Cooking from My CSA: 3 1/2 Zucchini Recipes

I’ve been receiving my CSA weekly for about a month now and it’s finally starting to contain more of a variety of ingredients. There are still a lot of greens (chard, kale, collard), but this week we got a few new items – leeks (so small they look like scallions), tomato (one), and a whole lot of zucchini.

I enjoy zucchini, we have a good history. When I started cooking for myself my senior year of college, zucchini was one of the first vegetables I took on – I’d cook it on the George Foreman Grill with chicken marinated in Italian dressing. The George has long been out of commission, but my fondness for this summer squash remains.

Seeing as I’ll probably get even more zucchini next week, today I decided to look at it as a challenge to see what I could do to use it all. If I’d had more time (and if I hadn’t run out of flour), I would have made another batch of zucchini muffins, so that will have to wait. But I did make Zucchini-Walnut Bread, Chocolate Chip Zucchini-Walnut Muffins, a Zucchini Frittata, and Stewed Zucchini with Tomatoes.

Many of the ideas came from the CSA newsletter, which I think is one of my favorite features (thanks Harvest Moon Farms). The Zucchini Bread recipe was a combination of the one from the newsletter and one my friend shared. They were so similar that I took the best of each and made it my own, including reserving 1/4 of the batter for the muffins with chocolate chips. And same with the Stewed Zucchini – the inspiration was from the newsletter, I just tweaked it based on what I had available. Finally, I made the Frittata because I had leftover shredded zucchini from the bread/muffins to use up; it was the perfect thing to make.

Here are the recipes I made today. If you have a great zucchini recipe, please share it – I know there’s more zucchini coming!

Read more of this >>

Share

Zucchini White Bean Pasta

Zucchini was one of the first vegetables I learned to like as an adult and also one of the first I learned how to cook. For some reason, I never ate zucchini as a kid but became a little obsessed with it just out of college when the only way I knew how to prepare it was on the George. Since then I’ve experimented with a lot of different ways to cook it: stuffed, cut into ribbons or matchsticks, and mixed in with pasta, which I made last week.

This fresh summer pasta was delicious topped with lots of basil, and the addition of white beans made it especially filling and perfect for a quick and light dinner!

Here’s the recipe for Zucchini White Bean Pasta:

Read more of this >>

Share

Basil Butter

Basil Butter

Basil Butter

Sometimes it’s the simplest recipes that add the most pizazz to a meal. Take basil butter: made from just five ingredients with nothing more than a food processor or by hand with a bowl and wooden spoon, this flavored butter is a great way to add depth and color to vegetables, pasta, fish or chicken.

Basil Butter 1 Basil Butter 2 Basil Butter 3

I made basil butter for a family get-together where we served it alongside fresh corn. The leftover butter came home with me, which I rolled into a log surrounded by parchment paper and froze, making it ideal for cutting off small pieces when needed. A few days later I pulled the log out of the freezer, cut off a tablespoon-sized round and added it to my penne pasta with corn and zucchini for a finishing touch and burst of flavor.

Basil Butter Penne with Corn & Zucchini

Basil Butter Penne with Corn & Zucchini

The basil butter can be stored three days in the refrigerator or a few months in the freezer and can be used as both a flavored spread and as a sauce.

Here’s the recipe:

Read more of this >>

Share

Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Zucchini Pesto Pasta

I was extremely fortunate to volunteer at the top food event in Chicago a few weeks ago: the Green City Market BBQ. One of the best run events in the city – and far superior to last year’s Chicago Gourmet – the BBQ features 65 chef’s from the city’s finest restaurants and sells out quickly, so while crowded it wasn’t overcrowded, and they didn’t run out of food!

Spiaggia's Crostini

Spiaggia's Grilled Zucchini & Pestyo Crostini

There were so many amazing dishes featuring exotic meats like elk and goat to¬† the predictable but always delicious pork belly. But it was a vegetarian offering that really stood out for me: “grilled zucchini and pestyo crostini” from Spiaggia. There was something so pleasing about the simple, fresh, bright flavors that I was inspired to try it at home. Mind you, I don’t claim to cook Spiaggia-type food (it’s one of the top restaurants in Chicago), but I did want to try my hand at reinterpreting the flavors.

My version uses spaghetti (today it was dried whole wheat but fresh would be ideal) instead of crostini (toasted bread) to make it an entree, but I think this zucchini-pesto combination would also be fabulous as a sandwich with chicken.

Pesto: lots of fresh basil Pesto: toasted pine nuts Pesto: grind pine nuts

Pesto: grind basil Pesto: drizzle in olive oil Pesto: blend in parmesan cheese

The first thing I had to do was make the pesto, an Italian sauce made from blended basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. This recipe makes much more than you’ll need for the zucchini pasta, but it’s versatile and freezes very well so definitely make the whole thing.

Next I went to work on zucchini. I used stripped zucchini that have the same flavor as regular, which I sauteed with sliced onion until both were lightly caramelized then tossed them with homemade pesto and cooked spaghetti noodles. Voila, a fantastic summer weeknight dinner.

Zucchini Pesto Pasta: striped zucchini Zucchini Pesto Pasta: saute zucchini and onions Zucchini Pesto Pasta: stir in pesto

Here’s the recipe for zucchini pesto pasta:

Read more of this >>

Share

Mediterranean Stuffed Ball Zucchini with Lamb

Stuffed Ball Zucchini

Mediterranean Stuffed Ball Zucchini with Lamb

This morning I trekked to the farmer’s market in jeans, leather shoes and a rain coat. Looking at me you’d have thought it was April 1st instead of July 1st. But what I found at the market convinced me that somehow it was summer after all: zucchini, a type of summer squash!

Ball Zucchini Stuffed Ball Zucchini: baked

Every summer I look forward to Green Acres Farm’s selection of vegetables (I bought these garlic scapes from them a few weeks ago), especially their summer squash. This vendor usually has a few varieties to choose from and I like them all, but today I was most inspired by the ball zucchinis.

Stuffed Ball Zucchini: hollow with spoon 1 Stuffed Ball Zucchini: hollow with spoon 2 Stuffed Ball Zucchini: hollow with spoon 3

The plan was to hollow and fill the zucchinis in a way similar to the bison-barley stuffed peppers and stuffed buttercup squash, but this time with ground lamb, eggplant, tomatoes and a lot of fresh oregano. These Mediterranean flavors remind me of foods common in Italy and Greece creating a dish that is hearty, savory and summery all at once.

Stuffed Ball Zucchini: diced eggplant Stuffed Ball Zucchini: grape tomatoes Stuffed Ball Zucchini: fresh oregano

To complete the meal I served the stuffed ball zucchini with bulgur, a fantastic earthy compliment to the lamb and vegetables. Another way to make this dish would be to dice regular zucchini, saute it with the rest of the ingredients and serve it as a stir-fry over cooked bulgur.

Stuffed Ball Zucchini: brown ground lamb Stuffed Ball Zucchini: lemon juice over filling Stuffed Ball Zucchini: fill with lamb mixture

As for why I chose to stuff the ball zucchinis, the answer is because it’s fun!

Here’s the recipe:

Read more of this >>

Share

Blog Widget by LinkWithin