Zucchini Salad

I’ve been staring at zucchini in the crisper drawer for days – and of course, it multiplied. I don’t know how it does that. One minute you have three little demure zucchini hanging out in the fridge, then suddenly there are eight, they are huge and they are staring back at you! There must be an algorithm for this monster…if three go in and eight come out the formula may be 2x + 2, but how does one explain their increase in size?

Not only are the zucchini in the fridge multiplying, but mother nature has determined that running the oven in our house is not an option. With temps in the 90s and dew points in the 70s, there will be no zucchini crusted pizza, gratin, or cake. I just can’t risk the respite of an air-conditioned space when facing these extremes. So the zucchini remained chilled, and it’s growth pattern stopped in a quick zing through the shredder. I tossed this salad in lemon, olive oil and agave like in the Sweet and Sour Slaw with Wilted Kale from a couple of weeks ago, and it turned out very light, refreshing and delicious.

Note: The zucchini will drain quite a lot of water once you put the salt on it, so it should be served shortly after combining the vegetables with the dressing.

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 medium zucchini and yellow squash, grated
  • 1/4 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, grated
  • juice 2 lemons
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. agave nectar
  • salt to taste.

Directions:

Grate and slice the vegetables. Squeeze the lemon over the zucchini, add the olive oil, agave and salt and mix well.

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Zucchini Stuffed Blackened Peppers

It’s interesting how a dish presents itself to me. If the produce is not in the house, nothing will manifest. I mean really, nothing. I can’t come up with an idea if my life depended on it. Jeff will say, “I’m going to the store. What do we need?” and I can’t think of a thing. I hate cooking recipes that involve all kinds of store foraging as I’m not really that much into shopping. On the other hand, I’m happy to pluck from the garden or if the kitchen is well-stocked, things start to speak to me. That’s why I love my CSA box. I never have to think of what to cook. The box dictates a directive and I follow. How will I survive until June?

Since a trip to the local market last Wednesday here in Mexico, I’ve had these lovely little zucchini haunting me from the fridge, and at times I could also hear green peppers in the crisper screaming out for attention. I knew they wanted something, but what? Yesterday it came to me, a subtle scent wafted off the ocean, and as a vision, I saw charred green peppers stuffed with diced zucchini all on a bed of ranchera sauce with a little drizzle of cilantro lime crema to cool the heat.

The ranchera sauce was really quite an accident…I mean experiment! I figured I’d slow roast some onions, garlic, jalapeno and diced tomatoes and then zing them all together with an old tortilla to help thicken the sauce a bit. This worked out beautifully and with a little cumin, delivered a lovely deep flavor, but unlike the rich brownish red of my inspirational image, the sauce was carrot orange. Now, being that I am in Condolandia with a limited kitchen, I have no spices other than salt, pepper and few cumin seeds. How was I to turn the sauce brown? Well, that’s when the idea of mole came to mind. I could add chocolate. I don’t have any chocolate laying around, but we do have a giant jar of Nutella, so in went a big blop, and the most amazing sauce resulted. It’s got a slow burn heat with a sweet chocolate finish, and with the charred green peppers is quite the compliment.

Ranchera Sauce:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 jalapenos, cut into rings
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 6-8 large Roma tomatoes, cut into circles
  • 2 large tablespoons Nutella
  • 2 Tbs. adobo sauce from chipotle peppers
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

The prep work for this is really easy because everything will get blended, so don’t take much care in cutting the veggies. Start with a hot pan and heat the oil, add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the jalapenos and cook until soft. Add the garlic and let everything cook on medium heat for three or four minutes. Add the tomatoes and let the whole thing cook down. Empty into the blender with a ripped up corn tortilla, the Nutella, adobo, salt and pepper. Zing until smooth. Return to a pan and simmer for a few minutes.

Zucchini Stuffing:

  • 3 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil for saute
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup black beans, pre-cooked
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Saute the onions on a slow heat until they are nicely wilted. Add the cumin and allow the seeds to toast with the onions and oil. Next add the minced garlic and saute for about a minute. Then add the zucchini and cook until just tender. Add the black beans and salt and pepper to taste. Remove zucchini mixture to a bowl.

Blackened Peppers:

Cut green peppers in half and remove the seeds. Place them cut side down on a heated skillet. Cook them until they blacken and then turn to blacken the skin side. Cover so they can steam a bit to soften. Do not overcook to soften, but allow then to get nice and black. That’s where the wonderful roasted pepper flavors comes from.

Cilantro Lime Crema:

Add finely chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice to 1/2 cup of fresh crema. If you are using American sour cream, thin it out with a little dash of milk.

