Seared Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes with Polenta

Seared Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes with Polenta

Altered from Creamy Parmesan Polenta, Cook’s Illustrated, Italian Favorites 2011


The polenta recipe will make much more polenta than needed for this recipe alone. The extra polenta can be poured into a baking dish and covered in the fridge to be cut up as firm polenta and fried another day.

7 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt (we only use ¾ tsp)
Pinch baking soda
1 1/2 cups coarse-ground cornmeal
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 2 cups), plus extra for serving
Ground black pepper

Squeeze a 3-foot length of aluminum foil into a ½ inch rope. Twist the rope into a ring the size of a burner and place on the burner. The space will help the flames not get too warm under your pot.

Bring water to boil in heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in salt and baking soda. Slowly pour cornmeal into water in steady stream, while stirring back and forth with wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Bring mixture to boil, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to lowest possible setting and cover.

After 5 minutes, stir polenta to smooth out any lumps that may have formed, about 15 seconds. Cover and continue to cook, without stirring, until grains of polenta are tender but slightly al dente, about 25 minutes longer. (Polenta should be loose and barely hold its shape but will continue to thicken as it cools.)

Remove from heat and stir in butter and Parmesan. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes

Olive oil

1 zucchini, cut lengthwise into ¼ - ½ inch slices

3-4 small garlic cloves

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 half-pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Salt and pepper


2 Tb. chopped parsley

Heat a grill or cast iron skillet with grill ridges or outdoor grill until very hot and reduce flame to medium high. Coat each side of zucchini slices with olive oil. Grill zucchini, until marks appear, and flip doing the same for the other side. Remove to cutting board, and cut into cubes about the size of the cherry tomatoes. Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in a separate pan over medium-high heat until fragrant and sizzling, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from heat, added in zucchini. Spoon polenta into shallow bowl or plate, and top with zucchini and cherry tomatoes along with any juices. Sprinkle parmesan and parsley as garnish.

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette

From, where Perlman notes: Crust adapted from Williams-Sonoma, filling adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated tart

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chill again
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water

1 large or 2 small zucchinis, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup (about 1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded mozzarella
1 tablespoon slivered basil leaves

1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Make dough: Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle bits of butter over dough and using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter-flour mixture. With your fingertips or a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Make filling: Spread the zucchini out over several layers of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let drain for 30 minutes; gently blot the tops of the zucchini dry with paper towels before using. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and the garlic together; set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, and 1 teaspoon of the garlicky olive oil together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare galette: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet (though if you line it with parchment paper, it will be easier to transfer it to a plate later). Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the bottom of the galette dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Shingle the zucchini attractively on top of the ricotta in concentric circles, starting at the outside edge. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of the garlic and olive oil mixture evenly over the zucchini. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Brush crust with egg yolk glaze.

Bake the galette until the cheese is puffed, the zucchini is slightly wilted and the galette is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with basil, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes

Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes (Pomodori Ripieni di Riso)

just slightly altered from Deb Perelman’s

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse or Kosher salt
6 tomatoes
Red pepper flakes, to taste

1 zucchini, diced

3 leaves spigariello or chard, de-stemmed and sliced into ribbons
1/4 medium or 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
9 tablespoons arborio or another short-grained starchy rice
Few tablespoons chopped parsley, oregano or slivered basil (or mix thereof)
Handful breadcrumbs, if using (unless using gluten-free breadcrumbs, this will of course negate the dish’s gluten-free status)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat an ovenproof baking dish with olive oil.

Prepare tomatoes: Cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out tomato juices, seeds and flesh into a non-reactive (i.e. just about anything but aluminum) bowl. I like to use a grapefruit knife to make the first cuts, then a spoon to remove the rest, but you can use anything you have around, being careful not to pierce the bottom of the tomatoes. Salt the cavities of the tomatoes and turn them upside down on a plate to drain.

Prepare reserve: Run scooped-out tomato flesh and juices through a food mill or pulse in a blender until coarsely pureed. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add 2 tablespoons olive oil, heating it too. Once hot, add zucchini, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking them together for 2 minutes, or until onion begins to soften. Add rice and cook them together for about 3 minutes, or until rice toasts a little. Add tomato puree and spigariello or chard and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt, then cover skillet with a lid, and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is par-cooked. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Reassemble tomatoes: Stir fresh herbs into tomato-rice mixture. Arrange tomatoes right-side-up in baking pan then spoon mixture into tomatoes, filling them just 7/8 of the way to leave room for the rice to finish expanding. Coat with breadcrumbs that you can drizzle lightly with olive oil, if using, or you can replace the tomato lid on each (though, do not spend 10 minutes trying to match them back up, as I did last summer. It’s pointless.)

Bake: Uncovered for 30 minutes, until tomato walls are soft and the rice inside has finished cooking. Serve hot. Repeat again tomorrow.

Moroccan Rutabaga and Carrot Stew

Moroccan Rutabaga and Carrot Stew
Altered from Bon Appétit, January 2006

Serves 4-6

4-6 garlic cloves
2 tsp Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp fresh ginger, crushed or chopped finely

½ tsp cayenne pepper

pinch of saffron

1 cup water

2 Tb olive oil

4-6 tomatoes, chopped

2 Tb lemon juice

1 zucchini, chopped coarsely

1 rutabaga, peeled and chopped into half-inch cubes

4 carrots chopped coarsely

Prepare the vegetables: Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Mix in paprika and next 8 ingredients. Add 1 cup water, tomatoes, and lemon juice. Bring to boil. Add rutabaga and carrots. Add squash 5 minutes later. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve over couscous or quinoa. Garnish with parsley, cilantro, and/or mint. Drizzle with yogurt if desired.


