired about prosciutto to the deli clerk, she could have helped us, but I found a package of spicy capicola. I couldn’t help but think that that would be a better match for the flank steak and could really stand up to the beef a little better than prosciutto, so I threw it into the cart as we proceeded to work our way around the store for our other groceries.

Another change to the original recipe was onion powder. I overlooked the shallots when reviewing the recipe and even though David pointed them out at the store, I didn’t realize we needed them. I can vaguely remember the shallots being a little raw and toothy last time. The onion powder provided flavor without the bite. I also grated the garlic and smeared it across the steak, instead of sprinkling it with minced garlic. Overall, these two changes were good ones.

In the words of Bob Ross: “Happy Accidents!”

Grilled stuffed flank steak is a juicy steak rolled into a pinwheel with rich garlicky Italian meat, cheese and herbs, on a skewer. Italian Meat Lollipops! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Since the stuffing ingredients did not require much time to cook, we also grilled these stuffed flank steaks just like we would a regular ribeye steak. A good hot sear and fast!

Here’s the new recipe:

Grilled stuffed flank steak is a juicy steak rolled into a pinwheel with rich garlicky Italian meat, cheese and herbs, on a skewer. Italian Meat Lollipops! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Grilled Stuffed Flank Steak With Spicy Capicola and Provolone
Servings: 8 | Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 flank steak (2 to 2 ½-pounds)
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons oregano, dried
  • 6 to 8 slices ounces spicy capicola
  • 4 to 6 slices thinly sliced provolone
  • 8 to 12 skewers ~ we have metal ones, soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes prior
  • 3+ pieces of 12-inch long butcher’s twine, optional to help cut the steaks
  • extra virgin olive oil, for oiling grate

Directions:

Using a mallet, place a piece of wax paper over the meat and pound the flank steak into a rough rectangle shape.

I am here to tell you freezer paper or butcher paper will change your life in the kitchen. I have been using it like crazy lately for anything messy. It catches all the crumbs and creates a clean work space that you can clean up in seconds, just by balling it up and throwing it into the trash can. I used freezer paper for this job. So much easier! GET A ROLL!

Grilled stuffed flank steak is a juicy steak rolled into a pinwheel with rich garlicky Italian meat, cheese and herbs, on a skewer. Italian Meat Lollipops! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Position the steak so that grain runs parallel to edge of counter, season with the salt and pepper, grated garlic, onion powder, and oregano evenly over surface of steak. Lay the capicola slices evenly over steak. Leave a 1-inch border along top edge. Cover capicola with even layer of cheese, leaving 1-inch border along top edge.

Starting from the bottom edge that is closest to the edge of the counter, roll the beef into a tight log and place on cutting board seam-side down.

Rolling may cause the stuffing to push out as you roll the meat, just push the filling ingredients back inside as you roll the meat. Once the meat is rolled, lay it seam side down onto the work surface. Tie a piece of butcher’s twine around the middle and two ends, to help hold it together, if needed.

Evenly space 8 to 12 wooden skewers at 1-inch intervals into the steak, starting in the middle working out to about ½-inch from the end of the rolled steak. Skewer the beef directly through the bottom to the outermost flap of steak near seam, allowing skewer to extend ½-inch on opposite side. Make sure that both flaps at the seam are skewered and the roll is tight, so that the cheese will not ooze out too much when grilling.

Grilled stuffed flank steak is a juicy steak rolled into a pinwheel with rich garlicky Italian meat, cheese and herbs, on a skewer. Italian Meat Lollipops! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Using a sharp knife, slice the roll between skewers into 1-inch-thick pinwheels. Season the stuffed flank steaks lightly with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Grilled stuffed flank steak is a juicy steak rolled into a pinwheel with rich garlicky Italian meat, cheese and herbs, on a skewer. Italian Meat Lollipops! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over half of coal grate. (If using a gas grill, light half the burners of a gas grill to high heat). Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.

Grilled stuffed flank steak is a juicy steak rolled into a pinwheel with rich garlicky Italian meat, cheese and herbs, on a skewer. Italian Meat Lollipops! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Grill the stuffed flank steaks over direct heat undisturbed, until well browned, 3 to 6 minutes. Using tongs, flip the steaks, cover and grill the second side until medium rare, with crisp edges, about 3 to 5 minutes longer.

Grilled stuffed flank steak is a juicy steak rolled into a pinwheel with rich garlicky Italian meat, cheese and herbs, on a skewer. Italian Meat Lollipops! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Transfer the grilled stuffed flank steak to a large serving platter. Let rest at least 5 minutes before serving, or all of those good juices will be on your plate, instead of your mouth!

Grilled stuffed flank steak is a juicy steak rolled into a pinwheel with rich garlicky Italian meat, cheese and herbs, on a skewer. Italian Meat Lollipops! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Serve with or without the skewers.

