Main Dishes

180

Zucchini Parmesan (GF)

Want to hear a story? When I was 7, or maybe 8 years old my mother made veggie burritos for dinner. She sautéed onions and zucchini and a pepper or two. She nestled the warm vegetables between toasted tortillas and a whole bunch of grated sharp cheddar. There was probably guacamole involved. Salsa was definitely present as well. She rolled up the burritos and served them up to me and my sister with a hopeful smile.

We were not amused.

Don’t get me wrong, we grew up eating vegetables. I won’t say we were forced to eat them, but I will say that there was always something green on the dinner plate and we knew better than to not munch away. And it’s not even as though we didn’t enjoy it. Carrots and hummus? Sure. Broccoli¬†with garlic on top of pasta? Absolutely. Salad? Puh-lease. We ate salad for BREAKFAST.¬†(While I am in fact saying that¬†idiomatically, knowing my mom I wouldn’t put it past her.) So you get where I’m coming from. We certainly weren’t those kids that turned up their noses at the healthy stuff, but we had our limits. Eggplant, tomatoes, summer squash. Zucchini. Basically¬†anything squishy or viscous didn’t quite do it for us. And by didn’t quite do it, I mean this. Yet, those zucchini burritos found their way onto the dinner plate one fateful evening. We looked at the offending objects. Mom smiled. I think my sister may have been a champ and managed to¬†choke¬†down a few bites. Not so much for yours truly. I bit. I chewed. I thought entirely too hard about the fact that I was eating a smushy, pulpy mass. Aaaaaand I spat it right out onto the kitchen floor. Geesh.

I can only imagine what ran through my mother’s mind. She probably wanted to make me sit at the table and eat every last bite of that squishy burrito, even if it took all night. She likely wanted to scream. ¬†She definitely wanted me to clean the floor. But I’m pretty sure she just ate the rest of them herself and made us chicken nuggets¬†or something.¬†So this is a rambling way of saying that I was not a zucchini fan (and that’s clearly putting it mildly) until this year, when I made a vow to myself to try new things, pulpy vegetables included. It has been a treacherous journey, but I’ve lived to tell the tale.

I’ve always been more of a lasagna gal when it comes to Italian casserole dishes, but this zucchini parm has really changed my mind. I’ve eaten my fair share of eggplant parm too, but I think I find the texture of zucchini more pleasing than eggplant. The veggies are baked, which is a really nice alternative to the usual frying (in terms of both preservation of vegetable taste and of kitchen not smelling like a diner.)¬†As I mention below, this was inspired by a recipe featured in the Times last month, but I used my own tried and true sauce recipe instead. I make it at least once a week. It’s just as good on pasta as it is on pizza. Or right out of the pot on a spoon (so what who cares, I’m Italian!) I’ve also gotten reaaAAally into spiralizing things this summer, and I think this tomato sauce + carrot/zucchini noodles is AMAZING. But we’re not talking about the spralizer right now (all in good time!!) This is a post about zucchini parm. So okay. Final thoughts: this¬†is a great dish if you’re in the mood for something hearty, but not quite as intense as a giant bowl of pasta. It’s also great if you’re serving someone who is avoiding gluten. It is not great for vegans. There’s a lot of cheese up in here. To the recipe!

Parm (adapted from the New York Times)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz can peeled tomatoes
1 28-oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
18 basil leaves, chopped
several glugs red wine
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

2 to 2¬ľ pounds zucchini
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 garlic clove
~2 tablespoons olive oil
¬ĺ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
4 ounces fresh smoked mozzarella cheese, sliced

Make the sauce: Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium, then add the onion and sauté until the onion is translucent (5-7 minutes.) Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so, then add tomatoes, thyme, and basil, stirring well. Turn the heat up to medium high and cook until mixture comes to a boil. Add wine, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil again, Return heat to medium, cover, and let cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more wine, salt, and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

Prep the zucchini: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Slice off the ends of the zucchini and cut them in half crosswise, then lengthwise into 1/4 to 1/3 inch-thick slices. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper and drizzle with two tablespoons olive oil. Place zucchini on the baking sheets in one layer. Roast for about 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees F.

