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Posts tagged ‘zucchini’

Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Shaved Baby Zucchini & Toasted Pepitas


When someone utters the words “…this is the best thing we’ve made…ever!”  ’nuff said.

Squash blossoms are available for only a short period of time in the summer and are the epitome of ‘seasonal’.  They are typically picked in the morning and brought to the farmer’s market that day and are best used within a couple of hours.  This dish is perfectly simple and refreshingly light without being short on flavor.

I spotted the original recipe on epicurious as we were walking through the farmer’s market trying to solidify our dinner plans.  Our modified recipe is shown below.

Besides squash blossoms, in looking for shallots, we stumbled upon green shallots, which I don’t believe I’ve used before.  I am positive the dish would have been delightful with regular, good ‘ole shallots…but I believe the green shallots made it just a touch more special!

Let’s talk tomatoes!  Tomatoes in the summer are serious business.  It is not summer without tomatoes that need nothing other than to be plucked from the vine and tossed in one’s mouth and with a tiny squeeze of the jaw burst forth with flavor and juice.  These miniature (sometimes referred to as Sweet 100′s) citrusy orange delights would have been so offended had we tried to cook them…they would have sprouted legs and walked right out of the kitchen (original recipe called for roasting the tomatoes).

I am often made fun of for appreciating things that come in small proportions (read: I love anything that is small or comes in a miniature size).  Prime examples of such behavior: I refuse to use anything other than the mini-taster spoons when eating ice cream from a shop; we shouldn’t even talk about the number of small bowls that crowd my cupboards; and I am addicted to small notepads and mini-books and have recently discovered some half-size mechanical pencils; so my love for baby vegetables should not surprise anyone!

How can you resist these little guys!?!

Make sure to roast the pepitas, the nuttiness and the crunch are very important for the final dish!

For squash blossoms

2 teaspoons olive oil
1-2 oz mild fresh goat cheese (6 tablespoons) at room temperature
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted until they puff
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
6 male squash blossoms with stems (not with baby zucchini), stems trimmed to 1 inch

Filling:

Stir together goat cheese, cream, pumpkin seeds, basil, salt, and pepper in a bowl and set aside.

Pipe filling into each blossom and twist ends of petals gently to close.  We used a ziplock bag and cut off the tip to pipe the filling into the squash blossoms.  Chill them covered, until ready to fry.

*We realized that we should have made the mixture immediately upon returning from the farmer’s market and filled the blossoms as soon as possible as the flowers were open when we bought them and closed up tighter and tighter as the day went on making it more difficult to fill them later on without ripping the delicate petals.

For vinaigrette and shaved squash

1 tablespoon rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1 tablespoon minced green shallots
2 tablespoons mild extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3-4 baby zucchini, rinsed and stems discarded

Purée vinegar, shallot, oil, pepper, and salt in a blender until smooth and emulsified.

Slice squash paper-thin (lengthwise) using a mandoline, then overlap squash slices decoratively on 2 plates.  Do this shortly before frying the blossoms and plating the dish, otherwise the slices will dry out.

For tempura batter and frying

6 cups vegetable oil (preferably canola or grapeseed)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chilled sparkling water

Make tempura batter and fry blossoms:
Heat 2 inches of oil in a 3-quart saucepan to 350°F on thermometer.

Set a bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water, then whisk together flour and salt in smaller bowl. Then whisk in sparkling water until combined well.

Working in batches of 2 or 3, coat blossoms in batter, lifting each out by its stem and letting excess drip off, then fry, turning, until batter is crisp (it will not brown), 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer blossoms as fried with a slotted spoon to paper towels, drain, then season with salt.

For topping

2 tablespoons green (hulled) pumpkin seeds, toasted until they puff
Handful of small basil leaves (preferably Thai) or sliced larger leaves
1 cup small cherry tomatoes (sweeter the better), halved lengthwise or served whole 

Assemble plates:

Drizzle vinaigrette over squash slices, then arrange 3 fried blossoms in middle of each plate. Sprinkle remaining oven-dried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, and basil around blossoms and season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately and enjoy with a glass of white wine – we went with a 2008 Russian River Chardonnay.

The crisp raw zucchini where perfect paired with the crunch of the tempura and the richness of the goat cheese…add in the juicy tomatoes and the acid from the vinaigrette…and it was perfection!  Seriously…perfection!

We are dying to make this again…but just might have to wait until squash blossoms are back in season next summer!

What are your favorite completely seasonal dishes for summer?

 

DLW: Zucchini, Goat Cheese & Pasilla Pepper Tarts


We’ve discussed my love for tarts in the past…and here is yet another example.  Throw it in a crust and I’ll love it.  Put some simply dressed greens next to it…and I just might swoon!

This is a great way to use up small portions of leftovers.  I chopped an onion, diced a zucchini and a pasilla pepper and sautéed them all together with salt and pepper and a little lemon juice.

Pre-baked the tart shells for a few minutes and spooned in the filling, topped with crumbled goat cheese and baked them again for another 5-10 minutes.

Voilá!  Dinner is on the table!

Dilled Zucchini Soup with Chicken Sausage


I know you have zucchini and summer squash.  How do I know this?  Because it is the middle of July and you’ve probably planted at least 1 (if not 3) zucchini plants and maybe a summer squash and a few patty pans…?  You watered these plants…and hoped for the perfect amount of sunshine and warmth.  Maybe you were busy for a few days or away for a weekend…and then all of a sudden…unbeknownst to you…your plants have taken over your entire garden…your entire yard…and are pondering what kind of defenses you might have around the house.  You’re also concerned you may have been watering the garden with some kind of superfood…as those zucchini that, last time you looked, were cute and just about ready to pick at 6 inches long…they have now swelled to be somewhere between enormous and unreasonably long and are almost the size of your thigh.  Don’t worry…this happens every summer.  Now you must put these zucchini back in their place…you must use them in all manner and let them know that you’re watching.  You’re keeping your eyes on those zucchini…boundaries have been set.  It’s time to cook.

Unfortunately we didn’t get any zucchini plants of our own in this year…but I can’t resist buying them at every farmer’s market I visit.  Zucchini is summer to me.  My dad used to find 18 ways to use up all of our garden zucchini…and I like every one of them.  Zucchini bread, zucchini sautéed with herbs, zucchini pancakes, grated zucchini, zucchini fritters…the list goes on…and reminds me I’ve got a lot of cooking to do this summer. We needed to use our zucchini and summer squash and decided on a soup…which I promised Woody would be quick…(it’s never as quick as I say it will be – but don’t tell Woody that).

Start with onions (that’s pretty much a rule…start with onions).  Sauté in butter.  We had found these amazing tiny little marble sized potatoes that unfortunately were just a bit past their prime needed to be used.  (Dear Kitchen, please stop making our potatoes sprout within one day of purchase when we store them in a dark cupboard! – any thoughts/ideas/helpful hints/secret passwords are much appreciated)

We boiled the potatoes for 5 minutes…just so they were par-cooked and wouldn’t have to boil in the soup forever.  I threw in some garlic (actually a lot of garlic) and all the sliced and diced zucchini and summer squash we had in the house and some fresh dill.  I let these heat through…tossed ‘em around a bit, seasoned with salt and pepper and then added some water.  I can hear you gasp…”‘water…?  why not broth…?”  I wanted a cleaner flavor, and broth can sometimes take a very light and pure vegetable flavor and bring it down.  Make it feel like a winter soup, heavy and hearty.  And water is just one of those ingredients you’ll never run out of.

Once everything was sufficiently simmered…the immersion blender (quite possibly my favorite kitchen appliance) comes out…and…POOF!  You made soup.  When blending, follow a few simple guidelines.  First, remove your pan from the heat.  Second, make sure there is enough substance to cover the small holes surrounding the blade protector – otherwise, all the time you saved making soup will be spent wiping down every known surface in a 6 foot radius of your soup pot…pour into a smaller pot if necessary.  Third, blend, blend and blend some more…unless you want it chunky – then don’t blend as much.  I love soups that are incredibly smooth and if you plan on enjoying this soup cold…a chunky cold soup can seem wrong.  Fourth, you may need to thin the mixture to get the consistency right…add slowly…as taking liquid out is impossible at this stage.

Now is the time to taste as well…make sure your seasonings are right.  Taste and taste again.  I also added a dash of cream…just for mouth feel really.  And I can’t resist making pretty designs in the soup.

We happened to have some slightly sweet chicken sausages, so we browned them up, sliced them, laid them in a bowl, poured the soup around and POOF!  Dinner.  I garnished with a little fresh dill and some finely diced red bell pepper.

Pretty good for not having planned dinner that night.  This soup is amazing the next day served cold.  I only wish I had had some fresh lump crab meat to pile on or maybe a seared scallop…or even perhaps a ball of fresh mozzarella with a drizzle of olive oil.

Dinner Last Week…Caprese and Sautéed Squash


Our first caprese of the summer…it’s the beginning.  The tomatoes still have a little way to go.  Ya know, before they are irresistible, and smell almost better than they taste…and you can’t help but think of 10 million different ideas of how to use them.  We bulked out the plate with some sautéed summer squash…also my favorite.  Slice thinly, add a little butter of olive oil into a hot pan, toss them in, brown them up and then add in just a bit of dill…or summer savory…or basil and oregano…or anything.

Eaten on the deck…it was a perfect summer dinner!

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