Grilled stuffed flank steak is a juicy steak rolled into a pinwheel with rich garlicky Italian meat, cheese and herbs, on a skewer. Italian Meat Lollipops! | TheMountainKitchen.com

I served our steaks with some good ole mashed potatoes. You know, there’s just nothing like meat and taters!

 

Grilled stuffed flank steak is a juicy steak rolled into a pinwheel with rich garlicky Italian meat, cheese and herbs, on a skewer. Italian Meat Lollipops! | TheMountainKitchen.com
Print
Grilled Stuffed Flank Steak With Capicola and Provolone Cheese
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

Grilled stuffed flank steak is a juicy steak rolled into a pinwheel with rich garlicky Italian meat, cheese and herbs, on a skewer. Italian Meat Lollipops!

Course: Main Course
Servings: 8
Author: Debbie Spivey
Ingredients
  • 2 to 2 ½ pounds flank steak
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 3 medium garlic cloves grated
  • 2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons oregano dried
  • 6 to 8 slices spicy capicola
  • 6 to 8 slices provolone cheese
  • 8 to 12 skewers wooden skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes prior
  • 3+ pieces 12-inch long butcher's twine optional
  • extra virgin olive oil for oiling grate on the grill
Instructions
  1. Using a mallet, place a piece of wax paper over the meat and pound the flank steak into a rough rectangle shape.

  2. Position the steak so that grain runs parallel to edge of counter, season with the salt and pepper, grated garlic, onion powder, and oregano evenly over surface of steak. Lay the capicola slices evenly over steak. Leave a 1-inch border along top edge. Cover capicola with even layer of cheese, leaving 1-inch border along top edge.

    Starting from the bottom edge that is closest to the edge of the counter, roll the beef into a tight log and place on cutting board seam-side down.

    Rolling may cause the stuffing to push out as you roll the meat, just push the filling ingredients back inside as you roll the meat. Once the meat is rolled, lay it seam side down onto the work surface. Tie a piece of butcher's twine around the middle and two ends, to help hold it together, if needed.

  3. Evenly space 8 to 12 wooden skewers at 1-inch intervals into the steak, starting in the middle working out to about ½-inch from the end of the rolled steak. Skewer the beef directly through the bottom to the outermost flap of steak near seam, allowing skewer to extend ½-inch on opposite side. Make sure that both flaps at the seam are skewered and the roll is tight, so that the cheese will not ooze out too much when grilling.

    Using a sharp knife, slice the roll between skewers into 1-inch-thick pinwheels. Season the stuffed flank steaks lightly with more salt and pepper, if desired.

  4. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over half of coal grate. (If using a gas grill, light half the burners of a gas grill to high heat). Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.

    Grill the stuffed flank steaks over direct heat undisturbed, until well browned, 3 to 6 minutes. Using tongs, flip the steaks, cover and grill the second side until medium rare, with crisp edges, about 3 to 5 minutes longer.

  5. Transfer the grilled stuffed flank steak to a large serving platter. Let rest at least 5 minutes before serving, or all of those good juices will be on your plate, instead of your mouth!

    Serve with or without the skewers. 

Recipe Notes


Recipe adapted from Just Eat It.


Corn Zucchini Orzo Salad {A Meatless Monday Recipe

Summer is bursting with flavor in this corn zucchini orzo salad. Seasonal vegetables combined with lemony orzo and feta cheese for a quick pasta salad. Yum! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Summer is bursting with flavor in this corn zucchini orzo salad. Seasonal vegetables combined with lemony orzo and feta cheese for a quick pasta salad.

From the very first bite, I fell head over heels in love with this corn zucchini orzo salad. I loved everything about this dish. The smell, the texture and oh yes, the flavor! In fact, I loved this dish so much, that I immediately came up with another dish using the lemon, feta and basil ingredients (recipe to come…). These star ingredients, combined with the summer vegetables and rich orzo pasta, this dish practically shouted: “HELLO SUMMER!!” from the side of our mountain. I’m sure the neighbors heard it too!

Summer is bursting with flavor in this corn zucchini orzo salad. Seasonal vegetables combined with lemony orzo and feta cheese for a quick pasta salad. Yum! | TheMountainKitchen.com

This quick pasta salad is light and fresh, perfect for Meatless Monday or as a companion to any summer cookout. This will easily serve 4 to 6 people, so you could cut the recipe in half for a smaller portion. I cut the ingredients from the original recipe and still had tons of leftovers. The original recipe also says you could use the leftovers in a frittata for another meal. It’s just a really good and versatile dish!

