Tag Archives: zucchini

Everyday Life: Week 29

Here’s a little look at week twenty-nine in photographs:

Our first small handful of homegrown tomatoes!

We cut down our crab apple tree this week. Suddenly our backyard has a LOT of sunlight during the day.

Percy and the beanstalk.

We’ve had quite a bit of zucchini this summer and I’ve been experimenting with zucchini noodles!

This is the look of four in the morning from our bed.

‘Tis the season.

Also in our garden right now!

Frenemies.

Our refrigerator died on Tuesday. For three nights we ate some weird meals… This one was a hot dog bun topped with two Trader Joe’s meatless chicken sausages (split in half). Then topped with sauerkraut, cheddar cheese, dill relish, ketchup and mustard. Surprisingly tasty.

Salad!

Surprise rainbow while watering tomatoes.

Anaheim and jalapeno pepper mac and cheese.

Garden pretties.

Tomatoes cooking in a saffron infused olive oil…

To make this bonkers delicious tomato confit pasta!

We finally got our fridge working after four days. Lost most of the stuff in our freezer…except liquor, veggie burgers and vegetarian sausages. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

What do YOU wake up to in the morning? Bwahaha.

Pearl Couscous with Zucchini, Corn and Herbs

During the summer months, corn and zucchini are always in abundance. However, in our house, zucchini is also a bottom dweller on the list of popular summer veggies available. Yet every year, I plant one or two plants, which inevitably will provide more zucchini than anyone around here wants to willingly eat.

When I saw this recipe, I knew it was one I wanted to try. I also wondered if my husband’s love of fresh summer corn would surpass his non-love of zucchini. So I gave it a try. The result was a surprisingly fresh dish bursting with flavor. Even my non-zucchini-liking husband said, “I like this salad!”

You can eat this as a salad, side dish, even a light main dish. Perfectly good hot, warm, or cold, it makes for an easy summer recipe.

Pearl Couscous with Zucchini, Corn and Herbs

Recipe slightly modified from Simple Green Suppers by Susie Middleton

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups yellow onion, diced
1 cup pearl couscous, uncooked
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/4 cups of water or vegetable broth
2 cups finely diced zucchini (approximately 1/4-inch cubes)
2 cups fresh corn kernels
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup freshly chopped basil
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
ground black pepper
sea salt

Directions:

Melt one tablespoon of the oil in a medium sized pan, over medium heat. Add  half the onion (3/4-cup) and a small pinch of salt. Stir frequently, cooking until the onions soften.

Add the uncooked couscous to the onions. Raise the heat to medium-high and stir frequently until the couscous begins to lightly brown (5-7 minutes). Add 1 teaspoon of the ground coriander plus the 1 1/4 cups of water or broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed by the couscous. Remove the pan from the heat, then fluff the couscous with a fork. Keep covered, off the heat until needed.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the remaining onion plus 1/2-teaspoon salt, sauté until translucent. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring often, until the zucchini slightly soften and begins browning lightly (5-7 minutes, approximately). Add the corn and 1/4-teaspoon salt, stirring often until the corn is slightly glistening (2-3 minutes). Add the minced garlic, remaining teaspoon ground coriander, stirring until well combined (1-2 minutes).

Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for 1-2 minutes. Add the lime juice , stirring to coat everything. Add the cooked, fluffed couscous, fresh basil, parsley and chives. Season with black pepper and salt to your liking.

Serve hot, warm, or even cold if you’d like.

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Crispy Baked Parmesan Zucchini

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For first-time gardeners, or the hesitant gardener, there is always the zucchini plant. It takes a mere single plant to happily satisfy a small family’s cravings through the growing season. Last year I made the mistake of planting four zucchini plants in my tiny garden… the result was a LOT of green zucchini, yellow summer squash, and crookneck squash… And a near hatred for every variety after eating them so frequently.

This year I planted two plants: one green zucchini and one yellow zucchini. Both have been steadily producing for the last month and a half. When I first made the following zucchini it was on a whim, because I wanted some kind of veggie side dish to go with dinner. My husband happily exclaimed that this was his new favorite, and only favorite, way to willingly eat zucchini. The next time I made them, both kids thoroughly ate much more than their share.

I love that these zucchinis can be eaten as is, dipped into your preferred sauces (ranch and barbeque have both been happily tested around here), or as I’m going to use them tomorrow — turned into a layered zucchini parmesan. Cut them lengthwise and make zucchini fries if you want. Those are also good.

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Crispy Baked Parmesan Zucchini

As an appetizer or side dish, easily feeds 6-8 folks.

Ingredients:
2 large zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds*
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 3/4 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
canola oil

*You can also use this recipe to make zucchini fries. Simply cut the zucchini into sticks about 3″ long and 1/2″ wide.

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Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Generously grease two large baking sheets with canola oil.

In a medium sized flat-bottomed dish (like a pie plate), whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, half teaspoon of salt, and half teaspoon ground black pepper. In another dish, combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic, oregano, basil, teaspoon of salt, and half teaspoon black pepper.

Dredge each zucchini round into the buttermilk mixture (making sure to coat each side) then coat with the panko mixture. You can gently, but firmly press the zucchini into the bread crumbs to make sure they stick. Flip and coat the other side with the panko as well. Place the zucchini on your prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Continue dredging until all the zucchini is coated.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the bottom of each zucchini is golden brown. Flip, then bake for another 6-8 minutes until the second side is brown as well.

Serve while hot.

*These zucchini reheat nicely in a toaster or standard oven.

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Green Machine Vegetarian Lasagna

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Luckily, I’ve never had to deal with picky eaters. It isn’t because my cooking is usually, or has always been, good. When I first met my husband, he did the cooking for us. And there were some dang good meals in there, many times. The kids will warn you now, though, if a recipe is deemed “Papa’s Special _________” immediately pretend like you already have dinner plans. I cooked over-done oatmeal. Who does that, really? I made pancakes that were raw in the center and very crisp on the edges. Hows about some overly mashed mashed potatoes, where the consistency resembles glue rather than fluffy potatoes? I’m glad all these things are history, that I’ve learned some things in the last 6 years.

Although picky eaters isn’t an issue, sometimes simply stating certain vegetable names leaves one, if not both, of the kids hesitant about the meal to come. I’ve learned to come up with recipes where the questionable vegetables can be masked, but are still very present. I really enjoy lasagna. That probably goes  right alongside my overwhelming desire to eat pasta every single day. Lasagna is a super easy meal to throw a LOT of veggies into, deliciously. The thing is, lasagnas take a little bit of work, despite them being a good vehicle for transporting lots of veggies to your family. There are various elements: the sauce, the filling, the layering, the pasta-cooking, the baking… my favorite part: the eating. And a good, massively layered up lasagna, it can feed you for DAYS.

This lasagna began as an experiment. I had a ton of fresh-picked broccoli out of the garden and it needed to go somewhere quick. Silas  will flat out tell me, “I’m not hungry” if broccoli is at the forefront of dinner. So I threw it in the food processor, along with other greens and ricotta, and came up with a lasagna filling that was hearty and good tasting. And beautifully green.  The following recipe has a lot of steps, but they aren’t so terrible. I suggest reading through them all once before putting the lasagna together; it’ll make it easier to follow along as you cook.

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Green Machine Vegetarian Lasagna

Makes one large lasagna.

Ingredients:

15 oz. whole fat ricotta cheese
5 green onions
6 oz. raw spinach
1 poblano pepper, stem and seeds removed
2 heaping cups fresh, raw broccoli florets
1½ cups fresh basil, packed
5 cloves garlic
¼ cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs
¾ tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

¼ cup olive oil
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green zucchini, halved lengthwise then cut in half-moons (about 1/8-inch thick)
1 medium yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise, cut into half-moons (also 1/8-inch thick)
1 tsp. dried oregano
¾ tsp. ground coriander
salt and pepper

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. red chili flakes
1 cup pesto (I used this sauce)
3 cups whole milk
pinch of fresh nutmeg
¼ cups grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

4 cups low-moisture mozzarella, shredded
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 pound lasagna noodles (1 box, typically)
2 tbsp. olive oil

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375° F. Bring a large pot of water to boiling, then cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions. Work in batches if necessary. Run the cooked noodles under cold water before transferring to a baking sheet, laying the noodles in a single layer until needed.

