Eating zucchini in a non-healthy way

Eating zucchini or, how to eat in season without chomping on sunflower sprouts

Not there’s anything bad about sprouts. But sometimes an eater wants to skip over the raw kale salad and vinegar slaw and eat some comfort food, even if IS summer and the bounty is plentiful!

Here’s how to do it:

Take a non ginormous zucchini or two, plop in a bowl of water to soak (Marcella’s technique for loosening ground sitting vegetable from its soil), boil some pasta, chop a bit of onion and sauté it in butter, add zucchini which you have cut into julienne, pour in some pasta water to reduce, add cream and saffron and reduce again. That’s it!

When your pasta — I recommend fettucine — is done, serve under cream sauce and add grated parmesan. I think I can skip the ice cream on this night. I had my cream in savory form, thanks!

Ingredients:
1/4 # fettucini
4 T chopped onion
1-2 small zucchinis, cut into julienne strips, 1-1/2” by 1/4”
1 c heavy cream
Pinch saffron
grated parmesan

 

Spring variation: substitute asparagus for zucchini; steam it ahead before cutting into 1-1/2” lengths before sautéing as above.

Impromptu summer lunch salad

Hungry mid-day and don’t want to fuss much? Take what you have that is farm fresh and toss together a casual salad.  Here’s what went into today’s salad chez moi: chopped kale, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, raw summer squash, diced peppers.  If I had a red onion, I would have added that to the mix. But this is a no-stress lunch, so not to worry, I told myself.

I wasn’t in the mood for a sharp vinaigrette, so here’s what I did: I started with leftover extra mayonnaise/sour cream from potato salad. To that I added buttermilk and a bit of olive oil and salt.  Voila!

Canned items:  chickpeas, drained and rinsed, artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed, and soaked in olive oil (the oil I later added to creamy dressing, above)

Farmers market/CSA items:

yellow summer squash, sliced thin on mandoline

assorted sweet peppers, cut into large dice

Several leaves of lacinato kale, soaked, dried and chopped fine

YUM!

Summer lentil salad extravaganza

When you find yourself with lovely local lettuce in early summer, and perhaps some leftover grilled chicken, cook up some Puy lentils and assemble a main course salad, great for a crowd. Pomegranate molasses adds a new flavor element to sherry vinaigrette brightened with lemon zest and juice.

Ingredients:
Stewed puy lentils, chilled
Chicken or vegetable stock for cooking lentils
Sherry shallot vinaigrette with shallots macerated in apple cider vinegar, lemon zest & juice, walnut & olive oil, sugar and pomegranate molasses
Leftover chicken, sliced thick or hard boiled eggs or boiled chilled shrimp (omit cheese)
Canned artichoke hearts and bottled roasted peppers, drained and rinsed.
Toasted walnuts (1 c), broken up when cool.
Little turnips, carrots sliced on mandoline
fresh herbs, minced — parsley and chives, at a minimum

Directions:

Cook lentils: Sauté diced carrots, celery, shallot in large saucepan. Add 1 t cumin, crumbled, ground pepper, and less than 1 t dried thyme, crumbled. When done, stir in chopped garlic and cook for one minute.
Stir in 1-1/2 c puy lentils, picked over and rinsed. Turn up heat and add stock to more than cover. Bring to a simmer and cook at least partially covered 20-30 minutes until barely tender — don’t let get mushy. Drain and chill.
Toast 1 c. walnuts in 350 degree oven for 7-8 minutes until fragrant. Let cool, then break up a bit.
Heat olive oil in small sauce pan, add couple garlic cloves cut in half and cook for a couple minutes until slightly browned and aromatic. Remove from heat and let sit.
Drain and rinse artichoke hearts; put on towel and blot dry. Put in bowl and pour garlic oil over them, adding more oil as needed.
Make vinaigrette: minced shallot and apple cider vinegar to macerate 15+ minutes. Lemon zest, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, walnut oil, olive oil, dash sugar (or honey) and 1-2 t pomegranate molasses, S&P. Taste and adjust acid, salt and sweetness as needed. Using a lettuce leaf is a good method of tasting.
When lentils are cool (or brought to room temp if cooked in advance), toss liberally with vinaigrette. Salt as needed.
Mince fresh herbs such as parsley and chives. Mix into lentils with walnuts.
Wash and spin dry lettuce leaves.
Clean turnips and cut thinly on mandoline with carrots and parmesan, if using. Cover and refrigerate to wait for salad assembly.

Assembly:
Lay lettuce leaves around outside of platter. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Dump dressed lentils in center. Top with chicken, artichokes and peppers. Sprinkle on coarsely broken up turnips, etc.

Roasted corn off the cob

Sometimes it’s nice to have summer corn OFF the cob. My favorite way to do this is to sauté corn with olive oil, peppers and red onion, and then let a bit of garlic join the party near the end. Takes about 10-15 minutes tops to cook. Or you can pop in a hot oven on a sheet pan if it’s not 90 degrees.

That’s it.  The technique comes from White Dog Café cookbook, which has long been a favorite cookbook. Judy Wickes has you make a salsa with lime after the corn cooks, which is a very good idea, but I haven’t gone to that stage yet and have been happily mired in the eat after the first step stage. It’s good. Here’s her recipe: https://tinyurl.com/y8up78sl

Here’s a rough guide:

Remove kernels from corn cobs with a big sharp knife. Dice some nice peppers — a medium hot/sweet and a serrano or other hot pepper makes a nice balance. Or you can use also a red sweet pepper. Rough chop red onion. Mince a garlic clover.

