Thursday, August 22, 2013

Zucchini Meeny Miny Moe

I have been gifted this year with an abundant harvest of Crostata Romanesco zucchini. While the total number of squash is relatively small, the size of the vegetables more than makes up for this. They are huge!! The great thing about this variety is that the skin and seeds remain quite tender, even at weights of 4-5 pounds. Needless to say, I’ve been eating a lot of zucchini lately. Here are a couple of my favorite preparations:

Breakfast-Style Sweet Mashed Zucchini

This is a simple dish, suitable for breakfast as an oatmeal substitute, or perhaps for dessert. Feel free to season and top it with whatever you used to enjoy on your oatmeal (provided it’s Primal-friendly, of course!). It's especially good with a couple of tablespoons of unsweetened baking cocoa, a teaspoon of vanilla and a few extra drops of stevia (and a little less cinnamon).

2 pounds (or so) zucchini, tough bits (seeds, skin) removed, if necessary
3 Tbsp. coconut oil
½-1 tsp. ground cinnamon
12 drops Stevita stevia juice (or other brand added in tiny increments, to taste)
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. toasted sunflower seeds or slivered almonds (optional)
¼ cup fresh blueberries (optional)

Slice zucchini lengthwise, and then into thick (1-inch?) half-moons. Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add coconut oil and zucchini, cover and cook until zucchini is quite tender (20-25 minutes? Don’t worry, it isn’t rocket science!), turning them at the halfway point (10 minutes?). Mash it up to release any extra liquid; if there is still a lot, cook a little longer uncovered until most of the liquid has evaporated. Allow to cool a bit, then mix in the cinnamon, stevia and salt. Top with nuts and berries (if using) and serve. Serves 1-2

Zucchini With Basil and Mint

Adapted from World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey

This is a savory treatment of our beloved squash. If you are tolerant of dairy, a bit of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese added at the table rounds out the flavors nicely.  I like to eat mine with a seasoned turkey burger; today I mixed 4 ounces of ground turkey with ½ tsp. of this delicious Italian sausage spice blend: Mmmm mmmm!!!

1-1½ pounds zucchini (tough bits removed, if necessary)
5 Tbsp. tasty fat (olive oil, chicken fat, coconut oil, etc.)
1 good-sized onion (5-6 ounces) peeled and cut into fine half rings
¼ cup chicken broth/stock
About 30 fresh basil leaves, torn in pieces
½ cup of fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped or torn
Freshly ground black pepper

Halve the zucchini lengthwise, then cut crosswise into ¼ inch slices. Place in a bowl, add 1 tsp. salt, toss and set aside for 30 minutes. Drain thoroughly and pat dry.

Put the onion in a large frying pan and set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes without browning, stirring occasionally. Add the zucchini and stir and cook for another 5 minutes or until soft. Taste for salt, adding more only if it is needed. Add the stock, stir once or twice and turn off the heat. Add the basil, mint leaves and pepper, and toss.

Alternate preparation for the lazy or distracted:

Halve the zucchini lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch slices. Place in colander and toss with 1-3 tsp salt and set aside for 30-60 minutes. Rinse and drain thoroughly.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Place onions in a layer across bottom of skillet, then place zucchini on top of them. Cook for a few minutes until onion softens, add broth/stock, cover and cook for 15-30 minutes or until soft, flipping and stirring a couple of times. Once the zucchini is quite soft, if there is still a lot of liquid remaining, cook uncovered until it evaporates to your liking. Remove from heat, add basil, mint and black pepper to taste. Stir and serve. Serves 1-2

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