Posts tagged ‘zucchini’

So Long Sweet Summer

Happy Labor Day Weekend Friends! This weekend traditionally marks the unofficial end of summer or, to anyone who grew up near the beach, the end of shore traffic. This summer has certainly been eventful, though not in ways it has been in the past. While I haven’t taken any vacations or blogged very much, I do feel quite accomplished. I started my intern year, “caught” more than 20 babies, and did not catch the “peds virus.” I have settled into my new roles of wife and doctor, as well as into my new house and city. I have found new friends and a new church, and have explored some of the surrounding area with my loving husband and puppy.

And I have cooked. A lot. I have fully embraced trying to eat as locally and seasonally as possible, and am loving every minute of it. Since no summer meal is complete without tomatoes, zucchini or corn, here is a mini-roundup of some of my summer favorites! Hopefully you can still find some great tomatoes and zucchini in your garden or farmers market before fall is officially upon us!

Zucchini Fritters

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Fresh Pasta with Blistered Tomatoes and Eggs

Gnocchi Skillet with Blistered Tomatoes

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Tomato and Zucchini Frittata

August 30, 2014 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

Farmers Market Finds

Farmers Markets were not something I frequented while living in Boston. While there were some great ones to choose from, I was intimidated by the crowds and the price tag. Since moving, however, Dan and I have become major converts to all of the fun, fresh, local ingredients that you can find at the market. While certain items can still be pricey, there can be some great deals on seasonal fruits and vegetables that all begged to be picked at once. We have also learned that there are some things that are worth the extra dollar or two! The best part is getting to know the vendors and supporting local business. We are on first name basis now with “The Egg Lady” and know who has the best tasting tomatoes or the best prices on lettuce. We go every weekend that I have off for some staples (eggs, seasonal vegetables, and occasionally some local berries or peaches) and allow ourselves one splurge per visit (usually locally-raised meat, fancy cheese, a bottle of local wine, etc.)

Here are some of the things we have found lately!

Staples: Seasonal Green Vegetables

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One of my menu planning strategies is to not plan my vegetable sides. Why? This allows me to look for deals on what looks best or has the best price at the market. I am able to make a list generated by the main component of the meal for the grocery store, and then make sure I pick up 4-5 varieties of vegetables to accompany my meals for the week! Some of my farmers market favorites are zucchini, sweet corn, and lettuce, as these are low-fuss to prepare during the week and are usually abundant. The most notable find, however, was this gigantic bunch of kale grown by the local middle school gardening club that I picked up for just $2!

Worth it: Eggs

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Farm fresh eggs are worth every extra penny, in our opinion. Not only do the chickens that lay them live a happier and healthier life, but the resultant quality of the eggs is incomparable to anything you could get in the grocery store. Not a believer at first, my husband directly compared a cage free, organic egg from Trader Joe’s to one from our favorite vendor at the Delmar Farmer’s Market. While the egg at Trader Joe’s was sunshine yellow, there was no comparison to the golden yolk that came from the farm fresh egg. The egg whites are also less runny, which means that our fried eggs are much easier to cook perfectly. He is now such a convert that we are now on first name basis with the egg vendor, and may even head to their farm one weekend to meet the chickens and pick our own dozen!

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Not convinced? Here is a picture of our typical Sunday morning breakfast. Drool.

Treat yourself: Flowers

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For weeks, I had been eyeing the gorgeous zinnias and dahlias, lusting after the gorgeous colors. While flowers are never cheap, some farmers market bunches can run upwards of $10 for a small bouquet. Since they are not a necessity in our weekly budget, I held out for the perfect occasion to splurge on these beauties. Finally getting the new table that my sister and brother-in-law hand-crafted for me seemed like the perfect occasion!

Putting it all Together: My Favorite Meal

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One of my favorite meals from the summer is actually one of our simplest. We put together a salad from the bounty we had picked up at the market the day before, and boy was it good! The base was a baby lettuce blend with arugula, topped off with cucumbers, local aged goat-milk cheese, and a poached egg. I also threw in a handful of sweet strawberries that we picked ourselves at a local farm, and finished the salad with a simple balsamic vinegar reduction. I wish salads always tasted this good!

Question: Are you a farmers market fan? Share some tips and favorite finds below!

August 23, 2014 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

The Return of “Me” and a Twist on Lasagna

My most recent rotation left me with a lot of free time. Desperately needed free time. I had literally been praying for weeks, “I just need time to relax and recover!” Yet, when I got my free time (finally), I had no idea what to do with it! I realized I have been so busy for the past year that I had forgotten how to “waste time” or just sit and be. I lost track of what my hobbies were, what I would do for fun or to relax. I ended up sleeping a lot, working out a little, and watching TV more than I care to admit. However, after 3 weeks, I finally feel back to “me”. I am reading a book for fun again. I have caught up on the news. I know at least one recent event not related to health care. I have caught up with friends, with family, with blogs.

And I have created. This might possibly be one of the best recipes to come out of my kitchen to date. I made it twice before getting it right to share with you. It was inspired by two different lasagnas prepared by friends – one a twist on traditional lasagna with an Indian flare, and one made gluten-free with zucchini noodles. I decided to combine both ideas with my own vegetarian flare, and the results were DELICIOUS. Seriously. My roommate and two house guests would agree. Every bite sings softly with curry and a hint of spice, with the warmth and comfort of traditional lasagna. Better yet, it is incredibly healthy with zucchini for “noodles”, tempeh in place of ground beef, and a lot less cheese than you would normally expect.

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The best part of this recipe is its adaptability. If you are a carnivore, you can easily use 8 oz. ground turkey or chicken in place of the tempeh. If you like your pasta, use noodles instead! Add more chili flakes if you really want that spicy factor. A note on the tempeh– a quick Google search informs me that there are gluten-free varieties. The kind I used had some barley grains and so technically wouldn’t be safe for the gluten intolerant. However, if you are both gluten-free and vegetarian, there are varieties that exist and are safe for you! If you haven’t explored tempeh before, I would also recommend adventuring to the store and trying it. The flavor is mild and the texture mimics ground meat well in this dish. Have fun with this recipe and enjoy letting your creativity flow in the kitchen!

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Indian Spiced Zucchini Tempeh Lasagna

serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 large white onion, minced

2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp corriander seeds

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp red chili flakes

14 oz can diced tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato paste

8 oz package tempeh

2 medium zucchini

4 oz goat cheese

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

In a large pan, saute garlic and onions in olive oil until onions are very soft and begin to lightly brown, about 7 minutes or more. Stir the spices directly into the onions over low heat. Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste and continue to cook over low heat. Meanwhile, in a small pan coated with cooking spray, crumble the tempeh. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat to slightly brown the crumbles. Stir the tempeh into the tomato sauce and reduce to lowest heat. Cook until the sauce is thick.

Meanwhile, slice the zucchini into long, thin “noodles” using a mandolin set on the intermediate thickness. In a separate bowl, combine goat cheese and yogurt until smooth. Spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray. Begin with 2 layers of zucchini slices to create the bottom layer. Top with half of the tempeh mixture, and then another 2 layers of zucchini. (I criss-crossed my layers to create a better faux noodle). Spread the middle zucchini layer with half of the cheese mixture. Top with the remaining tempeh and another zucchini layer, and then coat the top with the remaining cheese mixture. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, or until the inside is bubbling and the edges are lightly crisp. Cut into 4 squares and serve.

November 13, 2012 at 9:00 pm 1 comment

Whole Foods Redemption

On my last evening home, I was lucky enough to enjoy a sister date… to Whole Foods! You may know that I have some mixed feelings whenever I walk in this store, but my second journey on my own was much more pleasant than the first! The store I visited in NJ was much larger and easier to navigate, thanks to fewer crowds and more space. I also went in the peak of summer, meaning that locally grown produce abounded and prices were much lower. I found great deals on zucchini and yellow squash, apricots, and pluots! My sister and I literally had to walk away to keep from buying one of every kind of delicious type of fruit.