Put it all together:¬†Rub¬†a 2-quart gratin with the half garlic clove and about a tablespoon of¬†olive oil. Spread 1/4 cup tomato sauce into the bottom of the dish. Lay a third of the zucchini in an even layer over the sauce. Spoon another 1/4 cup of¬†sauce over zucchini and sprinkle with 1/4 cup parmesan and a third¬†of the pecorino and both¬†mozzarella cheeses. Repeat for¬†2 more layers, ending with the remaining cheeses. There will be leftover sauce. (Aren’t you lucky! Make some pasta later this week and then go to town on the sauce. Or just break out a baguette. You won’t be sorry.) Drizzle on a¬†tablespoon of olive oil. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown. Allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving to firm up a bit. I like to top my portions with a dollop of sauce and cheese, and thick slices of chewy bread to mop up every last bit from the bowl, but you can listen to your heart.

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Main Dishes, Sides

Millet Salad with Turmeric Vinaigrette

Sundays in summer last forever and not long enough. You get up. You rub your eyes, trying to get them to focus. Maybe you had one (or two) more cocktails last night than you’d originally intended to have, but it’s okay. You stumble around looking for socks because you kicked them off in your sleep –how one possesses the ability to remove socks while unconscious remains a mystery– and go on autopilot to the kitchen. Scoop coffee into the pot. Scoop an extra scoop for good luck, like you always do. You like patterns and routine in the morning. Listen to the pot gurgle and hiss and sputter and drip drip drip. Drink a mug of coffee. Drink another. Another. Realize you accidentally drank all six cups and your family will not be amused. Make another pot. Rinse a week’s worth of quinoa because you like to eat it¬†and WHO CARES if people look in the fridge and ask why you made so darn¬†much. It’s your fridge. Spill roughly 1/8 cup quinoa all over the floor and then realize the floor is the same color as the quinoa and finding seven billion grain-beads is not how you wanted to spend the morning. Sweep.

Walk to the park¬†in pjs and birkenstocks¬†¬†becuase running requires too much effort (and a shower afterwards.)¬†Wish you’d remembered to put on sunscreen. Let your mind wander a bit, because that’s okay sometimes. Find yourself smiling again. It feels nice. Notice that it’s getting late (read: 8am) and you have shit to do and people coming over. Get home. Get distracted reading Molly Yeh’s¬†grub street¬†diet. Only be sad for a few minutes that you don’t also have a chicken to share a cucumber with.

Make brunch. Notice that two bunches of swiss chard sautés down to roughly enough to feed yourself. Wash more chard. Remind yourself that everyone always says never to try out a new recipe for guests in case something goes wrong. Remember how you thought this to yourself at the grocery store the other day but then did one of these. Shrug and add more cream to the chard. Cream makes everything better.

Finish cooking with four minutes to get dressed. Drink another cup of coffee. Spend the rest of the day brunching, then having a “business meeting” (because you’re a “grownup” now,) then drink beers on the hammock outside with someone you like to sit next to. Don’t spend all night watching Friends on Netflix because you have work in the morning. And next Sunday will be here sooner than you think.

Salad (serves 3-4 as main, 6 as side)

1 cup millet
1/2 red onion, diced
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large zucchini, diced
~10 brussels sprouts, sliced very thinly
1 can chickpeas (reserving the water to do crazy shit like this)

2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
~2 teaspoons fresh thyme
lots of freshly ground black pepper
tiny dollop maple syrup or honey
3 tablespoons olive oil

Rinse the millet well and cook according to package directions (when in doubt, go with the ol’ 1:2 grain-water ratio. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 10-15 minutes, then turn off heat and let stand for 5ish minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool.) Transfer to serving bowl. Saut√© onion in coconut oil until tender, then add to millet. Add zucchini, brussels sprouts, and chickpeas to millet. Make the vinaigrette by combining all ingredients except the olive oil in a bowl. Slowly stream in the oil, whisking constantly. Pour over millet mixture and toss well. Serve cold or at room temperature, depending on your preference!

