Zucchini and Basil Sautee

Zucchini chopped into bite sized pieces.

Zucchini chopped into bite sized pieces.

This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy all the zucchini that’s super fresh right now.  And it’s really easy, just some time and a few ingredients and you’ve got a healthy delicious side dish or meal to go picnicking with!

Ingredients:

Zucchini

Onion

Butter and/or Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Basil

Shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese

Method:

Chop up some onion, I usually use about a 1 to 4 ratio of onion to zucchini.

Add the chopped onion, a few pinches of salt (go easy on the salt if you plan to add cheese to the finished dish, which I highly recommend!) and a healthy dose of butter and olive oil to a heavy bottom pan, the wider the pan the better.   You’ll start with a lot of fat in the pan to cook the onions and then when you add the zucchini you can decide if you need to add more.  Cook the onions on medium heat.

While the onions cook, chop your zucchini.  I make some pieces smaller than others so when it cooks, the smaller bits get mushy and the larger bits keep their shape so you don’t end up with baby food.  Or maybe you end up with baby food, it’s really delicious either way!

Start with chopped onion and plenty of butter.

Start with chopped onion and plenty of butter.

When the onions begin to look translucent, add in the zucchini, some black pepper and saute, stirring all the while, til smushy and starting to brown on med to medium high heat.

Sautee the zucchini and onions

Saute the zucchini and onions

Once you’ve cooked the zucchini down, it will release a lot of water, so plan on stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes til you get a nice, thick consistency.  Take it off the heat and serve topped with fresh chopped basil and shredded hard cheese like Romano.  This tastes great warm or at room temperature and makes a nice take along meal for picnic’s or pot lucks.

Topped with cheese and ready to eat or take on a picnic!

Topped with cheese and ready to eat or take on a picnic!

Zucchini and Spinach Gratin

It’s been cool out recently, and this combination of garden fresh veggies in a hot cheesy one-dish meal seems perfectly suited for our current Berkshire weather.

My sister and I made this without a recipe, if you've got the basic ingredients: greens, cheese and eggs, you can make a hot, healthy meal!

The recipe I found on Simply Recipes is pretty similar to what Elise and I came up with.  It calls for bacon and I think it adds a lot of flavor. For those of you who don’t eat pork, or meat, you can substitute butter and or olive oil (a couple tablespoons) to sauté the onions.  Tempeh bacon could also work nicely.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs zucchini, grated
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 packed cups of fresh chopped spinach leaves, blanched and drained or 1 lb frozen spinach
  • 3 slices of thick cut bacon (about 3 ounces), cut crosswise 1/4-inch pieces.  Did you know you can get local bacon from your local Meat Market in Great Barrington?!
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 handful of parsley (about 1/2 cup of leaves, lightly packed)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (we used half goat chevre and half sheep feta)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 eggs, whipped
  • Olive oil


METHOD

1 Grate the zucchini. Toss the grated zucchini with about a teaspoon of Kosher salt. Place the grated zucchini in a large sieve (or colander) placed over a bowl to catch the water as the salt helps the zucchini release its moisture. Let sit for 30 minutes or so, then squeeze out the remaining excess moisture with your hands or a clean tea towel.

2 Blanch the spinach, drain it in a colander and squeeze out the excess moisture with you hands.  Or, if using frozen spinach: thaw the spinach, let drain while the zucchini is draining. Then squeeze out the excess moisture with your hands or a tea towel.

3 Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add the bacon and gently cook until lightly browned and most of the fat rendered out, about 10 minutes.

4 While the bacon is cooking, peel and finely chop the onion. Add the onions to the bacon and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the onions have softened.

5 While the bacon and onions are cooking, prepare the parsley and garlic. Chop the parsley and garlic (I used a garlic press) and put it into a large bowl.

6 Preheat the oven to 350°F.

7 Place the zucchini and spinach into the large bowl with the parsley and garlic. With a wooden spoon, mix in the cooked onions and bacon. Mix in half of the Parmesan. Taste, and add black pepper and more salt to taste. Mix in the whipped eggs.

8 Coat the bottom and sides of a 2 quart casserole or gratin dish with a tablespoon of olive oil. Put the zucchini spinach mixture into the dish and pack it down. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the top and drizzle with a little olive oil.

9 Bake in a 350°F oven for 40-45 minutes, until the top is nicely browned. Serve immediately. Reheats well.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

Shaved Fennel Salad

Fennel Bulbs: crunchy, slightly sweet and packed with Vitamin C!

I wasn’t sure how I felt about fennel, apparently thin sliced is the way to go.  The combination of these few, simple ingredients is pretty amazing.  A refreshing summer salad that you can make ahead of time, and it has feta in it, what’s not to love?!

1 medium-large zucchini, sliced into paper thin coins

2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and shaved paper-thin (you can use a knife to carefully slice the veggies but a mandolin works best and fastest.  Also, you maybe able to use an attachment on your food processor if you have one that slices thin!)

2/3 cup   loosely chopped fresh dill

1/3 cup  fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed

fine grain sea salt

4 or 5 generous handfuls arugula

Honey, if needed

1/2 cup  pine nuts, toasted (I used almonds)

1/3 cup   feta cheese, crumbled

Combine the zucchini, fennel and dill in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside and marinate for 20 minutes, or up to an hour.

Thanks for a great shot of this salad, Heidi! Image from 101 Cookbooks

When you are ready to serve the salad, put the arugula in a large bowl. Scoop all of the zucchini and fennel onto the arugula, and pour most of the lemon juice dressing on top of that. Toss gently but thoroughly. Taste and adjust with more of the dressing, olive oil, lemon juice, or salt if needed. If the lemons were particularly tart, you may need to counter the pucker-factor by adding a tiny drizzle of honey into the salad at this point. Let your taste buds guide you. Serve topped with pine nuts and feta.

Serves 4 to 6.

Prep time: 10 min

Another great recipe from 101 Cookbooks, here’s her original recipe!

Frittata With Grated Zucchini, Goat Cheese and Dill

Frittata with grated zucchini, goat cheese and dill, thanks New York Times!

I found this on the New York Times Fitness and Nutrition page and love the idea of shredding zucchini and pairing it with goat cheese and dill!  Goat cheese is so delicious when it’s all warm and gooey and on my dinner plate.  This is a whole meal and makes a great brunch, dinner or snack.  We usually make a large frittata for dinner and then enjoy the leftovers the next day for lunch.  The leftovers are good cold or reheated on the stove.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound zucchini, grated (4 cups grated zucchini)

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

8 eggs

2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat in a 10-inch, heavy nonstick skillet. Add the zucchini. Cook, stirring, until the zucchini begins to wilt, about two minutes. Stir in the garlic. Cook for another minute or until the zucchini has just wilted — it should still be bright green. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.

2. Beat the eggs a large bowl with the goat cheese. Add salt and pepper, and stir in the zucchini and the dill.

3. Clean and dry the pan, and return to the burner, set on medium-high. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet. Drop a bit of egg into the pan; if it sizzles and cooks at once, the pan is ready. Pour in the egg mixture. Tilt the pan to distribute the eggs and filling evenly over the surface. Shake the pan gently, tilting it slightly with one hand while lifting up the edges of the frittata with the spatula in your other hand, to let the eggs run underneath during the first few minutes of cooking.

4. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook 10 minutes, shaking the pan gently every once in a while. From time to time, remove the lid, tilt the pan and loosen the bottom of the frittata with a wooden spatula so that it doesn’t burn. The bottom should have a golden color. The eggs should be just about set; cook a few minutes longer if they’re not.

5. Meanwhile, heat the broiler. Uncover the pan and place under the broiler, not too close to the heat, for one to three minutes, watching very carefully to make sure the top doesn’t burn (at most, it should brown very slightly and puff under the broiler). Remove from the heat, and shake the pan to make sure the frittata isn’t sticking. Allow it to cool for at least five minutes and for as long as 15 minutes. Loosen the edges with a wooden or plastic spatula. Carefully slide from the pan onto a large round platter. Cut into wedges or into smaller bite-size diamonds. Serve hot, warm, at room temperature or cold.

Yield: Six servings.

Note: For four servings, use the same recipe but reduce the number of eggs to six.

Advance preparation: In Mediterranean countries, flat omelets are served at room temperature, which makes them perfect do-ahead dishes. They’ll keep in the refrigerator for a few days, and they make terrific lunchbox fare.

Nutritional information per serving: 192 calories; 5 grams saturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 7 grams monounsaturated fat; 258 milligrams cholesterol; 3 gramscarbohydrates; 1 gram dietary fiber; 134 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 12 grams protein

Martha Rose Shulman is the author of “The Very Best of Recipes for Health.”

Her original recipe is here!

I wanted to try this recipe out but realized I didn’t have dill or zucchini so we used kale and parsley instead…basically you can make a frittata with any combination of vegetables, herbs and cheese or meat.  Here’s how mine came out:

Frittata with goat cheese, kale, onions and parsley

A Twisted Classic: Angie’s Zucchini Pesto

My sister found this recipe on  Angie’s Recipes and we tweaked it just a little.  It’s pretty easy to make, really flavorful and kept well in the fridge for about 4 days.  It would probably have kept longer but we ate it all!  You could make this recipe substituting or supplementing the basil with parsley and or cilantro. If you and cheese are not on friendly terms you can leave it out or substitute with walnuts.  I liked this with flax crackers, I get the Foods Alive brand in cases of 6 from Amazon.com and every time I order them I think, I should be making my own.  So, coming soon, a recipe for homemade flax crackers, it’s about time.  This is the picture from Angie’s recipe, I forgot to take a picture of the pesto we made and then, like I said, it got all eaten up : – )

Zucchini Pesto from Angie's Recipes

Ingredients for delicious, nutritious Zucchini Pesto!
  • 2 medium Zucchini
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp Ground almonds
  • one bunch fresh basil, stems removed
  • 1/4-1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 5 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tsp Lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the zucchini into half lengthways. Grease a baking pan with a little of olive oil, and place the zucchini, cut side down, in the pan. Brush the zucchini with half tablespoon of olive oil. Roast zucchini for 15 minutes.
  2. Let the zucchini cool, chop into smaller pieces.  They are going in the blender so no worries about uniform chopping.  Gently squeeze out some of the moisture and then put the zucchini into the blender or Cuisinart.
  3. Add the garlic cloves, almond, and basil. Pulse until the mixture is blended. Add in grated Parmesan and olive oil. Season the mixture with lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Serve with flax crackers.

Back to Basics: Green Soup

Green soup with sriracha, mmmm!

I’m really looking forward to my workshop, ‘Food as Medicine’, that I am preparing for the Women’s Wellness Weekend at Becket-Chimney Corners.  I have been thinking a lot about which foods are truly medicinal for me.  When I’m not feeling well there are certain foods that always make me feel good, especially when my Candida is getting out of balance because of too much stress, too little sleep or hormonal fluctuations.  I realized that my go to Green Soup recipe is at the top of my good for me foods list.  And I have not been eating it! It’s so important to eat the foods that best support a healthy you and I think it’s time to incorporate Green Soup back into my diet.

This is the soup I ate while recovering from Candida, it’s very low in carbohydrates, very high in fiber, vitamins and minerals and easy to digest.   Green Soup goes really well with all sorts of herbs and spices that encourage a healthy internal balance.  It’s basically an immune boosting multi-vitamin you can eat as often as you like.   A few servings a week is about the right dose for me, enough to keep me healthy but not so much that I’ll be bored to tears eating it all the time.  It freezes well so I can make a big batch, put it into single serving containers in the freezer and take one out when I need it.  It’s very helpful for me to have some meals planned in advance that require only that I heat and eat.  If I don’t plan anything ahead I sometimes end up making less than awesome choices.  Here’s my basic recipe for Green Soup along with a few heat and eat serving suggestions so that you can customize the flavor of the soup.  This is very important as far as getting medicinal doses of different spices and herbs as well as keeping you and your taste buds happy!

Green Soup ingredients: leeks, kale, zucchini, broccoli, jalapeno and garlic.

Green Soup ingredients: leeks, kale, zucchini, broccoli, jalapeno and garlic.

Ingredients:

4-6 Tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil  (this is the only significant source of calories in the whole recipe so don’t be shy!)

3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed

1 jalapeño, chopped.  Add more or less or none at all.  I used a whole one and still added spice to the finished soup.

3-4 large leeks, white/light green parts only, sliced thin in half moons

3-4 medium zucchinis, chopped into roughly 1 inch cubes

Veggie broth, about 4-6 cups

1 bunch of spinach or kale (I used kale today and really like the flavor!)

1 bunch of broccoli chopped into bite sized pieces.

*A note about broccoli:  My grandmother, who was a young girl during the great depression, explained to me that broccoli stems are for eating.  I often peel them and grate them up with cabbage when I make coleslaw.  Today I peeled the rough bits towards the end, chopped them up small and added them in with the rest of the broccoli.  Unless you are going to feed the stems to your farm animals or add them to your worm bin, please consider eating them!!

The Procedure

Over low-medium heat in a large, heavy bottomed soup pan add your oil, garlic, jalapeño and leeks, sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the leeks are wilted and soft.

Sautéing leeks, garlic and jalapeno in olive oil.

Next, add in all the zucchini and keep on sautéing until the zucchini is soft.  About 8-10 minutes.