Here’s how I made this delicious corn zucchini orzo salad:

Corn Zucchini Orzo Salad | Servings: 4 to 6 | Time: 35 Minutes

Recipe adapted from MarthaStewart.com

Ingredients:

  • 5 to 6 small zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
  • ½ pound orzo
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, about 3 lemons
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, julienned
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled

Directions:

Chop the zucchini and place them into a colander. Toss with salt and allow them to sit in the sink or over a bowl for about 20 minutes.

Salting watery vegetables, draws some of the water out, to avoid your dishes from becoming too diluted, or soggy. I always salt eggplant before I cook it. This process is known as disgorging vegetables. 15 to 20 minutes of salt can make a world of difference in your dishes!

Summer is bursting with flavor in this corn zucchini orzo salad. Seasonal vegetables combined with lemony orzo and feta cheese for a quick pasta salad. Yum! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Meanwhile, cook the orzo according to package directions in a large pot of heavily salted boiling water. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop it from cooking. Drain well, then transfer to a large bowl.

In a large, deep pan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the corn; cook until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the oil, zucchini jalapeno and onion to the pan saute until tender and warmed through, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the orzo, lemon zest and juice and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss with basil and feta cheese.

Note: Leftover salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Summer is bursting with flavor in this corn zucchini orzo salad. Seasonal vegetables combined with lemony orzo and feta cheese for a quick pasta salad. Yum! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Summer is bursting with flavor in this corn zucchini orzo salad. Seasonal vegetables combined with lemony orzo and feta cheese for a quick pasta salad. Yum! | TheMountainKitchen.com

I boasted about the flavors of this pasta salad, but it is also a beautifully colorful salad too. Can you tell I liked this salad? I hope you do to!

Enjoy!

Don’t miss out on more delicious dishes. Subscribe to get free recipes HERE!

Summer is bursting with flavor in this corn zucchini orzo salad. Seasonal vegetables combined with lemony orzo and feta cheese for a quick pasta salad. Yum! | TheMountainKitchen.com
Print
Corn Zucchini Orzo Salad
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 
Summer is bursting with flavor in this corn zucchini orzo salad. Seasonal vegetables combined with lemony orzo and feta cheese for a quick pasta salad. Yum!
Course: Main Course, Meatless Monday / Vegetarian, Salad, Side Dish
Servings: 6
Author: Debbie Spivey
Ingredients
  • 5 to 6 small zucchini chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound orzo
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice about 3 lemons
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves julienned
  • 4 ounces feta crumbled
Instructions
  1. Chop the zucchini and place them into a colander. Toss with salt and allow them to sit in the sink or over a bowl for about 20 minutes.
  2. Salting watery vegetables, draws some of the water out, to avoid your dishes from becoming too diluted, or soggy. I always salt eggplant before I cook it. This process is known as disgorging vegetables. 15 to 20 minutes of salt can make a world of difference in your dishes!
  3. Meanwhile, cook the orzo according to package directions in a large pot of heavily salted boiling water. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop it from cooking. Drain well, then transfer to a large bowl.

  4. In a large, deep pan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the corn; cook until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the oil, zucchini jalapeno and onion to the pan saute until tender and warmed through, about 2 to 3 minutes.

  5. Add the orzo, lemon zest and juice and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss with basil and feta cheese.
Recipe Notes

Leftover salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Recipe adapted from MarthaStewart.com

 


Squash Blossom Focaccia

Squash blossom focaccia bread with delicate squash blossoms, creamy ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese baked until golden brown. A great summer side dish! | TheMountainKitchen.com

You will not believe just how flavorful squash blossoms are until you have tried them on this squash blossom focaccia. Don’t misunderstand me, the recipe I shared a few weeks ago for fried squash blossoms stuffed with cheese are amazing, but there is a lot going on with seasonings, cheese and hot oil. This squash blossom focaccia allows the blossoms to sing!

I have been holding on to this recipe for eons! Unless you have your own garden, squash blossoms are not that easy to get your hands on and when you finally have them you have to use them within a couple of days or they will be wasted. I was holding on to this recipe for the right time. Although it took everything in me not to stuff the fresh blossoms I bought at the farmers’ market with cheese and fry them, I resisted the urge and pulled out this recipe from my “To Try” Recipe Binder.

For this recipe, I made homemade focaccia bread using a recipe I shared a long time ago, but omitted the herbs and spices. The focaccia bread turned out well, but of course it took a longer to make the squash blossom focaccia. If you don’t have the time to make fresh focaccia bread, simply buy store-bought pizza dough and it will do just fine.

