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Even after making the zucchini casserole yesterday, we were left with extra zuchinis. Here’s what I threw in the blender today:

1 zucchini

7 ice cubes

1 banana

1 cup orange juice

1/2 avocado

It turned really yummy and the yield was 2-3 servings.

Next time, I will try this interesting smoothie.

What else can I do with zucchinis?

 

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Sorry, I haven’t been able to post for a few days. We went to Asheville, NC for a few days, and the house we rented had internet  troubles. On the more positive note, Asheville is home to my favorite vegetarian restaurant in the country. I’ve been to  the Millennium in San Francisco, I’ve been to Angelica’s in NYC. I also visited countless veggie spots around the country. Still, the clean,  spacious and delicious Laughing Seed Cafe in Asheville cannot be beat. It gets the highest marks in my book both for its food (they  have daily veggie specials to die for) and its service ( they brought organic veggies, cut into bite-size chunks for my babies when I foolishly left  the baby food bag in the car.) And they actually have healthy food on their kid’s menu!

……………….

When I was in my early twenties, studying at NYU, taking yoga classes at Jivamukti, living alone in NYC , I never cooked anything, because my apartment’s  kitchen was barely large enough to accommodate a teapot, forget about the actual cook (me.) I loved going to Angelica’s Kitchen restaurant and ordering a Dragon Bowl. The simplicity of this perfectly balanced vegetarian dish reminded me of home-cooking. That, and it was superhealthy and inexpensive. The Dragon Bowl was an example of a perfect equilibrium in food: bitter, but also sweet, healthy, but filling. It tasted like home, yet I ate it in a restaurant. “The Bowl” also fit nicely into a “One Bowl,” which was a nutrition book I  followed for a while.

Some years later, in Asheville, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a Harmony Bowl on the Laughing Seed Cafe’s menu. It was very much like my old Dragon Bowl! I was feeling like I was twenty again as I devoured it. The next day, I came back and ordered another one.  And two days later, I made one at home. The simplicity and versatility of this dish are overwhelming: you can use any grain, bean or vegetable you have. Here’s the Bowl, in a nutshell.

Cooked brown rice

Cooked black beans

Steamed Veggies

Sauce

Optional: Tofu

Pick a nice-size bowl, suitable for one person. Put some cooked brown rice (or other grain) on the bottom of it. Put black beans on top of the rice. Put tofu on top, if using it. Put the veggies over everything and pour the sauce over the veggies.

When picking the vegetables, try to cover many flavors: squash or carrots for sweetness, kale for bitterness… Don’t forget green staples, like zucchini or broccoli.

The dish at this point is rather bland. The sauce is what really makes The Bowl sparkle. My two absolutely favorite sauces for the Harmony Bowl are carrot/ginger or tahini.

I didn’t list any proportions or amounts here on purpose: the bowl is an individual dish, so make it your own by playing an experimenting. You can make it pretty, or you can make it simple. Busy parents:  don’t be afraid to use canned beans.

 

photo: Piyachok Thawornmat

I had some roasted vegetables from yesterday. The good thing about these is that you can eat them with virtually anything: pasta, grains or sandwiches can only benefit from a few strips of a freshly roasted sweet pepper or a yummy zucchini. I never tried roasted veggies on a crepe, so it was my mission for today. The result was so ridiculously delicious, that I might try it for lunch tomorrow!

     Buckwheat Crepes Recipe, click here.

 

    Roasted Veggies:

   

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3  cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 6 asparagus stalks, edges trimmed
  • 1 1-pound eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 medium zucchini cut into 1/3-inch-thick rounds
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Whisk vinegar and oil in a medium bowl. Stir in garlic and basil. Add salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss the vegetables in a bowl. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Put the vegetables on a baking sheet and roast until  tender and slightly brown around edges, about 35 minutes.

 

Additional ingredients:

2 cups alfalfa sprouts

1/4-1/2 cup sundried tomatoes in oil (just the tomatoes)

1/4 cup diced scallions

3-4 tbsp. pesto sauce

1/4 grated cheese (soy is ok)

Assembly:

Place the roasted veggies on top of a crepe.  Put the sundried tomatoes on top. Use four sundried tomatoes per each crepe. Put the sprouts, the scallions and the cheese on top. Top off with a few tbsp. of pesto sauce.

