Yellow Zucchini Tarte Fine (with yogurt-based, whole wheat crust and yogurt-pesto sauce)

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I think my favorite way to cook is to…

A) Use up ingredients that are… on their last leg.

B) Use up ingredients that are in major surplus.

C) Cook an ingredient that I have never cooked before… or better yet, seen!

D) All of the above.

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Answer D. But today, we’re having fun with C.

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I guess Yellow Zucchini isn’t totally outlandish. But I’d never seen it before. Zucchinis are green! Not only was this yellow, this zucchini was yellow — super bright, golden yellow, even more so than our mainstay summer squashes.  I got one from a local farmer’s market, but I didn’t know what I’d do with it. It would have to be something interesting, new, exciting….

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So I did a little digging and found this lovely recipe on Chocolate and Zucchini.

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Check out that crusssstttt

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But as usual, I did some tweaking.

Yellow Zucchini Tarte Fine (with yogurt based, whole wheat crust and yogurt-pesto sauce)

Adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini

Crust:

180 grams or 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

120 grams or 1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, cold, diced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

Topping:

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1 cup yogurt, mixed with 1/4 cup basil pesto

a dozen fresh basil leaves

1 yellow zucchini, about 10 ounces or two very small zucchinis, mandolined into thin rounds

salt to taste

Place flour in a medium bowl, and make a well in the center. Add yogurt and diced butter and salt. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut the butter (by slicing the knives together) and combine with flour. I eventually used my hands to really get that butter merged with flour–not sure if this is proper, but it worked. Form into a small disc and wrap in plastic wrap; chill for an hour or up to a day.

Allow the dough to come to just below room temperature. Place on parchment paper, add another piece of parchment on top, and roll out thinly. Crimp the edges.

Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds all over, and place parchment paper back on and roll a few times to ingrain them into the dough. Yay sesame-seed-flavored, crunchy crust!

Leave the top piece of parchment on. Put baking beans all over to weigh it down, or dried kidney beans. You can probably leave them off if you don’t have any.

Bake at 360° (not 350!) for 25 minutes.

Beat egg. Brush egg wash on crust. Bake two more minutes.

Allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, grill zucchini, or leave raw, if fresh enough; I chose to grill.

Next, spread the yogurt mixture thickly all over. Top with zucchini rounds. Sprinkle basil leaves and leftover sesame seeds, if you have them, on top. Cut with a kitchen scissor (my favorite apparatus for pizza and the like) and SERVE!

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So good. The crust–flaky, light, delicate yet rustic, which superb flavor from the sesame and butter. The crust held up well, even after a few hours of having been assembled with the topping ingredients. You can’t even tell yogurt is in the crust. Whole wheat pastry flour wins again!

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Combination of ingredients–also delicious. The caramelization of the zucchini rounds truly brought out their sweetness and elevated the dish. Just a wonderful play of flavors and textures. Would totally make again.

tartecollage

prebaked / posteggwash / readyformangia

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Summer Squash Soup

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When life gives you summer squash…

… Squash upon squash upon summer squash…

You really have no choice but to make soup.

We have four summer squash plants in our garden. Every day I go out and find some ginormous summer squash that I somehow missed the day before.

To make this soup, I used three VERY BIG squash, about four MEDIUM-ISH squash, and 3 very tiny baby squashies.

It worked out well for this soup, a very light and refreshing (and hydrating) soup. I think it would also serve well as gazpacho if you are so inclined (and with temps in the mid-90s this week, I am definitely so inclined).

Summer Squash Soup

Adapted from a recipe on Taste of Home

Two large onions, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

6-10 garlic cloves, minced or thinly sliced

A lot of summer squash, cubed (the original calls for 6. I used the amount I said above. I think you can go with pretty much any number, as the recipe is forgiving, so long as it’s a decent number. Also, you can leave the seeds in; it’ll all be puréed anyway,  and who doesn’t like a little extra fiber and nutrients from the seeds?)

4 cups of water

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons dried thyme

A few sprinkles of sea salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)

Grated or shredded Parmesan or Pecorino romano cheese

Lemon zest from 1 lemon

Two fistfuls of basil, sliced (chiffonade-d)

In a large, nonstick pot, sauté the onions until tender and nearly translucent (about 5-7 minutes). Add the garlic and sauté a minute or two longer. Add the squash and cook for 5 minutes. Add the water, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, covered, until tender.

Remove some of the liquid and reserve; you can add it back in if the soup is too thick.

Using your handy immersion blender (or in batches, in the food processor), purée the soup until smooth as can be. If too thick for your liking, add some of the reserved liquid back.

Stir in the lemon juice and basil. Taste-test and add salt, pepper, etc. if necessary.

To serve, top with a pinch of lemon zest and cheese.

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This soup is homegrown, in the sense that the squash and basil both came from our garden–and so delicious. The lemon is surprising but adds some needed brightness and tang, and the cheese complements with its saltiness. This is a perfect light lunch or dinner.

I can’t wait to try it cold!

Pizza a la Zucchini

Behold: The easiest, dare-I-say-yummiest pizza you’ll ever make! Inspired by the GARGANTUAN zucchini I found in our garden the other day. Also, inspired by Pinterest. (What isn’t these days?) I wrote this post a while ago, but China kind of held things up. What an unforgettable experience! Okay, on to the recipe…

Five ingredients. Hydrating rather than bloaty-bloating. Yes, you’ll probably need a knife and fork, but now you can look classy while you eat your pizza.

Pizza a la Zucchini

PAM cooking spray or olive oil spray
1 zucchini, any size
Tomato sauce
Pecorino romano or mozzarella cheese, shredded
Basil leaves or pesto or both

Turn on oven broiler. Place aluminum foil on a pan and spray with PAM.

Slice zucchini about 1/2 inch thick, either in rounds or in huge slices (like above). Place onto prepared pan and spray or coat with PAM/olive oil. Broil for 5-7 minutes, on each side.

Once broiled, spread sauce on each slice, then top with basil, pesto, cheese. Broil 1 minute or until cheese is delightfully melted and/or browned.

These were so delicious–and as my dad said, “Fun!” I love almost anything in a tomato sauce and pecorino combination. The basil was fresh from the garden, which was made into pesto as well as placed directly on the pizza. The zucchini filled up that entire pan (a huge jelly roll pan) plus three more pieces that are not pictured. I think it was like 16 inches in length! Ridiculous.

Grilled Pizza Margherita

I have always been curious about grilled pizza since I first saw a recipe a few years ago.

So when my friend and fellow cooking-enthusiast came over, we decided to experiment!

It’s pretty easy. Inside, roll out the pizza dough. Sprinkle cornmeal on a wooden paddle and transfer dough onto that. Then, carefully transfer onto a hot grill. Cook. Take out, flip over, and sprinkle toppings on the cooked side. Return to grill to cook the uncooked side. Serve.

Okay, I lied. In THEORY it’s easy.

We had trouble getting the pizza to go on the right spot on the grill (think burned spots) and we cooked it a bit too long (7 minutes = dried out dough).

Also, using a tomato sauce or ricotta would have been a better idea than just mozz. I don’t know what I was thinking.

But all in all, it was pretty good. Basil from the garden gave it a beautiful aroma. It was a fun experiment. I think a bigger wooden paddle is in order–the second pizza kind of folded when I tried to put it on the grill. But I am going to try this again!

Avocado Pesto Pasta & Broccoli

Let’s just say I had to get used to what the leftovers look like after four people eat dinner rather than just three (my brother usually decides to heat up chicken flautas, make macaroni and cheese, or is just simply “out”). What do they look like? Very little.

Avocado Pesto Pasta & Broccoli

Adapted from Chloe Coscarelli

2 heads broccoli, chopped into bite-sized florets (and stems! they’re edible too!)

1 lb/16 oz spaghetti (linguine would have been better!)

