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Posts Tagged ‘zucchini’

I went through my garden to harvest what was ready or needed to be thinned. After a quick run through,  I took a look at my pickings.

Swiss chard, baby gray zucchini, and green beans.  Hmmmmm.  Since it was overcast, soup pops into mind.  And minestrone fits the bill.  Now, I’m not a huge fan of tomato based soups, but I can make an exception if the veggies are from my garden, or if it is this particular minestrone soup.  And since I can have both, well there you go!

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, sliced in 1/8 to 1/4 inch rounds
  • 3-4 stalk of celery, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced or pushed through a garlic press
  • 4 large swiss chard or bok choy stalks,  separate the stalks from the leaves,and then chop all of it (you can substitute 3 cups of fresh spinach as well!)
  • 1-1/2 cups of fresh or frozen green beans
  • 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 4 cups of beef broth
  • 1/2 cup of red wine (optional, but yummy!)
  • 1 14oz can of cannellini or kidney beans (I used light red in this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (I’ve even used a tablespoon of basil pesto as a substitution!)
  • 2 zucchini, halved and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups of slightly undercooked pasta (I would recommend a mini penne, mini elbow, or something unique. No flat noodles!  I used a campanelle for this batch)
  • Shredded parmesan or Italian cheese blend for topping
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot on medium high, heat the olive oil until it’s shimmering.  Stir in the carrots, onion, and celery and sautee until they just start to brown. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about another minute.

Pour in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (juice included), green beans and chard stems, and give a good stir.

Next add in the kidney beans, beef broth, and wine if you’re using it.

Bring the soup to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Stir in the chard leaves (or spinach), oregano and basil

then cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Next,  stir in your semi-cooked pasta and zucchini.

Again cover with a lid and simmer for another 15-25 minutes until the pasta is cooked to “al dente” or still has a little tooth to it.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve sprinkled with shredded parmesan. Yet another recipe that gets even better the next day!!!!!

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Nothing celebrates spring like a bright plate of pasta chock full of veggies.  I find myself craving this every year as the fields turn bright green with new foliage. It always makes me think of my friend Trina, and trips to Alexander Valley for wine tasting. Oh, the days when I didn’t have kids…    OK,  enough with the daydreaming.  At least there’s still the primavera. PS:  T- I miss your little water-tower house!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb pasta of your choice (Fettuccine is the norm, but I didn’t have any so I used farfalle in this recipe)
  • 16 stems of asparagus, woody end snapped off
  • 2 small zucchini (6-7 inches long)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4 tbsp butter, separated into tbsp sized pats
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 4 tomatoes, preferably Roma or Plum but whatever is on hand will work
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a garlic press (which is my personal favorite way!)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, or Italian cheese blend
  • 1/2 cup of loosely packed basil, chopped
  • the juice from half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 large bowl of ice water

This will make enough for 6-8 entrée sized servings, so beware! You can always cut the recipe in half.

Put two pots on the stove with 3-4 quarts of water and 1 tbsp of salt in each. Start prep work while bringing the water to a boil.

I cut up the vegetables in a specific way to speed up the cooking process. Be sure to keep them separated since they are initially cooked separately. Start with the asparagus. I cut two inches of the tips off, then slice in half lengthwise along the remaining stalk, and in half again as shown in the picture below.

As for the zucchini and carrots, take a peeler and press down a little while making your peeling motion in order to get a slightly thicker peel.

Then stack up the peeled strips and cut them in half lengthwise.

If you buy whole mushrooms, slice them!!!

Once your water is boiling, drop in the asparagus and boil for 45-60 seconds.

Then remove using a slotted spoon and plunge immediately into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Ta-dow. Once it’s cooled down (about a minute) remove from the cold water with a slotted spoon (you’ll need the water for cooling down the other cooked veggies) and put into a colander to finish draining.

Next cook the zucchini for 30-40 seconds

then plunge into the ice water, repeating the cooling down and then draining process. Next are the peas for 30 seconds, remove, cool-down and drain, and then the carrots for  1-1/2 to 2 minutes. I bet you can guess how you cool these down.  Once all veggies are cooled and drained, you should end up with a big and beautiful bowl of color. Take a look!

Purty!

