Lamb Vindaloo with Potatoes & Carrots: An Instant Pot Recipe

After a busy day, I usually try to get dinner on the table in about 20 to 30 minutes. The simpler the better for me and I have learned to use good spice mixes to make things easier for myself.  I also try to make as many one pot meals as possible, adding as many vegetables as I can to the protein I'm using.  I can make a quick salad with sliced cucumbers and radishes and make rice in the time the vindaloo is cooking.

This recipe is inspired by Indian restaurants where this dish is always on the menu. A regional favorite from Goa, India, this is a spicy lamb stew with potatoes. I have added carrots as they were at the end of availability at my farmers' market and they add a nice sweetness to balance the spice.  Typically, this would start with puréeing onions and garlic and then adding an extensive variety of spices, which doesn't work at all for me in terms of time.  I've found that Penzey's has a delicious vindaloo spice mix that makes my life simpler.  I always have tomato paste and coconut milk in my pantry.

I get grass fed lamb from Katerra Exotics.  The fat from grass fed lamb is like the mono-unsaturated fat in olive oil. Potatoes are a rich source of vitamin C, B6, magnesium and fiber. Carrots provide vitamins A (from beta-carotene), C, K (phylloquinone), B6, magnesium, biotin, potassium and fiber.

I prepare it all in the Instant Pot, but any pressure cooker will do. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound of grass fed lamb stew meat, about 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • Four medium red potatoes , 1 inch pieces
  • Four medium carrots chopped, half inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons Penzey’s vindaloo spice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • One Half tablespoon sea salt
  • 6 ounces coconut milk
  • 6 ounces water

PROCESS

  1. Sauté lamb in olive oil with spice mix for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add tomato paste and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes more.
  3. Add potatoes and carrots and mix well.
  4. Add salt, coconut milk and water. Mix well.
  5. Bring to a simmer.
  6. Place the lid on the instant pot making sure that the event is closed.
  7. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes with natural release (about 10 minutes).
Shown her over basmati rice and  Asian Long Beans with Mustard (in recipes)

Shown her over basmati rice and Asian Long Beans with Mustard (in recipes)

 
 

Fried Squash Blossoms Bengali Style

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I love squash blossoms! Did you know that the entire squash plant is edible?  Many cultures prepare the leaves and peel the stems to use in soups, sautés and curries. So if you don't get the squash when you plant it , it's not a total failure.  The most laborious part of preparing squash blossoms is removing the stamens from the base inside the blossom. Since I'm frying these, and not stuffing them, it doesn't matter if the the flower tears a bit--it'll be dipped in a delicious, savory, crunchy batter soon enough, covering any flaws. 

This is one of the simplest recipes from the State of Bengal in India and one that has been made in my family for generations.  I have adapted the recipe using soda water to create a lighter batter. 

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These blossoms have a delicate flavor and this light batter works well. The nigella seed adds a nice mild oniony flavor. The low temperature frying is done in olive oil, a good for you mono-unsaturated fat.  I eat these free of any guilt as they are really good and good for me--all things in moderation of course.

Squash blossoms are an excellent source of vitamins A and C. They offer a good source of iron, potassium, calcium and beta-carotene and are high in fiber.

RECIPE: Fried Squash Blossoms Bengali Style

INGREDIENTS

  • 14-16 blossoms, stamens removed

Batter:

  • 1/4 cup rice flour 
  • 1/8 cup chick pea flour
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne 
  • 1/2 cup soda water
  • Extra virgin olive oil for shallow frying

PROCESS

  1. Prepare blossoms by gently shaking off any debris and carefully removing the stamen.
  2. Set a pan on medium heat with 1/4 inch of oil to cover the bottom.
  3. Prepare batter by whisking all ingredients in a bowl.
  4. When the surface of the oil begins to move, hold the blossoms by the base, gently coat with batter and lay into oil with a movement away from you.
  5.  Fry until golden on both sides. Place on rack or brown paper to drain.

Enjoy at once! They are also delicious at room temperature. 

Can be enjoyed on their own, as a crispy element to a meal, with a cool herbed yogurt or green goddess dip. I love them with a glass of champagne or sparkling rosé.

Quintessentially Summer!

 
 

Asian Long Beans with Mustard

One of the delights of living in a diverse community is the variety of produce that's available.  Summer is prime green bean season, and the asian long bean (yard long beans) is variety that I love.  You can certainly substitute it for regular green beans in the recipes you love.  I'm cooking them with a little mustard seed and finishing with mustard oil for a nice, light summer version with a little zing.  This is so easy and fast your kitchen have doesn't have time to heat up.  This recipe is husband approved; it's been requested and prepared for the last several weeks when I can get my hands on the beans!

From a nutrition standpoint, Asian long beans are a rich source of vitamins A,C, calcium and fiber.  The mustard adds some anti-inflammatory properties as well.  The extra virgin olive oil is a healthy mono-unsaturated fat.

You can find black mustard seed and mustard oil at most Asian markets or online.

RECIPE: Asian Long Beans with Mustard Seed and Oil

INGREDIENTS

  • 2-3 cups chopped long beans (about 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cane sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard oil

PROCESS

  1. Heat mustard seeds in oil until they start to pop
  2. Add the beans, salt and sugar.  Toss to mix and cover the beans for 2-3 minutes until tender.
  3. Drizzle the mustard oil over, toss and enjoy.
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Summer Harvest: Pesto

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The long, hot summer has gotten to the point where basil must be harvested.  I was fortunate enough to be given a bucket full of freshly harvested basil, a combination of sweet and Genovese varieties.  With that kind of volume, nothing but a quick turn in the food processor will do to make perfect pesto.  I'll store it in the freezer to use for the next few months in a variety of ways. Pesto is a versatile sauce that can be used for pasta, with vegetables, added as an accent to soups or to fish or meats.  I love to toss a little with steamed potatoes and beans.  

I use pecans instead of pine nuts.  I like the sweetness and I'm from Texas. Walnuts, almond or a combination of nuts are also really good.  I leave out the garlic and add crushed red and ground black peppers for a little bite.  I also like to add the zest and juice of a lemon or two.  I don't add the cheese to the pesto until I'm ready to use it.  I find it this keeps a smoother texture when the pesto is frozen and then thawed.  

I always make mine freehand based on taste and texture. I ended up with 16 cups of packed basil leaves, so I scaled up accordingly.   I made an effort to keep measurements and scale  them down for a  smaller quantity, so you may have to adjust for your taste, which you should do anyway.

If you've never made pesto, now's a good time to try it. All you need are the ingredients and a food processor.  If you're old school, a mortar and pestle will be even better. 

RECIPE: Basil Pesto (With Pecans)

YIELD  Makes 2 Cups

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup pecans (pine nuts, slivered almonds or walnut halves will do)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 packed cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for storage
  • Juice add zest of 2 lemons
  •  1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmagiano regiano (leave this out if freezing)

PROCESS

  • Put the nuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  •  Add the basil, oil, salt, peppers and  pulse for 1 minute or so until smooth.
  • Add the lemon juice and zest and pulse for 1 minute more, until smooth. 
  • Stir in the cheese if using soon.  Leave this out if you are freezing.
  • To store, transfer the pesto to a sterilized jar with a tight-fitting lid. Pour a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto, seal and refrigerate up to 10 days or freeze up to 3 months.

Hurricane Harvey Fallout: Bread Is Good Food

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Hurricane Harvey may have devastated Houston, but it did not destroy us. Even if you didn’t directly experience the flooding and loss, we are still all touched by it through our friends, families and communities. For almost a year people have been displaced from their homes and the routines of daily living where we find sanctuary. Kitchens are slowly being redesigned and remodeled. Instant Pots, induction cook tops and microwaves are playing a role feeding us. We’re getting back to some basics in the kitchen. I’m back to the basics of bread.

Our Harvey preparations were a last minute affair, so no bread was to be found on grocery shelves. No matter, we had flour, yeast, salt and time.  The baking began. I must give credit to my husband for bringing home a bag of Bob's Redmill Artisan Bread Flour when he couldn't locate bread.  He made a loaf of pan de mie.  I found an easier recipe right on the back of the bag.  I’m partial to this very easy, no-knead bread. The crust is not too hard, but has body and the crumb is soft and tender. Great for sandwiches, toast or dipping into soups. I hope you’ll try this. It takes a little planning, but it’s so worth it. 

A word on bread and gluten.  Unless you have Celiac Disease (I have plenty of patients who do) or have a true wheat allergy (which is rare), you do not need to be gluten free.  Our bodies have evolved over tens of thousands of years to digest and process wheat.  Wheat is a main source of many B vitamins which are essential for good health, with thiamin and riboflavin being essential for memory and brain function.  That said, I do not support the consumption of grocery store and commercial breads which have large amounts of gluten added for longer shelf life and that strangely soft texture; they do indeed cause bloating, digestion, rashes and a whole host of other problems.  This is the reason why eating store bought bread in the United States makes you feel sick but you are able to eat bread in Europe without any problems.  In most places in Europe the bread is made daily the old fashioned way.  Bread should have good flour, preferably unbleached, water, yeast and salt if you like (Tuscan bread is made without salt and is delicious). The gluten that is developed in the dough undergoes a conformational change when baked making it more difficult for the human gut to absorb.  Evolution has already done this for us.  We just messed things up by adding gluten to everything and turning it from food, which should be fresh, into a commodity to sit on shelves for convenience. So, EAT REAL BREAD.  I'm sure there are bakers where you live who are following this noble tradition which has fed the world for ages.   Or try the recipe below and become a fresh bread baker yourself.

No Knead Bread-a Hurricane Harvey Recipe

EQUIPMENT
Dutch oven with lid
Large mixing bowl
Patience

INGREDIENTS
3 C artisan bread flour
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1-1/2 C warm water

PROCESS
1. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Add water and mix completely to form a shaggy dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set at room temperature or proof setting in oven for 10 hours.
2. Preheat oven with uncovered Dutch oven inside to 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
3. While the oven is preheating, place dough on floured surface and form into a round and allow to rest for 30 minutes covered with plastic wrap.
4. Carefully place dough into hot Dutch oven, cover with lid and bake 20 minutes.
5. Remove Dutch oven lid and continue to bake another 12-18 minutes until crust is a golden brown.
6. Remove loaf from oven and cool.
7. Enjoy!

 
 

At The Market: Shrimp with Green Beans, Potatoes and Mustard Seed

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The summer heat has been relentless and many of the gentler, more tender crops have dried up. We've also had a drenching rain that caused flooding over the July 4th holiday. In Houston, there's been some PTSD as last year's Hurricane Harvey left us damaged and bruised.  The wounds have not yet healed and many people still have not been able to rebuild their lives.  It's a tough time for farmers, so it's even more important to support them. Whatever is available at their stands will be what I will cook with.  As I live close to the Gulf of Mexico, I'm fortunate to have Lil Emma's Seafood bringing fresh shrimp that were swimming just a few hours earlier right to my farmers' market. With a few potatoes, green beans and a little help from the pantry, a quick, easy and nutritious dish came together.

Using mustard seeds and mustard oil give the shrimp a lovely warm flavor without too much sharpness. Along with the turmeric, mustard is an anti-inflammatory agent in Ayurvedic teachings. I like the flavor of green chilies, but feel free to leave them out or use ground cayenne.

Shrimp are high in cholesterol, but are an excellent source of protein, magnesium and some calcium.  Potatoes are rich in Vitamins C, B6, magnesium, iron and fiber. Green beans are rich in Vitamins A, C, B6, folic acid,  and the minerals calcium, iron and copper.  The fresher the vegetables, the more nutrition they contain as many vitamins, especially Vitamin C, degrade rapidly with storage.  

Today, I made basmati rice and Indian style lentils/daal with zucchini and tomatoes (in plentiful supply right now) to go along with the shrimp. As always, the vegetable component of the meal is the largest, with the meat, in this case shrimp, playing a special guest starring role, in small quantities. You can also serve this with bread, or just a fork.

If you don't have fresh shrimp on hand, frozen will be fine. Thaw them slowly in a few changes of cool water.

RECIPE: Shrimp with Green Beans, Potatoes and Mustard Seed

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound shrimp (cleaned and deveined)
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups potatoes, 1/4 inch dice
  • 2 cups chopped green beans, 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 1-2 green chilies, split halfway (Serrano, jalapeño) or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cane sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 small lemon, about 1 Tablespoon
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard oil

PROCESS

  1. Heat mustard seeds  and chilies (if using) in oil until the seeds start to pop.
  2. Add potatoes, chilies  and spices. Sauté over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook for 5 minutes until the potatoes are just tender, but not soft.
  4. Add the green beans, sautéed for 1-2 minutes and food covered for about another 2 minutes. They should remain undercooked as they will cook further with the shrimp.
  5. Add the shrimp, and sautéed until cooked through. The time will depend on the size of your shrimp.
  6. Drizzle the mustard oil over and toss.

Serves 4

 
 

Strawberry Cardamom Lassi

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Yogurt is the original probiotic.  Yogurt based drinks have been popular for thousands of years in places like China, Turkey, the Eastern European and Caucuss regions, and the Middle East. Each part of the world have their own versions, both savory and sweet.  The fermentation of the milk allows helpful lactobacilli bacteria to populate our guts and aid in digestion.  This balance of bacteria in our guts, known as the microbiome,  is being studied intensely in medical circles right now as they are linked to many processes in the body, including mood and memory.  Disturbance of this microbiome is thought to cause problems with our health.

Yogurt is a good way to repopulate and nourish a healthy microbiome.  I feel strongly that the key to getting benefit from yogurt is choosing one that is free of preservatives, thickeners. (guar gum, carrageenan, methylcellulose, etc) and sweeteners. These ingredients may be causing an inflammatory reaction in the gut, which is the second largest immune organ next to our skin, preventing the absorption of the nutrients and changing the lactobacilli.    

This is a delicious recipe for lassi, the Indian version of yogurt drink.  I get my goat milk from the remarkable family at Swede Farm.  You can always alter the fruit, but I find the cardamom works best with strawberries.  This simple and delicious drink is more of a food, which is how I think about all dairy.  You’re getting protein, fiber, Vitamin C, Folic Acid, acanthocyanins (plant based compounds thought to be beneficial is heart health and cancer prevention), and the minerals manganese and potassium. A little local honey for sweetness keeps the glycemic index lower than using refined sugars, stevia or agave.

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This is a recycled recipe from my Facebook page published on 4/22/17

RECIPE: Strawberry Lassi

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb strawberries, cut up
  • 1 qt natural goat milk yogurt (if using thick goat or cow milk yogurt use 1-1/2 cups yogurt and 1/2 cup water)
  • 2-3Tsp honey (optional and to taste depending on how sweet your strawberries are)
  • 1/2 tsp Penzey's ground cardamom

PROCESS

  1. Blend.
  2. Adjust sweetness.
  3. Enjoy!

Makes 4 cups.

Sorrel-A Green that’s a Lemony Delight

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Sorrel is a nutrition packed summer green that’s deliciously tart, and can be added to salads, pesto and so much more. It’s not always readily found, but if you can get your hands on it, you should try it.  It’s lemony tartness is fragrant, without the sweetness of lemon. There are multiple different varieties; some are all green, some have beautiful red and pink variegated leaves.  I have made sorrel/chard and ricotta soup in the past. I love sorrel and parsley pesto with pecans taking the place of pine nuts to add a little sweetness, and balance the tartness from the sorrel.

Today, the bunch of sorrel in my farmers’ market basket paired with summer yellow squash, some dried herbs from the pantry and a fresh pasta from my freezer to make a light, easy and healthy lunch.   The vegetables are clearly the stars here, fresh from the farm.  

Sorrel is nutritious and a good source of fiber.  It’s rich in vitamins A and C, B6, magnesium and iron. As always, a little added fat will help your body absorb the vitamin A.  You can certainly skip the cream and pasta and eat the sautéed vegetables on their own.  This recipe can be easily scaled up with more vegetables and pasta.  

So easy, delicious, nutritious and pretty.  My husband said he would eat it everyday. I hope you like it. 

RECIPE: Sorrel & Summer Squash Pasta

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 to 6 oz fresh pasta (you can use 2-3 oz 0f your favorite dried as well) 
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil  
  • 1 teaspoon dried oragano
  • 1 teaspoon Penzey’s Foxpoint Herb Mix
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups diced summer squash
  • 2 cups chopped sorrell
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • grated parmesan

PROCESS

  1. Sautee squash in olive oil with salt and spices until tender. 
  2. Add sorrel and cream, and toss. Turn off the heat.
  3. Add cooked pasta and toss.
  4. Serve with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan. 

Serves 2

 
 

Basic Greens

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Greens are good and good for you. I love greens: Swiss chard, spinach, beet, mustard, amaranth, collard, radish, kale and so many others are all great to eat. I also love the leaves of cauliflower, broccoli, and brussel sprouts and cook them in the same manner, chopping the stems and cooking them a little longer.  (I do not use carrot tops as they concentrate arsenic from the soil).  I’m always surprised when people tell me they don’t like greens. They usually haven’t had them prepared in a way they like. The usual method of cooking greens with salted pork or bacon is tasty to many, but takes awhile, and the greens are very, very cooked. My method takes almost no time at all, and results in a light, bright just wilted green that’s delicious, and healthy. 

Greens are packed with nutrition and a great source of fiber. They are rich in iron, potassium, zinc and other minerals.  Amaranth is a rich source of folate, and other B vitamins. Swiss chard and beet greens are rich sources of vitamin A, which is more readily absorbed by the body if eaten with a little good fat, like extra virgin olive oil. Overall, the nutritional profiles of all greens are such that it’s a shame not to have them as a regular part of our meals. They also keep you feeling full with very few calories.

Greens need to be washed well. I soak mine in lots of water in the sink, allowing dirt to sink to the bottom, and then drain (see Food Safety). I separate the leaves from the stems, which I chop and sauté before adding in the greens.  

This is more a method than a recipe and can be adjusted for various quantities as ‘a bunch’ varies tremendously.  Remember, that greens cook down considerably, so start in a large pan. You will end up with a much smaller volume in the end.  Always salt at the end, when you can see the cooked amount, otherwise you’ll usually end up with overly salty and watery greens.

I’m showing rainbow chard here, because that’s what’s growing where I am. It’s also very tender and sweet. And pretty. 

RECIPE: Basic Greens

INGREDIENTS  

  • 1 bunch greens  (washed and chopped, about 8 cups of greens)
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) 
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (I like champagne and cider) 
  • Salt and Pepper

PROCESS

  1. Heat oil in large pan with pepper flakes. 
  2. Add the stems and sautee for 3-4 minutes to soften. 
  3. Add greens and toss to wilt and cook through.
  4. Add vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and toss to evenly distribute. 

Makes 4 servings.

Bruschetta with Sautéed Squash Blossoms & Fresh Ricotta

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Squash blossoms are a delicate things that appear in the farmers’ market for the briefest time in early summer.  If I see them, I buy them and rearrange my day so I can cook them as soon as I get home.  I usually fry them in a tempura style batter with chickpea flour and Indian spices, or go in an Italian direction.  Sometimes, I stuff them with goat cheese, coat them with egg wash and panko and bake them. All of these methods are time consuming and take multiple steps, though the results are always worth the effort. I’ve always wanted to have an easy way to make them, and not feel the mixed roller coaster of emotions at the excitement of finding them, then the pressure of having to prepare them almost immediately, and finally anticipation and delight of their taste .

So when I spied the beautiful delicacies at the market this week (Farmer Sarment from Plant It Forward does it again), I was determined to find a quick, easy and delicious way to prepare them.   

 I had baked a loaf of no-knead bread for the week and had Lira Rossa fresh ricotta  on hand.  I had a beautiful purple pepper from Johnson’s Backyard Garden, red potatoes from Atkinson Farms and a few  skinny plum tomatoes from Sarment. So this dish came together as a light supper, packed with nutrition, taste and the excitement of squash blossoms, with all the ingredients gathered at that morning's farmers’ market. 

To to prepare the blossoms themselves, I shake them out, gently rub with a moist paper towel, cut them in half lengthwise and take out the stamens. A little residual pollen is no problem. 

 I used Penzy’s Herbs de Provence  and a little chipotle powder to create a fresh taste with a hint of spice.  Mixing different cultural styles seems perfect as these blossoms are enjoyed by so many cultures, capturing a moment in time that seasonal cooking highlights.  The addition of tomatoes provides sweetness and balanced acidity. 

The flavor of squash blossoms is delicate and mild, but unforgettable. If you’ve never had them, this is an easy way to try them. The sautéed  blossoms can also be used as a lovely side dish.

RECIPE : Bruschetta with Sautéed Squash Blossoms & Fresh Ricotta

INGREDIENTS

  • 16 squash blossoms, halved lengthwise with stamens removed
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped shallot
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped sweet pepper (use what you can find)
  • 1 cup diced red potatoes  
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (if they are very watery, discard some of the seeds and water) 
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly crushed black pepper
  • 4 slices of toasted bread
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper

PROCESS

Sautéing Squash Blossoms

  1. Place oil in pan with shallots, peppers, potatoes, herbs de Provence, chipotle, salt and pepper.
  2. Sauté for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are translucent.  
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook another 4-5 minutes until the potatoes are cooked though. 
  4. Add the squash blossoms and toss to just wilt. Take off the heat.  
  5. Adjust seasonings. 

Assembling the Bruschetta  

  1. Spread 2 Tablespoons of ricotta on each slice of toasted bread.
  2. Drizzle with a 1/4 teaspoon olive oil, and sprinkle a tiny bit of salt and pepper over the cheese
  3. Top with the sautéed squash blossom mixture. 

Serves 4