Stuffed Zucchini

Well, it’s that time of year again.  There are more zucchini around than we can possibly eat or, apparently, harvest in a timely fashion.  The last two weeks we have not only had a very large zucchini in our CSA box, but they are overflowing the stands at the farmer’s market as well.

Zucchini and summer squash can’t be canned the way other vegetables can; they simply become too soft and turn to mush.  Freezing them is also problematic for the same reasons.  In the old days, before I gave up all Evil Refined Things, I’d shred the stuff and bake it into loaves of zucchini bread and zucchini muffins, which I’d then freeze or give away.  (As a side note, I’ve been considering a grain-free zucchini bread made with almond flour; I know it can be done, but I don’t want to eat too many things containing almond flour for reasons I’ll go into later.  Let’s just suffice to say that before the zucchini is gone I’ll most likely bake some, but not in the volume I have in the past.)

Zucchini is delicious shredded or grated together with yellow summer squash and carrots, then lightly sauteed in butter or olive oil – it’s not only a quick and easy side dish, it makes a great substitute for rice when you need a base for something “saucy.”  It can be fried, much like the green tomatoes I posted earlier this week, and of course stir-fried and sauteed and incorporated into quiches and frittatas and casseroles and all manner interesting dishes until you’re so sick of zucchini you don’t care if you see another one until next summer.

Not that I’ve ever had that experience, you understand.

Of course, all of those methods of preparation are best with young, tender, reasonably-sized zucchini.  But what to do when you get one that is approaching the size of a baseball bat?  Well, you make this.

I’ve prepared this twice in the last couple of weeks, the first time glazing it with the Peach Barbecue Sauce and the second with the Maple Barbecue Sauce, and it is just delicious – I ate it for 3 days straight for both lunch and dinner the first time and didn’t mind a bit.  And the really nice thing about it is that it is versatile – want Italian?  Stuff it with hot Italian sausage and cover it with marinara.  Feel like something with an Asian flair?  Fill it with ground chicken or pork and chopped water chestnuts, and glaze it with teriyaki sauce.  How about Mediterranean – use ground lamb, mixed with chopped olives, pimento and oregano, brush it with a high quality extra-virgin olive oil at the end and sprinkle it with feta cheese.

You know…that all sounds really, really good.

You can, of course, season this version any way you like – I’m still on my Mrs. Dash kick, and am particularly fond of the Extra Spicy Blend (which, frankly, it isn’t – but it still tastes good).

Stuffed Zucchini

Stuffed Zucchini

serves 6 to 8

2 pounds lean ground beef, preferably grass-fed
1 small yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy seasoning blend
1 large zucchini, 10″ to 12″ in length
1/3 cup Maple or Peach Barbecue Sauce

Preheat the over to 350 F.

In a large bowl, gently mix together the ground beef, onion, garlic, salt, pepper and seasoning blend until thoroughly blended. Set aside.

Trim the ends, and slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a small, sharp knife and spoon, scoop the seeds out of the center of the zucchini halves, leaving about 1/4-inch of the shell intact. Divide the meat mixture in half and fill the interior of each zucchini half, mounding and patting it in place for the entire length of the vegetable.

Place the stuffed zucchini in a glass baking dish large enough to comfortably accommodate both halves.  Carefully pour water around the zucchini to a depth of about half an inch. Place in the oven and bake for half an hour.

Remove the pan from the oven and carefully brush the barbecue sauce over the meat mixture. Add more water to the pan, if necessary, and return to the oven. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the a thermometer inserted into the center of the meat mixture reads 160 F, or is no longer pink in the center.

Remove the pan from the oven; loosely tent with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Carefully move the zucchini to a platter, slice and serve.

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Kohlrabi, Apple and Bacon Slaw

Well, it’s the first day of summer and the longest day of the year.  It’s a little sobering when you realize from here out the days will be getting (incrementally) shorter until December 21.  But we’ve still got 3 months – if not more – of long, sunny days and plenty of warm weather before the leaves change and autumn smacks us in the face.  Too bad I’m going to be spending so much of it alone – Beloved leaves today on business in Texas for the next 10 days.  Once he’s home, I’ll see him for 5 days before he leaves for Pittsburgh for 2 days.  He might be home for a week after that, then I won’t see him for the better part of a month, until he comes home on August 12 – a full day after the majority of our children descend on us for a week.

Oh, the lazy hazy days of summer.

At any rate, I’ll continue to cook and post recipes even if I am mostly doing it solo (The Young One leaves to visit the paterfamilias in Texas on July 16) and salads and seafood will probably star in many of the dishes, since I’m fond of both (and they’re easy, but we’ll just ignore that little fact right now, shall we?).  Besides, I’m going to have to find something to do with the vegetables in our CSA box every week.

Last week, we still had kohlrabi left from a previous trip to the farmer’s market and we received two pints of sugar snap peas in our CSA delivery.  A salad of some sort seemed in order, but I just didn’t want to throw it all together with lettuce and slap some salad dressing on it.  Kohlrabi, being a member of the cabbage family, lends itself quite well to slaws, and combined with a tart Granny Smith apple, sweet sugar snap peas, smoky bacon and simply dressed with homemade mayonnaise this is a very good one indeed.

Kohlrabi, Apple and Bacon Slaw

Kohlrabi, Apple and Bacon Slaw

serves 6

3 small kohlrabi bulbs
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled and cored
15 sugar snap peas, peas reserved and pods cut into strips
6 slices bacon
1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Fry bacon in a pan until very crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Peel the outer layer of the kohlrabi bulbs; run through the shredding blade of a food processor or shred using the largest holes of a box grater. Repeat with the apple; add to the peas and pods in a large mixing bowl.  Crumble the bacon on top and add the mayonnaise. Toss until thoroughly coated; taste and season with salt and pepper.

Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors meld.

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Roast Chicken with Blood Oranges

Happy Wednesday, y’all!  The week is half over.

This is a good thing.

At any rate, I’ve decided that it is my mission these days to find as many different ways to roast a whole chicken as I can (since we have about 8 of them in the freezer).  This one?  Is simply delicious.

You don’t necessarily need a blood orange; they just happen to be in season and I had a couple waiting to be used.  If you use a different type of orange, make sure it’s a fairly tart type.

Oh, this is also my entry for You Capture this week as well – the subject is “Body Parts.”  She said to “keep it clean, people!” but I’m still showing some leg and a little breast here.  I hope you’ll all forgive me.

Roast Chicken with Blood Oranges

Roast Chicken with Blood Oranges

serves 4 to 6

3 pounds whole chicken
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 small blood orange
small handful fresh cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons honey
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3 large celery stalks, trimmed and halved

Preheat the oven to 400º F. Lay the celery stalks in a single layer in the bottom of a large, heavy, oven-proof pan such as a Dutch oven.

Place the cold, cubed butter in a small bowl and zest the blood orange with a microplane grater over the butter. Toss to combine and set aside.

Cut the orange in half and juice one half, reserving the juice and peel. Quarter the other half, and set aside.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Carefully slide your fingers between the skin and the breast meat, loosening the skin (don’t worry if it tears slightly). Push the zest and butter beneath the skin, then insert the quartered orange, peel and cilantro into the cavity of the bird. