Monthly Archives: August 2011

Zesty Pasta Sauce

I’m a reader.  I’m a gardener.  I work at keeping my carbon footprint as small as possible.  My BFF Becky knows me really well, and a few years ago recommended the perfect book: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  It’s a memoir of the year she and her family lived as locovores–written in Kingsolver’s characteristic style with all sorts of compelling essays on the whys of eating locally.  I keep this book with my cookbooks in the kitchen, so the recipe for this pasta sauce is at the ready when I need it. 

How satisfying to have some of your summer saved in beautiful jars!  How spectacular to have the flavor of summer on your pasta on a cold, grey winter’s day!

This is quite a project–totally do-able–but time consuming.  Set aside a day, make yourself as much working space as possible, and gather up a rather imposing (But really do-able!  Really!) bunch of ingredients.  I’ll give the amounts of each from the book; you may need to adjust amounts according to how much tomato puree you end up with–more on that later!  The best plan is to wait until you have LOTS of tomatoes and make a bunch of sauce all at once.  I freeze tomatoes while I accumulate them.

NOTE: You MUST stick closely to the recipe if you’re canning for proper pH. If you’re freezing the sauce, feel free to add fresh veggies.

This recipe will make 6-8 qts–any combination of quart or pint jars or freezer boxes.

  • 10 qts tomato puree ( I use all sorts of tomatoes.  Paste tomatoes, like romas, thicken the sauce faster.)
  • 4 large onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup dried basil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 TBSP dried oregano
  • 3 TBSP salt
  • 2 TBSP ground, dried lemon peel
  • 2 TBSP thyme
  • 2 TBSP garlic powder (or more, to taste)
  • 2 TBSP dried parsley
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Start with blanching the tomatoes to make them easier to peel.  Cook briefly in boiling water–just until peels start to loosen, about 1-2 minutes.  I use a blancher–a double pot with a strainer that lifts out.

As soon as peels show evidence of cracks/loosening, dump them into an ice bath to stop the cooking.  I fill my (very clean) sink with cold water and ice.

Peel and chunk the tomatoes. 

I set up my processor next to the sink, with a bowl to place the chunked tomatoes in and a measuring bowl to measure the puree.  An apron is recommended–tomatoes squirt and splash as you peel them and pour the puree from the processor to the measuring bowl to the cooking pot.

Place chunked tomatoes in the processor and puree to a fairly consistant smoothness, but not liquified.  Pour puree into the measuring bowl, keep track of how much puree you have as you go along, pouring into a large stainless steel or enamel stock pot.

When all tomatoes are pureed, figure your total amount of puree and adjust the rest of the ingredients in the recipe accordingly.  For example, if you end up with 5 quarts of puree, cut all amounts in half.

Peel and chop the onions and sweat/soften them in a pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Add a small amount of water if needed, but NO OIL if you are canning! 

While onions are softening, measure out the rest of the ingredients and add to the puree.

Add onions to the mix when they are soft.

Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for two to three hours until sauce has thickened to your liking.  (Your kitchen will smell amazing!) Stir frequently, especially toward the end, to avoid burning.  Meanwhile, heat water in a canner, wash jars and rings or sterlize in a dishwasher.  Rinse jars and rings well and hold in hot water.  Boil lids and hold at a simmer.

Fill jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

IMPORTANT–NOT OPTIONAL: Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice OR 1/2 tsp citric acid (Fruit Fresh) to EACH quart jar. (Half as much per pint.)  This ensures that the sauce will be safely acidic.

Wipe rims, place lids and adjust rings.

When all jars are filled, lower them into the boiling water of a canner.  Most canners hold up to 7 jars at a time.

 

Process (boil) quarts for 35 minutes, pints for 25 minutes with the lid on the canner.  Start the time when the water starts to boil again after placing jars.

