Showing posts with label courgettes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label courgettes. Show all posts

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Baked Zucchini with Spicy Tomatoes

The application of a little caramelizing heat brings out the best in these tender baby zucchini making sure they can still compete with the spicy tomatoes and feta cheese baked on top.  This dish is great as a vegetarian main or as a side dish. 

What’s your weakness?
I love a Cheeto or Dorito as much as the next person. Okay, okay, you’ve got me. I probably love them more. I’m not a big sweet eater so fatty and salty are definitely my dietary weak spots. That said, if I can add cheese to a vegetable dish – everybody saw my Sunday Supper potato chard bake a couple of weeks ago, right? – then my needs are satisfied in a much healthier manner.

This dish of baby zucchini topped with spicy tomatoes, feta cheese and crunchy pumpkin seeds was so good that we had it as a main course one night and delighted in it as a side dish the very next night. I was sad when it was gone.

The “unprocessed” challenge
This week Sunday Supper is featuring recipes that forgo the weird chemical ingredients that no one can pronounce, using just whole foods in their mostly natural state, if you don’t count things like pasteurizing milk to kill the harmful bacteria or making cheese out of it. I guess technically those are “processed” but, as far as I’m concerned, that’s in a good way. Our host this week is DB from Crazy Foodie Stunts and he got his inspiration for this theme from Andrew Wilder’s October Unprocessed Challenge. Whether you are willing to take the challenge or not, I'm sure we can all agree that if we can't say the ingredient or spell it, we probably shouldn't be eating very much of it!

These zucchini with spicy tomatoes, on the other hand, we will be eating more often.

1 lb 2 oz or 510g baby zucchini
1 lb 2 oz or 510g ripe tomatoes
1 small onion (about 3 oz or 85g)
2 red chilies
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
3 1/2 oz or 100g feta (I like one that is made with sheep’s milk but use your favorite.)
1/4 cup or 20g pumpkin seeds

Cut the stems off of your little zucchini and then halve them lengthwise.

Chop your onions and tomatoes and mince the chilies and garlic.

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a non-stick skillet and fry the zucchini halves until they are browned nicely on both sides.

Put them in a baking dish in a single layer.

Add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the pan along with the onion, garlic and chilies. Sauté for a few minutes until they soften.

Add in the chopped tomatoes, the smoked paprika and the sugar. Cook for about seven or eight minutes over a medium heat until the tomatoes start breaking down.

Spoon the spicy tomatoes over the zucchini in the ovenproof dish.

Crumble the feta over the tomatoes and sprinkle everything with the pumpkin seeds.

Bake in your preheated oven for about half an hour.

It’s done with the feta is nicely browning and the dish is bubbling hot and brown all around the edges.


Check out all the great “unprocessed” recipes we have for you today!

Alluring Appetizers and Snacks
Stunning Sides
Enticing Entreés
Decadent Desserts

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Zucchini Clafoutis

The English language probably has more words than any other language in the world, and yet, sometimes it is lacking.  As I write this post I am sitting in the dining room of an old friend who lives just south of Paris.  We met more than 20 years ago when I lived in the same little town.  But “old friend” sounds unwarrantedly negative because Mary is only a couple of years older than I am, and frankly, I don’t know anyone younger in spirit and full of positivity – and she is in pretty good physical shape too.  In French, on the other hand, an old friend - one you have known for a very long time - is an ancienne amie.   An old friend - one that is advanced in age - is an amie ancienne.  We need something like that in English, don’t you think? 

Anyhoo, here I am in Paris, enjoying a couple of days with my ancienne amie, Mary, and we have been cooking and gabbing and drinking wine.  She is a wonderful, natural cook who uses fresh ingredients to make delicious meals.  She and her family have made me extremely welcome and I would like to live here forever, except for the probably-imposing-after-a-few-days thing.  I happened to tell Mary about making zucchini clafoutis a couple of weeks ago and suddenly, we had added it to the menu for the evening, along with a sausage pilaf she had already planned.  I sliced and diced the zucchini in the kitchen while she taught a private English class out on the deck in the beautiful sunshine.  The weather has been GORGEOUS this week.  Then she finished the pilaf and got it in the oven, while we enjoyed a glass of wine.  And some more chatting.  Simple delicious food, lovingly prepared then eaten in the company of good friends.  It doesn’t get better than this.

For the vegetables:
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 large onion
1 lb 12 oz or 800 grams small zucchini or courgettes
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper for seasoning the zucchini

For the batter:
1/3 cup or 40 grams flour
1/2 cup or 120ml whole milk
3/4 cup or 180ml heavy cream

1/4 cup or 60ml water

3 eggs

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

3 1/8 oz or 90 grams grated Parmesan (Don’t worry too much about the exact measure.  More won’t hurt. :)

Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C.   Grease a 13X9in or 33X23cm baking dish with olive oil and set aside.

Chop your onion and set aside.

Scrub the zucchini and cut the ends off.  Slice in 1/4-inch circles. If you have big zucchini, you may choose to peel them. 

Set a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Drizzle with olive oil and add the zucchini and cook till they brown a little.  Now add the chopped onion.

Season with salt and pepper.  Cook gently for a few minutes and then add the thyme.  

Cook until the vegetables are tender and the water coming from the zucchini has mostly evaporated.  Transfer this mixture to the serving dish and allow to cool.

