Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Back from a long break, and full of zucchini!

Whew. It's been a LONG time since I posted. Sarah's been cooking up a storm and really keeping Ballerina Breath together. Thank goodness! I spent 6 weeks traveling and upon my return jumped into graduate school, so life has been a bit hectic. I'm cooking a fair amount again, but just haven't gotten around to putting up any posts, so here goes my concerted effort to post regularly again! I spent 2 weeks in Costa Rica at a sea turtle conservation project and hopefully I will put up a nice long post about that wonderful experience, until then, here's to hoping your garden is overflowing with zucchini and you're looking for new recipes!

After my two weeks in Costa Rica I returned home to Maine for a few weeks. My Dad's friend has zucchini taking over her garden so she has become quite inventive and I was lucky enough to taste her delightful discoveries. Upon returning to Seattle, I learned that my friend also had a garden that was being taken over by zucchini, so I took two 15" zucchinis off her hands. That's right, you heard me. They were HUGE.  The two recipes I wanted to try to remake were a cold zucchini salad and a warm, creamy zucchini soup.  They both are nice in that there's just a hint of obvious zucchini flavor, so if you're feeling overwhelmed by zucchini, this is a nice subtle use of the vegetable.

Cold Zucchini Salad

For the Dressing: 
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Directions: Combine the dressing ingredients and whisk well. Rinse the zucchini (2-3 small or 1-2 standard) and use a mandolin or vegetable peeler (or sharp knife and patience) to slice/shave it into thin strips. Chop 1/2 cup of fresh basil and add to the zucchini strips.  Lightly toast 1/4 cup of pine nuts or pumpkin seeds in a skillet on the stove and add to the zucchini. Pour the dressing over the salad and sprinkle shaved Parmesan or Romano cheese to taste. 

Serve with a side dish of Parmesan for people to add as they wish, and enjoy!

Warm, Creamy Zucchini Soup Serves 4-5 as an appetizer, 2-3 as an entrĂ©e.

This soup is SUPER easy, delicious and quite healthy for you (yeah there's cream, but not much!). I hope you like it as much as I do!

Ingredients: 8 cups of cubed zucchini, with seeds removed, 4 cups chicken broth, 1/3 cup of cream, dash of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 cup shaved or grated Parmesan.

Directions: Add the zucchini and chicken broth to a stock pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until zucchini is nice and soft. If you like, add a bay leaf to the broth while it simmers. Pour out one cup of liquid and reserve to add as you wish later. If you used a bay leaf, remove it. Use an immersion blender to puree the zucchini to the texture of your liking (I like it really smooth), let it cool just a bit, and add the cream, nutmeg, salt, pepper and cheese. Stir well and taste.  Add some of the reserved liquid if it is too thick, or more nutmeg, salt or pepper to your liking. Serve warm, with a dollop of plain yogurt on top. Enjoy!

Thanks Sarah R, for such delicious meals and your wonderful recipes!

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