9/12/11

In the Kitchen on Sunday: Two Recipes for the Price of One

After finishing the doll quilt I was working on, I spent the remainder of the day in the kitchen.  I wanted to make one more meal for my neighbor who recently had a double mastectomy.  She's doing fine by the way.  Nothing new was found, and she's expected to make a full recovery and to live a long life.  That's very good news. 

For the fifth meal I've prepared for them, I made Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce, which I blogged about here.  In keeping with my 1,001 ways with zucchini theme, I made a side dish of Zucchini with Parmesan.  Even if you're not a zucchini lover, this is a really tasty side dish.  When I make it for my family, they lick the platter clean.  (Well, not actually; but they would if I let them.)

This is one of Ina Garten's recipes from the Barefoot Contessa.  However, her recipe makes enough for two armies, and so I've adapted it for a smaller family here.

Start with two yellow onions, cut in half and sliced 1/2-inch thick.  Heat two tablespoons of olive oil and toss half the onions it into the pan.


Cook for 10 minutes on medium-low heat, until they start to brown.



While the onions are cooking, take four medium zucchini, remove the ends, and if they are large, cut them in half lengthwise.  Then slice them diagonally in 1/2-inch slices.  When the onions begin to brown, add half the zucchini, one teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper to the pan.



You're only adding half the onions and half the zucchini at this point because you don't want to overcrowd the pan.  The idea is for the onions and zucchini to cook slowly and to caramelize.  If the pan is overcrowded, your vegetables will steam instead of browning.

Stir the zucchini and onions together occasionally, but only occasionally, again, because you want them to brown rather than steam.  They need a chance to sit on the hot surface of the pan in order for the caramelization process to occur.  Cook them together for about 10-15 minutes until browned and cooked through.


Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and cook for 30 seconds more,



then remove it to a serving platter and repeat with the rest of the zucchini and onions.  If necessary, add another tablespoon of olive oil before adding the vegetables.  Then serve it up and enjoy!  The zucchini and onions will be sweet and delicious with no sugar added.

Here is my adaptation of Ina Garten's recipe for:

Zucchini with Parmesan

4 medium zucchini
Two tablespoons olive oil
2 large yellow onions cut in half and sliced 1/2-inch thick
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) sauce pan and add the onions.  Cook for 5-10 minutes on medium-low heat until they begin to brown. 

Meanwhile, remove the ends of the zucchini and, if they are large, cut them in half lengthwise.  Slice the zucchini diagonally in 1/2-inch slices.  Then add half the zucchini, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook, tossing occasionally for 10-15 minutes until browned and just cooked through.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and cook for 30 seconds more.  Remove to a serving platter and repeat the entire process with the rest of the onions and zucchini.  Add one additional tablespoon of olive oil if necessary.  Serve immediately.

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In addition to the zucchini, I made something I've been wanting to try for a long time:  Nasturtium Pesto and Goat Cheese Crostini.  I found this recipe at Flavor Explosions.  I tried growing nasturtiums in my garden this year, which ordinarily come up voluntarily.  I plant them alongside my cucumbers as a companion plant, and even though the garden is rototilled every year, the nasturtiums come back.  This year, because I wanted to try this recipe, I purposefully planted seeds and gave them their own bed.  Of course, they refused to grow.  Bummer.  (Ahhh, the best laid plans.)  Nevertheless, I found them at the Farmer's Market on Saturday, and I was off. 

Start with six cups of nasturtium blossoms, stems removed.



In a food processor grate two carrots to end up with approximately one cup of grated carrot.  Then add 3/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic and your flower blossoms.


Pulse to make a smooth paste.  Then add 1/2 cup of pine nuts, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.  Pulse until well incorporated.  Mixture will be slightly lumpy.

I used a loaf of ciabatta bread and sliced it cross-wise into 1/2-inch slices.  Any crusty loaf of bread will do.  Toast the slices and spread them with goat's cheese.  Then spread with pesto.


Or skip the bread all together and eat the pesto with a spoon.  It's that good.  This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups of pesto.

It's best if you make it up a few hours ahead of time and allow the flavors to blend.  Matthew and I tasted the pesto as it was made in the original recipe, and we both got a hit of a bitter after taste.  I added the sugar to counter that bitterness.  If you are sensitive to sugar, by all means, try it without first.  Either way, it is flavorful and delicious.  Also, I couldn't find goat cheese when I looked for it, and so I substituted cream cheese.  Mike and I both liked the cream cheese, but we thought goat cheese would add a nice tang.  If you are not fond of goat cheese, by all means, substitute cream cheese.

Here is my adaptation of the recipe:

Nasturtium Pesto and Goat Cheese Crostini

1 loaf of crusty bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick (slice baguettes on the diagonal for a larger slice)
6 cups nasturtium blossoms, stems removed
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 carrots
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Goat cheese or cream cheese

Using a food processor, grate carrots to make one cup.  Switch out grater blade for steel blade.  Add blossoms, olive oil, and garlic to the bowl of the food processor.  Puree to a smooth paste.  Add pine nuts, salt and pepper.  Pulse to make a lumpy paste. 

Toast bread slices.  Spread goat cheese on the crostini and then spread with about one tablespoon of the pesto.  Eat and enjoy!

2 comments from clever and witty friends:

WoolenSails said...

I think you should come over and cook for me, lol.
I can't have cheese though, and my garden doesn't look so good with the cool nights, so not sure if I will get enough tomatoes to make sauce.

Debbie

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I have 3 HUGE zucchini sitting in my fridge. I'll try this recipe. Thanks.