I first tried this dish at Cafe 118 in Winter Park, Florida. It was ridiculously yummy and seemed to be very easy to make.

They used zucchini noodles, which gave this Pad Thai a very smooth texture. At home, i like to use a 50/50 mixture of zucchinis and carrots, or butternut squash for a crunchier bite.  A played with some ingredients at home and here’s what I came up with:

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1 cup coconut milk ( any other milk would work, too)
  • 1/2 cup  peanut butter  (or any nut butter)
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp Bragg’s Aminos sauce
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp red miso
  • agave syrup to taste (optional)
  •  cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1/2 bunch basil & 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Noodles

  • 4-5 cups assorted vegetables,  cut with a vegetable peeler for long thin spaghetti-like  strips:  zucchini, carrot, butternut squash, beets, red pepper… Sprouts and red cabbage work, too.
  1. Blend all the sauce ingredients until smooth.
  2.  Toss the noodles with the sauce.
  3. Serve immediately with 1/4 of a lime and/or some peanuts, sprinkled on top (optional)

The recipe for this yummy and easy casserole was shared with me by my Russian friend Tania. I changed a thing or two, keeping the basic idea still the same:  it’s the simplest vegetable casserole ever! Use the vegetables I put in the recipe, or take whatever you have left over in the fridge. Tania did not use tomatoes or potatoes, but she did use cauliflower in her recipe. She also used butter and parmesan cheese, mixed with pine nuts. You can use feta cheese, like I am suggesting, or try goat cheese or tofu, fried with Bragg’s.

Ingredients:

2 small zucchinis, sliced

6  medium tomatoes, chopped

1 medium eggplant, sliced very thinly

1 medium onion, sliced

4 grated carrots

4 medium potatoes,peeled and sliced

Feta cheese or goat feta, crumbled, 2 cups

Olive oil, 1/4 + 4 tbsp. for sauteeing onions+ 1 tsp. for oiling the baking dish

Basil leaves, diced, or dry basil, 4 tsp.

Sea salt, 2 tsp. for eggplant and more to taste

Garlic, 4 cloves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly oil a baking casserole dish.

Sautee the onion in 4 tbsp. of olive oil in a frying pan, until it becomes translucent, for about 3 minutes.  Put the potato slices in a pot with 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover the lid, lower the flame and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Cover the eggplant slices with sea salt ( put them on  a plate first) and let stand for about 2-3 minutes, until you see juice appearing on top of eggplant slices. Salt draws the bitterness out of the eggplant. Wash the egplant slices and put them on the bottom of the baking dish. Place the onions on top of the eggplant. Place the potato slices on top of the onions. Arrange tomatoes on top. Using garlic press, squeeze 2 garlic cloves on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with 1/2 the basil. Crumble 1/2 of the amount of feta cheese. Arrange zucchini slices on top of the cheese. Place  grated carrots on top of the zucchini. Top off with the remaining tomatoes, garlic and basil. Add paprika, if you wish. Sprinkle with  the remaining feta cheese. Bake for about 40 minutes.

 

The inspiration for this very simple and very healthy dish came from a famous New York raw restaurant, Pure Food and Wine. I loved their raw lasagna so much I bought their cookbook and saw a page-long recipe, which included making your own cheese out of nuts, using a food processor. I simplified the whole thing to the point that the beautiful lasagna now takes five minutes to make. Make sure that you have quality ingredients for this dish, as it has to be very fresh and crispy-tasting.

For 2 servings:

Ingredients:

Zuchini – 1 large

Tomatoes, large, thinly sliced -2

Pesto- 3 tbsp

Sundried tomato pesto -3 tbsp

Fresh basil leaves-  6

Green leaf mix -to garnish

Arrange some green leaves on the serving plates.  Slice the zucchini lengthwise fairly thinly, so that you get nice crispy zucchini rectangles.  Put two zucchini slices close together on the bed of greens. Spread some pesto sauce on top of the zucchinis. Put three basil leaves on top. Put a few tomato slices on top of the basil. Then -another layer of the zucchini slices. Then – tomato pesto. Then – tomato slices and one more layer of zucchini slices.  Serve immediately!

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