Heat a pan, add olive oil, and corn, peppers and onion and cook at high temp for up to 10 minutes, stirring often. Altnernatively, heat the oven to 450 degrees, mix your corn, onion and peppers together with S&P in a bowl, and toss with a bit of olive oil, glob on some olive oil, dump in your corn, and roast for 10-15 minutes, adding in garlic a minute before it’s all cooked — or you can add the garlic when it comes out of the oven.  All good. Let sit until the rest of your dinner cooks, and enjoy! Corn may only marginally be considered a vegetable, but peppers, onion and garlic are high in the healthy scorecard, and hey, it’s all better than potato chips! Enjoy!

Mexican baked fish

Fish gets a lively flavorful yet easy treatment with tomatoes, almonds, garlic, butter, cayenne and lemon.

This is a southeastern Mexican recipe, from Tampico, or adapted from Moosewood chefs’ idea of Tampico cuisine. In any event, it is delicious!  And did I mention easy too.

Thanks to Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, Mexican section.

 

For one or two people:

6 oz cod per person (or flounder, scrod or haddock)

1/3 c sliced almonds, toasted and cooled (bake on sheet pan for 5 mins until fragrant)

8-10 cherry tomatoes, or 1 small tomato (if you have none or it’s winter, use sun-dried tomatoes reconstituted in boiling water)

chopped parsley or cilantro

 

1 garlic clove, minced

1/8 t cayenne

2 T butter

lemon juice from ½ lemon

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

 

  1. Toast almonds, and let cool. Mix with tomatoes, parsley and salt. Can make this 2-3 days ahead if refrigerated – will allow flavors to meld, although I would not do this with fresh tomatoes since I believe Tomatoes Do Not Belong in Refrigerator.
  2. Heat baking pan in oven; remove and add 2 T butter to melt. When ready to cook, lay fish in pan.
  3. Heat in small sauté pan over very low heat: garlic, butter, and cayenne. Add lemon juice.
  4. Put almond mixture on top of fish. (If using flounder, roll flounder around almond mixture.) Pour butter garlic mixture on top of almond mixture.image.jpeg
  5. Cover and bake 20+ minutes until fish is cooked and flaky. Wow!

 

Serve with roasted potatoes and plain boiled green beans.

Late Summer Fruit Salad

Let’s say you want to try to watch your calories/waistline after months of saying “yes” to every ice cream opportunity. Try fruit salad! Fruit is still fresh, local and flavorful in the Northeast. From poaching fruit for apple and pear tarts, I happened to use the reduced poaching liquid for an impromptu fruit salad. Sublime.

Here’s a re-creation:

105 g water (approx 1/3 c.)

15 g sugar (approx 1 T)

juice of ½ lemon, divided

2” piece vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise, seeds scraped into pot with water, then pod thrown in too

 

  1. Heat water and sugar in small pot to dissolve. Stir with wooden spoon. Add ½ of the lemon juice and all of the vanilla beans and pod, and cook for about 6 mins. Let sit out to steep or put into refrigerator to cool quicker.
  2. Cut up:

½ melon, cut into large chunks

½ pt strawberries, hulled and cut in half

½ pt blueberries

one apple, quartered, cored, peeled and cut into medium chunks.

  1. Mix sugar syrup, fruit and squeeze lemon onto apple, and mix.
  2. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend. Take out at least ½ hour before serving to warm up a bit; though cooler than room temp is desirable.

 

Other options to explore:

Omit vanilla; use lemon verbena and/or mint

Try stronger flavoring such as cinnamon stick (& star anise?) with or without vanilla bean

Breakfast tacos

imageSick of breakfast? Same old eat-healthy-yogurt-muesli-in-a-rut a.m. meal?

Try breakfast tacos! Sure, they won’t be the same as Mexico or San Antonio, but they’ll be in your home this a.m. and not a plane ride away.

For one healthy-size appetite.  Double, or triple as needed.

Ingredients:

½ onion, large dice

½ red pepper, large dice

2 hot peppers, small dice

 

2 eggs

 

Sour cream

Salsa

Grated cheese – queso fresca, Monterey jack, or cheddar

 

Corn tortillas

 

First: Procure your best tortillas. Note bene: these will most likely not be in your supermarket. Mexican grocery in your town? Fancy food shop (Guido’s in western Mass) or coop.

 

  1. Dice your peppers and onions and sauté. Remove to plate.
  2. Prepare cheese; get sour cream and salsa ready with a spoon in each.
  3. Heat pan and add bit of oil. Warm up tortillas in pan, turning up to three at a time, moving into interior, turning over, etc. Put on plate or baking tray.  Throw into preheated oven (lowest settting, around 170 degrees), cover with towel, and turn off oven.
  4. Cook scrambled eggs, then add in peppers, etc when almost cooked. Cook some more and remove to plate.
  5. Assemble your tacos:

Spread out tortillas flat on plate. Scoop on egg potion. Scatter on grated cheese. Dump on some salsa, then some sour cream. (If watching calories/fat intake, feel free to thin sour cream with water, a la Mexicanos). Eat. Yum.