Assembly:

Fill the bottom of a plate with a thin layer of ranchera sauce and place a green pepper open on top. Fill the pepper with the zucchini stuffing and top with a little melting cheese (manchego, provolone, cheddar, whatever you have). Next, garnish with guacamole, chopped tomato, cilantro, queso fresco and crema. Serve with warm corn tortillas.

Zucchini Bread

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It’s not that I don’t like baking, I just can’t stand having sweets around the house. The minute I start eating foods with lots of sugar, I find that I am hungry all the time, or at least find myself thinking about eating more. If I start eating sweets over the course of a couple of days, I find that I am more hungry overall, and then I start gaining weight. I always lose weight in the fall when school starts, but as soon as the Halloween candy comes, the weight starts finding a home again. It feels like a vicious circle, so I try to not even start with sugary things. I find if I keep them totally out of my life, my eating habits can stay in check.

Today when I set out to make zucchini bread, my guilty brain influenced the recipe. “Can’t you take some of that sugar out? Can’t you add something a little more healthy?” the brain asked. Luckily, like many one-pot dishes, sweet breads have a built in slush factor. They are kind of like my friend Kate’s “Garbage Curry.” Anything can go into them and they’ll turn out pretty tasty. I swapped out cane sugar for agave nectar and instead of all white flour, I added some whole wheat, chickpea flour and flax bran. My adaptation lowers the glycemic index, adds protein, fibre and omega 3s.

I looked over many zucchini bread recipes and ultimately used as my base Smitten Kitchen’s adapted recipe. I wanted to keep it pretty simple with the hopes that Maximillian would at least try it! This one is deliciously moist and you’ll notice right away that it’s not too sweet.

Zucchini Bread From Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from several sources

Yield: 2 loaves or approximately 24 muffins

3 eggs
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)

Vegetarian Perspective’s Rearrangement of the Zucchini Bread Recipe

3 eggs

1 cup canola oil

1 1/4 cups agave nectar – lower glycemic level

1 large grated zucchini

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup organic all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour – adds protein

1/2 cup chickpea flour – adds protein

1/2 cup flaxseed meal (Bob’s Red Mill brand) – adds fibre, and Omega-3s

3 teaspoons cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Note: I baked this zucchini bread as cake in a 9 x 13 inch cake pan and it only took 35 minutes to bake.

Rice Crusted Zucchini Pie

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I’m not sure if you ever heard of Ole and Lena. Well, they live here up north in Minnesota loving life and bumbling around. They will make you laugh for sure especially if you put on your best “Up North” Minnesota accent when you read or tell one of their jokes. I always heard lots of Ole and Lena tales from my dad after he moved far north to Duluth.

Here’s one for you – remember the accent!

Vell, don’tcha know, old Ole got sick and vus dyin’ in his bed. And vhile vaitin’ for her old husband to kick duh bucket, Lena started in to cookin’. She vus makin’ lefsa and a nice zucchini hotdish. Well, Old Ole, he loved nuttin’ better than Lena’s hotdish, and ven he smelled it from da deathbed, up he went to da kitchen. Vhen Lena saw dat he vas eatin’ a plate of hotdish and lefsa she took it from him and said, “Ole, vat are ya doin’? Dat hotdish is for duh funeral don’tcha know!”

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Rice Crusted Zucchini Pie Recipe

Prep:

Make two cups brown rice, saute onions and garlic, slice zucchini, devein and steam dinosaur kale and puree sauce.

Crust Ingredients:

2 cups brown rice, uncooked

1 bunch dinosaur kale

1 tsp. canola oil

1 egg

1/4 tsp. salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. After the rice cooks, turn it out into a large bowl. Fold in the oil, salt and egg first. When it is well mixed, gently fold in the kale. Press this into an oiled baking pan. I used a large 9x13ish pan. Bake the crust for 15 minutes to allow it to firm up a little. This photo is the crust before I baked it.

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Toppings:

2 Vadalia onions sliced and sauteed

8 cloves garlic, sauteed

3 thinly sliced zucchini

2 thinly sliced yellow squash

parmesan cheese

Directions: While the crust bakes, saute the onions and garlic. Then slice the squashes into thin rounds.

Sauce Ingredients:

8 ounces feta

5 roma tomatoes

1 handful fresh basil

Directions: Puree together with a food processor.

Assembly: Think of this like a pizza. You make the crust, top it with sauce, add other delicacies and finally, cheese. With this monster, after you bake the crust you will first spread the onion and garlic saute, then add the sauce and finally, decorate with the squash rounds and a sprinkle of cheese.

