Stuffed 8 Ball Zucchini

Last Saturday I found these little squash at the Farmers Market in Sugar Land.  They are a hybrid squash, named 8 Ball Squash, that can be used much like Zucchini.  They are perfect for stuffing.

The stuffing I used is a variation of a recipe I found online, but any number of ingredients can be used.  I will try adding some fresh herbs and pine nuts the next time I make these. You could also try different cheeses or even add cooked ground meat.  I have often stuffed long zucchini.  My family calls those Zucchini Boats.  These look a bit like Zucchini Muffins!  I have planted a squash in my garden called Cupcake Squash and I can’t wait to see what that squash looks like!

Stuffed 8 Ball Squash

3-4   8 Ball Zucchini

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 tomato, peeled and chopped

1 small onion, chopped

3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I use Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset)

Salt

Ground black pepper

1 cup water, or less.  See directions.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice the tops off each zucchini. Set aside and reserve for later. Hollow out with spoon, chop,  and reserve the pulp.

Add bacon pieces to skillet and cook until bacon is brown.  Add the reserved chopped zucchini pulp, tomato, Italian seasoning, and onion and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until most of the liquid has cooked down. Remove pan from heat, add bread crumbs and 2/3 of the cheese reserving some for topping. Stir well to combine all ingredients. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired. Stuff each hollowed zucchini with mixture. Place in a shallow baking dish or pan and add chicken stock to a depth of about 1/4 inch. Place the pan in oven and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and top each zucchini with extra cheese. Place the reserved zucchini tops in the pan, return to oven and cook for 20 more minutes or until the zucchini is tender. Lift out stuffed squash to serving dish and add tops.

Garden Vegetable Pie

There are a variety of recipes for pies or tarts using summer vegetables. I find some in my cookbook collection; many more are found online. Some recipes use a crust for the pie, others do not. A combination of eggs and cheese makes the dish set up so that it can e sliced into wedges.  Some would say that makes this a fritttata or crustless quiche, but plain old pie works just fine for me. Almost any assortment of fresh vegetables can be combined but I got great responses last week when I took this zucchini pie to a friend’s home. The entree was roasted pork tenderloin, and guests were asked to bring salad, vegetable, fruit, and dessert. The combination of pork, spinach salad, fruit salad, and this vegetable pie was delicious and hearty. We almost did not need Key Lime Pie for dessert, but it was yummy, too.

Garden Vegetable Pie

4 tablespoons butterhalf

1/2  onion, diced

2 ears sweet corn, kernels removed

2 large zucchini, sliced very thinly (about 4 cup

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

12 ounces shredded cheese (I used white cheddar)

4 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the butter in a large, deep skillet. Add onions and zucchini. While the veggies saute, cut the corn kernels off the cob. Add them to the pan and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.. Remove from heat.

Once the mixture has cooled for a few minutes, stir in basil, oregano, salt, cheese, and the beaten egg. Line a pie pan (9-inch or larger) with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Arrange a few zucchini slices so they lay flat and look nice. Top with a little extra cheese, cover with greased foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes to brown the top. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting into slices.

Lemon Zucchini Pickles

IMG_3796

I have loved this recipe for a long time and have always made it with zucchini. However,  it is a great refrigerated cucumber pickle as well. We have a bumper crop of Meyer lemons so I am delighted to say my granddaughters went out to the tree the day before Thanksgiving and brought in a bucket full of lemons for our holiday cooking. This is a perfect side for so many meals,adds a fresh veggie touch that is more condiment than salad, but so good that you want to eat a bowlful!  It keeps in the refrigerator for 3 weeks, but never lasts that long around our house.

Lemon Zucchini Pickles

5-6 medium zucchini, sliced very thin.  Do not peel

1 green pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon sea salt

2 teaspoons celery seed

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1 lemon, sliced very thin into rounds, then halved

Cut thin zucchini slices and combinewith green pepper, celery seed, onion, and salt in large bowl.  Toss gently and allow to stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Combine sugar and lemon juice and stir to dissolve. Pour over vegetable mixture and add lemon slices. Stir gently to blend, cover, and refrigerate at least 24 hours. This will keep up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Zucchini Onion Pie

IMG_2701Summertime vegetables are best when cooked simply. Even though I prefer not to heat up the kitchen with baking, this veggie pie is a great one dish meal, delicious with a crisp salad for supper.  I like adding some color with slices of red pepper from our garden.

Zucchini Onion Pie

3 eggs

1 cup flaked or grated parmesan cheese

1 cup cooking oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 cups thinly sliced zuchinni

1 small onion, chopped

1 cup biscuit mix ( I used Cheddar Bay biscuit mix and loved it)

In a large bowl, whisk the first seven ingredients. Stir in the zucchini, baking mix and onion. Pour into a greased 9-in. deep-dish pie plate. Bake at 350° for 25-35 minutes or until lightly browned.Yield: 6 servings.

Mediterranean Baked Squash

IMG_1006

A trip to a local Farmers’ Market recently yielded some beautiful late season summer squash – yellow crook-neck and deep green zucchini. By adding the yellow, red, and purple peppers plus herbs from our garden, this easy to bake dish is full of flavor as well as color. It is a ratatouille style dish but does not include eggplant. I made it twice last week, once for our table, and once to take to a choir potluck supper. It was well received at both places!

Mediterranean Baked Squash

2 large yellow squash, sliced in thin rounds

2 large zucchini, sliced in thin rounds

2 cups crushed tomatoes

1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus additional for drizzling on top

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 red pepper, sliced

1 purple or green pepper, sliced

1 yellow pepper, sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

fresh basil, chopped

fresh or dried thyme

sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside of baking dish top

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Spread crushed tomatoes over bottom of dish.  Add olive oil, onions, and garlic and stir to blend.  Layer squash and peppers with alternating colors, starting at edges of the dish and working toward center, overlapping slightly.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and cracker pepper, basil and thyme.

Place parchment paper cut to fit inside baking dish on top of vegetables and bake for 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Remove parchment and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

Zucchini Noodles

IMG_0709Zucchini is one of the summer squashes I use most often.  This harks all the way back to the late 70’s, when our sons were all elementary school age and we lived on Deep Valley Trail in Plano, Texas.  Our back yard was unfenced and sloped down to a small creek where they fished for crawdads and got alot of jeans muddy.  This part of the yard seemed to be always full of boys and other than the wisteria vine which twined over our back porch, did not lend itself to much gardening.  The side yard, however, turned out to be perfect for a small raised bed vegetable garden.  In those years I had not yet developed my passion for growing herbs, but I did very well with Zucchini.  One summer, I remember the Zucchini harvest yielded more than enough for us and all the neighbors.  I remember making these squash fried, steamed, and baked.  I made Zucchini pickles and Zucchini bread and muffins.  But I had not learned about the amazing little kitchen tool called a vegetable spiralizer  I ordered one online a few years ago, and it is not only a great tool for increasing the variety of things you can do with all kinds of vegetables, but it is actually fun to use!  My grandchildren love to help me use it.  It has several different blades producing different shapes, and the noodle nest you see in this photo is a happy result. .The noodles are made by inserting the squash horizontally, attaching one end to the handle that does the turning and securing the other at the blade end of the spiralizer.  This is what the one I ordered looks like, but there are other fancier (and more expensive models).  You could also use a box grater or mandolin.

100_1338

5 or 6 medium Zucchini squash, washed and ends trimmed
2 teaspoons sea salt
3 Tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1/3 cup flaked Parmesan
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Using a vegetable spiralizer, grater, or mandolin, cut Zucchini into strips that resemble noodles. Place in colander and sprinkle with the 2 teaspoons salt. Toss, and let drain for 39 minutes  Bring a large pot of water to boil, add zucchini and remove after 1 minute.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
Melt butter in wok or large frying pan, add chopped onions and garlic, cook 1 minute, then add drained zucchini and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes, just until the squash is tender.  Even with these noodles, we like ours al dente!  Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Fresh basil shredded on top is a tasty garnish.  This is also wonderful with pesto or marinara.

