Thursday, July 28, 2011

Zucchini Kale Lasagna

It's bound to happen at one point this summer.  You get a rediculously large zucchini and wonder what you're going to do with it.  Or, perhaps you grab it right up and think immediately of zucchini bread or zucchini lasagna.

I'm sure you can guess which camp I fell into?  :)  Layers of zucchini alternating with a ricotta and kale mixture, smothered in a tasty marinara sauce, this lasagna was a delicious twist on tradition!!

Zucchini & Kale Lasagna
Recipe by Shannon
Serves 4

I had leftover zucchini and a bit of filling, so I made some rollatini with the extra components.  A tablespoon or two spread along a zucchini slab, rolled up and put in a small casserole with some sauce and baked along with the lasagna!

1 huge zucchini (or 2 regular-sized ones)
1 head of kale (use however much you'll enjoy), washed and destemmed
olive oil
1 lg clove garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground pepper
8oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2t garlic powder
1/2t dried oregano
1/2t dried basil
dash of red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
Your favorite sauce (I used jarred)
Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil, for topping

Preheat the oven to 375deg.

Cut off the ends of the zucchini and slice lengthwise into ~1/4" thick slabs (a mandoline would be nice to use here, if you have it, but I just used a chef's knife).  Cover 1-2 cookie sheets with paper towels and lay zucchini in a single layer over them.  Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and set aside.

Heat 1-2T extra virgin olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Roughly chop kale and add to heated oil.  Saute for ~5min or so.  You can also add a splash of water (carefully!!) and cover it with a lid to steam the kale a bit and get it to cook a bit quicker.  Add garlic and continue to cook until all the kale has started to wilt.  Remove from heat and set aside.

For the filling, add ricotta, egg and spices (garlic powder, oregano, basil) to a large bowl.  Mix well, then add the cooled kale mixture and mix again. Set aside until you're ready to assemble the lasagna (can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until you're ready to use).

Check on your zucchini, you should see large beads of water on the zucchini as the salt draws out some moisture. Blot it with a paper towel to remove this moisture before preparing the lasagna.

In a 9" sq pan, add enough sauce to cover the bottom of the dish.  Start layering zucchini, followed by kale/ricotta, then sauce.  Repeat until you've reached the top of your baking dish or used up your zucchini/filling.  Bake, covered in foil, for 35min.  Remove foil, top with your desired amount of Parmesan cheese and broil 5-10min, until cheese has melted nicely and its bubbling around the edges.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10min before trying to cut.  Top with fresh basil when serving!

How do you like your lasagna?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sweet Corn Ice Cream (CSA Week 6)

When I picked up this week's share, I was pretty excited, and if you look closely, you'll see why...

The first early corn!!!  I mean, I love everything from the fresh peas and kale down to the cucumber and squash, but corn is special.  :)

Call me crazy, but I've wanted to make corn ice cream for well over a year now, so I decided I would do it before it got to be too late again.  There are many versions out there, but none of them seemed to fit exactly what I wanted to do so this is my version.

Sweet Corn Ice Cream
Yield ~2c

I opted to leave the corn in the ice cream to give it some texture, but it becomes a little chewy and is not something everyone will enjoy.  If you're not sure, I'd strain the mixture and top it with some corn kernals if you'd like.  Or perhaps some caramel sauce...  caramel corn ice cream?

2 ears of corn
1 can lite coconut milk
1/3c evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean
pinch of sea salt
1/4c milk (I used almond milk)
1T arrowroot

Cut the corn kernals from both ears of corn and add the kernals (I got 1 1/2c) and cob to a medium saucepan.  Add sugar, vanilla bean and pour in coconut milk.  Turn heat to medium low and cook to boiling, stirring occasionally to make sure the sugar dissolves.  Turn off heat and let the cobs steep for awhile, ~1hr or so.

Remove the cobs and transfer mixture to a blender.  Add a pinch of sea salt and blend well.  Strain, if desired, to remove corn pieces and store in an airtight container in the fridge until mixture is well chilled.

Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

I might just have to put corn in some more desserts this summer ;)  But first I'll indulge straight off the cob!!

Have you ever tried corn ice cream, or any other crazy dish with corn??

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Vegetable Crazy

The thing about having a CSA is that you get a lot of veggies.  Every week.  And while I like to come up with creative things to do or try out recipes that have been on my list for awhile, sometimes time and motivation are lacking.

Enter:  the stir fry.  Or is it just simply sauteed vegetables?  I don't know the difference.  Coming back from a weekend out of town I had 3 peppers, onions, corn,  CSA zucchini and swiss chard.  After chopping everything up, dinner came together in a snap.  Heat up some oil in a large pan/wok, add veggies based on their cooking time (peppers and onions first, then zucchini, then swiss chard, garlic and corn), some herbs/seasonings (this time there was white pepper, thyme, and fresh basil), and cannellini beans for some staying power and dinner's on the table! Delicious, full of flavor, and even pretty to look at ;)

Another one of my favorite things to do with vegetables is to roast them.  (No surprise there!)  This time I roasted carrots, zucchini and summer squash from my CSA with onions, eggplant, and green pepper.  While those were in the oven I cooked up some wheat berries.  When the veggies and wheat berries were done, I tossed those with some pecorino toscano and enjoyed it for lunch!

The bottom line is that you can use whatever you hand in order to create a delicious, nutritious meal!  Any myriad of vegetables will work in either preparation, can be combined with your favorite grain, vary up the protein you use, and try different cheeses!   The possibilities are endless :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Potato Green Bean Salad (CSA Week 5)

Another week and what, are those peas?!?  And green beans!?!  (And carrots and spinach and chard oh my).  Week 5 of Marshalls Fenway Farm CSA certainly did not disappoint!

All the spinach I've been getting (and the humidity) has driven quite the smoothie kick, so you won't likely see it in any recipes soon.  If you haven't tried it yet, you must.  Start with a small handful in your favorite blend and you won't taste it, promise (right Kerstin?)!  This one contained almond milk, protein powder, cucumber (peeled), spinach, 1/2 frozen banana and some strawberries if I remember correctly.  Delish :)

Green Smoothie, glass from Lancaster Brewing Co

I've never been a fan of potato salad, in fact I've probably mentioned it before.  But when Rebecca made Deb's Potato Arugula Salad over the 4th of July, it was a big hit.  Filled with lots of green veggies and tossed with a light dressing, this was anything but your traditional potato salad.

purple potatoes make me smile :)

When I saw the green beans and peas in my CSA, the salad came immediately into mind, except with a few different twists.  More vegetables came to the party, and a little protein was added to make it more of a meal.  This is a perfect light lunch or dinner for the summer, perhaps bring it to the beach or park for a picnic!  It was also delicious over the course of the next few days, so don't hesitate to make it ahead of time.

Potato Green Bean Salad
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 4 (as a main dish salad)

1lb fresh peas, shelled (~1c peas, could also use frozen)
1lb green beans, trimmed and cut into ~1" pieces
1 1/2lbs fingerling potatoes, sliced into ~1/2" rounds
1lb chicken breasts, poached  and cut into bite-size pieces (tofu would work well here too)
5oz arugula
2oz walnuts, lightly toasted
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3T mild vinegar (I used champagne vinegar)
3T greek yogurt
1 1/2t dijon mustard
3/4t coarse salt
3T extra virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  While that's heating up, prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.  Add a pinch of salt and the green beans to the boiling water.  Cook for 2-3min, then add the shelled peas and cook another minute more.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans and peas to the ice bath.

Add potatoes to the boiling water and cook for ~10min, until the rounds are fork tender and not falling apart.  Pour potatoes into a colander to drain, as well as the beans and peas.  Set aside.

In a very large bowl (or better yet, split it into two bowls so you don't spill everything onto your counter), add arugula, potatoes, beans, peas and chicken.  Season with 1/2t salt and 1/4t pepper and toss to combine.

For the dressing, whisk together vinegar, yogurt, dijon and salt.  Continue whisking as you add the oil, then drizzle over salad.  Toss salad again and serve!  Or transfer to containers to store in the fridge until you're leaving for the beach/park/work :)

Do you have a go-to summer salad? 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Squash & Potato Gratin (CSA Week 4)

Let's pretend that I'm on top of things and these were the veggies I got from Marshall's Fenway Farm CSA last week, k?  ;)    

And while we're at it, let's pretend that you see summer squash in the above photo, because the recipe I'm sharing today is one for a summer squash and potato gratin.  It was CSA squash that I used, so I'm calling it good :)

This recipe is so simple, I didn't expect much of it.  But perhaps that is why it tasted so amazing.  I'm certainly glad I didn't pass it over, and I urge you not too, either.  Especially if you're starting to get a bounty of summer squash right now!!  It's a perfect summer side dish, and even reheats well!

Summer Squash & Potato Gratin
slightly adapted from The Kitch'n

2 med summer squash
3-4 sm-med red potatoes
1/2 onion
1 lg garlic clove, minced
3T olive oil (I eye-balled this amount)
4oz goat cheese
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1/4c milk (I used almond milk)
1/3c freshly grated Parmesan
fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400deg.

Thinly slice the summer squash, potatoes and onion using a mandoline or chef's knife.  You're aiming for ~1/8" or less.  Add these vegetables to a large bowl with the minced garlic.  Toss with olive oil.

Spray an 8" square baking dish with nonstick spray.  Spread ~1/3 of the vegetables in the baking dish, then season with salt and pepper.  Crumble half the goat cheese over the vegetables.  Repeat with 1/3 of the vegetables, seasoning and goat cheese.  Top off with the last of the vegetables and season with salt and pepper.

Pour milk over the dish and then top with parmesan.  Cover with foil and bake for 30min.  Uncover, than bake 15-20min more, until the top browns.  Sprinkle with thinly sliced basil before serving (use as much or as little as you'd like, we definitely preferred more than the 1T suggested!).

If you're looking for other summer squash recipes, here are some that I remember fondly :)

Summer Squash & Basil Cornbread
Summer Squash Soup
Sauteed Squash
Summer Squash Cupcakes
Summer Squash & Onions in Brown Sugar (I never posted this, but it was delicious!)

Any other ideas for delicious summer squash??

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dessert Fries

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a coupon for a free Alexia Foods product awhile back.  I finally got around to picking up some Sweet Potato Fries and wanted to come up with something a little unique.  Some brainstorming about dessert fries, along with a bit of mascarpone left in my fridge and this was born...

Cinnamon Sugar Sweet Potato Fries with Cinnamon Mascarpone
Recipe by Shannon

2T mascarpone
1/8t cinnamon
2/3t grade B maple syrup
1 bag Alexia Sweet Potato Fries
2T butter, melted
2T sugar
1t cinnamon

Add cinnamon and maple syrup to mascarpone and stir until well combined.  This can be done ahead of time, simply refrigerate until using.

Preheat the oven to 400deg.  Cut open the bag of sweet potato fries and add butter, sugar and cinnamon.  Hold the bag close and toss until the fries have been well-coated.  Spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 20min, or until fries have crispy edges.

Transfer to a serving dish and top with mascarpone.  If you'd like, you can toss the mixture to allow the melting mascarpone to cascade over all the fries...

close up of the melting mascarpone

Fries for dessert are ok, right??

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tomato Strata

I thought this Savory Bread Pudding w/Tomatoes & Herbs from the NYTimes would be a killer recipe, crusty bread, ruby red tomatoes, copious amounts of fresh herbs, cheese, farm fresh eggs...

And it was good.  Except I've made another tomato strata, and I think I liked that one better.  Maybe it's the goat cheese.  Goat cheese has a way of always stealing my heart.

Either way, I'm posting this since It's delicious with fresh tomatoes!!  Whatever variation you choose, may I implore you to use goat cheese?  Thanks :)

Is there a single ingredient that can make (or break) a dish for you??

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Strawberry Lemonade Cocktails

Shula attempting her own version of cornhole
I don't know that the .75mi swimming, 66mi biking and 4.5mi of running I did compensated for all of the eating and drinking that happened this weekend.  But it was absolutely delicious, so I'm not complaining :)

Crazy Feta, Cilantro Lime White Bean Hummus and Strawberry Mango Salsa

We're talking things like chocolate chip cookie-stuffed cinnamon rollshomemade veggie burgers, no-bake smores bars with homemade marshmallows, chickpea salad sandwiches, crazy feta, cilantro lime white bean hummus, strawberry mango salsa, a zucchini ricotta galette, an arugula potato green bean salad, cherry pie and blueberry balsamic meatballs w/goat cheese to name a few.  And did I mention I didn't do a whole lot of cooking?  Rebecca did the heavy lifting this weekend with a little help here and there from the rest of us!

Rebecca and Mike with their cherry pie!

I was spoiled, no doubt about that!!  Hopefully my beverages provided some refreshment for those doing the hard work ;)  First up was Jessica's watermelon float, with a scoop of homemade vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream in a sea of watermelon mint soda.  Incredibly refreshing, and a great way to cool off after an afternoon of kayaking!!

