Posts Tagged ‘zucchini’

Fresh Zucchini & Corn

Monday, June 14th, 2010

I love versatile recipes. Ones that can be used throughout the year – that are appropriate for gray, rainy days as well as warmer, sunny ones. For the past weeks, until just a few days ago, it’s been grim here in Seattle. Endlessly wet. What seemed like a record-breaking number of back-to-back rain-filled days. A warm, soothing casserole seemed in order, so I whipped up some Zucchini, Corn & Black Bean Enchiladas. And I was all ready to write about them this weekend when, lo and behold, the sun returned. Spring has arrived – just in time for summer. No complaints here – but it feels improper to be writing about steaming casseroles today. So I am thrilled that the recipe I was intending on sharing is so adaptable.

Zucchini and corn are coming into their prime. Though Seattlites really need to wait until July for the locally grown variety, both are becoming more abundant, and affordable, at the grocery store. And I always equate my first taste of sweet, fresh corn with the true beginning of summer. It’s tough to beat right off the cob, but I love incorporating it into salads and other dishes. And this recipe is no exception. The sweet, crisp burst of the kernels serve as a perfect complement to the soft, savory mouthful of the zucchini and black beans.  This is a recipe in which I would have to insist that fresh corn is used – frozen just won’t cut it I’m afraid.

Back to the versatility aspect. As I mentioned, the main filling can be used in a delicious casserole or individual enchiladas. But on days like today, when it seems a shame to turn on the oven, scooping the mixture into slightly warmed corn tortillas is an excellent alternative. Top it with a dusting of queso fresco, a few sprigs of fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime and you’ve got an amazingly tasty, and healthy, summertime soft taco.

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Zucchini, Corn & Black Bean Filling

 Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 medium zucchini, diced into small cubes
  • 2 large ears of corn
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 small can diced green chilies
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime

Instructions

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add diced onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and continue to cook for about 3 minutes – until soft. Add zucchini and sauté with onion and garlic for another 3-4 minutes. Add the cumin, chili powder, garlic salt and crushed red pepper. Continue to cook over low heat for approximately 5 minutes.

Add the black beans and diced green chilies and mix thoroughly.

Husk the corn and remove all the kernels by cutting down the sides of the cobs. Add the kernels to the zucchini and black bean mixture. Turn off heat and fold in the chopped cilantro and lime zest and juice. If there is a lot of liquid, continue to cook on low heat for about 5 minutes – allowing most of the liquid to evaporate.

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Enchilada Casserole

You can easily an enchilada casserole by using the Zucchini, Corn & Black Bean mixture above and following a few simple steps:

Ingredients

  • Zucchini, Corn & Black Bean mixture
  • 1 19-ounce can enchilada sauce
  • 10 medium corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

Instructions

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray the bottom of a 9×13 glass casserole pan with cooking spray. Spoon in about 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce and coat the bottom of the pan. Layer two whole tortillas and cut an additional tortilla and fit it in so the bottom of the pan is covered. Spoon 1/2 the Zucchini, Corn & Black Bean mixture over the tortillas. Drizzle another 1/2 cup of sauce over the top. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the cheese. Layer another two whole tortillas and cut an additional tortilla to fit in. Spoon over the remaining Mixture. Cover with remaining tortillas and pour remaining sauce over to cover well. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15-20 minutes, or until bubbling slightly.

Top with sour cream and fresh cilantro (if using).

Veggies for Breakfast

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

I was taught to appreciate the importance of a good breakfast. Thankfully I didn’t grow up dependent upon sugar-infused cereals – though I was jealous of friends who had Captain Crunch and Count Chocula as breakfast companions. Mom served heartier, healthier fare – oatmeal, eggs and the occasional treat of sourdough waffles with fresh strawberries (a personal favorite).

That said, there have been times when I ignored all the messages we hear about eating a healthy breakfast. I shudder to think of the things I ate in the early mornings during my “I don’t care what I’m putting into my body – I just want it to taste good” years. A large latte paired with a pumpkin scone drizzled with pure sugar icing was standard fare. Close to zero nutritional value and a starch-infused whollop of countless calories that had my energy flagging by mid-morning. Granted, I still enjoy an indulgent brunch of gooey cinnamon rolls or steaming pancakes from time to time. But these days – especially during the work week – I try to navigate to something that will keep my motor running.

Two personal favorites of late …. muffins scattered with bright orange shards of sweet potato and green specks of zucchini and individual frittatas packed with healthy spinach and flavorful leeks. It’s not as hard as you might think to sneak in some extra vegetables and a hit of protein first thing in the morning. I’m a huge fan of preparing meals in advance and if they’re portable – all the better. So I want to take this opportunity to thank whoever invented the muffin tin. Because these two breakfast items I am alluding to can both be prepared in this ingenious kitchen apparatus. I give you Zucchini & Sweet Potato Muffins and Spinach & Mushroom Mini Frittatas.

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 Zucchini & Sweet Potato Muffins 

I stumbled upon a version of this recipe on Epicurious. Thanks to all the kind folks who leave comments about their personal experiences with posted recipes, I was able to develop a beautifully moist muffin chock full of healthy walnuts, nutrient-rich sweet potatoes and vitamin-packed zucchini. And this time around, my improvisation and substitutions paid off – adding whole wheat flour, replacing the majority of oil with apple sauce, cutting the sugar by half. You can elevate the flavor even more with the addition of  ½ cup of dark chocolate chips. Chocolate is made from plants after all, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables (i.e. lowering blood pressure and cholesterol).

Yields: 12 (large) muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup walnut or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet potato
  • 1 cup walnuts

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grate zucchini and peel and grate sweet potato. Chop walnuts.

Spray muffin tins with cooking spray and lightly flour.

Sift or mix first 7 ingredients into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat (or hand mix) sugar, oil, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla. Fold in zucchini and sweet potato. Add dry ingredients and walnuts and stir well.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins – filling twelve. Bake ~25 minutes. Allow to cool in tins for 10 minutes, then use a knife to cut around each muffin and remove. Let cool on baking rack another 15 minutes.

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Spinach & Mushroom Mini Frittatas

These diminutive treats pack a healthy serving of vegetables and protein and there is no end to the kinds of fresh produce that can be used. You can also jazz them up by tossing in some fresh herbs (or dried if that’s what you have on hand). Rosemary, thyme and/or oregano are all delightful additions. I have even made these without cheese for an especially healthy version and they were still satisfyingly delicious.

Yields: 1 Dozen

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 large bunch fresh spinach
  • 2 cups mushrooms (Cremini, button, whichever you prefer)
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 1/2 small yellow onion or a few shallots
  • 3/4 cup cheese (any kind will do – parmesan and goat cheese are personal favorites)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dash freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray two pans of 6-cup muffin tins with cooking spray. Be sure not to omit this step, or the quiches will stick badly to the baking cups.

Steam the spinach in a microwave-safe container (about 2-3 minutes), press out all juice, then chop. Chop the peppers and onions into a small dice. If using shallots, mince finely. Thinly slice the mushrooms.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl and fold in all the remaining ingredients and stir well.

Fill the muffin tin cups with the mixture. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. You will know they are done when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

These can be stored in the refrigerator or even frozen in freezer bags.