Cut an “x” into the tips of your tomatoes like so –

and put into the boiling water.  Cook until the “x” on the end just starts to peel back or split, then plunge into your ice bath to stop the cooking process.  They should look something like this –

The skins should slide off pretty easily. Use the peeler on any stubborn pieces of tomato skin.  Now cut out the stem and chop them up.

Now is the time to cook your pasta. Pour it into the second pot of boiling water and stir to prevent sticking.

You can finally dump out that boiling veggie water from your first pot, and rinse it out since we’re going to use it to make the sauce while the pasta is boiling. Yep, we’re only using two pots to make primavera. How great is that!

Put 3 tbsp of butter into the dry pan and saute your mushrooms until lightly browned. Add in the chopped tomatoes.

Cook until the tomatoes start to break up about 8-10 minutes.

Check you pasta. If it’s done, drain and set it aside. If not quite done, continue to boil.

Add in the last tbsp of butter and your garlic to the mushroom mixture.

Cook until the garlic has mellowed, approximately 3 minutes. Turn down the heat to low, then add in the cream and half of the parmesan cheese (Save the rest of your cheese for sprinkling on top!) and stir until the cheese has melted and blended in with the sauce.  Simmer for an additional 3 minutes stirring until the sauce has slightly thickened. Set aside off of the heat until your pasta is done.

Pour drained pasta and veggies into the sauce and stir until completely combined.

Stir in basil and lemon juice and serve! Of course I sprinkle mine with more cheese due to my dairy addiction.

Join me.

I’m a dairy pusher.

Cut to 3 minutes later.

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I’m pumping myself up for my “A” game.  Every year I plant a zucchini, and it’s inevitable. I always end up with way more zucchini than I need, even after freezing.  I never learn my lesson, although this year, I planted a gray zucchini in hopes to keep the harvest down. I have become a firm believer in the ” Leave a stack of Zucchini on your Neighbors steps in the middle of the Night” day. Oh yeah, it’s an actual day. Look it up. Or make this bread… you may never have to get rid of zucchini again!

Ingredients:

  • 3-1/2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3/4 cups sugar plus
  • 1/4 cup sugar divided
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or 1-1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour and 2/3 cup wheat flour
  • 1-1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1-1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 tbsp melted butter (about 3/4 of a stick)

First thing first… the  trick to a good tasting zucchini bread is to get as much water out of the zucchini as possible. There are two ways to do this. One is to freeze shredded zucchini, and when it thaws, squeeze out the excess water. Or you can stir sugar into freshly shredded zucchini which will help it release water.  Just like strawberries.  I opt for number two since in the case of zucchini, fresh is better.  The more water you get out, the more zucchini you can pack into this bread. Which means that you’re getting zucchini bread, not bread with some zucchini in it. And another this is that you get to use up more of your zucchini harvest! YEA!! OK, enough with the babble

Heat your oven to 375 degrees.

Shred that zucchini-

Yup, I use a regular old cheese grater. Unless I plan on making a lot of bread to give away, and then I bust out with a food processor.

Next mix the shredded zucchini up with 1/4 cup of sugar

and place into a colander to drain.

I place my colander over a bowl just to see how much liquid drains.  Plus the kiddos think it’s a pretty color. I agree!

While the zucchini is draining dump the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a big bowl, and stir until combined.

In a second smaller bowl, whisk together the rest of the sugar, eggs, lemon juice, yoghurt, vanilla, and melted butter

until combined.

Now you have to decide if you would like one large loaf or two smaller loafs, then grease  and flour your pan/s. I chose to make two, since my father caught wind that I was baking and had already called to make sure he had a loaf reserved.

Return to your zucchini and squeeze out as much remaining liquid as you can. It doesn’t have to be completely dry, But you should have a nice amount of liquid in your bowl.

Look at all that zucchini juice!

Mix the squeezed zucchini in with your egg mixture …

Then pour into the big bowl with your flour mixture, and fold (if you want to add 1 cup of nuts, chocolate chips, or what ever floats your boat, now would be the time)

until just combined.  You DON’T want to mix it too much! Mixing too much will make a dense bread.

Pour the batter into your pan/s

And bake on middle rack in the oven until golden brown for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool down for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and finish cooling on a rack.

or eat it immediately while it’s still warm.

YUM!

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