Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pasta With Tomatoes, Zucchini And Zucchini Flowers

Lately I have been on a quest to find other ways to utilize the zucchini flowers from our garden. I found a way to use both the zucchini itself and the flowers in the same dish. I was just going to wing it when Bonnie emailed me a recipe from The Globe and Mail for this recipe from Chef David Lee who resides at Nota Bene in Toronto, who came across it on a trip to Positano on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. This one is definitely a keeper for the summer months when we are happily inundated with those wonderful blossoms. My version is only based on his recipe and I've changed the recipe to my liking.

Ingredients

- 250 g spaghetti
- 12 baby zucchini, with flowers sliced about 1/4" thick, or 2 regular sized zucchini cut in half and sliced the same
- 8 grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp Parmesan, grated
- 1 tsp butter
- EVOO, and some of the good stuff for drizzling before serving
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Directions

1) Boil water for the pasta and cook according to directions on the package.
2) In a frying or saute pan, heat the EVOO over medium-low heat and add the shallot. Stir occasionally and cook them until they are translucent.


3) Add the zucchini and cook them until slightly soft, about 6  minutes, stir a couple of times while cooking.

 
4) Add the butter and the Parmesan to the mix, stir it up a little and turn up the heat to medium to help thicken the sauce.
5) The pasta should almost be done by now, so add the flowers and the tomatoes to the sauce and 1 or 2 tablespoons of the pasta water. Stir it up a little more, add salt and pepper to taste.

 
6) When pasta is cooked to al dente, drain and add to the sauce. Mix it up to incorporate it in with the sauce and serve. Drizzle a little of your good EVOO over top and add a little more grated Parmesan if you like.
Yield: Serves 2


There is so much flavor in this dish. I didn't know what to expect (although I was really looking forward to it), but was not surprised nor was I disappointed. Bonnie loved it and Little O was on side with it as well. Zucchini is in the summer squash family and has many health benefits. They are full of antioxidants like alpha and beta-carotene and have good amounts of vitamins and minerals. They are high in carbohydrates, but if you lead an active lifestyle, you'll burn them off quite easily.

Little O's Menu

The raspberry season is almost done now and she definitely had her fill eating the ones from the backyard. I would normally pick them off and hand them to her, but she picked a few of her own too. Sometimes when I wasn't paying attention for 3 or 4 seconds, she ate some of the little green ones. Yuck! That didn't go over very well, but she didn't get a bad taste in her mouth about the whole raspberry experience and kept eating them.

Quote Of The Day:

"Just because you're not sick doesn't mean you're healthy."

~ Author unknown


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark

Monday, August 22, 2011

Summertime Eats - Mozzarella And Tomato Herbed Salad

I've tried a few different ways to make a dish based around fresh or buffalo di mozzarella and have come up with a few good ones over the years, but I think this is one of the better dishes I've made. I was reading one of my newer cookbooks which I bought at Williams Sonoma in Palm Springs when we were there a couple of months ago with my gift certificate from 12 Tomatoes (thanks guys!). Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi is a great book if you are looking to learn how to add a major flavor boost to your dishes. It's all about the vegetable, but I like this as it's a pretty darn healthy and tasty way to eat, and you really shouldn't eat meat 7 days a week. Anyways, I read this and thought I would do it my own way with what I have in our fridge and in the garden.

This isn't a hard dish to make. It's full of flavor and the ingredients should be readily available wherever you live. We ate this twice in 3 days. It's really that good.

Ingredients

- 8 to 9 oz buffalo mozzarella or fresh mozzarella
- 12 Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, halved
- EVOO, the good stuff

Marinade

- 12 basil leaves, cut into ribbons (chiffonade)
- 1 Tbsp fresh Oregano, chopped
- small handful of parsley, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp Arugula leaves
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 3 tsp Grapeseed oil
- 1/2 tsp Fleur de Sel
- fresh ground pepper

Directions

1) Place all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl.

 
2) Tear the mozzarella in half and place the pieces on plates. Presentation isn't important with the cheese, so rip it up to expose the center of the mozzarella. Pour the marinade over top and lightly push it into the cheese with your fingers. Set it aside for 15 to 30 minutes.
3) Place the tomatoes around the cheese and pour a little EVOO over top and around the outside of the ingredients. Serve.
Yield: Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter


I served it with a piece of olive bread on the side. Nice accompaniment. Feel free to toast it if you like. I did, however, put the tomatoes on before the marinade this time, but it doesn't matter. It's still a great dish any way you build it.

This is an easy dish to play around with. If you want to use bigger tomatoes, go for it. Yotam uses lemon zest as well. I didn't have a lemon on hand, so feel free to use it. It would really help brighten up the dish.

Little O's Menu

Give me blueberries or give me death! This seems to be the thing right now with her. Blueberries straight up, blueberry yogurt, blueberries any way she can get them. She will eat about 40-50 of them at a time, 2 or 3 times a day. All of that and still eat other things as well. With all of the antioxidants going through her with the blueberries and blackberries from the farmers market and raspberries from the back yard, she stands a pretty good chance of living never getting sick again.... until she goes to daycare the next time.

Quote Of The Day:

"Courage my friends. It's never too late to build a better world."

~ Jack Layton (July 18, 1950 - August 22, 2011) Leader of The New Democratic Party and the leader of the official opposition in the Canadian Parliament. Jack died early this morning unfortunately. Although I don't like what his party stands for, nor do I agree with everything he did as their leader, but I respected him as a man and as a human being and his death truly saddens me. I liked the fight he showed when he believed in something and how he stood up for what he believed in and never backed down and was still a nice guy about the whole thing. You may not like or agree with someone on certain matters, but you can't disrespect or dislike a truly nice and good person. He's a great example of how to act and triumph as an underdog. He will be missed by many.


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark