Tag Archives: vegetables

Summer Squash Fritters

9 Jul

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Holy smokes, I’ve fallen head over heels for fritters!

Maybe the fact that the word “fritter” implies fried, I have steered clear of anything fritter-related in my kitchen. Until NOW.

…and I’ve had my share of deep fried apple fritter mania in the past (Gosh, I was so young here. This was an event at the restaurant I used to work at where I had to make tons of apple fritters, I was scooping batter out of buckets!).

pizzaiolo fritters

I shall steer clear no more…these Summer Squash Fritters are lightly pan-fried on a cast-iron skillet, and they totally bust my fears of frittering at home. They are like potato latkes, but a bit healthier and more colorful.

I’ve been making so many quick pasta dinners and taco/quesadilla/migas dinners these days, and tonight I was looking to do something out of my usual throw-together repertoire. Alas, Deb from the Smitten Kitchen has saved dinner once again.

These lil guys hit the spot. With a fried egg on top and a shake or two of hot sauce, I was dancin’ in my dinner seat! You just can’t beat the golden brown crisp exterior of these fritters, oozing supple and sweet summer squash in every bite.

The summer squash are lookin’ mighty fine at the New York City farmer’s markets right now. Vibrant, plump, and simply aching to be eaten.

And if summer squash is not your thing, how about Broccoli Parmesan Fritters? (also in season right now in NYC). Deb has quite an extensive fritter library, so go check it out here if zucchini is not your thing.

These fritters would be an excellent for brunch, too.

Now go fight your fritter fears and experience the goodness.

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Summer Squash Fritters

adapted from The Smitten Kitchen 

I got about 6 fritters out of this batch (serves 2 people as a main dish)

1 large zucchini + 2 small and thin yellow summer squash

1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus extra to taste

2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese (I used a spicy chipotle cheddar. zing!)

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

olive oil or canola oil, for frying

Trim the ends off of the zucchini/summer squash and grate the squash on the large holes of a box grater.

Place a colander over a large bowl. Add the grated squash to the colander with 1 teaspoon of salt and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, press the squash against the holes of the colander and drain as much excess water as you can. You will probably get a lot of liquid out of the squash! This reduces the likelihood of soggy fritters.

Dump the liquid down the sink, rinse the large bowl, and add the pressed grated squash to the bowl. Stir in the garlic, lightly beaten egg, cheddar, and black pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder, then stir the mixture into the zucchini batter.

In a large heavy skillet (cast iron is indeed dreamy here), heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop small bunches (I used a 1/4 cup measure) of the zucchini mixture onto the skillet only a few at a time (I did 3 fritters at a time) so they don’t become crowded and lightly nudge them flatter with the back of your spatula. Cook the fritters over moderately high heat until the edges underneath are golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. If you find this happening too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. Flip the fritters and fry them on the other side until browned underneath again, about 2 to 3 minutes more (if you are making a bigger batch, you can keep finished fritters in a 200 degree F oven to stay warm).

Enjoy with a poached or fried egg on top and a few good shakes of hot sauce, so the yolk runs down and around the fritters (I wish I took a picture of this but I chose to shove the goodness in my face instead!).

**Deb says: These fritters keep well, either chilled in the fridge for the better part of a week and or frozen in a well-sealed package for months. When you’re ready to use them, simply spread them out on a tray in a 325 degree oven until they’re hot and crisp again.

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Cornbread Casserole (aka “Tamale Pie”)

14 Apr

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Casseroles. Not too much effort to prepare, and they can yield multiple servings. So great for feeding a crowd, or a smattering for many days.

Kind of like a smoothie (here me out…), a casserole can pack in a lot of healthy (or not so healthy…up to you) foods into a meal. We’ve got carbs (cornbread!), veggies, and protein (beans and/or meat and cheese) all in one. Some of my other favorite casseroles include: lasagna and matzo lasagna.

I fondly remember my college days, living in a co-op house with 60+ students, where this sort of cornbread topped casserole dish was in heavy rotation (along with “lentil loaf,” homemade pizza nights, and giant pasta-bakes…).

This type of meal is a great week night throw-together that I imagine would please a family with young kids or teenagers, too. Perfect on it’s own, or maybe with a light side salad.

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The best part about this type of casserole is that you really do not need a recipe except for maybe the cornbread topping. I just threw in a handful or this and that, with some dashes of “tex-mex” style spices. This was my “kitchen sink” casserole; a great way to use up the odds and ends laying around from the week.

My casserole had a thinnish layer of cornbread on top…but if you really love cornbread, you may want to double the proportions for the recipe below. Or feel free to whip up your favorite cornbread recipe and just plop it on top of the veggie mixture before baking.

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Cornbread Casserole (aka “Tamale Pie”)

loosely adapted from NYTimes

bakes up in a 3-qt casserole dish

Filling:

1 onion, chopped

2-4 different kinds of veggies, chopped (I used zucchini, mushrooms, spinach…)

optional: 2 pre-cooked chicken sausages, chopped (or ground beef/turkey)

about 2 cups of black beans (or pinto, or kidney, or black-eyed peas…)

1 cup of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes

spices: cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper (no need to measure, just add some dashes to taste)

optional: some chopped chili in adobo sauce (from the can)

Topping:

3/4 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

grated cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large skillet, heat some oil and add the onion, veggies, and sausage. Cook until the onions start to soften and everything starts turning slightly golden brown. Add the black beans, tomato sauce, and spices. Simmer for 5-10 minutes more. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish.

To make the corn bread: Whisk together the dry ingredients (corn meal/flour/sugar/baking powder/salt) in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and vegetable oil. Add the wet to the dry. Loosely cover the veggie mixture with the corn bread topping. The topping may disappear slightly into the veggie mixture but will rise during baking and form a layer of corn bread. Optional: add some grated cheese on top before or mid-way through baking. Bake until the corn bread is brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Pumpkin Ravioli with a Creamy Sauce

5 Dec

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I keep bumping into an acquaintance of mine at the Sunday farmer’s market. We happen to shop there at the same time, and we give each other recommendations—which vendor are you buying your eggs from this week, check out that heaping mound of Brussels sprouts, those mushrooms look amazing, have you tried the fresh pumpkin ravioli from Knoll Krest Farms?!

Dan Barber, executive chef and co-owner of Blue Hill restaurant, says that chefs (I will extend this to the greater population of home cooks/eaters) are “curators of what’s truly delicious; we’re driven by pleasure. The sustainable food movement is about hedonism…be greedy for great food when you know that it was grown in the right way” (“Dan Barber’s Culinary Crusade,” The Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2012). I get such a thrill exchanging recipe ideas and seeing what people buy at the market. This may sound silly, but even making small-talk with other shoppers and vendors makes my day brighter.

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I gave into my craving for pumpkin ravioli a la my friend’s recommendation, and tossed it with an almost vegan “cream” sauce and some spinach. Next to a pile of roasted parsnips and delicata squash, this was tonight’s idea of a perfect meal.

**Note that the ravioli is not vegan. You could substitute with another pasta type to make this dish vegan. Also, I used cow’s milk to make my creamy sauce. To make the sauce vegan, use a non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice).

Pumpkin Ravioli With A Creamy Sauce

serves 4

sauce adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen (the sauce for the “straw and hay” pasta)

2-dozen (24 pieces) fresh ravioli (I used pumpkin ravioli)

a few handfuls of spinach

1 cup milk (I used low-fat milk)

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot

1 tablespoon tahini

1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon of salt, plus more to taste

optional: roasted squash seeds

Boil water, add salt, and cook the ravioli. Add the spinach to the water after the ravioli has been cooking for about a minute. Note that fresh ravioli should only take 3-5 minutes to cook. Drain and toss with the sauce. Top with roasted seeds.

To make the sauce: Combine the milk, water, cornstarch, tahini, soy sauce, garlic, onion powder, and salt in the blender and puree until smooth. Transfer the mix to a medium saucepan and let it cook over medium heat, whisking or stirring with a rubber spatula. Stir frequently, until the sauce thickens (about 5 to 10 minutes).