Add in the veggie broth, about 4+ cups to start with.  Honestly I never measure, I just pour water from the kettle and add a few of those handy broth concentrate packets from Trader Joe’s.  You can add more broth for a thinner soup but I prefer mine thick and more like stew.  Get the broth hot by turning the heat up to medium.

After you have added all the veggies adjust the broth so that the veggies are barely covered.

As soon as the broth is hot add in the broccoli and kale/spinach and cook until just tender.  DO NOT overcook the broccoli, over done broccoli is not awesome and a whole pot of over done broccoli soup will not get eaten.  I know because I have done just that and it was sad.

Remove from heat, use a wand blender or regular blender (make sure to vent the blender!!) to puree the soup.  Adjust for salt and add more broth if you want.

Now you have basic Green Soup.  I like to portion mine out into large servings, the soup is really low in calories so be generous with portion size!  Keep some in the fridge and some in the freezer for later in the week.

This is all the soup I had left over plus the big bowl I ate for lunch!

Variations….they are limitless but here are a few to start:

When you want to re-heat refrigerated or frozen soup, start with a tablespoon of oil in a pan large enough for the soup.  Heat up your spices over medium-low heat until they are fragrant and then add the soup and heat til it’s warm.  Add fresh or dried herbs at the end.

*another note: I think microwaves are weird and I don’t trust them so that’s why my instructions are always for the stove top.

Italian style: fennel, cumin, chili flakes, more garlic in olive oil.   Then basil, parsley and oregano to the warmed soup.

Curry: your favorite curry powder mix in coconut oil, heat then add coconut milk with the soup.  Add cilantro and or parsley at the end.

Sautee mushrooms in butter with salt and black pepper.  Add the soup and mix together.

Top with a dollop of unsweetened greek yogurt, or goat cheese,  this is especially great on spicy green soup.

You can eat this soup cold, like a green gazpacho, just add cilantro and parsley, a splash of vinegar and hot sauce.

Today I added some sriracha and about 2 teaspoons of raw apple cider vinegar directly into my soup bowl for a tangy, spicy flavor.  There are more variations, I will post them as I try them out.

Please post your own suggestions and favorites!

Zucchini Pancakes

Here’s my favorite way to eat up all those zucchini’s and save the left overs for a colder zucchini-less winter day!  Dana came up with this recipe and we think it’s ready for prime time so….here ya go!

Oh yeah, as with many of my/our recipes the measuring is approximate and the total carb count is low, though this recipe does call for flour (We used chick pea flour for flavor and because it’s lower in carbohydrates and higher in fiber).

Ingredients:

8 Cups shredded zucchini, salted and set in a collander to drain for 15-20 minutes

2 small onions, chopped fine

2-4 cloves of garic, or more if you want! Pressed or chopped fine.

zest of a small lime

a Tablespoon or so of lemon juice

oregano, black pepper and more salt to taste (these three are all optional and delicious)

4 medium sized eggs, beaten

about 1 Cup of flour, chick pea works great, oat flour or whole wheat works too.

The Procedure:

Shred the zucchini, by hand if you want a work out or with your shredder Cuisinart attachment.  Toss the shredded zucchini with salt and let it drain in a colander over a bowl.  I know it’s tempting to skip this step but it is crucial to ending up with yummy pancakes instead of globs of mush.  You’ve been warned!

Beat the eggs in a large bowl (large enough to accommodate all the ingredients), add in the onion, garlic, lime zest, lemon juice, oregano and black pepper.

Go back to your sweating zucchini and give it a good squeeze.  You can save the zucchini water for soup or you can be super hardcore and just drink it, it’s good for you!  Squeeze as much water as you can, let it rest and squeeze again.  When you’re zucchini is significantly reduced in size and it’s drained for a good 15 min and you’ve pressed out a good deal of delicious zucchini water you are ready to add it to your egg and seasoning mixture.  Mix everything together.

The mixture will be soupy, which is where the flour comes in.  Add flour, 1/4 cup at a time till your zucchini mix is like thick muffin batter.  You are now ready for frying!

I used my large cast iron skillet to cook these since I use my large cast iron skillet for everything.  Add organic vegetable oil to generously coat the pan and heat to medium high.  You can make these pancakes as small or as large as you want just be sure to get them nice and brown on each side.  Set them on a plate covered with paper to absorb the excess oil.  Serve immediately, topped with fresh goat cheese and more oregano or, let them cool and wrap them up individually and store them in the freezer.  They make an excellent quick meal, just unwrap and pop them in your toaster oven or under the broiler.

Do you have an other suggestions or tips to make this recipe even better?