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Breakfasts, Snacks

173

Zucchini Carrot Muffins (GF)

In the past few days, I’ve realized it’s completely possible to lose hours upon hours in the food internet world. I’m home alone for the most part now, which was an extreme rarity at school. Someone was always around to break up my excessive perusal of food blogs and goodfoodjobs.com and Grub Street and Eater and Munchies and– I think I should stop there. The moment of realization came the other day when¬†I sat down at my computer with a giant mug of coffee at 9 in the morning and was in a media haze until my phone rang well past noon. Not the best. And while baking can break up the day to an extent, even that can get a little cumbersome. There are only so many cookies I can bake before I need to either get a bigger freezer or more friends to help me eat everything (speaking of which, if anyone is hungry and in Montclair, there are at least three¬†brownies or compost cookies with your name on them. I’ve gotten rave reviews by the smart folks who’ve taken me up on this so far, just saying.)

I want to get into¬†more ambitious kitchen projects now that I’m no longer a full-time student. Recipes than don’t have to come together in less than an hour and then are just dumped in the freezer. That always seemed to be the case this past year as I did my best to keep up the blog and an acceptable GPA and some semblance of a social life. I really want to throw a fancy food¬†party complete with lots of unique kitchen experiments and some sort of festive theme (something like this or this. Or this if I really dreamed big/had more than ten square feet of table space.) But planning a food party takes a lot of time and energy. And cleanup. So the few parties we ended up throwing turned out¬†much¬†more akin to a typical college soiree..the only food that was ever present was Jello shots. And one time someone who worked at a bakery in town showed up with freshly baked bread and cookies. As proud as I am of my Jello shot makin’ skills, I’m just dying to tackle a more intense food party. Hopefully this summer I can make it happen. Not to brag or anything, but I do have a very snazzy fire pit in my backyard soooo.

Some things I plan to make for these food parties that may not actually ever happen:

This Fig And Walnut Bostock. Looks like if french toast and bread pudding got together inside a really trendy cafe.

A fluffy, crunchy (two adjectives you didn’t think go together, I bet) Pavlova with strawberry rhubarb cream and pistachios.

I think I’d forget how on the fence I am about tomatoes while making this heirloom tomato tart..it’s just so pretty.

These savory cheddar waffles are also making me question my tomato ambivalence.

I’m 100%¬†invested in learning how to grill and these jerk chicken kebobs¬†are calling to me. As are these shrimp skewers.

Who isn’t a fan of anything cooked in beer? I want to make these mussels asap. They’re also apparently the best thing to serve at a dinner party anyway so I think I’m on the right track.

And also because I’ve spent so much of this post talking about food parties, I think it’s only fair you all watch a few episodes of this, as that is its title. And it is the weirdest, coolest thing ever.

Until I can gather up some people to actually eat all the things I plan to make for these food parties, I’m sticking with recipes that can be easily frozen and defrosted as family and friends¬†want to indulge. Hence these muffins. Don’t be scared by the veggies in the title, cooked carrots are super sweet and zucchini has essentially no flavor alone, and when baked up with sugar and coconut oil and cinnamon it has no flavor at all! Some baked recipes that involve zucchini instruct one to squeeze all the water out of the veggies before adding them to the batter. Not the case here; the water helps loosen up the very thick batter and ultimately makes a more tender muffin. Also, don’t be afraid of garbanzo bean flour. It may seem weird to use a chickpea-based ingredient in a sweet breakfast item, but it’s really just mild and creamy. And it’s full of protein- in fact, it has the same amount as almond flour, so it’s a really great alternative if you’re looking for an alternative to putting nuts in everything, as I’m currently attempting. I also used coconut sugar, which has the same ratio as regular sugar when swapping, but is infinitely better for the body. I felt like they were sweet enough with 1/4 cup of sugar (mostly because I love slathering jam on muffins, which obviously adds a lot of sweetness,) but you do what makes you happy. I also feel like 1/4 cup of cocoa nibs or chocolate chips would be extremely good thrown in here for good luck. Happy breakfasting!

Muffins (makes 12-15)

1 1/2 cups garbanzo bean flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4- 1/2 cup coconut sugar (depending on how sweet you like muffins)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup finely shredded carrots
1 cup finely shredded zucchini
1/4 cup raisins or craisins (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin with solid coconut oil or cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl combine both flours, baking powder, sugar, salt, and spices.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the melted coconut oil, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla; stir to combine. The batter will be thick, resembling cookie dough.

Add the shredded carrots and zucchini (and raisins if using) and combine. F

ill the muffin tins halfway-3/4 of the way full and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the edges are golden. Devour with butter, honey, jam, date cream, yogurt, or au naturel!

 


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