Carefully remove jars with a jar lifter and let cool.  Listen for the metallic “thunk” indicating the jars are sealing.  The lids will be concave when sealed.  Label with whatever you decide to call your sauce, along with the date you canned it.  (The sauce will keep for a year in normal house temperatures–not that it will last that long!)  Have fun!  Be creative!  BFF Becky calls hers “Romalicious.”  🙂

There ya go!  You just made the yummiest pasta sauce ever!  Use it on pasta (duh!), or as a pizza sauce, a sauce to jazz up a meat loaf, a sandwich spread, or most any time a recipe calls for tomatoes!  Mmmm!  Yummy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under Books, Canning and preserving, comfort food, Garden produce, recipe

Zucchini-Ricotta Fritters

Zucchini.  I love it–the plants are lush, the flowers beautiful, they create a LOT of food for my family for a very small investment.  Did I mention a LOT?  One of the joys of growing zucchini is the continual search for another way to prepare it.  The August 2011 Food and Wine and Mario Batali provided this easy-peasy and fast zucchini solution.

I’ve made zucchini fritters before I found this recipe, and they were pretty good.  And then I made them from this recipe and they were uh-maze-ing!  The magic?  Ricotta and lemon zest.  Oh, yeah.  So fresh!  So citrusy!  So yummy!!!

This recipe is MOSTLY zucchini!  It calls for 2 medium, but I had captured 3 while they were small that day…

  • 2 medium (or 3 small) zucchini
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 large scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • olive oil for frying
  • lemon wedges for serving

In a large bowl, combine zucchini, scallions, garlic, ricotta, eggs, lemon zest, and salt and pepper. 

Stir to combine and add flour.  Stir until just incorporated.

Line a large baking sheet with paper towels.  In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of olive oil until shimmering.  Working in batches, add 2-tablespoon mounds of the zucchini batter to the hot oil, spreading them to form 3-inch puddles.

Fry over medium-high heat, turning once until browned and crisp, about 3 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.

Serve right away, with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Yum-yum-yummy!  Perfect with pasta, or with a fresh tomato slice, or the next morning, reheated, with an over-easy egg and a bit of cheese on top!  Zucchini–it’s what’s for breakfast!  🙂  Food and Wine suggests a wine pairing of a citrusy, spritsy, Spanish white.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under breakfast, dinner, Garden produce, lunch, recipe, side dish, Vegetarian

Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Gluten-Free Carrot-Zucchini Mini-Muffins

What a long title!  It took me all the way to Sunday to write it and THAT’S why this post is a day late….yeah…it has nothing to do with eating take-out from one of our favorite Mexican Restaurants, feeling stuffed and sleepy, and going to bed.  I know I should have stayed up late and blogged for you my dear readers but, y’know, life happens!  : )

Today we were invited to some friends’ for coffee on the patio and I decided to make somethin’ yummy, breakfast-y and gluten-free  (one of the friends is gluten-intolerant).  I also found a few more zucchini in the garden–what a surprise!  This recipe was on Food Network yesterday and it caught my attention because of the zucchini plus the added bonus of being gluten-free.

Check out how cute these little muffins are:

The grape seed oil, almond flour and brown rice flour can be found at natural groceries or at larger groceries in the baking aisle.

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup grape seed oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 grated (small) zucchini (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
  • 1 grated carrot (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, diced (the original recipe called for raisins)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 36 mini-muffins with paper liners. (The muffins are very difficult to remove from the pans if you don’t use liners!)

Mix almond flour, rice flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon together.

Whisk together maple syrup, oil and egg.

Add grated carrot and zucchini to the wet ingredients.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet.

Stir the apricots in until evenly distributed through the batter.

Use a small, 1-TBSP scoop to place batter in the 36 lined mini-muffins.  Bake for 15-18 minutes–until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out with just a couple moist crumbs attached.  The centers will be a bit flat or curved in.  Cool in pans on racks.

Frost with a cream cheese-honey frosting, sprinkle with powdered sugar, or leave them plain, like I did. 