Squash blossom focaccia bread with delicate squash blossoms, creamy ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese baked until golden brown. A great summer side dish! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Squash blossom focaccia bread with delicate squash blossoms, creamy ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese baked until golden brown. A great summer side dish! | TheMountainKitchen.com

I just so happened to have some leftover homemade ricotta cheese in the fridge that was nearing expiration and I was really happy to finish it off. I know I have said this a hundred times before, but once you make homemade ricotta cheese yourself, you will NEVER buy that store-bought stuff again! Homemade has more flavor and it is creamier than the stuff that has been sitting on the store shelf for who knows how long.

Let me tell you about how this squash blossom focaccia comes together:

Squash blossom focaccia bread with delicate squash blossoms, creamy ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese baked until golden brown. A great summer side dish! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Squash Blossom Focaccia | Servings: 4-6 | Time: 45 Minutes

Recipe adapted from Country Living Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound dough, store-bought pizza dough or homemade focaccia dough
  • ½ cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 8 squash blossoms
  • balsamic vinegar, for serving (optional, but highly recommended)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Grease a 9 x 13 baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Place the dough onto the pan. Press the dough with your fingers until it stretches to the four corners of the pan. Press fingers into the dough to create dimples.

If the dough is too cold it will spring back. If this occurs, let the dough rest for about 10 minutes and try it again. It should now stay in place.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes.

Place the pan onto a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.

Squash blossom focaccia bread with delicate squash blossoms, creamy ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese baked until golden brown. A great summer side dish! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Meanwhile, use your fingers to carefully separate the flower petals, without breaking them and remove the pistil in the center. Rinse the flowers under cold water, paying attention not to damage petals. Lay them spaced out on a paper towel and gently pat dry. ~ Learn more about this HERE.

After 5 minutes, spread the ricotta across the focaccia bread.

It is a matter of personal preference, but I think the back of a spoon does this job beautifully.

Squash blossom focaccia bread with delicate squash blossoms, creamy ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese baked until golden brown. A great summer side dish! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Grate or sprinkle half of parmesan cheese over top of the ricotta covered bread and season with salt and pepper.

Squash blossom focaccia bread with delicate squash blossoms, creamy ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese baked until golden brown. A great summer side dish! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Arrange the squash blossoms over the cheese covered bread.

When placing the squash blossoms onto the focaccia, keep in mind how you plan on slicing the bread and ensure each slice will have a least one of the squash blossoms on the slice.

Squash blossom focaccia bread with delicate squash blossoms, creamy ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese baked until golden brown. A great summer side dish! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Grate or sprinkle with remaining parmesan over the squash blossoms.

Bake until bread is golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Squash blossom focaccia bread with delicate squash blossoms, creamy ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese baked until golden brown. A great summer side dish! | TheMountainKitchen.com

Remove from the oven. Serve drizzled with remaining oil and balsamic vinegar, if desired.

Squash blossom focaccia bread with delicate squash blossoms, creamy ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese baked until golden brown. A great summer side dish! | TheMountainKitchen.com

This squash blossom focaccia is so delicious! The delicate squash blossoms are bursting with flavor with creamy ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese baked until golden brown in the oven. This focaccia is a great summer appetizer or side dish to go with any meal.

I hope you enjoy this focaccia as much as we did!

Have you ever eaten squash blossoms before? I’d love to hear from you. Comment below!

Squash blossom focaccia bread with delicate squash blossoms, creamy ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese baked until golden brown. A great summer side dish! | TheMountainKitchen.com
Print
Squash Blossom Foccacia
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

Squash blossom focaccia bread with delicate squash blossoms, creamy ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese baked until golden brown. A great summer side dish!

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Author: Debbie Spivey
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
  • 1 pound dough store-bought pizza dough or homemade focaccia dough
  • ½ cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 8 squash blossoms
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

  2. Grease a 9 x 13 baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Place the dough onto the pan. Press the dough with your fingers until it stretches to the four corners of the pan. Press fingers into the dough to create dimples.

    If the dough is too cold it will spring back. If this occurs, let the dough rest for about 10 minutes and try it again. It should now stay in place.

  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes.

    Place the pan onto a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.


  4. Meanwhile, use your fingers to carefully separate the flower petals, without breaking them and remove the pistil in the center. Rinse the flowers under cold water, paying attention not to damage petals. Lay them spaced out on a paper towel and gently pat dry. ~ Learn more about this HERE.

  5. Spread the ricotta across the focaccia bread. Grate or sprinkle half of parmesan cheese over top of the ricotta covered bread and season with salt and pepper. 

    Arrange the squash blossoms over the cheese covered bread. 

    When placing the squash blossoms onto the focaccia, keep in mind how you plan on slicing the bread and ensure each slice will have a least one of the squash blossoms on the slice.

    Grate or sprinkle with remaining parmesan over the squash blossoms.

    Bake until bread is golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.

  6. Remove from the oven. Serve drizzled with remaining oil.

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Country Living Magazine.