Too many zucchini from the CSA? Never!

Published this week in my CSA newsletter, Bob’s Fresh and Local.

Years ago I had a cookbook called, Too Many Tomatoes. I remember the chapter on zucchini that featured Zucchini Chocolate Cake. Wow, was it good!

Another thing I like to do with zucchini is stuff them…well, sort of. What I really like to do is halve the zucchini lengthwise, scoop out the middle and set aside, rub the halves with extra virgin olive oil, lightly salt and season them with the seasonings that will be in the filling, and roast them. Then I pile one or another delicious topping on the roasted zucchini halves.

Here are two of my favorite toppings: one Mexican influenced, the other Middle Eastern. Some parts are cooked, some raw — and I serve them either slightly warm when they’re freshly prepared or later, cold. I don’t like to roast the whole thing altogether but prefer a lighter summery “salad” approach.

MEXICAN-STYLE “STUFFED” ZUCCHINI

Ingredients

  • Brown Basmati rice, dried, one cup
  • Black beans, dried, one cup
  • Corn, 1 cup cut from ear
  • Red bell pepper, 1
  • Red onion, 1/4-1/2 large
  • Chard, ribs cut away and chopped, 2 cups
  • Avocados, 2 good size
  • Limes, 4 juicy
  • Salt, 1 slightly rounded tsp. plus 1/4-1/2 tsp. (for the avocado sauce)
  • Hot paprika, 1/4 – 1 tsp.
  • Cumin, 2 tsp.

Instructions

  1. Cook rice with extra virgin olive oil, 2-1/2 cups water and 1 tsp. salt. Set aside.
  2. In a separate pot, cook black beans until barely tender. Set aside.
  3. Lightly steam corn and set aside.
  4. Chop the chard, petite dice the red onion and red bell pepper.
  5. Toss the prepared veggies together with a tsp. of salt, 1/4-1 tsp. hot paprika (to taste), cumin, juice of two limes.
  6. Pile onto roasted zucchini halves and top with a dollop of avocado sauce (avocados, juice of two limes, salt and hot paprika to taste).

Here’s one more filling/topping from one of my favorite chefs, Yotam Ottolenghi, a Middle Eastern version. In his recipe he uses eggplant, but it works just as well with zucchini:

MIDDLE EASTERN-STYLE “STUFFED” ZUCCHINI

Chermoula Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chili flakes (I used 1 tsp hot paprika)
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 TB finely chopped preserved lemon peel (If you can’t get preserved lemon, you can use the same amount of lemon peel)
  • 2/3 cups extra virgin olive oil

Bulgur “Filling” Ingredients

  • 1 cup fine bulgur (#1 cracked wheat)
  • 2/3 cups boiling water
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 3.5 TB warm water
  • 1/3 oz. (2 tsp) cilantro, chopped, plus extra to finish
  • 1/3 oz. (2 tsp) mint, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sliced pitted green olives
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1.5 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup tahini sauce
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  2. After hollowing out and rubbing the halved zucchini in extra virgin olive oil, brush the chermoula sauce on the cut halves. Roast halves until done.
  3. Add 2/3 cups boiling water to the cracked wheat, soak until tender, then drain and ring out the wheat.
  4. Soak the golden raisins in 3/5 TB warm water.
  5. Lightly toss the raisins, cilantro, mint, green olives, almonds, green onions and lemon juice into the cracked wheat. Add salt if needed.
  6. Pile topping/filling onto the hollowed and roasted zucchini.
  7. Drizzle tahini sauce over all (tahini, lemon juice, salt, cumin, water).

Have fun with this method! Try other versions like Italian or Asian. Oh, and the zucchini pulp you scoop out of the middle? Save it for later use in a pureed soup. I’m going to cook and blend mine with leftover tomato cores from another salad, some onion, a bit of ginger, salt and hot paprika. Yummm!

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

A delicious way to use mid-summer CSA veggies

Published this week in my CSA newsletter, Bob’s Fresh and Local.

My favorite recipes are healthy, colorful, beautiful, meals-in-themselves, easy and versatile. This week, I had some remaining red cabbage, and our boxes featured the first onions and green beans of the season as well as some carrots. Of course I thought of Pozole Soup (or Stew, if you like it thicker with veggies like I do!).

Pozole is corn — white hominy, to be specific. Since the kernels are large and grow even larger during cooking, one dried bean packager markets it in bags describing it as “Giant White Corn.” Along with a rich array of colorful veggies, pozole is the basis of this delicious Mexican-style soup. Although traditionally made with meat, my version is 100% plant-based, and the taste and texture of the pozole and variety of delicious veggies along with a little extra virgin olive oil and some avocado means no one will miss the meat at all!

Feel free to experiment with the veggies you add. I used some chard in mine this week along with the snap beans, carrots, cabbage and onions. If you have any garlic scapes left, they would also make a nice garnish.

Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup
  • Red onion, 2-3 medium-large, finely diced
  • Garlic, 8 cloves, minced
  • Oregano, 1 TB
  • Salt, 1+ TB
  • Carrots, 6-8 small-medium, sliced on the bias
  • Snap beans, 16 oz., tipped and cut into 1″ pieces
  • Tomatoes, 8-10 medium, petite diced — or a 28 can of petite diced tomatoes
  • Pozole (whole hominy), 1 lb. dried
  • Water, 3-4 quarts, including hominy cooking water
  • Chipotle in adobo sauce, 1-2.5 TB, minced or blended
  • Avocado, Red Cabbage, Cilantro, Lime Slices (garnish)

Instructions

  1. Slow-cook the pozole until just tender, and set aside in cooking water.
  2. Add the extra virgin olive oil to a large soup pot.
  3. Dice and add the onions and garlic, followed by the green beans and petite diced tomatoes.
  4. Drain the pozole, reserving the cooking water. Add pozole to the pot, and measure the water, adding enough more to make 3-4 quarts depending on how veggie-filled you like it.
  5. Cook until all flavors blended and veggies are tender.
  6. Serve garnished with avocado, slivered raw red cabbage, chopped cilantro and lime slices.

You might like a little more salt — or a little less chipotle. This makes a slightly spicy soup.

This week I’m looking forward to receiving sweet corn, cantaloupe, more summer squash, chard and snap beans, green cabbage, leeks and kale. That sounds like some amazing meals!

There’s no question in my mind what I’ll do with that sweet corn. Last year Andy and I discovered a new taste treat, Mexican-style corn with mayonnaise instead of butter. I prepare the corn either in the husk on the grill or in the oven — or husked in simmering water. I use Just Mayo, a great vegan mayonnaise, flavored with dried chipotle seasoning to taste — and we slather it onto the ears when they’re done. Now that’s something delicious!

The cantaloupe is another easy one. I love cantaloupe, and it won’t last two seconds before I just spoon it out of the shell. As for the greens…can’t get enough of ’em! We stuff our smoothies full every morning, starting off our days with a health rush.

Last but not least, the scenes that remind me that all is still right with the world…

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Salads of Summer

The colors are coming, the colors of summer, sunshine on a plate, beautiful and strong…corn, summer squash, multi-colored beans, carrots, chard, fennel and more. But the most beautiful color of all, the deepest and richest…beets!

Beet Couscous. I didn’t get to this dish until a week after we got our beets in our boxes, but I can’t resist sharing this picture of couscous cooked up with matchstick beets and sweet onion, a bit of salt, cumin, hot paprika, some extra virgin olive oil and a splash of freshly squeezed lemon. I added Clementine wedges toward the end of the cooking time and a mint garnish — which could easily be minced and part of the seasoning. Oh, and some broken walnuts. Just as beets turn my pickled turnips into the most beautiful color, so with the couscous.

I use whole wheat couscous (a pasta), by the way. The one that I buy locally in the Middle Eastern section is called Maftoul, and they make a lovely whole wheat version that cooks up in no time according to the box directions to add to the beets and onions.

Navy Pea Bean Salad with Dill & Lemon. The beet salad contrasted nicely with another dish I took to a party this weekend, one of my favorite summer salads topped with roasted summer squash, Navy Pea Bean Salad with Dill and Lemon. I did treat myself to the luxury of getting some fresh dill to add to my cooked beans. That minced dill (lots) with freshly squeezed lemon juice (lots), some extra virgin olive oil, chopped red onion, salt and a bit of hot paprika make a simple but so delicious and nourishing entree for me — or one among several salads I’ll enjoy through the week. The trick is not to overcook the pea beans.

Moroccan-style Beans. This coming week, I’m going to make Moroccan-style Beans with the multi-colored beans we have coming. Here’s the recipe for those:

  • Green beans, 1 lb.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1/4 cup
  • Plum tomatoes, 4 petite diced
  • Tomato Paste, 4 TB
  • Garlic, 3-4 cloves minced
  • Turmeric, 1.5 tsp.
  • Cumin, 1.5 tsp.
  • Salt, 1.5 tsp.
  • Hot paprika, 1 tsp.
  • Lemon, juice of 1/2

Sauté the minced garlic in the olive oil, add the petite diced tomatoes, tomato paste and other seasonings and simmer for a short while. Add the prepared beans, stir, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, less for very fresh, tender beans. Then stir, replace the cover and cook another 30 minutes (or less if beans are tender), and adjust the seasonings to taste.

Mixed Greens Salad. Last but not least, my salad the day I get home from working at the farm. Our fresh greens with some remaining radish, red cabbage and cucumber dressed with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and some crushed red pepper…sitting out on my deck enjoying the day and my simple meal, reminiscing about a beautiful (if hot) day out in the fields planting and weeding and harvesting. Oh my.

So I’ll end with calling your attention to these amazing colors once again. In the winter we have to look a little to find color. In the summer, our senses are flooded — not to mention the way these colors announce their healthy benefits in every bite.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.