There are many inexplicable mysteries in gardening. Why is that one year your potatoes do so poorly even though you've done everything "right" and the next year when you plant them too late, they flourish? Why is that the birds ignore the delightful array of seeds and various birdbaths you put out for them yet pick at every tomato you have before it's ripe? Why is that you can spend what seems like an inordinate amount of time picking every single zucchini on your plant, yet go out the next day and find a boat of a zucchini waiting for you?
You can't win against the zucchini monsters and there's only so much zucchini bread one person can eat. And it's not like most zucchini breads are very healthy to begin with and who wants to bake when it's 90 degrees out? I also rarely have time to cook anything complicated when I've got 20 pounds of squash to put up for winter. This is where the following recipe will help you out. It seems so simple that it must be boring but it's one of my favorite summer meals. More importantly, it gets rid of monster zucchinis fast. You can even grate zucchini, throw it in a freezer bag and make this dish in the winter when the scary monster zucchinis are but a haunting summer memory.
Killer Zucchini Orzo
1 cup cooked orzo
2 cups grated zucchini(half of a monster zucchini)
1/2 medium onion
1/2 to 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons Pecorino Romano
1/2 teaspoon combination of herbs to suit you - see note below.
Heat oil in nonstick pan over medium heat. Add zucchini and onion and saute until it begins to brown. Mix in herbs with a pinch of salt. Stir in cheese and add cooked orzo. Stir until heated through and serve. You can more grated cheese when serving if you like. You can serve this hot or at room temperature.
Note: My favorite combination of herbs is a blend from Penzeys called Italian Herb Mix or a mixture of thyme and oregano or marjoram.
This is a very flexible meal. I've added chopped tomatoes or quartered cherry tomatoes to it and that's a nice variation. Sometimes I add garlic with the onion and zucchini. I plan on experimenting with other vegetable this year. I think grated winter squash sauteed with butter and sage would be fantastic.
This week has been full of OLS meals! On Monday, I made a delicious frittata with local eggs, ham, zucchini, potatoes and onions. In fact, even the mozzarella we subbed in for the cheddar was local because we made it from Cruze Farm milk! Tuesday, we made tortillas using local lard and filled them with local chicken and onions. Only the cheese wasn't local. We served them with homemade salsa made from local ingredients. Wednesday was tomato toast made with homemade bread, local garlic and tomatoes from our back yard. On Thursday, we made one of my favorite grilled meals, Vietnamese Chicken, made with local chicken and grilled local zucchini and onions. We finished the night off with a cherry crisp made from frozen local cherries. We made a simple pasta sauce out of local zucchini, tomatoes and garlic on Friday and served that with a grated beet salad made from beets from our friends' yard. On Saturday, we started the day off with local raspberries, blueberries and blackberries and had that with a scone from VG's Bakery. We had a wonderful sandwich for dinner made with our homemade local milk mozzarella, leftover grilled zucchini and onions, homemade basil mayo and ciabatta rolls from VG's bakery.
However, today was our "official" OLS meal and everything we ate today was local, except for some feta cheese and flour. We started the morning out with local eggs scrambled with feta and local garlic scapes. For lunch we had local beet greens and swiss chard sauteed with local bacon and served that with steamed local new potatoes with local butter and dill. Tonight for dinner, we had a pizza with local potatoes and leeks and local goat cheese. I even made a sourdough crust so we didn't have to use yeast in our pizza crust! For dessert, we had homemade peach granita we made from local peaches. I had wanted to make sorbet but all the recipes I found contained lemon juice. Instead, we made peach granita from David Lebovitz's book, Perfect Scoop. I do have an ice cream maker but the beauty of this dish is that you don't need one to make this. I had never had granita and I had visions of it being an icy mess. I'm an idiot because this is good stuff. I love that it doesn't have a lot of sugar and it was perfect for the 93 degree day we had today.
6 ripe peaches, peeled 1 1/3 cup water 1/2 cup sugar
Slice peaches and cut into small chunks. Cook with 1 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until cooked through which is about ten minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and let cool. When cool, place in blender with remaining 1/3 cup water and blend until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a shallow non-reactive pan in the freezer. Check after 30 minutes. As the mixture begins to freeze, use a fork to scrape the frozen puree that froze around the edges into the center. Return to freezer.
Check every 30 minutes, scraping each time. David says it usually takes 2 hours but when we went to bed last night, it still wasn't frozen enough and it had been 3.5 hours. So we some for breakfast! If it gets too hard, just leave it out for a bit.
I am in love with this dish! I've had frittatas before and I haven't been too fond of them. The eggs have always seemed tough and it just wasn't something that I found myself craving. Yet, frittatas are one of the easiest ways to use up vegetable odds and ends. And I have had a tortilla that was really good when I was up in Milwaukee a couple of summers ago. So it's turned into a bit of a quest - I was going to find a frittata recipe I liked if it killed me. Luckily, I haven't been killed by untasty egg-based dishes - instead, I found this recipe and on a whim, I tried it. It's everything I hoped a frittata could be. It's fairly easy. It retains the creaminess of the eggs and relies heavily on the vegetables in it to bulk up the recipe. Plus cold leftovers of this are amazing!
Zucchini-Potato Frittata serves 4-6 Recipe reprinted from Andrea Chesman's Serving Up the Harvest with permission from Storey Publishing
1 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash, sliced Salt 4-5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed 1 1/2 pounds waxy potatoes, thinly sliced 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced 1/4 pound smoked Canadian bacon or ham, diced 6 eggs Freshly ground black pepper 1 cup grated Cheddar
1. Combine the zucchini and 1 teaspoon salt in a colander and toss well. Set aside to drain for 30 minutes.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat in a large, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or ovenproof nonstick skillet. Add the potatoes and onion, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, flipping and stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and continue cooking, tossing occasionally, until the potatoes are are brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon but keep the skillet on the burner.
3. Transfer the zucchini to a clean kitchen towel and pat dry. Add the zucchini and Canadian bacon to the skillet and sauté over medium-high heat, until the zucchini is just tender, about 4 minutes. Remove the zucchini and Canadian bacon with a slotted spoon. Keep the skillet over the heat.
4. Beat the eggs and pepper to taste in a medium bowl until well blended. Fold in the potatoes, zucchini and Canadian bacon, and cheese.
5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil to the skillet as needed to lightly coat the bottom. Pour in the egg mixture, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook without stirring until the bottom is set, about 10 minutes.
6. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the top is set, 5 to 15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes.
7. Place a serving plate on top of the skillet and carefully invert. The frittata should fall out of the pan. Cut into wedges and serve.
Sorry about the bad pictures - they should be improving soon. Marcus has started taking most of them with the macro feature on my camera and we're shooting them outside on our porch so we can get at much natural light as possible. This picture should be the last awful one!
We have been roasting here in East Tennessee. It's been over 90 degrees the past few days with high humidity. Combine that with a kitchen that has no air conditioning (or walls, cabinets and ceiling but that's a story for another day!) and cooking is the last thing you want to do. We've been grilling out a lot and doubling up recipes so we have lots of leftovers. Later this week I'll post recipes for roasted green beans and an amazing recipe for a potato, squash and ham frittata. I thought I didn't like frittatas but luckily, I was wrong. My favorite recipe this week comes from one of my fail safe cookbooks,A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop. It was very easy to make and it was delicious hot and cold. It's also deceptively filling. The only non-local ingredient was the lime juice and the ginger, which although it wasn't local, was still reasonably close - it's from Alabama. This soup served with grilled chicken thighs from Laurel Creek Farms was my "official" One Local Summer meal. We finished it off with a peach cobbler that was completely local except for the flour. We sweetened it with local honey and homemade butter from local cream. The ice cream was made with local honey and local milk and cream.
Chilled Curried Yellow Squash Soup with Cilantro-Lime Puree
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 1/2 pounds yellow summer squash, chopped (about 5 small squash) 1 medium onion, chopped 1 tablespoon minced ginger root 3 medium cloves garlic, minced 2 teaspoons curry powder 6 cups vegetable broth 1 medium russet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and diced Salt 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Heat 2 T oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the squash and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the ginger, garlic, and curry powder and cook just until fragrant, about one minute. Add the broth, potato, and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the potato is very tender, about 25 minutes. Cool slightly, purée the soup in batches until very smooth. Adjust the seasonings. Transfer to an airtight container and chill thoroughly. When ready to serve, purée the cilantro, lime juice, and remaining 3 T oil in a blender until smooth. Salt to taste. Taste the chilled soup and adjust seasonings as necessary. Ladle soup into small bowls. Drizzle some cilantro purée over each bowl and serve. Serves six to eight.
I love this time of the year. Eating locally is so easy and we often find that we've eaten a meal that's entirely local without even thinking about it. We had an abundance of shelling peas in our garden as well as more radishes. Most of our spring crops are done so we've spent most of the time this week planting more tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers.
One of my favorite spring treats is from a recipe in Local Flavors. Combine unsalted butter with diced radishes. Spread on bread and sprinkle with sea salt. This is so good! We've had several of these sandwiches this past week. We've also made Peas with pasta and cream a couple of times. One night we made a ground pork stir fry with snowpeas, side shoots of broccoli and garlic scapes, all from our garden. I made goat cheese from local goat milk and some butter from the cream we skimmed off the top of our Cruze Farm milk.
Today was one of those days where we realized we had eaten completely local without even trying. We split a white chocolate and cherry scone from VG's Bakery. We ate this with a smoothie made from homegrown frozen strawberries, yogurt and honey. Only the yogurt wasn't local. I plan to try my hand making yogurt later this summer.
Lunch was sauteed spinach from A Place from the Heart Farm with a hamburger patty. The ground beef was from Laurel Creek Farm. It was pretty hot out today so we had a snack of homemade cherry sorbet. Supper tonight was a grilled sirloin steak from Laurel Creek Farm and grilled marinated summer squash from A Place from the Heart Farm. The only nonlocal ingredients were the olive oil and red wine vinegar in the marinade - the herbs and garlic were from our garden. An hour ago, we split the first ripe peach of the year from The Fruit and Berry Patch.
Tomorrow we're on our way to check out our reception area for our wedding. Instead of fast food, we're taking sandwiches, cherries and a peach. The first sandwich will be made with bread from VG's Bakery, leftover grilled squash and my homemade goat cheese. The other sandwich will be store bought cream cheese mixed with chives and green garlic and topped with local cucumbers. Mickey D's cant touch that!