Italian Turkey Soup

Italian Turkey Soup

altered from Bon Appétit, January 2005

Serves four

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 small onion, chopped

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

6 cups canned low-salt chicken broth (or homemade turkey broth)

2 medium zucchini or other summer squash, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 9-ounce package fresh cheese ravioli

1 1/2 cups diced cooked turkey

Grated Parmesan cheese

Slivered basil for garnish


Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onion, garlic, fennel seeds and crushed red pepper and sauté until vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth. Cover pot and simmer 10 minutes. Add zucchini and carrot. Cover and simmer until carrot is almost tender, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to high and bring soup to boil. Add ravioli and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and cook just until heated through, about 1 minute. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls. Top with grated cheese and basil.

Zucchini Ribbons with Almond Pesto

Zucchini Ribbons with Almond Pesto

from Deb Perelman’s, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

This recipe is made for zucchini, but any mix of summer squash can be substituted.

1/2 cup almonds, toasted and cooled

1/4 cup (3/4 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese

1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed

Pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup olive oil

2 pounds medium zucchini, trimmed

Grind almonds, Parmesan, garlic and red pepper flakes in a food processor until they are finely chopped. Add the lemon juice, salt and olive oil and pulse a few times until incorporated. Pour the dressing into a large salad bowl and let it roll up and around the sides.

Using a vegetable peeler (a Y-peeler or mandolin works great if you have one here, but any old peeler will do) and working from the top to bottom of each zucchini, slice the zucchini into ribbons (about 1/16-inch thick). Place the ribbons in dressing-coated bowl.

Toss the ribbons gently—frankly your hands are best for this as they wont break up the ribbons while tossing them—attempting to coat the zucchini as evenly as possible with the dressing. Serve at room temperature. This can sit out for a while (the longer it does, the more relaxed the ribbons will be) but I like to eat it right away, when the ribbons still make tall loops and twists in thee bowl.


Summer Squash & Shiitake Tacos

Summer Squash & Shiitake Tacos

3 summer squash (cousa, scallop, zucchini, etc.)

6 oz. shiitakes

~4 oz. olive oil

4 garlic scapes (or 2 cloves garlic)

2 Tb oregano

2 Tb cumin

2 Tb chili powder

¼ c balsamic vinegar

6 kale leaves, de-stemmed

1 avocado or sour cream

2-4 scallions, chopped finely


Quarter zucchini and cousa squash lengthwise, and slice into ½ inch chunks. Cut scallop squash into thick pie-like slices, then halve if needed, so they’re roughly  the same size as the other summer squash. Separate shiitake stems from heads, and finely chop the stems. Halve or quarter the heads, depending on size. Mix together oregano, cumin, and chili powder in a small bowl.

Heat skillet at a medium heat and, after a minute, add oil to generously coat. When oil seems watery, add the finely chopped stems along with the summer squash (it may spatter) and stir for 1 minute. Add chopped mushroom heads for 3 minutes and stir occasionally. Add half the garlic scapes, and cook 2 more minutes Add a heavy splash of balsamic and a light splash soy sauce. Cook until absorbed, roughly 3 minutes, then add half of the dry mixture, and turn the flame down to low. The goal is to coat the wet vegetables and mushrooms in the dry mixture without it sticking to the pan. A small amount of vinegar or wine can help with any stickiness. Cook for 3-5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan frequently with a wooden spoon. At this point, you should have spice coated vegetables—turn off the flame.

In a large bowl mix the other half of chopped garlic scapes with the rest of the olive oil. Coat kale leaves in this mixture and place enough that will fit on a hot skillet or grill. Turn when necessary, until the whole leaves are crispy. Remove to cool, and cook the rest of the leaves the same way if needed. Slice into thick ribbons when cooled.

Heat tortillas and fill with summer squash and shiitakes, and top with kale and avocado or sour cream, and scallions.



Quick Pickled Summer Squash

Quick Pickled Summer Squash

Altered from Bon Appétit, 2011

1 pound summer squash (including zucchini)

6 sprigs fresh dill, divided

6 garlic cloves, smashed

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

Thinly slice squash into coins, chop into sticks, or dice, depending on intention. Place squash, 3 dill sprigs, and garlic in a 1-quart jar. Bring vinegar, peppercorns, salt, sugar, remaining 3 dill sprigs, and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Pour into jar with squash mixture. Cover, let cool slightly, and chill. Serve within 2 weeks.


Chorizo and Chard Stuffed Summer Squash

Chorizo and Chard Stuffed Summer Squash

2 dried mulato chiles

4 summer squash

1 Tb. olive oil

2 chorizo sausages

2 cups chard, de-stemmed and chopped

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. oregano

2 tsp. soy sauce

6 sprigs cilantro, de-stemmed and chopped

2 Tb. sour cream

1 tsp. agave

2 scallions, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove stems and seeds of chiles and rinse inside and out. Soak in just enough hot water to cover (using a second bowl to keep chiles submerged helps) for 15-30 minutes. Blend in a food processor or grind with a mortar and pestle to make a paste.

Cut off top third of squash, laying it on its side if it’s a cylindrical variety like zucchini, or on its bottom if scallop squash. Scoop out center of squash, leaving a ¼ to ½ inch wall. Chop squash guts and top (if not a stem) into small cubes.

Heat a pan with olive oil on a medium-high heat and add chorizo and squash. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up sausage into small bits, then add chopped chard. After a couple minutes, add cumin, oregano soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon of chile paste. Cook for a couple more minutes, until the sausage is browned and soft. Add cilantro. Spoon into hollowed-out squash and top with cheese, then place on cookie sheet.

Bake in the pre-heated oven until filling is golden and summer squash is tender, about 30 minutes.