Click here for a previous post for zucchini ruffles.

http://www.kitchenkeepers.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=466&action=edit

Zucchini Bites

002We enjoy zucchini in a variety of ways because I think this squash is one of the most versatile as well as easy to prepare vegetables. Usually I slice the zucchini lengthwise before adding some toppings and baking. Here I have simply applied the principle “less is more” by making it a finger food.  These bite sized rounds (well maybe 2 bites) are a perfect appetizer as well as a side.  I think they would make a nice addition to a holiday dinner.

Zucchini Bites

2 medium zucchini squash

1/2 cup jarred marinara sauce – your choice.  We like spicy!  Save the rest of the jar to add to spaghetti sauce or chicken parmesan!

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

shaved parmesan cheese

Panko bread crumbs

Italian seasoning blend – I use Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset, or you can buy Italian Seasoned Panko

Heat oven to 375. Wash zucchini and pat dry.  Trim ends and stems, then slice into thick rounds (an inch or so).  Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Top each round with marinara (a little goes a long way).  Add a few parmesan shavings and sprinkle Panko crumbs on top. Bake for around 20 minutes, until squash is tender but not mushy.  Tops should be golden brown.

Zucchini Galette with Lemon Thyme and Goat Cheese

018

Our youngest son’s birthday in mid July was the occasion for a family dinner a couple of weeks ago.  This Zucchini dish was part of a wonderful meal, and it turned out pretty enough to be a table centerpiece!  I used a prepared pie crust instead of making the pastry, so it was very simple to put together, and fun for my granddaughters to help assemble. The combination of goat cheese, lemon zest,  and freshly picked lemon thyme was delicious.

Zucchini Galette with Lemon Thyme and Goat Cheese

1 pepared refrigerated pie crust (not frozen)

5 Medium zucchini squash, ends trimmed, and sliced very thin

2 Tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces goat cheese, softened

1 teaspoon chopped fresh lemon thyme

1 teaspoon lemon zest

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 ten inch tart pan

Set the pie crust out on counter for 15 minutes, or per package instructions.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put zucchini rounds into a colander and sprinkle with 2 teaspoon sea salt.  Set the colander over a bowl and toss the zucchini before allowing to drain for about 30 minutes.  Then squeeze the zucchini gently to remove more liquid. Put into a bowl and toss with 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil and a few grinds of black pepper.  In a smaller bowl, mix softened goat cheese with lemon thyme and grated lemon zest.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.

While the zucchini is draining, place pie crust round on floured cloth and roll out to slightly larger, then place in tart pan.

When you are ready to assemble the galette, spread the goat cheese mixture over the pie crust to about 1/2 inch from the edge of crust.  Starting in the center, arrange zucchini rounds in snug, overlapping concentric circles all the way to the edge of the crust. Drizzle with remaining Tablespoon of olive oil.  Bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

Zesty Zucchini

006

We are eating more vegetables than ever since I started trying so many vegetables to roast, and  different ways to make them special.  Don’t get me wrong, a simple brush with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper gets delicious results.  But the addition of lemon zest, shredded basil, and a few cherry tomatoes definitely makes zucchini that is a favorite to add to any easy summer supper.

Zesty Zucchini

3-4 medium zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

zest of one lemon

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

olive oil for coating

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.  Place zucchini and tomatoes in ZipLoc bag with enough olive oil to coat.  Lay zucchini halves on  baking sheet, cut side up with cherry tomatoes on top and around them. Sprinkle with lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Top with lemon zest and basil.  Sprinkle with olive oil and place in oven to roast for about 25 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.

There are many variations and combinations that work to make this one of the most versatile side dish for your summer meals.  Try mixing yellow squash or any other summer squash with chopped thyme and sliced lemon.  Fresh mint and a squeeze of orange juice is a bright, fresh taste for a change.  You can also use your outdoor grill for roasting if you prefer.