Abigail Cahill O'Brien

Posts Tagged ‘zucchini’

CSA Week 4: Vegetarian Delight

In Food on July 12, 2010 at 8:08 am

So much for CSA week 3.  It was sweltering, I ate salads – even the squash made it into salads – and I won’t bore you with it.

As the heat lifted last week, the urge to cook returned, and I managed to serve almost all of Farmer Dave’s Week 4’s haul in one large vegetarian meal.

For apps, I whirred a bunch of basil into a quick pesto (using olive oil, Parmesan, pine nuts, honey, lemon juice and sat and pepper), topped it with more olive oil and served it with ciabatta and a bowl of  goat cheese.

Zucchini au gratin took center stage, accompanied by a citrus beet salad, minted peas, and wilted greens with caramelized Vidalia onions.

Dessert?  The first of the native peaches, peeled and sliced and tossed with a little brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, then topped with whipped cream.

I plain forgot to take a picture.

Zucchini Au Gratin Serves 4-6.  I doubled this for 12 adults and 4 kids.  We had leftovers for dinner the next day.

I used Manchego because that’s what I had on hand.  Parmesan alone would do the trick, and nothing baked ever suffered from the inclusion of Gruyère.  The basil is optional.  Fresh thyme baked in with the vegetables would work.

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 small yellow summer squash
  • 1 large pattypan squash (5-6 inches in diameter)
  • 2 small red potatoes
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 cup Manchego, grated
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Fresh basil, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice the squash and potatoes into very thin slices, 1/8-inch or less. Toss the sliced vegetables with the olive oil in a large bowl.

Coat an 8 or 9 inch square casserole dish with a thin layer of olive oil (I used a brush).
Place 1/3 of the squash and potato slices in the bottom of the dish—no need to layer them squash-potato-squash.  Season with salt and pepper. Top with half of the goat cheese, scattered evenly in large chunks. Repeat with another 1/3 of the vegetables, seasoning again with salt and pepper and topping with the other 1/2 of the goat cheese. Finish by layering on the final 1/3 of the vegetables and seasoning with salt and pepper.

Pour the milk over the entire dish. Top with the Manchego and Parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 15-20 more minutes, until the top browns. Scatter on the fresh basil, if using.

Citrus Beet Salad

  • 6 medium beets
  • 4 oranges
  • 1/3 cup sliced red onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425.  Wrap washed, whole beets in tinfoil and roast 1 hour or until done.  Stick a fork in one to test; it should slide in easily.  Allow to cool before peeling.  The skin should slip off easily.  I peel by hand, wearing gloves to avoid staining.  Slice beets thinly into rounds.

Prepare oranges as follows. Cut the ends off.  Place one now-flattened end on your cutting board, and shave the peel and pith off with a sharp knife in vertical strips.  Cut into disks, reserving one half of an orange for juicing. Arrange orange slices on a platter, drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Top with a layer of beets and thinly sliced red onions.  Drizzle with more olive oil.  Squeeze the reserved half orange over the beets.  Season again with salt and pepper.

I know – the onions above aren’t yet caramelized.  I snuck a few out of the pan early to get this shot taken.  You really want a lovely light brown color, which can take quite a long time to develop.

Wilted Greens

  • 1 head Swiss chard
  • 1 head amaranth
  • 1 head arugula
  • 1 bunch beet greens
  • olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper

Remove the stalks from the swiss chard; dice and set aside.  Wash the greens in a sink of water, inspecting each leaf.  Place the still-wet greens in a large stockpot over high heat.  When they let off a sizzle, begin to turn them.  When they are wilted remove them from the pot to a large bowl, leaving the liquid behind.

In a small sauce pan, heat a generous pour of olive oil.  Add the sliced garlic and red pepper flakes (a small dash or more depending on the desired level of heat) and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until garlic begins to take on a golden color.  Add the diced chard stems; cook until softened.  Drizzle the olive oil and chard mixture over the greens.  Toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Caramelized Onions

  • 4-5 Vidalia onions, sliced into rounds
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • Paprika

In a large pan, melt the butter and vegetable oil over medium heat.  Add sliced onions and a dash of paprika.  Sauté the onions until translucent and cooked through.  Salt generously.  Turn heat to very low and cook, stirring often, until the onions take on a golden light brown color.  I cook them for at least 2 hours, and will leave them on the stove all day if I have the luxury.

Scallops, Zucchini and Peas in Lemon-Bacon Broth

In Food on June 28, 2010 at 10:06 am

When it comes to my tendency to eat large quantities of pasta, I have a couple tricks up my sleeve.

Sometimes I buy individual bird nest servings of fresh pasta at Duckworth Beach Gourmet, a double-whammy win that’s a huge treat by virtue of its quality, but also automatically controls serving size.

More often, though, I recreate pasta dishes with summer squash as a base.  This works well in CSA season, or for anyone with an overload of zucchini on their hands.

We made this dish on a whim over the weekend.  If you’d like to omit the broth, salt your julienned zucchini first and allow it to drain in a colander for 30-40 minutes.  The salt will draw out the water.  Be sure to rinse and pat dry after to avoid over-salting the whole dish.

Now, that’s much too complicated for my usual dinner mode – you won’t find me dunking blanched veggies in ice baths on a Friday night either – which is why we ended up with this bright-tasting broth.  By the time you serve it, the broth will be warm but not steaming, so it’s still suitable for all but the hottest summer nights.

A final note: don’t use a non-stick pan.  It’s hard to get a good sear on the scallops in one.

Scallops, Zucchini and Peas in Lemon-Bacon Broth Serves 4

  • 3 slices of bacon (or substitute pancetta)
  • 5-6 small summer squash or zucchini, julienned
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh English peas, shelled
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup Parmesan, grated
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Scallops, 12-16

Eyeball the zucchini and select a pan big enough to hold all of it.  Heat the pan and cook the bacon in it; set bacon aside.  Drain off all the bacon fat save 2 tbsp.  Add the diced onion to the pan and cook until softened and translucent; add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more, stirring often.  You may have lowered the heat to avoid burning the garlic;  if so, crank it back up before adding the zucchini.   Turn the zucchini in the bacon fat, onion and garlic until it begins to soften but isn’t limp.  Test a piece; it should have some give to it when you bite down, but not be noodle-y.   Add the peas and stir for one minute, or until the peas begin to deepen in color.  Crumble bacon into the pan.  Add the lemon zest and juice; stir.  Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Scrape the entire zucchini mixture into a large bowl and set aside.

Wipe out your pan and put it over fairly high heat.  Add even portions of vegetable oil and butter, enough to coat the pan and then some.  Add one scallop.  If it sizzles, the pan is hot enough.  Add the remaining scallops, making sure they don’t touch to prevent steaming, and don’t move them after they hit the pan.   Cook 3 minutes on one side, 2 minutes on the other.  They should develop a nicely caramelized sear on both sides.

Mound zucchini in a shallow soup bowl, spooning the accumulated broth over it.  Top with 4-5 scallop per person, and serve with a fork, spoon and crusty bread for dipping.

Summertime, And The Return Of The CSA Share

In Food on June 24, 2010 at 5:30 am

It’s CSA season, if you hadn’t heard.  My share from Farmer Dave’s of Dracut, MA started last week.  I really must sharpen my knives before picking up today’s share; there’s a lot of chopping involved.

Here’s what I did with the loot, the sad bits first.

Snap peas: Opened the bottom vegetable bin Tuesday morning to find them sodden and rotting.  Ashamed.  I vow to either eat these immediately this week or at least get them into a Debbie Meyer green bag to prolong their life.

Beet and radish greens: Left to languish til yellowed.  Drat.  Must sauté them immediately this week, and then doctor with poached eggs for breakfast.

Three gorgeous heads of lettuce: Devoured in simple salads with balsamic vinaigrette.  I’m not sick of salads yet, but if that day comes, I’ll try Savory Kitchen’s lettuce soup.

Garlic scapes: Diced and thrown into a quick sauté with one zucchini.  Next time I’ll make pesto; everyone raves about scape pesto.  Or this white bean and scape dip as an alternate.

Beets: Food and Fiction’s pickled beets went over so well, I didn’t even get a chance to take a picture.  I’ll make them again when I have a bigger hoard in the drawer.

Bok Choy Stirfry: (Pictured above.)  In a small bowl combine 1/3 cup chicken stock or water, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch, and two dashes dried ginger or a tbsp fresh grated ginger.  Heat a wok or skillet, and add 2-3 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil.  Add two diced yellow onions; cook until translucent.  Add 12 thinly sliced garlic cloves and cook, stirring so as not to burn.  Add two heads bok choy, washed and coarsely chopped.  Cook until bok choy greens are tender and stalks wilted.  Add the reserved marinade and cook for another minute or so.  Transfer to a bowl.  Drizzle with sesame oil, toss and top with roasted sesame seeds.

Pickled Radishes, From The Kitchn: Mine turned this lovely salmon color after one day.  I hope the color continues intensifying.

3/4 cup hot water (can be from the tap)
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar ( I substituted apple cider vinegar for my second batch.)
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 bunches red radishes, rinsed and drained

Combine water, vinegar, sugar and salt in small bowl, whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Set aside. Quarter the radishes, place them in your container of choice, cover with the brine and replace the lid.  Refrigerate for at least 3 days and up to one month.

Thyme Zucchini: Heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet.  Add one diced yellow onion, two diced garlic cloves, and several tbsps fresh thyme.  Sauté over medium heat for several minutes, until onion and garlic are cooked.  Increase heat.  Add three small diced zucchinis.  Add more thyme if you like.  Cook until zucchini is tender but not mushy, stirring often.  Salt and pepper to taste.

And now for two bonus recipes, not from the CSA but still timely (okay, there’s no local watermelon in New England right now; I caved to an early summer craving at the market).

Mint Simple Syrup: A terrific way to use leftover mint.  Combine 3 cups water with one cup sugar in a saucepan.  Heat until boiling, stirring occasionally.  Boil for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add several handfuls of whole mint leaves and allow to steep for one hour.  Remove leaves.  Syrup will keep for a good long while in the fridge, likely months.  We’ll add it to cocktails all summer long.

Watermelon Salad with Mint and Basil: Toss cubed watermelon and basil strips with this minty honey pepper vinaigrette.

Short on Chili Meat? Add Quinoa and Zuchinni.

In Food on June 3, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Do you read Three Many Cooks?  It’s a wonderful recipe blog which really belongs on the blog roll.  (Voila!  Done.)  Pam Anderson (no, not that Pam Anderson) and her daughters Sharon and Maggie take turns sharing kitchen escapades and how-tos.

I wanted to make their spicy turkey chili, which calls for three pounds of turkey meat and one 28 oz can of tomatoes.

The wrinkle: my jar of tomatoes was four times that size, and I had only two pounds of turkey meat.

Solution? I added three cups of cooked quinoa, two zucchini and two yellow summer squash, which puts this in range of the admirable “meat as condiment” approach to cooking and eating.

Because I only had two onions and two lbs of meat, I happily kept the oil level the same as the original recipe (3 tbsp) even though I tripled everything else, with no adverse affect on taste.  If you have more onions on hand, though, throw them in, adding oil as necessary – I just happened to be short a few.

Below is my final recipe after all that tinkering.   If you’re not cooking for two dozen, head on over here for the original version (serves six).

I love their suggestion to toast the chili spices in a dry skillet; it imparts a whole new, and enjoyable, level of smokiness, and left me wondering why I’d never thought to do it before.

I also love eating soup from my gravy boat.  There’s always a spot for the spoon on the lip.

Spicy Turkey Chili with Quinoa and Zucchini

(Adapted from Three Many Cooks)

  • 1 cup chili powder
  • 6 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 6 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium large onions, cut into medium dice
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 4 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 3 quarts chicken broth
  • 6 cans (16 ounces each) beans (pinto, black kidney or a variety), drained and rinsed
  • 13 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 ounces bitter-or semisweet chocolate (I used both)
  • 4 medium zucchini or summer squash, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (the equivalent of 1 cup uncooked)

In a medium skillet, toast chili powder, oregano, and cumin over low heat, stirring constantly, until spices are darker in color and fragrant, being careful not to burn them.

In a large stock pot, sauté onions in vegetable oil until soft, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add ground meat, and cook through. Add toasted spices. Then stir in tomatoes, and broth; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.

Stir in beans, garlic, chocolate, and zucchini; simmer about 5 minutes. Sprinkle cornmeal over chili and stir in. Simmer to thicken, 1 to 2 minutes longer.  Add quinoa, stir, and serve.