Light, moist, perfect little bites of good-for-you yumminess. They are a bit on the delicate side, and were a bit difficult to get out of the liners all in one piece.  I’ll do a bit more research on gluten-free baking to see if I can find an ingredient to fix that–xanthan gum maybe?  It ought to be yummy experimenting!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under breakfast, dessert, Garden produce, Gluten-free, recipe

Zucchini Salad

Yup.  Another zucchini recipe.  If you garden and plant this very productive squash you’re probably thankful for another way to use it, possibly even excited!  If you don’t garden you might not understand the excitement, but you will love, love, love this salad: 

My favorite food blog (besides this one!) is A Full Measure of Happiness, written by a fabulous chica with food tastes very similar to my own.  ( I highly recommend you visit and subscribe!)  She posted this recipe for Grilled Zucchini Ribbon Salad and I knew I had to try it.  Being out of propane for the grill, I tweaked it a bit to make it work for the moment, but I think the ribbons are so beautiful, I plan to make it that way soon!  Mine turned out rather pretty and was uber-yummy!

  • 1 zucchini and 1 yellow squash (or 2 zucchini), cut into quarter moons
  • handful of parsley, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped and toasted (Lauren used walnuts.  I think pine nuts would be yummy as well!)
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp grated parmesan cheese
  • sprinkle of garlic powder (or 1/2 clove, minced)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Toast the pecans in a dry skillet, stirring occasionally, until you start to smell them.  Remove from heat and set aside for the moment.

Saute squash in half of the olive oil until tender and browned just a bit.

Add the rest of the olive oil and lemon juice, stir to coat, and place in a bowl.

Add garlic, red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. Toss together.

Add parsley and pecans.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Toss together to evenly distribute all ingredients.  Look at the pretty salad you just created!

Serve as a side dish or as a luncheon salad.  It is equally delicious warm, room temperature or cold, and is now one of my favorite ways to eat zucchini!  Yummy!  I used a couple small to medium sized squash, but you could make use of the big ones that get away from you if you seed them first. 

The leftovers held their texture well, so I’m thinking this would be an excellent potluck, picnic or camping cook-out sort of salad!  Yup, I could see sitting around the campfire enjoying a nice serving along with a glass of crisp and cold white wine….how ’bout you?!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Garden produce, Potluck, recipe, salad, side dish, Vegetarian

Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Chocolate Zucchini Cake

What does a zucchini dream of as it lays under a green canopy of leaves, evading your notice as it grows to gargantuan proportions?  It wants to be loved, of course.  It wants to be made into somethin’ yummy!  What could be more yummy than a tender, moist, chocolatey cupcake?

This recipe came from my dear friend, Jan, or as we like to call her, Jan-Bob.  It is a very popular recipe during the time of year when moby-zucchinis lurk in every garden.  You can use any size zucchini, but if it is very large, you may want to seed it first.

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 4 TBSP cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour milk (or 1/2 cup milk with 1/2 tsp lemon juice)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 bag chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour a 9×13 cake pan or bundt pan, or line 24 cupcakes or 5 dozen mini-cupcakes.

Cream together sugar, butter, oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla until combined.

Add flour, cocoa, soda and salt.  Beat 2 minutes.

Stir in grated zucchini and chocolate chips.

Pour into pan or divide between 24 cupcakes.

Bake 45-50 minutes for 9×13, 1 hour and 30 minutes for a bundt, 25 minutes for cupcakes, 15 minutes for mini-cupcakes.  Or until center springs back when touched and a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.

Cool in pan(s) on rack(s).  (Cool bundt until pan can be handled with bare hands.  Remove from pan and cool completely on rack.)  This cake is so rich it doesn’t need frosting.  If you want, a light dusting of powdered sugar can pretty it up.  The chocolate chips stay sort of melty if stored at room temperature.

I like to make cupcakes, because they are so nicely portioned and more portable than a slice of cake.  It’s one of the yummier ways to eat zucchini–not exactly a health food, but more healthy than just plain cake.  I’m not sure how long it will keep, and I’ve never frozen it (but I think it would freeze nicely), because it never lasts long around here!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under dessert, Garden produce, recipe

Garden-Fresh Ratatouille

I had never had ratatouille before this summer; knew there was an animated movie about a rat gourmet and that’s about it.  I came across a recipe in my newest cookbook, Gluten-Free and Easy.  How fabulous to find all the ingredients for ratatouille right in my very own garden!  What could I do?  I had to try this yummy-yummy recipe.