 To make the batter, whisk together the flour, milk, cream, water, eggs, and the 1/2 teaspoon salt until they are silky smooth.

Pour the egg batter over the vegetables.  

Top with the cheese.

Bake the clafoutis until the eggs are set and top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

If necessary, brown the top further with the oven broiler or grill before serving.  Can be served hot or at room temperature.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Parmesan and Brie Topped Baby Zucchini in a Semolina Crust

Zucchini is caramelized on the stovetop then added to a golden baked semolina crust and topped with Parmesan and Brie for a lovely vegetarian main course, perfect for brunch, lunch or dinner. 

Moving to a new country is all about learning.  Learning the culture, learning the language, trying to find familiar in the unfamiliar and somehow easing into it to create a life where you can be comfortable.  It means readjusting expectations and acknowledging reality, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. 

We always thought we were doing the right thing, this moving around.  First of all, the wide world is where the job was.  Secondly, what an experience for our family, our daughters!  And, I think they both get that.  But what I am not sure they get is that the moves don’t stop when they leave home.  Lately I have been getting a little push back about coming to Cairo to visit.  It seems they are prepared not to like it.  It’s not home.  Yeah, I know that.  And for them it will most likely never be home.  (Heck, I’m still working on that feeling myself!)  I know they objected to every move we made as a family.  I was not prepared for resistance to a move that didn’t technically include their having to adjust to no friends and a new school. 

What I have learned from experience is that the last place is always my favorite because of friends and familiarity and all the little attachments we take for granted when we are there.  It takes a long time for the new place to get like that.   But you have to be willing to give it a chance.  When I had elder daughter, I could never imagine loving another human person as much as I loved her sweet little self.  And then precious younger daughter came along.  And my heart stretched to more love.  I think homes are that way.  You don’t have to love just one.  You can grow to love them all.  But you have to open your mind and heart and risk the hurt of someday leaving, to revel in and relish the place where you are.  So I am working on that.

Yesterday was a holiday in my new home.  I have learned about Sham el-Nessim,  which began as an ancient rite, to celebrate new life and creation.  Nessim means "zephyr," the spring breeze, and sham means "to breathe in."  The date is set to coincide with Easter Monday on the Eastern Orthodox Church calendar, but all Egyptians take part by getting into the great outdoors to picnic on the Nile, in parks or the zoo, and apparently eat salted, fermented fish, while breathing in the Spring air.  While I love a good picnic, this holiday was about faffing about in the kitchen for me, while dear husband got on with his outdoor projects of repairing his dartboard and small barbecue table, which had been damaged in the move.  I did open the windows wide and the zephyr blew through most refreshingly.  And, in honor of Spring, some of my seedlings are sprouting!

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups or 360ml vegetable stock
 3 oz or 85g semolina
3/4 oz 20g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (if substituting dried thyme, use half that amount)
1 egg
Olive oil

For the filling:
1 1/2 lbs or 680g baby zucchini (if substituting bigger zucchini, cut out the soft, fluffy inside part where the seeds are)
Sea salt
Black pepper
3/4 oz 20g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
4 1/4 oz or 120g Brie or other soft full fat cheese
1/4 cup or 20g breadcrumbs

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Place the stock in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.  Add the semolina in a steady trickle, stirring continuously.  Keep stirring for three to four minutes until the mixture is thick and fairly solid.  Set aside and leave to cool slightly.

Add the thyme, egg and half of all the Parmesan cheese to the semolina mixture.  This will require a few minutes of turning and pressing with the back of your stirring spoon to incorporate.  Just keep on mixing till it’s smooth again. 

That is a whole egg.  You just can't see the white.

Oil a normal pie plate with a drizzle of olive oil.  Spread your semolina dough on the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Wet your hands slightly to stop the dough from sticking to you.  Drizzle on a little more olive oil and spread it around gently with a pastry brush.

Pop this in the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until you have some browning around the edges.

Meanwhile, wash your zucchini, cut the tops and tails off and cut them lengthwise into quarters and slice your garlic.

Heat a non-stick skillet up on the stove and when it is roasting hot, dump all the zucchini into the pan.  No oil yet!

Cook on high, stirring or tossing frequently, until the zucchini get lots of nice brown bits all over, which takes about 5-8 minutes.  

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then add in the garlic.  Turn the heat down to medium.

Give the whole thing a liberal dose of olive oil and toss or stir the zucchini and garlic around in the pan for another minute or two.  Turn the fire off.

Chop your Brie or other melty cheese into little pieces.  Take off the outside rind if you want to.  Mine was hard and dried in a couple of places, so I removed that and left the rest. 

Add the breadcrumbs which will help the Brie pieces stop sticking all together. With your hands, gently mix the Brie with the Parmesan and the breadcrumbs.

When your pie crust is done, take it out of the oven, but leave the oven on.  Tip the zucchini and garlic into the crust and then try to arrange them somewhat neatly. 

Cover the top with your cheese and breadcrumb mixture and pop the pie back in the oven.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and it is lightly browned.

Here’s where my husband wanders in, his projects finished, and says “Whatcha cooking?”  And when I answer "baby zucchini baked with Brie," his eyes light up and I laugh out loud with the man who loves my cooking.  And dotes on his daughters.  I know they will come around to see why visiting Cairo is a good idea.  Because we are here and we are trying to make it a home.  Just doing our best with open hearts. And, at least yesterday, open windows.