Tag Archives: zucchini

Recipe: Ratatouille for a ratty week

Taking a break from the travel diaries to write down a recipe that has been a bit of a lifesaver for me this year.  It tastes like comfort food, it’s full of vegetables, it creates copious leftovers, and it takes maybe ten minutes of preparation time.  Probably less, really.  And because the vegetables are all soft, I can even make it when my wrist is acting up and doesn’t want me to chop things. 

You can serve it with all sorts of things, really.  It goes with bread and hummus (or you can fling some chickpeas in to bake with the rest of the ratatouille), or grilled haloumi (which you can also chop into chunks and throw in to bake for the last ten minutes); with roasted or boiled potatoes and felafel or grilled fish or chicken; it’s great over giant couscous (again, with chickpeas), or stirred through pasta, or even made into a bake with bocconcini and more pasta. 

You can serve it hot, or warm, or at room temperature.  Tonight, I’ll be serving it hot with some little pies from Zaatar – lamb, and haloumi, and spinach.  And probably with some roast potatoes because everything is better with roast potatoes, especially when you are eating super late because it took nearly two hours to get home from work and your husband hasn’t even managed to leave work yet and it’s nearly 9pm…

This is not as fancy as my other ratatouille recipe, but it tastes very nearly as good and takes far less time.  It’s Friday night-worthy, which is really saying something, especially after a fortnight like the one I’ve had, with lots of stress and very little sleep.  (Though one of my scientists did bring me cake to cheer me up, which was possibly the nicest thing anyone has done for me ever.)

Oh, and it doesn’t create a lot of washing up, either.  Just one giant baking dish.  There’s really nothing not to like, unless you are entirely anti-vegetable.

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3 large capsicums, preferably in different colours
2 red onions
2 medium zucchini
1 largeish eggplant
olive oil
lavender salt
black pepper
rosemary
dried mint
400g cherry tomatoes
500ml – 750 ml (whatever size bottle you have) tomato passata
dried basil

(I know these amounts are very vague.  It really is a sprinkle of this and a sprinkle of that, and it is very much to taste.  If you don’t have lavender salt, a pinch of salt with some culinary lavender is good, or skip the lavender and add a little fennel, and rather more rosemary.  It will be fine.)

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Recipe: Sunken Blueberry, Macadamia and Lime Cupcakes

I always have my suspicions when a recipe calls itself a ‘sunken cake’.  I am sure that this is meant to convey a sense of dense, richness, almost of decadence – the sense of a cake that is so full of wonderful things that it sinks under its own weight.

But I’m pretty sure what it means is that the cook in question made this awesome, delicious, moist cake, and yet, through some accident of culinary alchemy, the rotten thing came out of the oven with a canyon in the middle.  But naturally you can’t tell your visitors or customers that, so you pretend that this was what you were aiming for all along.  “Oh, that’s just my famous sunken chocolate cake.  It’s simply divine with cream.  Would you like the recipe?”

Of course, it’s possible that my suspicions are founded entirely on the fact that this is what happened to these cupcakes.  I decided to experiment with macadamia meal (which does not, thank you so much, Sunbeam, behave exactly like almond meal in a cake), and thought I’d start fiddling around with a recipe loosely based on another one of those beautiful things from Red Velvet, Chocolate Heartache.  And of course, the macadamias turned out to brown much faster than almond meal, and then it’s possible I put in too many blueberries, and the whole thing sank like a stone.  Well, stones.  There were 14 cupcakes, so that makes 14 little valleys of the shadow of culinary disaster…

I wasn’t going to post the recipe, because they looked so disastrous, but they actually met with a fair bit of enthusiasm at this morning’s meeting, so there you go.  Which is another way of saying that the photographs on this recipe are rather minimalist.  I’m sorry about that.  If I could think of a way to make that sound intentional and appetising, I would…

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150 g macadamia meal
50 g white rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
zest and juice of 1 lime
200 g zucchini, peeled, topped and tailed
2 medium eggs
120 caster sugar
125 g blueberries, plus 12 for decoration
250 g icing sugar
a teeny tiny drop of green colouring

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Recipe: Chocolate Rye Zucchini Bread

I’ve been wanting to make chocolate bread for a while, but the ganglion cyst on my wrist makes kneading dough very painful, so it’s all been on the back burner.  But having made Pizza Serafina last week for the Great Bake Off at work (which I really must write about at some point, because it was absolutely bonkers and beyond my wildest imaginings), sore wrists and all, I found myself with leftover fresh yeast – and when I was talking to my aunt about the pizza afterward, she reminded me that my Nonna also used to make a dough that was so wet that one couldn’t really knead it anyway – one just pushed it around a bit in the bowl.

Of course, I don’t have that recipe, and it’s probably madness to make up a recipe for bread, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, and I didn’t want that yeast to go to waste (apparently, I had no qualms about potentially wasting a lot of flour and cocoa and chocolate in my attempt to salvage the yeast…).

One of my scientists recently gave me a medium-sized marrow, with the comment that I was the only person he knew under the age of 60 who might know what to do with it.  If one is going to be the Under-60 Marrow Champion, one must be prepared to take some risks, so I decided that what this chocolate bread really needed was some grated zucchini, to keep it moist.

And maybe some rye flour, to underline the dark, almost bitter, nuttiness of the chocolate and zucchini.

The result?  Well, the dough was downright weird, but it did rise, and I have to say, the flavour isn’t half bad.  This recipe made two loaves of a nice, slightly sweet, chocolatey bread, studded with chocolate, that kind of begs for a little apricot jam, if you ask me.  It’s quite lovely and soft, and perhaps a little on the heavy side, with the rye and chocolate flavours both very much present.  It’s the sort of thing you could have when you felt like eating chocolate for breakfast, without feeling too bad about it afterward.

And hey – it used up a significant portion of that marrow!

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Your Shopping List

35 g fresh yeast (about 10-12g dried yeast)
500 ml lukewarm water
100 g brown sugar
300 g grated zucchini or marrow (about 2-3 small zucchini)1 tsp salt
400 g bread flour
75 g cocoa powder
325 g rye flour
3 tbsp olive oil
200 g chopped dark chocolate

Cinnamon sugar or a little brown sugar to top, optional but very good!

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Anyone Can Cook Fabulous Vegetarian Food: Zucchini Zeitgeist and Merry Marrows

Ah, February.  The season of smoky heat and bushfires (she says, looking dubiously out the window at the pouring rain), of nights too humid for sleep, of days that are long but growing just a little shorter, of children going back to school, of marrows taking over the garden.

I am a terrible gardener, and perhaps this is why I have never managed to succumb to a total zucchini invasion.  My zucchini plants grow filmy white on their leaves, and then they shrivel up, and my zucchinis themselves, while delicious, never reach the apocalyptic numbers I dream of, nor the intimidating size one so frequently hears of.  I do not find myself building zucchini ziggurats or succumbing to squash samurai, nor am I menaced by marrow marauders or carnivorous courgettes.

Which is a rather sad, really.

So I make up for it by buying way too many zucchini at the markets, so that I, too, can face the challenge of what to do with this abundance.  Except that it isn’t a very good challenge, because I have loads of ideas, and nowhere near enough zucchini to do them justice.

I’m sure you do, too.

The February 2015 theme is
Zucchinis and marrows

(Because I can’t possibly be the only person out there who sees a three kilo marrow as a golden opportunity)

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Recipe: Teeny Tiny Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes with Spices

I think we all knew it wouldn’t take long before I felt compelled to create a recipe modelled on those fantastic vegetable-based cakes from Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache (also known as My Favourite Cookbook Ever Ever Ever).

Of course, if one is going to create a recipe full of stealth vegetables and following Harry Seaton’s methods, one must naturally provide a suitable introductory paragraph.  Hmm, let’s see…

This recipe is sophisticated, yet comforting, like the scent of your mother’s Chanel No. 5 perfume as she kisses you on her way out the door.  The chocolate and hazelnut hug you into a Nutella-flavoured embrace, while the cinnamon and ginger wink slyly at you like your favourite babysitter – the one who lets you stay up way too late and watch all the things on TV that you’re not supposed to.

(OK, I have to say that those blurbs are harder to write than they looked. Or at least, they are if you want to keep them G-rated.  The ginger and cinnamon kept on trying to slide the whole thing into some very dubious territory indeed.  Good grief.)

More straightforwardly, let’s just say that these cupcakes are lovely little bites of spicy, chocolatey goodness – far less ferociously hot than my chilli cupcakes, but still gently warming.  Just right for a winter’s night.

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75g hazelnut meal
50g rice flour
25g cocoa + 20 g for the icing1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
70 g caster sugar
1 egg
100 g zucchini, peeled and very finely grated (do this at the last minute)
100 icing sugar
30 ml boiling water
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Recipe: Gnocchi with Broccoli pesto and Tomatoes two ways

Ooh, tomatoes two ways.  So MasterChef, don’t you think?  But one of the points of this recipe really is that one gets to treat the tomatoes essentially as two separate ingredients with separate tastes – the slow-roasted tomatoes (and yes, I know I’m obsessed with these at present) are sweet and deep in flavour, and raw tomatoes are fresh and light and a bit more acidic.  Yum.  As a bonus, you get to use up some of the zucchini which are hopefully taking over your garden in tandem with the tomatoes.  Mine aren’t actually taking over yet, but I live in hope.  And I do seem to be nicely off for zucchinis at present.

And then you top the whole glorious thing off with a big glob (or quenelle, if you are feeling fancy) of broccoli pesto, which has the quadruple advantage of looking good, tasting excellent, adding a bit of protein to your life, and, best of all, not needing to be stirred through the pasta!  (Seriously, has anyone ever achieved a home-made pesto which was actually sufficiently non-solid in texture that it didn’t destroy the pasta or else just sit there in petulant little clumps, mocking you for attempting to stir it through?)

It’s good stuff.

This recipe turns out to serve three people, with rather a lot of pesto left over.  Such a shame – you’ll have to have the reset of it on your beetroot gnocchi tomorrow night…

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Your shopping list

450 g cherry tomatoes, preferably from your garden and in assorted colours
5 big roma tomatoes
olive oil, salt, pepper
1 head of broccoli
50 g pine nuts
25 g pistachios
115 g basil puree from a tube
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
50 g parmesan
500 g gnocchi
4 zucchini, any kind

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Recipe: Raw Zucchini Pasta with Mushroom and Nut Pesto

Have you ever created a recipe and had it go really well and then sat down at the table and realised how you could have made it ten times more awesome?  Well, you’re going to have to wait until next week for the super awesome version, because I’m not eating zucchini pasta every day, but the really good recipe which is suddenly not quite as exciting as it was follows.

And, actually, it’s still pretty exciting.  For one thing, it uses a vegetable spiraliser, which is hands-down the coolest kitchen implement known to humankind. For another, it takes about five minutes to assemble.  For a third thing, it tastes awesome.  And for the fourth thing, did I mention that it uses a vegetable spiraliser?  Because that is so much fun that it needs to be mentioned at least twice…

This is a good raw recipe for days when it is too hot to cook and you don’t want to spend hours thinking about dinner.  Put the nuts on to soak when you get home, and when you can face a few minutes of chopping and spiralising, start dinner.  It will be ready ten minutes later.

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Your shopping list

80g sun dried tomatoes
80 g almonds
80 g pistachios
60 g shitaake mushrooms (prepared weight – you probably need about 80 g to start with)
1/2 red capsicum
1/2 tsp chilli
1 clove garlic
1/8 cup olive oil
1 tbsp basil puree
1/2 cup water
juice of 1/2 a lemon
6 zucchini
salt

Now what will you do with it?

Soak the sun dried tomatoes and nuts in cold water for at least half an hour.  This is the longest part of the recipe!soaked

While the tomatoes and nuts are soaking, peel and de-stem the mushrooms, roughly chop the capsicum and one zucchini (? zucchino?), and peel the garlic.

Spiralise the remaining five zucchini.  Revel in doing so.  How cute do those long zucchini spirals look?  Very cute indeed, that’s how cute.

Now put the nuts and sun dried tomatoes in your food processor, and pile and pour all the other ingredients over the top.  Process until you get a reasonably soft paste.

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Put the zucchini spirals in a large salad bowl, and add the paste / sauce.  Use your hands to combine them  – nothing else will really work, I’m afraid.

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Serve!  This makes enough for 3-4 hungry people.

Variations

This meal is, as you will have noticed, vegan, gluten-free and low GI.  It is not low in fructose & friends, due to the presence of mushroom.  It is also not even a little bit nut-free.

I’m not really sure what to suggest by way of variations.  I mean, you are all smart enough to realise that one nut can be swapped for another according to taste, and herbs likewise.  If you weren’t worried about being 100% raw, you could add cooled roasted or marinated eggplant or capsicums to the sauce, which would be lovely.  You could also thin out the sauce with more water or lemon juice or oil, but go a bit easy on this, because you don’t want to dilute the flavour.

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I am submitting this recipe to my own “I am Vegetarian, Hear Me Raw” challenge for January – I invite you to join me in raw vegetarian bliss this summer!  I’m also submitting it to Raw Foods Thursdays, hosted by Gluten Free Cat, so if you’re excited about raw food, I encourage you to take a peek at what she has happening on her page!

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One Year Ago: Recipe: Tuna Salad

Christmas Leftovers Recipe: Zucchini Pesto Surprise muffins

The thing with making a lot of antipasto dips and spreads is that then you have to work out what to do with leftover dips and spreads.  And yes, one could always have them on bread, but that stops being fun after a few days.  One of my favourite uses for antipasto dips is as pasta sauces, though they are also good on pizza bases instead of tomato paste.  But today I’m making food to take to the cricket, which means portable food, so it’s time for these dips to find their way into some muffiny goodness.

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The flavour of these muffins will depend a bit on what sort of pesto and dips you are using, but if you play your cards right, they might almost be healthy.  Certainly, the zucchini is a good start in this direction and if, like me, you are using homemade dips in your muffins, you might be working in all sorts of handy vitamins from roasted capsicums, sunflower seeds, broccoli, hazelnuts and herbs.  But having said that, these muffins will work with just about any sort of non-yoghurt-based vegetable or herb dip you have to hand.  So, I wouldn’t try them with hummus or tzatziki, but babaganoush would work, as would olive dip, sun dried tomato dip, or any kind of roast pepper dip or paté. Just make sure you really like the flavour of it, because it will be the main muffiny flavour.

A cream cheese dip would probably work, too, though be prepared for a very cheesy flavour to your muffin.  (Also, you just lost any claim to healthiness in this muffin.  Sorry.)  The dip is replacing some of the liquid, some of the egg, and some of the oil from a standard muffin recipe, so be mindful of this when making your dip selections.

As for the surprise – it’s more pesto!  Or rather, different pesto, in a dollop at the centre of the muffin.  This, in fact, is where your cheesy dip would really work, with a herby pesto in the muffin itself.  Or you could use a cherry tomato for a lovely fresh centre.

Your Shopping and Leftovers List

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour (wholemeal is good if you have it, might as well add an air of healthiness to these muffins)
1/2 tsp herbs such as paprika, oregano, thyme, chilli, fennel – depending on your dip flavours
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, optional
2 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
3/4 cup roasted capsicum and sunflower seed spread, or another pesto or vegetable/herb/nut  spread of your choice
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup low fat milk
about 1/2 cup broccoli pesto, or other dip of your choice, or about 16 cherry tomatoes, whole

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Recipe: Roast Zucchini and Tomato Pasta

pasta closeThis is such a lovely easy dinner – very fresh and full of flavour.  It’s also an excellent way to use up zucchini or tomatoes that are abundant but a bit watery – roasting concentrates the flavour, the balsamic vinegar sweetens them, and you wind up with a glorious, chunky, full-flavoured sauce that really takes only about five minutes of actual kitchen time.

What more could you want, really?

I do apologise for not actually giving quantities of things like oil, vinegar, herbs and seasonings – these are very much to taste, I think.  And also, I go, splash, splosh, drizzle, and this isn’t really very measurable.

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8 roma tomatoes
8 zucchini, pattypan squashes, etc – any kind, and a mixture is excellent
1 bulb of garlic
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
oregano
salt, pepper
300 g pasta
parmesan

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Recipe: Vegan Pizza Primavera with Salsa Verde

There seems to be a bit of a theme on this blog recently, doesn’t there?  But what can I say?  It’s Spring! And that is, after all, what Primavera means…

I tend to be much more vegetarian-oriented in the months from about October to April each year.  It’s to do with what’s in season, I think – it’s really not difficult to come up with lovely vegetarian meals based around tomatoes, eggplants, mushrooms, asparagus, beans, corn, zucchini, and all the other lovely things we get around here at this time of year. And the warmer weather encourages shorter cooking times and lighter appetites and fresher tastes. So we will be vegetarian four or five days a week, and sometimes more at this time of year.  Winter is harder – it’s difficult for me, at least, to get truly inspired by meals centering around root vegetables and leafy greens.  I have some, of course, but they are fewer and farther between.  I don’t really like stodgy food, either, and seasonal vegetarian food for winter often is stodgy…

Anyway, this pizza is so brilliant that it really doesn’t matter whether you are a vegetarian, a vegan or an omnivore.  It’s gorgeous whichever way you slice it (and speaking of slices, I recommend scissors for cutting up pizza – good enough for my Nonna, and now good enough for me, too).  It is, I must admit, particularly welcome on a night like tonight, being set out in company with a pumpkin, feta and rocket pizza (for which I must also provide the recipe one day), a conventional sort of pizza with eggplant, salami, roasted peppers, semi-dried tomatoes and mozzarella, and Nigella Lawson’s Meatzza, which is a Margherita pizza with a meatloaf base.  This pizza provides much needed lightness and freshness to the meal, and the salsa verde keeps it zingy.

But it’s pretty fabulous all on its own, too, and we have eaten it as a meal on several prior occasions, without feeling any lack of meat.  Give it a try!

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Base

1 tbsp dry yeast
1 cup water that is just barely warm to the touch
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups fine semolina or 2 cups high protein flour, or half and half

Salsa Verde

1 cup basil leaf
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup mint
1/4 cup coriander
2 Garlic Cloves crushed
50 g salted Capers well rinseded
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
45ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
a good pinch of salt
freshly ground Black pepper

Vegetable topping

2 bunches asparagus
1 baby fennel bulb
1 small zucchini
300 g cherry tomatoes
6 small mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil
oregano, black pepper

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