Tag Archives: zucchini

End of Summer Pizza

Summer is over, or at least it seems to be now that Labor Day has come and gone. However, my garden is just starting to come into it’s own with tomatoes and zucchini. Anyone else?

I saw this trick of shredding zucchini in with cheese on smitten kitchen awhile ago. I loved it in the original grilled cheese sandwich, and I have taken to trying it in other “cheesy” foods like quesadillas. Pizza seemed like a no brainer.

Full disclosure: I thought this was delicious. It tasted fresh and just like late summer/early fall. My kids definitely picked out all the zucchini they could. BUT, I have tried the zucchini/cheese trick with older kids (8 years old) and they liked it; even the kids who said they hated vegetables generally.

End of Summer Pizza (Serves 4)

(Sorry, I was too busy eating to take a picture. Oops!)

½ recipe pizza dough
½ cup marinara sauce
1 zucchini, shredded
1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup basil, chopped or torn into large pieces

1. Heat oven to 400. Prepare pizza dough through parbake.
2. Spread sauce over dough.
3. Squeeze zucchini between towels to remove much of the moisture. Toss the zucchini with the cheese. Sprinkle over the pizza. Top with tomatoes.
4. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until desired doneness. Finish with basil before serving.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 147
Protein: 9 gm
Fat: 7 gm
Saturated Fat: 3 gm
Cholesterol: 18 mg
Carbohydrates: 13 gm
Fiber: 3 gm
Sodium: 246 mg

Notes: I’m writing the recipe here for one large pizza. For a quick dinner, we actually ate this on naan breads, which was great. English muffins would also work. Sometimes fun “dough” makes it more interesting to kids, too.

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Sesame-Peanut Zoodles

We are almost halfway through January. Have you given up on your New Year’s resolutions already? I hope not. I’m still in the trenches with you. While not my resolution, I know many people choose to cut back on carbs. I am too attached to my carbs to make that leap, especially since we try to not eat a ton of meat. But I understand the logic behind the decision and many people find success with carb restricted diets.

One of my many carb hang-ups is pasta. I’d seen all the recipes for “zoodles” out there, and I was skeptical. Could zucchini really taste like pasta? I finally tried it. The answer: sort of. It definitely doesn’t taste like pasta, but you don’t miss the pasta either. And it definitely doesn’t taste like you are eating a giant pile of zucchini. I liked these with a side of salmon (and rice, even I’m being honest). Enjoy!

Sesame-Peanut Zoodles (serves about 2)

Sesame-Peanut Zoodles

3 small zucchini
½ red bell pepper, shredded or julienned
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup crunchy peanut butter peanut butter
½ tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon sriracha (or to taste)
½ teaspoon ginger powder or 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

1. Spiralize zucchini, or make into “noodles” with a vegetable peeler. Toss with bell pepper and red onion.

2. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until well combined. Microwave about 30 seconds to 1 minute, then stir again to incorporate better and it reaches a “sauce” consistency. Let cool for 3-5 minutes.

3. Toss vegetables with sauce. Serve room temperature or chilled.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 246
Protein: 12 g
Fat: 17 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 17 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sodium: 684 mg

Recipe Notes: I know the nutrition looks a little crazy on the fat. But that is from the peanut butter, and the saturated fat is low.

Source: adapted from online

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Slow Cooker Ratatouille and Polenta

December is such a busy time of year for most of us. Lots of gatherings, shopping, school functions, sporting events, etc. I usually have a pretty open schedule and found myself booked 3 of the 5 work days this week. What?! However, busyness doesn’t mean you have to get take out. You are spending enough money everywhere else this month, you don’t need to eat out a ton too.

Enter your slow cooker. This awesome piece of kitchen equipment is the busy cook’s best friend. Throw some food in early in the day, cook some sort of starch to go with it, and you are good to go.

This ratatouille is perfect for a cold December night. Super hearty and filling, you won’t even miss meat. The goat cheese in the polenta adds the perfect tang. It’s just all around delicious. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Ratatouille and Polenta (Serves 6-8)

Slow Cooker Ratatouille and Polenta

Ratatouille:
2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
3 medium zucchini, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 tablespoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons canola oil
2 small red or yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-­inch pieces
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
¼ cup all-­purpose flour
¼ cup tomato paste
2 (14.5 ounce) cans no salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves

Polenta:
6 cups low-­sodium vegetable or chicken stock
1 ½ cups polenta or cornmeal (not instant)
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces fresh goat cheese

1. Place the eggplant and zucchini in a large colander and toss well with the salt; let sit for about 45 minutes. Rinse well to remove the salt, then dry well, gently squeezing out excess water with a kitchen towel. Add to the slow cooker that has been lightly greased with cooking spray.

2. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-­high heat. When warm, add the onions, bell peppers, and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the flour and tomato paste. Cook until the mixture is thickened
and the flour disappears, about 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium high and add the tomatoes with their juices, thyme, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, crushing the tomatoes a bit with a wooden spoon, until thickened and smooth, about 6 minutes.

3. Mix with the vegetables in the slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours, until the vegetables are tender. Turn off slow cooker and stir in Parmesan cheese and basil.

4. About 30 minutes before vegetables are done, add the stock, cornmeal, and ½ teaspoon pepper to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-­high heat, whisking frequently to prevent lumps. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring frequently, until creamy and thickened, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and goat cheese.

5. To serve, ladle polenta into individual bowls, spoon ratatouille on top, and serve immediately. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 330
Protein: 12 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 18 mg
Carbohydrates: 46 g
Fiber: 8 g
Sodium: 579 mg

Recipe Notes: The eggplant is less bitter if you peel it and if you let it sit a bit with the salt. If you are pressed for time, it will still work if you don’t do either step. It might be a bit more watery, but not enough to kill it. I don’t love the taste of cooked red onions generally, so I prefer to mix and match here. I’m sure fresh herbs would be delicious here, but I don’t remember to buy them or the store doesn’t have the one I want. If you can’t find or don’t eat goat cheese, I would probably sub in more Parmesan. Or maybe cream cheese. I tried blue cheese once and didn’t love the combination personally, but it is an option as well.

Source: Slightly adapted from Epicurious.com

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Zucchini Corn Fritters

It’s getting to be that time of year where gardens are going crazy. Or if you don’t have a garden, corn, zucchini, and tomatoes are fairly inexpensive and extra tasty at the store. Here’s a great side dish or snack utilizing some of the produce in season right now.

Zucchini Corn Fritters (Makes about 18 fritters)

Zucchini Corn Fritters

1 ½ cups packed shredded zucchini (no need to peel the zucchini)
½ cup corn kernels
1 green onion, diced
1-2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
⅓ cup bread crumbs
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1. Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray.

2. Wring out excess water in zucchini, making sure it is really dry.

3. Combine zucchini and remaining ingredients in a bowl until combined. Add additional egg if mixture is too dry.

4. Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet. Lightly flatten into fritter shape. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden and center is set.

Nutritional Information (Amount per fritter):

Calories: 23
Protein: 1 g
Fat: 1 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 12 mg
Carbohydrates: 3 g
Fiber: less than 1 g
Sodium: 45 mg

Recipe source: adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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Zucchini and Garlic Pasta

Do you remember the first real meal you tried to cook all alone? I mean something homemade, a full dinner. I do. It was the summer after my freshman year of college. My parents had left me home alone for several days and were returning on Sunday afternoon. I decided I would make a nice, Sunday dinner. As I was preparing it, my aunt called that she and her husband happened to be in town and would be coming by, too. Thankfully, I had bought a lot of food.

At the time, I loved Rachael Ray, so I found some recipes from one of her cookbooks – chicken breasts with goodness rolled up inside and pasta with zucchini. My mom ended up helping a bit when she came home, mostly because I didn’t pound the chicken thin enough, so it took about 5 years to cook. But the food was good, and everyone was impressed at what I had accomplished on my own.

Since that day, I’ve obviously tackled a lot of recipes. I’ve honestly never tried that chicken again, but the pasta has stuck with me all these years. I love how simple it is but still has great flavors. It was also one of the first times I enjoyed zucchini. It is great for a quick summer dinner, and also works well as a side dish along some grilled chicken or fish. Enjoy!

Zucchini and Garlic Pasta (Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side)

Zucchini and Garlic Pasta

12-16 ounces whole wheat spaghetti (see notes)
2 zucchini
½ tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup parmesan cheese

1. Boil a large pot of water. Cook pasta according to package directions, without adding salt or oil.

2. While pasta cooks, grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater onto a pile of paper towels. Squeeze out excess water with paper towels.

3. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add garlic and grated zucchini. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until zucchini begins to soften and is heated completely through.

4. Drain pasta (reserving some cooking liquid) and add to skillet with zucchini. Toss together. If pasta is dry, add pasta cooking water ¼ cup at a time until it reaches desired consistency. Toss with parmesan cheese and serve.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving as a main dish):

Calories: 401
Protein: 18 g
Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 6 mg
Carbohydrates: 77 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sodium: 134 mg

Recipe Notes: I always find whole wheat pasta in 13.25 ounce packages. Use whatever size package you can find. Any type of long, thin pasta works. I’ve done spaghetti, linguine, and fettucine. This isn’t a “saucy” pasta dish. But since we don’t have a lot of cooking oil, there isn’t much to coat the pasta, especially if you are ambitious at wringing out your zucchini. Just add a little water if some of the noodles look too dry.

Source: Adapted from Rachael Ray

Low Iodine Adjustment: Omit parmesan.

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Crockpot Vegetable Pot Pie

Pot pie is not the recipe you expect to appear on a food blog right before Memorial Day. It should be burgers, fries, summery salads, fruity desserts, etc. But I’m sitting in my slippers and wearing a sweatshirt in my chilly house, since I refuse to turn on the heater this late in May. From my friends’ posts on Facebook, many others have a weekend ahead lacking in sunshine and summer.

While I fully intend to do my cookout on Monday (rain or shine), until then, I’m basking in some warm, hearty comfort food. This pot pie is on my list. I made this for company recently, and there were no leftovers with smiles all around on how delicious it was. Honestly, I think I even liked this better than most chicken pot pies I’ve had. So many more flavors with all the different vegetables. Enjoy!

Crockpot Vegetable Pot Pie (Serves 6-8)

Crockpot Vegetable Pot Pie

Filling:
1 ½ tablespoons + 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 cups diced baking potato
1 ½ cup diced carrot
1 ½ cup diced parsnip
1 cup chopped celery
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 (8-ounce) packages white mushrooms, sliced
1 large zucchini, sliced in half moons
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups skim milk
¾ cup low sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 cups frozen green peas
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Biscuit topping:
1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ½ tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup low-fat buttermilk

Preparation

1. Spray a crockpot with cooking spray.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet with 1 teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add potato, carrot, parsnips, and celery. Sauté 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to pan and return to heat. When oil is heated, add onion, mushrooms, and zucchini. Saute until beginning to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add to crockpot. Add salt and pepper to vegetable mixture, stirring to combine.

3. Heat remaining 1 ½ tablespoons oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 ½ tablespoons flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually whisk in milk and broth. Cook 3-5 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Pour sauce into slow cooker. Add peas and thyme. Stir contents of crockpot to combine.

4. Cover crockpot and cook on low for 3 ½ hours.

5. When vegetable mixture is almost done, make biscuit topping, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in cheese. Add buttermilk, stirring just until moist.

6. Increase heat to high. Drop biscuits onto filling in 8 equal mounds. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until biscuits are done. Uncover and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 365
Protein: 13 g
Fat: 13 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 25 mg
Carbohydrates: 50 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sodium: 555 mg

Recipe Notes: I normally don’t like recipes that require any cooking before you put things in the crockpot. But it is nice to get a little bit of color on the veggies first. I’m sure it would still turn out if you skipped that step. Feel free to adjust the vegetable amounts or types. I was probably a little under on the mushrooms – a few were bad in my packages and my husband doesn’t love them anyway – and a little over on the potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. I never have buttermilk; I just make it with skim milk and lemon juice.

Source: slightly adapted from Cooking Light

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Spaghetti Squash Primavera

A few weeks ago, I was visiting several family members who are following a low-carb diet to lose weight.  Some have lost 50+ pounds with the diet, so it is working for them.  They were nice and made carbs with the meals for me to eat.  And I got to feel like the pig when we went out and everyone else ordered a salad, except me.  I ordered the burger.  With fries.  Just rub those carbs in their faces, why don’t I?

One of them mentioned how she had rediscovered spaghetti squash while on this diet, which inspired me to get in the kitchen.  This has been one of my favorite meals in a long time.  The veggie-packed sauce is super creamy and delicious, but doesn’t have a ton of fat in it.  If you aren’t wanting to low-carb, this is also yummy over pasta, potatoes, bread, rice…pretty much any carb.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Primavera (Serves 4)

IMG_6456label

½ tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup green beans, chopped into bite size pieces
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 cups spinach
¾ cup low fat or fat free cottage cheese
2 ounces fat free cream cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 spaghetti squash (see here for cooking instructions)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion; sauté for 3-5 minutes, until it begins to soften. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute more. Add squash, zucchini, carrots, and green beans. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until veggies are beginning to soften. Add tomatoes; cook for 3 minutes more. Add spinach.

2. While veggies are cooking, combine cottage cheese, cream cheese, and Italian seasoning in a food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy.

3. Add cottage cheese mixture to pan once spinach has wilted. Stir to combine well. Cook until the cheese is melted and a creamy sauce forms.

4. Scrape spaghetti squash onto plates or into bowls. Scoop veggies and sauce over each portion. Top each portion with 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 203
Protein: 15 g
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 14 mg
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sodium: 553 mg

Recipe Notes: You could really mix up the veggies with whatever you like and have available. Chopped up asparagus would also be yummy. I wouldn’t skip on the tomatoes, though. The juice from the tomatoes helps make the sauce.

Source: adapted from online

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