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Zucchini Fritters

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Courtney's Potato and Corn Herbed Fritter

My darling neighbor, Courtney, has inspired me. Instead of borrowing a cup or sugar or a stick of butter, she shares her culinary creations, and this lady can cook! I’ve returned the favor and had her taste a few of my concoctions as well. Yesterday she came to return a plate and had filled it with potato and corn herbed fritters with just a little zing of hot pepper. They were delicious. My first thought was, Thank God for ambitious cooks – I love having them for neighbors! My second thought was, I could make zucchini fritters!

Again, my goal is to rid the fridge of all CSA veggies before Thursday. This Indian curried version of the zucchini fritter has local, organic zucchini, onions and eggs. I served it with Tzatziki made with CSA cucumbers and mint from my garden. Serious fantastic fusion of flavors!

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Ingredients:

3 medium zucchini, grated

2 small onions, grated

salt to sprinkle

5 cloves garlic

1/2 cup walnuts

1/3 cup flour

2 eggs, beaten

3 cups bread crumbs

2 tsp. canola oil

1 tsp. curry powder

1/2 tsp. brown mustard seed

1/4 tsp. asefetida

1/2 tsp. garam masala

Directions:

1. Grate the zucchini and onions. Sprinkle with salt and mix. Place them in a cheese cloth or towel over a colander. Let the vegetables sit while you prep the other things. Later you will squeeze out the liquid.

2. Use a food processor to chop the garlic and walnuts. Dump these into a large mixing bowl and add the flour.

3. Heat the canola oil in a pan. You will place all the spices in hot oil and cook until the mustard seed begins to pop. Dump all spices and oil into you mixing bowl with walnuts, garlic and flour. Mix all together.

4. In a separate bowl beat two eggs. Then add them to the other ingredients.

5. Squeeze water from zucchini and onions and add to mixing bowl.

6. Oil two cookie sheets with canola. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

7. Make balls about one and a half inches in diameter, roll in breadcrumbs and flatten slightly.

8. Bake until the bottoms brown then gently flip. Place them back in the oven until the fritters are browned on both sides. I baked this batch about 50 minutes.

9. Serve with Tzatziki.

Galette with caramelized onion, fennel and kale

Galette with caramelized onion, fennel and kale


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This galette is made possible from the generous contribution of a leftover pastry from yesterday’s pot pie!  Like the beans I cook in bulk, I think I will continue to double every pastry recipe and freeze half for later adventures! It makes the second adventure so easy!

Once again, I am working through the contents of this week’s luscious bounty from my Foxtail Farm CSA. This dish includes small red onions, fennel, kale, zucchini and yellow squash from the box. I also made a fennel and rosemary pesto to top the galette, and I’m sure that will evolve into sandwich topping or pasta sauce for multi-purposed enjoyment!

Ingredients:

Filling:

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 cups diced red onion

3 large fennel bulbs thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

6 large stalks kale deveined and chopped

3/4 cup crumbled sheep’s milk feta

Yellow squash, thinly sliced

Zucchini, thinly sliced

Pastry:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, diced

2/3 cup ice water

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper

Pastry Directions:

This is a food processor method for pastry.  Start by mixing the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add diced butter and pulse a few times until it looks like a crumble. I like to pulse the machine and add the ice water in a slow dribble just until it comes together. Dump the dough out onto the counter and knead quickly into a ball. Place it in a covered bowl in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Filling Directions:

This caramelization process is not something I normally do very well when I am working. I just don’t have the time for it, but as I am home now, I can fiddle with these techniques that involve a little more time and patience. I thinly sliced the onions and fennel and tossed them into a heated pan with olive oil. I had the heat moderately high to give them a quick cook, but then turned it down as low as I could and left them to caramelize for about twenty minutes. I did stir them occasionally, and when the pan began to dry, I put the lid on to deglaze with their own juices. While the onions and fennel were sauteing, I steamed the kale for perhaps ten minutes. I then added it to the onions and fennel and allowed them to slowly cook together. I used the steaming water from the kale to deglaze the pan a couple of times, and when all the liquid was evaporated and my fennel and onions a lovely shade of toffee, I considered the process to be over. I mixed in most of the feta leaving just a little to sprinkle on top for the final bake.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and roll out the galette crust. Place it on a large cookie sheet and fill the middle of the pastry with the vegetable mixture. Decorate with the summer squashes, and then fold up the pastry around the filling. Sprinkle the last of the feta on top and bake for about 50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. I brushed this crust with the fennel and rosemary pesto about ten minutes before it was finished baking.