Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Zucchini: Part 3 (I promise this will be the last zucchini post!)

Our zucchini plant is still going strong - very strong - so it's time to make zucchini fritters again. I first discovered this recipe in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and (after some adapting) it is my favorite way to eat zucchini.

Zucchini and Herb Fritters
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
Serves 4

2 pounds green zucchini (about 4 to 5 med-large), coarsely grated
2 eggs, beaten
2 scallions, including an inch of the greens, thinly sliced
1 cup dried bread crumbs (store-bought or homemade)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint (dill is also good in place of mint)
s & p
Olive oil

Lightly salt the zucchini and set it aside in a colander to drain for 30 minutes. Mix the remaining ingredients together except the oil and pepper. Rinse the squash quickly and squeeze out the excess water, then stir it into the batter. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large skillet. When hot, drop about 1/4 cup of batter and cook over medium heat until golden on the bottom. Flip and cook the second side. Great with a variety of dipping sauces (salsa, aioli, etc) but my favorite accompaniment for these is tzaziki - check out You Eat Now for a great recipe!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wonderful things to do with old bread

I love bread. It's as simple as that. I can't resist buying a great-looking loaf of fresh-baked bread when I see one. However, because it's just the two of us, we rarely finish a loaf of bread (except of course Fat Boy's breads) before it starts to get a little dry and crusty. Because I hate wasting food, here's what I do: simply chop bread into one-inch cubes and seal well in a ziplock bag and throw into the feezer. Use frozen bread within 2-3 months to make one of the following:

Homemade Croutons
What better way to dress up a simple salad than homemade croutons???
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss frozen bread chunks (no need to defrost) in a bowl with olive oil (you don't need a lot), garlic powder, salt, pepper, and any combination of dried herbs (oregano, rosemary, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes). Stir to coat and place on a large cookies sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Place frozen bread cubes in food processor and pulse until you reach desired consistency. Toast in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or in a pan on stovetop (don't forget to stir). When breadcrumbs are golden brown and crisp add salt and pepper to taste as well as any other flavorings you like (dried oregano, basil, parsley and garlic for italian-flavored). Use in any recipe calling for dry breadcrumbs.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Zucchini: Part 2

Are you tired of zucchini yet? Not me! For Part 2, I wanted to make something sweet. I looked at a lot of recipes and combined a few to make this delicious very chocolatey cake that was actually pretty healthy, too.

Zucchini & Chocolate Cake

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Navitas Naturals’ Raw Cacao Powder)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup yogurt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 cups unpeeled grated zucchini, from about 1-2 medium zucchinis
1 cup chocolate chips or dark chocolate chunks
Confectioner’s sugar

Serves 12

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch round 8 or 9-inch square pan.

In a medium bowl, combine together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a mixer (or by hand in a large mixing bowl), beat the sugar and oil until fluffy. Add the yogurt, vanilla, coffee, and eggs, and mix well.

In another large bowl, combine the zucchini, chocolate chips, and about a third of the flour mixture, making sure the zucchini strands are well coated and not clumping too much. Add remaining flour to batter. Mix until just combined (batter will be thick).

Fold the zucchini mixture into the batter, and blend with a spatula without overmixing. Pour into the prepared cake pan, and level the surface.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer onto a rack to cool for 10 minutes before removing cake from pan. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Zucchini: Part 1

Now that our summer garden is underway (and I'm not so crazy busy at work), I'll be posting more. I promise.

our monster zucchini plant

Zucchini is known as that vegetable that people can't give away in the middle of the summer, but I really love zucchini and I'm looking forward to finding the best ways to use lots of the green stuff. We grilled the first 4 or 5 zucchinis of the season. Grilled zucchini is wonderful, but not very exciting and it gets old fast. So last night I made stuffed zuchini. This recipe is simple, healthy and very adaptable (nearly all ingredients can be swapped out) and I've made something like this many times as a stuffing for peppers, summer squash and winer squash, too.

Suffed Zucchini
Serves 4 as main dish

2 to 2 1/2 cups cooked rice or other grain (I like brown rice because it has a cramy texture, but I had some interesting Bhutanese red rice so that's what I used this time)
3 large zucchinis
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1/2 cup other chopped vegetables (mushrooms, celery, peas would work)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 hot vegetable stock
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (leave this out to make it vegan)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
s & p to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare zucchinis: Slice lengthwise and use a large spoon to scoop out center of each half. Leave walls of zucchini at least 1/3 inch thick on all sides. Chop innards of zucchini and set aside.

Heat oil over medium heat in large pot. Saute garlic and onion until soft and add other vegetables and thyme. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While vegetables are cooking, steam zucchini halves in a large pot or in microwave until tender but still firm. Place steamed halves into large baking dish.

Add cooked rice and stock to vegetables and simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Add parmesan cheese and s & p to taste. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

Fill zucchini halves with rice stuffing mixture and sprinkle a little more parmesan cheese on top. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.