  • 1 large onion, finely sliced (My onions are still a bit small, so I pulled 7 smallish ones.)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 large eggplant, about 1 pound, chopped (I’m growing a lovely heirloom striped variety called Italian Bicolor.)
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, seeded and diced (this is a Big Bertha Bell)
  • 2 baby yellow squash, chopped
  • 2 1/4 pounds ripe plum (roma) tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine (REALLY makes all the difference in the flavor!!!)
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf (I bought a sweet bay plant from the greenhouse this year, so I have fresh bay!  Woot!)
  • 2 TBSP chopped basil
  • 1 TBSP chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • good grind of black pepper

(Wow does this use a bunch of my garden produce!  Yay!)

Cut a small x in the bottoms of each tomato (helps the peel to separate), blanch in boiling water for a couple minutes, shock in ice water, cut off stem end, peel and chop.

In a large saucepan or skillet over medium heat, saute the onion in olive oil until soft.

Add the garlic, eggplant and coriander and cook, stirring for 5 minutes.

Add zucchini, green pepper and yellow squash.  Cook for another few minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, wine, tomato paste, thyme (the leaves will cook off the stems, which can be removed later), and bay leaf.  Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes until vegetables are tender.

(Now we’re smellin’ yummy!)  Stir in basil and parsley.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with your choice of starch.  The recipe suggests a baked polenta or mashed sweet potatoes with pumpkin.  I had some pasta.

So good warm with a bit of parmesan!  It was also yummy cold the next day for lunch, with a bit of basil pesto.  The eggplant provides a sort of meatiness that makes this vegetarian meal (or side dish) satisfying to the meat-lovers in your house.  The flavor from the wine melds with the veggies to create a yumminess that is more than the veggies would be on their own.  And, with all of those freshly picked veggies?  Gotta be good for you.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

2 Comments

Filed under comfort food, dinner, Garden produce, recipe, side dish, Vegetarian, wine

Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Zucchini Bread

Note:  I started this post yesterday–Saturday–evening.  While typing I received an invitation to take a moonlight hike.  The moon was full last night, so what could I do, dear reader?  I went hiking.  We now bring you the belated Saturday post, in its entirety…..

So. You planted zucchini this year.  Or your neighbor has zucchini plants.  Or you left your car open, came back to it, and found a giant zucchini sitting on the driver’s seat.  Sound familiar?  I ALWAYS plant way too much zucchini, in fear of squash bugs finishing off my entire harvest if I plant just one.  Right now I have 8 zucchini in a basket on my counter and who knows how many still lurking in the garden.  I’m always looking for something to do with my giant green treasures.

Here’s one yummy, easy-peasy solution to the ever-productive zucchini–a family fav, hot or cold–zucchini bread!  You too can turn your zucchini riches into yummy, spicy, warm with butter melting on it, sweet but not too sweet, zucchini bread:

Mmmm-mmm-mmm!  I usually have everything I need right in the fridge and pantry; I bet you do too!  This recipe comes from The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marion Morash.

(First of all, please notice the unbelievably cute flower-shaped measuring spoons–a birthday gift from a friend!  Love them!!!)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups lightly packed coarsely grated zucchini (leave the skin on)
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional) I like to use walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease 2 9×5 loaf pans.

Sift dry ingredients together. 

 

Beat eggs with the sugar, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl.

Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Use a mixer, whisk, or spoon.

Mix in grated zucchini.

Stir in nuts if desired.  (Notice how the zucchini created a more batter-like consistancy.)

Divide batter between the 2 greased loaf pans.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until toothpick inserted near the center comes out with only a couple moist crumbs.  Cool in pans until you can handle them with your hands, remove from pans to cool completely before you wrap them for refrigerator or freezer storage. 

Go ahead and slice while still warm–you’ve been smelling that spicy yumminess for a while now and deserve a slice while it’s still warm!

See?  Super quick and easy to make, plus it will use up an entire zucchini…or at least part of a giant one!  This bread freezes well, in a freezer ziploc, waiting to be thawed and rewarmed on a cold winter day.  Makes an excellent holiday or hostess gift as well!  (Much more welcome than leaving your excess zucchinis on the neighbor’s porch!)  Yummy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1 Comment

Filed under comfort food, Garden produce, recipe