Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini



Where have I been having vanished with the summer?
Sheltering from the rain, I’d replaced my passé front yard with an edible garden.
I tried my luck with a few heirloom seeds and a few more old stand-by vegetables.
Summer may have squeaked by, but not without leaving me with a few baseball bat sized zucchinis.

I took company coming as the perfect opportunity to eat up the biggest one.  Of course there were cakes and something savoury for lunch as well.

We managed to eat half. (That was even with seconds!)

QUINOA STUFFED ZUCCHINI

1 Tablespoon Oil
1 Shallot, minced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Cup Red Quinoa
1 Large Zucchini, very large in my case
1 Cup Yellow Pear Tomatoes
A big handful of herbs of your choice. I used mostly basil, some parsley and thyme, finely chopped
salt+pepper

Rinse the quinoa well and leave it to soak in a mesh colander for about 3 minutes.
Combine the drained quinoa with 2 cups of boiling water in a medium saucepan.
Cover and reduce to a simmer for about 7 minutes.
Lift the lid and check in on the quinoa. The water should be mostly absorbed and appear fluffy. If not, cover again and continue to cook for a couple of minutes more.
Once the water has been absorbed, fluff with a fork and leave it to cool while you prepare the remainder of the stuffing.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the shallots. Once they’ve softened, add the garlic but be careful not to burn it.
Half the zucchini lengthwise and remove the seeds. Trim the ends and remove the bottom of one half just so it will sit without toppling over. Dice the other half until you’ve measured 2 Cups. (If there’s still some left, here’s a recipe for scones.)
Add the chopped zucchini to the shallots and continue to sauté until it’s softened.
Slice the tomatoes and add them to the zucchini.
Remove from the heat and add the prepared quinoa and chopped herbs.
Combine well and add a good amount of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Place the seeded, trimmed zucchini half in a baking dish which has been lightly oiled.
Pack the stuffing into the crevice. Drizzle with olive oil and cover lightly with foil.
Bake for approximately 1 hour or depending on your zucchini’s size and thickness, until it’s tender. (Begin checking at 40 minutes if it’s more of a slender forearm size:)

Zucchini Ginger Scones


zucc_ginger_scones

So when you find yourself asking what it is you are going to do with the baseball bat sized zucchini that your father in law grew and gave to you, without duplicating a recipe or making yet another cake, pasta, salad, pesto, side dish

Boil a pot of tea and eat a warm Scottish styled scone while you think about it.

So much more delicate and unexpected than bread, these scones are quick to make, quick to bake and quick to eat.
Try them, if you still have any zucchini left…

 

GINGER ZUCCHINI SCONES


2 Cups Unbleached Flour
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Cold Vegetable Shortening, cubed
2/3 Cup Soy Milk
2 Tablespoons Crystalized Ginger, crushed
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
Zest of One Orange
2 Cups Zucchini, Shredded
2 oz Chocolate for drizzling, about 2 Tablespoons melted

Preheat oven to 450ºF.
Add the ginger to a food processor to coarsely chop.
Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and cinnamon, pulsing again to sift.
Add the cold vegetable shortening in cubes and pulse to a coarse breadcrumb type consistency.
Add the the zucchini and orange zest, pulsing to combine.
With the motor running, add the cold soy milk, mixing only until everything is moist and incorporated.
Turn the dough out onto a movable, lightly floured cutting board or parchment paper prepped, flat surface.
With clean, floured hands, pat the sticky dough into a workable 1″x8″ round and slice into 8 wedges.
Separate wedges and transfer parchment if using, to a baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes or until tops have slightly goldened.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler.
Using a piping bag or a spoon, drizzle melted chocolate over the scones.
Allow to cool, only slightly, before eating.

Savory Zucchini Loaf


It’s September, September! I was not only aghast that summer vacation is over but also that I’d made it this far without tinkering into a zucchini bread.

There are probably about a million recipes out there, I know, I’ve tried many, but I think that this can safely be added as a million and one.

My Nana makes one of the most incredible sweet zucchini breads out there, so in my recipe book she’s got that one covered but I don’t often find a savory variety. I just love the texture of zucchini bread. It’s so wonderfully moist, if weren’t for the lively green flecks from the zucchini’s skin, you’d almost never know it was in there. Sweet is great, but images of zucchini also conjure spices, tomatoes and cheese. I wanted something perfect along side soups, toasted under eggs or of course on it’s own, I wanted a savory version of one of the best quick breads this side of a banana, to stand out from any other loaf of artisan bread. Of the limitless flavour combinations, this one works pretty well. Besides which, I thought this might be a good start to brace myself of the quickly approaching autumn and all the good things that come with it.

SAVORY ZUCCHINI LOAF

1/2 Package Medium-Firm Tofu (225g)
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 1/4 Cups Finely Shredded Zucchini
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Unbleached, All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
Juice and Zest of 1/2 Lemon
10 Kalamata Olives, pitted* and roughly chopped equal to a scant 1/4 Cup
1/2 Cup Pecans, broken

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Spray loaf pan lightly with oil, and dust with flour.
Shred zucchini with the small hole of a box grater, or food processor, remove any excessive liquid and set aside in a large bowl.
In the bowl of a food processor, purée the tofu with the oil, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Pour tofu mixture over the zucchini and combine well.
Add the brown sugar and rosemary.
Mix in the flour just until combined.
Stir in the lemon, olives and pecans, less 1 Tablespoon for garnishing.
Fill the prepared loaf pan 3/4 full and top with reserved pecans.
Bake for 50 – 60 minutes or until a toothpick can be cleanly removed.

Alternatively bake in a greased Madeleine pan for about 15-18 minutes.
These freeze very well and go unbelievably well with this Creamless Potato Leek soup.
A little something to bring back fond memories of zucchini when it’s chilly outside.

*Olives may be quickly pitted by applying pressure with the flat side of a wooden spoon. Simply mash the olive between the spoon and a hard surface, the pit should be loosened enough to easily remove with your fingers for easy chopping.

Zucchini Pesto Provinciale


What’s lightening quick, goes with just about anything and uses up even more of the overflow of zucchini?
The title gave it away, didn’t it?

Looking for dinner inspiration, I gazed over my garden. I grew some of my own stuff this year, but now my garden is getting that late August hue of tan with many of the plants either beginning to shrivel or by going to seed; my garlic being one of them. Where the zucchini still overflowith, my garlic has met it’s match and I reluctantly bowed to mother nature and pulled it. I’m always excited to get the fresh garlic but, it being the first to go, does always symbolize the beginning of the end. In celebration of it and my surprising lack of basil, I decided to whip up a different pesto this week.

Zucchini Provinciale, was something my Mom used to make for us as kids and to my surprise, it was standard beginner fare in a culinary class. It makes an excellent side dish, consisting of sautéd onion, garlic, zucchini, finished with fresh tomatoes and parmigiano. I always liked it, even as a kid, so I took that same idea, minus the cheese, to create the pesto.

ORZO WITH ZUCCHINI PESTO PROVINCIALE

1 Medium Zucchini
3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts, toasted
1/4 Cup Sundried Tomatoes, about 5-6, reconstituted in water
3 Cloves of Garlic
2 – 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
450g Orzo
1 Small Zucchini, optional
1 Field Tomato, optional

Add the dried tomatoes to a large measuring cup and pour over enough boiling water to just cover them.
In a dry sauté pan, lightly toast the pine nuts.
Combine the zucchini, garlic cloves, and nuts in the bowl of a food processor.
With the motor running, add the tomatoes, once they have softened, and the olive oil through the feeder tube, scraping the sides as necessary.
Start with about a 1/8 teaspoon of salt and a quick grind of pepper, adjusting to your liking.
In a large pot, boil the orzo in lightly salted water, or as to it’s package directions to al dente.
Seed the field tomato and cut it and the small zucchini into matchsticks, if using.
Drain and stir in the zucchini, tomato and about 1/2 cup of the zucchini pesto.
Chill and serve.

Conchilioni Primavera


If you’re like me, the garden is bursting and the local farmer’s market is a flash with irresistibly bright colours. When I returned home from the market this morning I realized my biggest challenge of the day might be shutting my refrigerator door if I didn’t get to work, so I started dinner early.

My grocery bags were overflowing with this time of year’s typical finds; zucchini, field tomatoes and bell peppers so I didn’t have too much trouble figuring that each of these would find their way onto my plate later on. Looking to avoid a big mess of dinner, I remembered I had some of my favourite conchilioni pasta in the pantry. Typically known as “jumbo shells”, they are great for stuffing and baking, so my job of coming up with something to create for dinner was pretty much already taken care of for me.
With a whole lot of vegetables and a little bit of sautéing, I had a fairly quick, simple and elegant dinner for four.

CONCHILIONI PRIMAVERA

1/2 Onion, finely diced
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Zucchini, finely diced
6 -7 White Mushrooms, roughly chopped
3 Tablespoons Dry Vermouth, optional
1 Roasted Red Pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 Field Tomato, seeded and finely diced
1/2 Breadcrumbs, optional
1 teaspoon Thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
2 Tablespoons Oregano
2 Tablespoons Parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste
450g Conchilioni Pasta (about 12-15 large shells)

In a large sauté pan heat the oil and add the onion.
Once the onion begins to soften, add the garlic and finely diced zucchini over a medium heat; cooking for about 2 minutes.
Return the heat to a medium high and add the mushrooms.
Once most of the liquid is out of the mushrooms and the zucchini has softened and browned, add the vermouth, if using and sauté for another minute or two.
Add the chopped red pepper and the tomato, cooking down any remaining liquid.
Finish by adding the herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
Cool slightly and add the breadcrumbs if the mixture still appears to hold a lot of liquid. (Moisture is good, pooling of juice is not so much.) This step is optional and shouldn’t be necessary.

Cook the pasta as to the package directions for al dente, about 9 minutes.
Drain and cool slightly.
Line a oven proof pan with a basic tomato sauce.
Stuff a generous tablespoon full of the stuffing mixture into the shells to fill and place in the prepared pan, in a single layer.
Cover finished pasta with foil and bake at 350º for 25 minutes.
Serve with another drizzling of sauce and a sprinkle of parmigiana, if desired.

Brown Butter Zucchini


It’s Farmer’s Market Day – again. As I began to troll the stalls, I was almost sure it would be the standard fare – until I spotted these. Baby everything! Courgettes, patty pan squash, they even had silver dollar cauliflower, such a great way to get through the overwhelming number of summer squash!

For a super easy side dish worthy of a gourmet status, just rinse and steam the vegetables until fork tender. In a dry sauté pan, toast a handful of pine nuts. When they are golden on all sides, add about 3 tablespoons of butter (or the vegan variety) to melt and turn a pale brown. Pour it over the little steamed squash and serve immediately – family style. I’m a citrus addict, so I added a touch of lemon zest along with some freshly ground black pepper, but I’ll leave that up to you.

Simple and quick, but when I do it again I’ll have to make more – I ate the whole plate.