After all the book promo, I thought we could all do with a little palate-cleanser (and my brain a little down time after writing all those blog posts!). It’s been a while since I posted some recipes, and the focus today is on one of my favorite ingredients: zucchini! I find people usually fall into either the love or the hate camp with this vegetable, and I am squarely in the love. Last summer, my brother-in-law decided to grow up some monster veggies in his garden. This prime specimen was a result:
I managed to make six different meals from that bad boy, who I nicknamed Fassy, for obvious reasons. Fassy was a bit of a mess to deal with, but he fed me well. Here are two of the recipes I tried for the first time with him. Bonus: they are both vegetarian!
The first is zucchini lasagna. There is really no trick to this. You just substitute thick slices of zucchini–a mandolin is your friend–for the noodles, then layer with whatever sauce/cheese combo strikes your fancy. You can add in other ingredients as well, like sausage or mushrooms. Bake for 40 mins at 375F. Easy-peasy! Mine turned out like this:
The next recipe tested Fassy’s longevity a bit–har, har–since it’s a bit tricky to get the amount of water right depending on your stove. I’ve made it three times now, and I think I’ve licked it (er, off the plate). If you’re ever in the mood for homemade mac and cheese, try this on instead. It’s marginally healthier (not) and ridiculously delicious. It also works well as a side or a main. Thanks to Katy from Baking, Domesticity, and All Things Mini for inventing it!
Cheesy Zucchini Orzo
Makes 4 servings
A few notes: If you’re a heat seeker, try adding red pepper flakes or a dash of buffalo sauce for an extra kick. And, this reheats wonderfully if you can manage not to clear out the pan on the first round!
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup Orzo
1 clove Garlic, minced
Ground black pepper
1 medium Zucchini, grated (about 2 cups)
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar Cheese
Milk [Selina’s note – I never needed milk when I made this.]
In a large skillet over medium heat, toss orzo and garlic with oil until fragrant. Add 2 1/2 cups of water [Selina’s note: Personally, I found this to be too much water. I used 2 cups and a splash, and it was perfect. But it will depend on your stove.] and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer and, stirring occasionally so that orzo does not stick to the bottom of pan, cook pasta until al dente and liquid has almost completely evaporated. Stir in zucchini until warmed through. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted. If needed, add a splash or two of milk to achieve extra creamy texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
I definitely recommend going for the chili option, and using the oldest cheddar possible. This makes it more expensive, but ups the cheese factor to Mach 10. And if there’s one thing in this world I find more satisfying than Fassy (real-life or veggie versions), it’s cheese. Though zucchini is in my top ten for sure.