Tag Archives: zucchini

Pistou

It’s the peak of the summer harvest right now, which means it’s time to make pistou. What’s pistou? It’s the Spanish version of ratatouille, and is easier for me to spell. (Aren’t you glad you asked?) Anyways, whatever you call it, it is a classic Mediterranean summer dish filled with fresh veggies that is already vegetarian, so no modifications were needed.

It does call for a bit more of oil than I usually use, and while I’ve tried to cut it back, the eggplant becomes unhappy. And while I also try and cut back on longer prep steps, peeling and salting the eggplant is pretty necessary: otherwise, it can be bitter. By itself, it makes a nice but light dinner. The traditional Spanish way of serving this dish is to poach eggs in it just before serving. When I’m short on eggs, like this week, I add some plain Greek yogurt for protein or have a side of bread and cheese. My sister who first introduced me to ratatouille serves it over orzo and topped with parmesan or goat cheese. However you do it, it’s yummy and packed full of veggies.

Pistou

  • 1 large or 2 medium eggplant, peeleed and diced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 6 medium tomatoes, diced, or 2 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes
  • salt to taste
  • 4 eggs (optional)
  1. Put eggplant in a colander in the sink or over a bowl, salt generously and set aside for half an hour. When ready, throughly rinse the eggplant and shake off most of the excess water.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant and soft, about 1 to 2 minutes, then sprinkle with salt.
  4. Add the eggplant and cook until most of the oil is absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Add the zucchini and bell pepper, stir until coated and evenly mixed.
  6. Add the tomatoes, juice and and all, stir into the pot and bring to a simmer.
  7. Allow to simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes, and adjust salt to taste.
  8. If desired, crack one egg at a time into a mug, then gently pour into the pistou, taking care to not break the yolks.
  9. Poach until whites are set and yolks are at their desired hardness.
  10. Serve with 1 egg per bowl.

Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side.

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Squash Tacos

One of the fantastic things about living in a small ag town in central California is the sheer abundance of Mexican restaurants: I can walk to 5 in under 5 minutes. One of my favorites, not surprisingly, has a variety of vegetarian options that focuses around fresh, seasonal produce. Last summer I tasted some of her squash tacos and have had a lot of fun reinventing them in my own kitchen, since they taste great and are a good use of giant zucchini. While I make this with beans, my meat eating mom does this with ground turkey or beef and loves that it cuts calories and adds nutrition to her tacos.

Bean and Squash Tacos

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large squash or zucchini, grated
  • 2 cups cooked black beans, or 1 can, drained and rinsed
  • your favorite taco seasoning (I like a pinch of cumin and garlic)
  • 8 taco shells or small tortillas

Heat oil in a large skillet in medium high heat. Add seasonings and allow to heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add squash and cook until most of the liquid produced evaporates, about 5 minutes. Add beans, toss to combine, and allow to heat through for another minute or two. Makes 8 tacos.

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Pizza Pasta Salad

Lately I’ve been going through a wee bit of a pizza fixation. But eating that much pizza even with whole grain crusts can’t be all that healthy, plus cranking my oven up to 500 F at the end of a hot day is sometimes a bit much. So in order to enjoy those pizza flavors, increase the vegetable quotient, and avoid heating up my entire house, I came up with this pasta salad recipe. I should warn you that my pasta salads tend to be heavier on the salad and lighter on the pasta, so if you want a more traditional dish, double the amount of pasta. Also, for you meat eaters out there, this would be really tasty with pepperoni or prosciutto. The banana peppers give it a little bit of a kick, but if you want more heat, try peperoncinis. Not a fan of any amount of spiciness? Use 2 tbsp red wine vinegar instead.

Pizza Pasta Salad

  • 6 ounces short pasta (like penne) cooked and cooled
  • 1 large tomato diced, or 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
  • 4 baby zucchini or squash, thinly sliced (you want the smallest squash you can find)
  • 1 medium or 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 6 ounces mozzarella, diced or shredded
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pickled banana peppers, drained & chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano or 1/2 tbsp dried
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Allow to refrigerate for at least one hour before serving so flavors can meld. Serves 4 as a main dish, 8 as a side dish.

Enjoy!

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Zucchini Pizza

Apparently pizza is now my go to dish for when I have friends over. Homemade pizza is impressive but easy to make, can be topped with whatever you feel like, and only takes 10 minutes in the oven. If I’m feeling ambitious, I set out a bunch of sauces, cheeses, and toppings, and it becomes a make your own pizza fest. This weekend, we kept it simple and topped it with the last of last year’s marinara, local mozzarella, oregano from my garden, and thinly sliced zucchini from the farm. I was surprised by how much I liked the zucchini, it didn’t get mushy and instead added a bit of crunch and a really fresh flavor. This crust recipe is adapted from my boyfriend, Mark Bittman, and resembles the crust from an upscale pizzeria. It makes 2 pizzas and serves 4 to 6 officially, though with 4 people I only had 1 slice leftover.
Basic Pizza Dough

  • 3 cups all purpose or bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • additional vegetable oil or cornmeal
  • additional flour

Mix first four ingredients. Stir in water until a slightly stick ball forms. (This would be a great place to use a mixer or food processor) Set in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Allow to rest until doubled in size, ~1 to 2 hours. Divide dough into 2 even parts, flatten into discs, put on wooden cutting board sprinkled with flour and cover with the kitchen towel. Allow to rest for ~20 minutes, and preheat the oven to 500 F. If using a pizza stone, sprinkle with cornmeal, if using a cookie sheet sprinkle with cornmeal or coat with oil (I like the cornmeal better). Roll out one crust at a time, using more flour if needed to prevent sticking. Transfer the first crust, top as desired, then bake for 10 minutes.

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Curried Zucchini Soup

The world might be preparing for an invasion of zombies, but right now I’m dealing with an invasion of zucchini. Let’s just say that I have an entire vegetable bin in my refrigerator dedicated to squash and zucchini right now, and it will probably stay that way through August. I love the little ones for sauteing or roasting and sometimes even raw, but the baseball bat ones often have a less appealing texture. Fortunately, I found this recipe for a zucchini soup and it was a perfect solution for consuming more bat-like zucchini: by pureeing the soup, you take care of any texture issues and get to focus on the lovely flavor. While I’m not normally a soup kind of girl in the summer, this one is so light that I don’t mind a hot dinner. I keep it simple by having it with some naan and yogurt, but I bet this would go well with any Indian inspired protein.

Curried Zucchini Soup

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lb zucchini, diced
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 5 cups broth or water
  • 1/4 cup rice
  • salt to taste
  • lemon juice
  • small zucchini, thinly sliced (optional)

In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add zucchini and curry powder and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add liquid and rice, bring to a simmer, cover and allow to cook until rice is tender, ~20 minutes. Adjust salt to taste (you’ll need more if using water). Remove soup from heat and puree using an immersion blender, or in batches with a regular blender or food processor. Pour a little lemon juice over each bowl just before serving, and if desired, garnish with a few slices of zucchini. Serves 6 to 8.

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