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Our next stop was the pasta aisle to pick up some brown rice pasta, a wheat free pasta alternative for my gluten-confused sister. WF had a great selection not only of brown rice pasta, but also of quinoa pasta and other GF alternatives, all at a much lower price than our closest supermarket! That eased my sister’s fears of the cost of eating gluten-free, and also made her excited to try out some new products. The last item on our list for the day was nutritional yeast. I have been seeing it everywhere and was more curious than excited to try it. Nonetheless, I asked the first employee I spotted to help me find it (after circling the whole store once to no avail). He excitedly responded that he did know where it was and smiled the whole time he led us to the aisle. My sister and I reasoned that he was likely a vegan (the dreads gave him away, not to stereotype my vegan friends!) and was excited to help out another maybe-vegan (who else eats nutritional yeast, right?) We like to play people watching games and make up stories about their lives… normal, right? Not only did he lead us to the gigantic containers of nutritional yeast, but he also told us that they often have it in the bulk foods section as well. Bingo! Not wanting to invest $10 in a jug before I was sure if I even liked it, I was happy to leave with a small $2 sample bag instead! (More on this sampling to come…) Maybe Whole Foods isn’t so bad after all… it is fun when you are looking for specialty ingredients, and can even sometimes have really good deals! Maybe next time I can find one in Boston that is less crowded, or avoid it at peak Saturday hours!

My sister and I returned home starving, both because lunch now seemed long ago and we had just spent an hour oogling so many yummy looking fruits and veggies! Our dinner was inspired by a dorm-room meal I had created for my sister while visiting her in Philadelphia. During her freshman year at Duquesne, we had visited a market in the South Side of Pittsburgh and I was so incredibly disappointed that she didn’t have a kitchen so we could purchase some fun ingredients and make dinner together! She transferred to Temple, and this sister’s weekend was completed with a home cooked meal. The only problem was that her kitchen wasn’t really a kitchen… it was a 2 burner stove next to a tiny sink on top of a tiny fridge. Somehow, I still managed to pull together a pretty awesome pasta primavera with a surprise ingredient, butter beans! They are a moister cousin of lima beans, and my sister has raved about them since then. She asked me to blog about the recipe so she could know how to make it when she moves into her real apartment in a few days. Since we had pasta the night before and enjoyed some leftovers for lunch, we were both feeling pasta’d out.

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I decided instead to turn that meal into a fun, summer pasta-less primavera. I used a vegetable peeler to turn the zucchini and yellow squash into “fettucine”. I tossed that with sautéed red bell pepper and butter beans, and some roasted tomatoes straight off the vine in my mom’s garden onto the grill. This turned out amazing! My sister, admittedly not the biggest fan of summer squashes, loved it. She even finished off her zucchini noodles before touching her beloved tomatoes! We both were surprised at how full we were off of an all-veggie dinner. Realizing it was the last meal I’d cook for her, she mourned me going back and recommended that I drop out of med school and come be her roommate. Realizing that was unrealistic, she conceded that I could transfer instead. Sorry, but not gonna happen! She paid me such a huge compliment though: “You make eating veggies fun!” That is my goal in life, ya know :)

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Pasta-less Primavera 

serves 4

3 small zucchini

2 small yellow squash

8 oz clam shell cherry tomatoes

1 red bell pepper

1 can butter beans

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp garlic powder

3/4 tsp paprika

salt and pepper to taste

Wash the vegetables well. Using a vegetable peeler, take 1 strip off of the squash and discard. Then position the vegetable peeler so that most of it is over the white flesh, with only a small part stripping the skin. Use the peeler to create long noodles out of the squash. When all of the squash has been turned into “fettucine”, add to boiling salted water. Cook for 3 minutes, and then immediately drain and rinse with cold water, allowing to drain thoroughly. Either before you boil the squash or immediately after, roast the cherry tomatoes whole, for about 10 minutes on the grill or 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven. The skins should be wrinkly and ready to burst. Meanwhile, sautee red pepper in olive oil until it begins to soften. Add the drained butter beans and season with garlic powder. Allow to heat through. Mix all ingredients together and season with paprika, salt and pepper. Serve warm.

August 15, 2011 at 8:00 am 4 comments


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