Archive | July 2013

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

This is probably my favorite time of year when it comes to fresh food.  Gardens are in full swing and every weekend weeds must be evicted from them.  Despite the weeds, the bounty that a garden yields can last the rest of the year if planned in advance.

The other day a friend of mine gave me a big bag of zucchini and summer squash from her garden.  And while watching my weekly recordings of cooking shows, I was inspired by Jamie Deen’s zucchini boats.  He stuffed his with Vidalia onions, sausage and tomatoes and cheese.  Mine are a vegetarian version, but all in all, they are so good that it didn’t take long to wolf mine down!

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Begin by roasting your zucchini in the oven.  Wash and cut them lengthwise – I snipped of the stem ends as well.  Spray your baking sheet with non-stick spray then drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil.  Lay the zucchini flat down, sprinkle a little grey sea salt over them and roast just until tender.

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Set the zucchini aside for a few minutes until cool to the touch.  Using a small spoon, gently scrape/scoop out the center until they resemble long boats and set aside.  See the photo above.

While these are cooling, get your stuffing ingredients together.

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Finely dice a Vidalia onion and sauté in extra virgin olive oil.  One the onions have sweat and turn clear, add the finely diced sweet bell pepper.

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Then add your veggie burger or other choice of meat.  Add a pinch of onion powder, a couple shakes (dashes) of Worcestershire sauce.  Cook until meat is done.

Add a pinch of grated parmesan and cheddar cheeses and a handful of Panko bread crumbs.  Stir together and begin stuffing the zucchini boats.

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Return them to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

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I served these alongside roasted potato halves and yellow squash that I topped with diced up fresh tomatoes and a little parmesan.  The actual recipe is below.  Keep in mind that the measurements are approximate as I do not measure when I cook.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

2 Large Zucchini, washed well, ends trimmed and cut lengthwise

1 small Vidalia onion, finely diced

1 small Sweet Bell pepper, finely diced

Choice of ground burger, turkey or veggie burger

(I used about 1/4 cup of veggie burger crumbles)

Grey Sea Salt, to taste

Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

1/4 cup Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

1/4 cup Freshly grated Cheddar Cheese

A couple dashes of Worcestershire Sauce

Pinch of onion powder

1-2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

Set oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash zucchini well, trim off stem ends and cut lengthwise. Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray and drizzle with olive oil.  Lay zucchini face-down and sprinkle lightly with a pinch of grey sea salt.  Roast until just tender.  Remove from the oven and let cool to the touch.  While still warm, using a small spoon, scoop out the centers making boats.  Set aside.

Sauté the onion and green bell pepper in extra virgin olive oil, add meat of choice and cook thoroughly.  Add a handful of Panko bread crumbs, big pinch of grated cheddar and grated parmesan cheeses.  Stir well and let cheese melt a little.  Spoon into zucchini boats and top with a sprinkle of grated parmesan and cheddar cheeses.  Put back in the oven and bake until the cheese melts.

For serving size, you can have one big zucchini half or two small halves per person.

Serve up and enjoy!

Simple Vinaigrette

Once you start making your own salad dressings and marinades, you’ll never want to go back to the store-bought bottled stuff!  At least that is how it is for me.  I’ve been making my own dressings for years and love it.  It’s so easy that anyone can do it!

Start by choosing the type of vinegar that you want to use.  My pantry and fridge usually has a nice variety of vinegars just waiting to be used!

Distilled vinegar – no specific flavor, just the regular vinegar without any pop to it

Raspberry red wine vinegar – pleasant fruity vinegar

Apple Cider vinegar – rich, sweet flavor to the vinegar, mild fruity flavor

Balsamic Vinegar – very strong, bold taste

Vinaigrette

To make it easy on yourself, purchase one of those salad dressing cruets at your local market.  They sit on the shelf by the powdered dressing mixes in the condiment aisle at your grocery store.  On the side of the glass are raised markings showing you just how much vinegar or citrus juice, water and oil to put in your dressing.  Once you get really good at it, you won’t need the markings and can just whip up a dressing in a bowl.  I now use these to store my dressings when I make more than I need for just one salad.

This particular vinaigrette will be paired with a quinoa summer salad.  Keep in mind these measurements are all approximate as I don’t measure exactly.

Cyn’s Vinaigrette

Seasonings:

1-1/2 tsp. minced onion

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. minced garlic or garlic powder

1 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

big pinch dried parsley

Liquid:

about 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar

about 3-4 tbsp water

about 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil or your oil of choice

Whisk all together in a dish until well blended or place in a cruet and shake well.  Pour over salad greens and toss.

Enjoy!

Vegetable Tian

What is tian, you ask?  During the summer there are plentiful tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and many other summer foods in abundance.  Provencal cooking celebrates the traditions of France’s countryside.  And a tian is a layered baked vegetable dish that originated in Provence.  Unlike a gratin, a tian does not include bread crumbs or cheese, which allows the juices of the vegetables to evaporate, thus allowing a deep concentration of the flavors.  Tian is usually served around the holiday Bastille Day during the peak of the summer when all the vegetables are readily available.

While I didn’t have all the ingredients of a traditional tian, I made my own version of it with the vegetables on hand and it was delicious!

Some tian calls eggplant, leeks, zucchini, plum tomatoes but I think you could take any of the summer vegetables that you enjoy and make this dish.  I only had summer squash, zucchini and potatoes on hand, so that along with onions and garlic is what I used.  The simplified recipe that I found follows at the end of this post, however, there are many more authentic recipes that can be found online.

First gather together the vegetables that you will want to use.  Finely chop your onion and sauté in extra virgin olive oil, adding your garlic at the end.  I pushed 2 large cloves of garlic through a press.

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While your onion and garlic sauté, spray an 8×8″-inch square baking dish with non-stick spray or lightly butter and set aside.

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Next, thinly slice all your vegetables, potatoes, whatever it is that you will be using. Since I used zucchini, summer square and potatoes, I sliced them into thin coins.  And since many vitamins and nutrients are found close to the skin, I did not peel my potatoes.  I just scrubbed them really well when washing.

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A friend of mine has an overabundance of vegetables in her garden this year and was nice enough to give me some and that is what I used in this dish.  Look at the size of the summer squash! 

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Spread the softened onion and garlic sauté into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  As you can see, the steam fogged up my baking dish!

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Now take the thinly sliced vegetable coins and neatly stack them, alternating between each veggie per row.  I stacked my vertically for a different look.  If you are using a round dish, layer in fans, working from the center.  Either way, it makes a beautiful display.

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Sprinkle with sea salt (I use Celtic Gray Sea Salt), freshly ground black pepper and thyme.  Now since I did not have any thyme, I used a little pinch of sage.  And because I like it, a nice sprinkle of paprika.

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Cover the dish with buttered parchment, or foil if you have that.  Bake in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  You can then add a sprinkling of cheese and bread crumbs if you wish, especially if you have kids or picky eaters in the house.  Traditionally this dish does not include it.

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Vegetable Tian

 

1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tsp finely minced garlic – or 2 cloves pushed through a garlic press

1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced into coins

1 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced into coins

1 medium potato, thinly sliced into coins

1 medium tomato, thinly sliced

1 sprig of Thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup shredded cheese – optional

about 2 handfuls Panko bread crumbs – optional

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit.  Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic.  Sauté both in a skillet with extra virgin olive oil until softened.

While the onion and garlic sautés, thinly slice the rest of your vegetables.

Spray your baking dish and spread the softened onion and garlic in the bottom of the dish.  Arrange the vegetable slices, alternating them, in vertical rows.  Sprinkle generously with sea salt and fresh ground pepper and thyme.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes until tender.  Top with optional cheese and bread crumbs and bake until the cheese is golden brown.

Serve as a delightful side dish with rice or noodles and your choice of main dish.

Enjoy!