In a food processor or high power blender, combine the ricotta cheese, green onion, spinach, poblano pepper, broccoli, basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth, occasionally scraping down the sides of the food processor as needed. Set the mixture aside.

In a frying pan, heat the ¼ cup of oil. Add the diced onion and garlic, cooking over medium-high heat until the onions are nearly translucent. Add the zucchini, squash, oregano, coriander. Saute until the zucchini is tender (10-15 minutes). Taste, then add salt and pepper to your liking. Set the mixture aside until needed.

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth, once the butter has completely melted. Stit in the oregano, chili flakes, and pesto, again until smooth. Gradually add in the milk, still over medium heat, whisking continuously (to prevent lumps from forming). Continue whisking until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the nutmeg and parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to your liking.

To put the lasagna together, spread the remaining two tablespoons of oil along the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Spoon a ½-cup of sauce all over the bottom of the pan. Arrange a layer of noodles over the sauce, overlapping the edges by about ¼-inch. Spread half of the ricotta mixture evenly over the noodles, followed by half of the zucchini. Spoon ⅓ of the pesto sauce over the zucchini, followed by ⅓ of the shredded mozzarella. Add another layer of noodles, the remaining ricotta mixture, then the remaining zucchini, ⅓ of the pesto sauce, then ⅓ of the shredded mozzarella. Add another layer of noodles, followed by the remaining pesto sauce, then the remaining mozzarella. Sprinkle the ¼ cup of grated parmesan over the mozzarella.

Line a large baking sheet with foil, then place the lasagna dish on top, covering it tightly with foil. Bake the lasagna on the center rack in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the sides are bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Cut the lasagna and serve.

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Everything But the What? Hearty Vegetable Soup

The last few days have been gray, rainy, cold, and overall — my favorite type of January Northwest weather. I don’t think I’ll ever grow old of enjoying rain pouring down the streets, wind knocking at the front door, or the cold that invites you to bundle up. Although I’m from Kauai, I think I’ve acclimated to “real” winters quite well. This weather has been perfect for a giant pot of soup on the stove.

I’m not one to get excited about soup. Really. It’s one of various dishes I just can’t think too much about, because ultimately I enjoy eating soup, but rarely does it strike me as appetizing-sounding. This particular soup is more or less a pot of miscellany. You can add other vegetables if you please, or leave some out for that matter. Or add some pasta. Or follow these directions exactly. (More or less, do whatever the hell you want when it comes to making this soup! I don’t think you could mess it up — too terribly…)

Hearty Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

2 – 3 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
1 ½ cups diced yellow bell pepper
½ cup diced celery
2 cups diced zucchini
3 cups diced red potatoes, skins left intact
2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into thin rounds
2 cups cooked beans (pinto, black, cannellini, etc.)
1 cup cut green beans
1 tbsp. diced jalapeño (seeds and veins removed if you want it less spicy)
1- 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (I prefer Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes)
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 dried bay leaves
½ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. dried thyme
8 cups vegetable broth
½ cup red wine (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add in the onions and garlic. Stir and then cook until the onions are translucent.

Add the bell pepper, celery, zucchini, red potatoes, carrots, beans (cooked and green), jalapeño, and tomatoes to the pot.

Stir, then sprinkle in the rosemary, bay leaves, coriander, and thyme. Add all of the vegetable broth (and wine, if using) at once, salt, and pepper, then give all the ingredients a good stir. Cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Allow the soup to cook on low heat for 1 – 2 hours, more if you want. Taste, then add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot.