Marge Perry Newsday columnist Marge Perry

Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.


1 cup basil

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

2 medium zucchini, about 20 ounces, sliced across on the diagonal

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1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup shredded part-skim

mozzarella, divided

3 small tomatoes, about 16 ounces, cut in 1/4-inch slices

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a shallow baking sheet pan with cooking spray.

2. Combine the basil and walnuts in the food processor and pulse; with the machine running, add the oil and water in a slow steady stream. Add the Parmesan, pulse to combine and set aside.

3. Lay the zucchini out in a single layer on the baking sheet and season with the salt. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the shredded mozzarella on the zucchini. Top with a tomato slice. Spread each tomato with about 1 teaspoon pesto sauce and top with the remaining mozzarella.

4. Bake until the cheese is melted and golden and the zucchini is fork tender, about 22 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

TIP: You will use about half the pesto you make for the stacks: the remaining ¼ cup may be refrigerated or frozen.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 225 calories, 11 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 17 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 392 mg sodium

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2 medium zucchini, (about 20 ounces), halved lengthwise

12 ounces 93-percent lean ground beef

1/2 cup chopped onion

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1 rib celery, chopped

2 plum tomatoes, chopped

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar, divided

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a shallow baking sheet pan with cooking spray.

2. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the center of each zucchini. Chop the pulp. Place the hollowed boats on the sheet pan.

3. Combine the pulp with the beef, onion, celery and tomatoes in a large nonstick skillet and cook over medium high heat, stirring to break the meat into crumbles, for 3 to 4 minutes until the meat has separated. Stir in the tomato paste, oregano, thyme, parsley salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the meat is no longer pink, about another 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in about 1/2 cup of the cheese.

4. Spoon the mixture into the zucchini and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake until the zucchini is fork tender, about 30 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 238 calories, 25 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 13 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 595 mg sodium



1/2 cup fresh sweet peas

2 medium zucchini (about 20 ounces)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup mint, chopped

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/2 cup crumbled feta

1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil; add the peas and cook until they just turn bright green, about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

2. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the zucchini lengthwise into 1-inch wide, long strips.

3. Combine the lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the mint and parsley and toss with the zucchini, peas and onion. Gently stir in the feta. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 162 calories, 6 g protein, 11 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 12 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 371 mg sodium