30 September 2014

The Zucchini Project: Zucchini Tots

I was never much for tater tots, honestly: what's the big deal?  They're just unseasoned mini hashbrowns.  But these highlight that delicate, almost mushroomy flavor that zucchini has so nicely.  Plus, they're crispy, so that's pretty good, isn't it?  You can bake these at a variety of temperatures--just keep an eye on them if you want to go a bit hotter or cooler.  In this way, you can pop these in the oven along with whatever main dish you're serving (I recommend some baked fish) and everything can be cooked together.





Zucchini Tots

Serves 6-8 as a side

cooking spray
1 packed cup grated zucchini
1 large egg
1/4 medium onion, minced
1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Grate the zucchini into a clean dish towel until you have 1 packed cup. Wring all of the excess water out of the zucchini; as you know by now, there will be a lot of water. In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon 1 tablespoon of mixture in your hands and roll into small ovals. Place on the cookie sheet and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, turning halfway through cooking until golden brown.

26 September 2014

Mustardy, Mushroomy Goodness

You could omit the chicken in this recipe and happily keep it vegetarian; the chicken is really just for texture, in my mind.  If you do that, of course, just shave 20 minutes off the time it takes to cook this and start adding the remaining ingredients to the sauce once the mushrooms are cooked and the kale is wilted a little.

Is it French? Is it Italian? Some of my favorite comfort recipes are in that nebulous, Southern French-Northern Italian category.  This was inspired by a dish I had in Martigny, Switzerland long, long ago.



Chicken and Mushrooms in Mustard-Cream Sauce

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small chicken breasts
½ yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
16 oz. mixed mushrooms, dehydrated if necessary and sliced
2 cups chopped kale, tightly packed
1 cup water
½ cup white wine or light beer
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
½ cup plain yogurt or sour cream
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 tablespoons capers
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups penne pasta

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and sauté, allowing to brown on both sides.  Remove to a plate and reserve.

Bring a well-salted pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente according package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.

Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary and lower to medium heat.  Cook the onions until translucent, stirring often. Add the garlic, stir to incorporate, and then lay in the chicken breasts.  Layer the kale on top, and add the wine or beer, lemon juice, and water to the skillet. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and remove the chicken breasts.  Allow to rest while you mix the mustard, yogurt, tarragon, and capers in a small bowl. Add the mixture to the skillet and stir to incorporate into a creamy sauce.

Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and return to the skillet.  Add the cooked pasta and pasta water, a little bit at a time, if the sauce I too thick.  Season with salt and pepper and serve, maybe with a little grated Parmesan cheese on the side.

I served this with some fresh tomatoes from the garden, with a little extra tarragon sprinkled on top along with some kosher salt and a drizzle of olive oil:


23 September 2014

The Zucchini Project: Zucchini Onion Pie

This is really a take on a fall household favorite, my Cheesy Cauliflower Pie.  It works well with any vegetable, so try it all winter long with whatever you have in the fridge.



Zucchini Onion Pie Recipe

Serves 6

1 frozen or refrigerated premade crust
3 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon prepared mustard (I prefer Dijon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 cups sliced zucchini
1 small onion, chopped

Place frozen pie crust on a baking sheet, poke with a fork in a few places, and prebake at 400°F for about ten minutes, or until crust is getting flaky on bottom.  

In a large bowl, whisk the first seven ingredients. Stir in the zucchini and onion. Pour egg mixture into the pre-baked pie shell, return to oven, and lower the heat to 350°F.  Bake for 25-35 minutes or until lightly browned.

19 September 2014

Roasting and baking the garden leftovers, with weekend links

We had a couple of cold nights last weekend, which sent me scrambling to harvest what I could from the garden in case it would be last chance to eat fresh basil and tomatoes.  It was; although the temps are now back up near 90 during the day, those tomato, basil, and squash plants are deader that the proverbial doornail, and we have a hell of a lot of pesto in the freezer.  

I also grabbed a lot of kale and all the raspberries I could get my hands on.  Those little sugar bombs were the perfect amount for The Pioneer Woman's Raspberry Crisp, which was a fantastically simple recipe.  

With the kale, I did this...



Roasted Potato and Kale Salad

Serves 4

Olive oil
3 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch chunks
8 cups loosely packed kale, washed and roughly chopped
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
Zest and juice from ½ lemon
¼ cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted and chopped (could substitute canned black olives in a pinch)
2 chopped hard-boiled eggs
1 tablespoon chopped or slivered almonds
Salt and black pepper to taste


Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place the chopped potatoes in a large mixing bowl and drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil on top.  Season with salt and stir to coat.  Spread potatoes into single layers on the baking sheets and place in the oven.  Bake at 425°F (no need to preheat) 20-25 minutes, or until they’re just starting to turn golden.



Meanwhile, place the chopped kale in the mixing bowl and season with salt.  Rub it around the edges of the bowl to pick up any residual olive oil (don’t worry if it’s not coated very much).  When the potatoes are at aforementioned state, spread the kale and sliced onion evenly over the potatoes on both baking sheets, give each a bit of a stir, and replace to oven.  Cook another 10-15 minutes, or until kale it crispy in spots and onions are soft.

Place roasted vegetables in a large serving bowl (or the mixing bowl I used in the steps above) and add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, olives, eggs, almonds, and black pepper to taste.  Stir to incorporate and taste for salt.  Serve piping hot.




Thinking of all things harvest-y, don't forget the fantastic Sustainable Living Fair in Fort Collins this weekend. While you're there, you can sample local brews to your heart's desire with this enormous Fort Collins Brewery Guide and enjoy the local Bike Library if you think you can keep your balance...