Watermelon float

And then there was, dare I say it, the star of the two drinks I prepared...  a Strawberry Lemonade Cocktail.  It all started when I saw Dave's post about Strawberry Vodka.  Immediately I thought of the Absolut Wild Tea in my pantry and knew it'd be amazing.  I was right.  Perfect on its own, in ginger ale, or homemade strawberry meyer lemon juice.

Oh yes, I made some strawberry meyer lemonade to go along with the infused vodka.  I must have had some foresight when freezing down extra juice during my meyer lemon craze this year, because it created an amazing lemonade and probably one of the best drinks I've ever had.  No joke.  Dangerous, too, if you know what I mean ;) 

Srawberry Lemonade Cocktail

Strawberry Meyer Lemonade
Recipe by Shannon

A great summer drink in its own right, this is a great addition to strawberry infused vodka!  Regular lemon juice could be used as well, just taste as you might want to add more sugar.

1/3c evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
1c water
1c meyer lemon juice (fresh or frozen, thawed)
1lb strawberries, washed and hulled
16oz seltzer

Prepare the simple syrup by combining water and sugar in a small saucepan and cooking over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and let cool.  This can be done ahead, simply refrigerate until using.

Blend strawberries and then pour through a fine mesh sieve (I used a hand held strainer) to remove the solids/seeds.  Mix with simple syrup, lemon juice and seltzer, then serve!

Edited to add:  This is also delicious when made with a basil simple syrup.  Simply add a bunch of basil leaves after bringing the simple syrup to a boil.  Let steep for 15-30min and then strain out basil!

How was everyone's 4th of July?  Any delicious eats you'd care to share??

Saturday, July 2, 2011

CSA Week 3

Another week, another round of awesome produce thanks to Marshall's Fenway CSA!  I wish I could say that I did something fun with the strawberries, but again I wound up simply savoring every bite :)  The asparagus also just got simply roasted with some extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and thoroughly enjoyed!

With all the broccoli last week, I made Melissa Clark's Roasted Broccoli with Shrimp.  I'm pretty sure this was a recipe I found thanks to Rose-Anne, but I couldn't find where she mentioned it, so thanks hun!  Loved the lemon zest, coriander and cumin used to spice up a pretty simple dish.

Next up were the beets and carrots...  and kale ;)  Since the oven was already on, I couldn't resist throwing in my beets and carrots for a good roasting.  They ended up on another delicious massaged kale salad!

Massaged Kale Salad w/Roasted Carrots & Beets
Serves 2-4

I included amounts here only as a rough guideline, feel free to add as few or many veggies as you'd like, or change up the toppings!

2 small bunches of carrots
1 bunch of beets (3 good size)
2 medium bunches of kale
2 ripe avocados
coarse sea salt
3-4T lemon juice
2-4oz goat cheese
Sunflower seeds (or other nut/seed of your choice)

Preheat oven to 400deg.  Wash carrots and cut into chunks on the bias.  Add carrots to a medium bowl and toss with 1-2T (melted) coconut oil, salt and pepper.  Wash and trim off beet tops (save them to use for sauteed greens or another recipe coming soon!).  Wrap beets in aluminum foil.  Spread carrots on baking sheet and add package of beets.  Place baking sheet in the oven and bake until nice and roasted.  The beets will take a bit longer if they're large, to test simply pierce with a fork- if the fork slides in and out easily, they're done!  Remove from the oven and set aside.  Once the beets have cooled a bit, peel and chop into bite-size pieces.

While the veggies are roasting, wash the kale (I do this in a large bowl of water to make sure to get the grit from the leaves) and tear into a large bowl.  Add the flesh of the avocados (I usually roughly dice into the bowl), a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and lemon juice.  Rub around with your hands, trying to coat all of the kale with the creamy avocado flesh.  Set aside.

To assemble the salads, plate massaged kale, then top with roasted beets and carrots.  I finished mine off with crumbled goat cheese and sunflower seeds, but feel free to use whatever combination of cheese and nuts or seeds that you'd like!

I still had plenty of roasted beets after this, and wound up doing something a little crazy...  a roasted beet smoothie!  Different, but still pretty tasty ;)  Not to mention gorgeous- something that color must be good for you, right?

Roasted Beet Smoothie

1c almond milk
vanilla protein powder (optional)
1/2-1c roughly chopped roasted beets
1 frozen banana

Place ingredients in high speed blender in order listed and blend away until smooth!

Craziest thing you've ever thrown in a smoothie?

Hope everyone's weekend is off to a fabulous start!
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