2 avocados, peeled & cored

1 bunch basil leaves (I had about a cup but it could have used more)

1/2 cup pine nuts

juice of 1/2 a lemon

4 cloves garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

Nutritional yeats (optional, for a vegan cheesy flavor)

Pecorino romano (optional, for a non-vegan cheesy flavor)

sea salt, black pepper

In boiling water, cook broccoli until as cooked as you like, about 4-6 minutes. Remove and set aside; use same water for boiling pasta to soak up some of the nutrients leached into the cooking water! Save some of the pasta water once it’s done.

In a food processor, toss in everything else and add salt/pepper to taste. If it’s too thick, add some starchy water or more olive oil to thin it out.

Stir together broccoli and pasta, and then toss with the pesto avocado sauce until thoroughly coated.

Delicious and devoured in seconds! I loved the broccoli in this–an extra pop of green. The avocado made the pasta so creamy and decadent, and you really couldn’t tell it was avocado. Like I said, even my picky brother ate this up before doing Insanity (okay, well, a few hours had to pass before he started jumping and push-upping around). It’s super satiating and full of good fats and nutrients. Yum!

Addicting Quinoa Veggie Salad

Believe you me, I could eat this

all

day

long

Addicting Quinoa Vegetable Salad

Adapted from… me!

2 cups dry quinoa, rinsed

4 cups water

juice of 1/2 lemon

1-2 tablespoons evoo

1 tablespoon lemon zest

black pepper

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 can corn, rinsed or package/0.5 bag frozen corn, thawed

1 avocado, cubed

1 tomato, cubed, with a pinch of salt sprinkled on it

Onion, chopped (I hate raw onion, so I didn’t use, but would probably a nice addition for those raw-onion fans out there)

1.5 cups edamame seeds (I had a frozen package that I steamed in the microwave)

10 leaves cilantro, torn up

10 leaves basil, torn up

Cook quinoa in 4 cups of water per package directions.

Combine lemon zest, juice, evoo, and pepper. Toss with black beans, corn, avocado, tomato, edamame, cilantro, and basil.

Once done, transfer quinoa to a large bowl and toss with veggie mix until combined.

Say who? C’est moi!

To photograph, I arranged the veggies on top of a quinoa bed for photogenicity. You can eat it this way too, but I prefer it combined.

Okay, I have made a similar salad before. But not with fresh herbs, and not with edamame! The possibilities are endless and I loved having more green yummies in the salad. Creamy avocado, sweet crunchy corn, satisfying black beans & quinoa, tangy lemon, savory tomato… It’s a total one-pot meal. Lovelovelove. And so easy to make! I swear you’ll want to eat the whole bowl.  Not to mention, full of plant protein, complex carbohydrates, good-for-you fats, antioxidants, the whole shebang!

Note: this tastes best the day it’s made; the lemon flavor diminishes when it sits for a while.

Spinach & Ricotta Pasta

What to do when you’ve got spinach on the brink of extinction, leftover ricotta from the lasagne Mom made, and a box and a half of whole wheat pasta to use?

Creamy comfort food. That’s what we’re going with here.

Spinach & Ricotta Pasta

Adapted from this recipe (I semi-doubled that original recipe based on what we had on hand… luckily this recipe is not bound by exact measurements!)

20 oz whole wheat penne

olive oil

1 chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced (I should have doubled this!)

A LOT of spinach. More the merrier. About 20 oz or more

a hefty sprinkling of dried basil or fresh if you’ve got it

1.5 – 2 cups part skim ricotta cheese

starchy water saved from cooking pasta

Prepare penne to al dente according to package directions. Save 1/4 cup of the water before draining.

In a large nonstick pot/skillet, saute onions and garlic until onions are soft and fragrant. Add spinach and dried basil and watch happily as the volume of spinach shrinks down. Once wilted, add ricotta and stir well. You could add a bit of milk if it seems to thick but it wasn’t necessary. Combine cooked pasta and ricotta mixture and add the saved water if needed (I added some).

Serve with black pepper and/or pecorino romano.

This was so yummy! And really not that unhealthy, even with the creaminess. Definitely add different things to mix it up (in hindsight, throwing in some peas and maybe a colorful veggie would have been great… red pepper? summer squash?).

Plus, it all comes together SUPER fast. Definitely a one-pot meal… although a little garlic bread on the side would have been delish.