Stuffed Peppers With Quinoa, Feta & Summer Veggies

17 Jul

This weekend was filled with chicken sausages and potato salad.

This weekend was filled with a shared lunch at the Spotted Pig-the gargantuan burger with Roquefort cheese and shoestring fries, and the poached eggs with corned beef hash.

There was a cappuccino to be had at the new cafe around the corner from me, Kuro Kuma.

I wanted to squeeze in a meal at the new ramen joint nearby, Jin Ramen, but my belly just could not budge any further.

Sometimes you just have to sit back and indulge yourself. Hey, at least I was eating healthy breakfasts all weekend: I had oatmeal one day and a banana almond smoothie the next. With some plums and nectarines to fill in the gaps. So sweet and ripe, they tasted like honey!

I’m balancing things out today with loads of summer vegetables and a healthy bean and grain combo.

Holy smokes, people, do you know how good red bell peppers are for you?

Red bell peppers rank very high in Vitamin C content, with 140 mg of Vitamin C per 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper. That’s higher than orange juice (75mg per 3/4 cup), broccoli (50mg per 1/2 cup), and strawberries (50mg per 1/2 cup).

The red color in bell peppers comes from natural plant pigments in the carotenoid family (specifically lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin). Lycopene is a carotenoid and an antioxidant that helps the body reduce the risk for certain types of cancer, and heart disease, in addition to helping lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. It is also great for protecting the tissues in your body and strengthening your immune system.

I won’t get into any more technical terms, but red bell peppers and red tomatoes pack quite the punch. Not to mention how good zucchini and corn and onion are for you. And you can be sure that the ever touted holy grail of grains, quinoa, is a steal when it comes to your health.

Once upon a time I lived in a big cooperative-living house. 2 people would cook dinner five or six nights a week for the whole house (~60 people). Stuffed peppers was an ever popular dish that was guaranteed to please a hungry household. So versatile, you could fill these gems with any kind of grain/veg./protein combo and never get bored. I was drifting down memory lane tonight while enjoying my pepper, prepared my favorite way…

The feta cheese holds its shape nicely under the oven heat, but once you pop a cube in your mouth, it just melts on the tongue into salty savory bliss. And I love how the quinoa gets slightly crunchy on top after being in the oven. Ugh, so good.

Stuffed Peppers with quinoa, feta & summer veggies

adapted from SmittenKitchen

1 cup dry quinoa

bell peppers (I used 3 peppers, but still had some quinoa salad left over, which I was happy about)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 of a large onion, chopped

2 ears of corn, shaved off the cob

1-2 medium zucchini or summer squash

3 tablespoons tomato paste*** see note

1 cup halved cherry/grape tomatoes

1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

4 oz of feta, chopped

seasonings: salt, pepper, dry oregano (maybe 1/2 teaspoon), fresh basil (to taste)

1. Rinse the quinoa. Add the quinoa and 2 cups of water to a small pot or saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and let it go for about 12-15 minutes, until the quinoa is cooked (should be light and fluffy with all of the water absorbed). Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Halve the bell peppers and take out the seeds and membrane (I like to keep the green stem for aesthetics). Line a baking sheet with parchment and place the pepper halves face up on the sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the peppers start to soften slightly. Take the peppers out of the oven and let them sit while you prepare the filling.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion, corn, and zucchini. Cook for about 5-8 minutes until the veggies start to soften slightly. Add some seasonings (salt, pepper, herbs) to taste.

4. Turn off the heat and add the tomatoes, chickpeas, and tomato paste to the veggie mixture. Add 2 cups of cooked quinoa to the mix (save the remaining quinoa for another use i.e. muffins?!). Toss in the feta cheese.

5. Fill the pepper halves with heaping amounts of the quinoa mixture. It is ok to have some leftover mixture for nibbling on later in the week. Bake the filled peppers for another 15  minutes. Enjoy!

***Note: Don’t you just hate opening up a can of tomato paste only to use a mere few tablespoons worth? Me, too. A great tip from registered dietitian Jackie Newgent is to freeze leftover tomato paste (wrap it in a cylinder in saran) and slice it off as needed. Preventing waste in the kitchen. Love it!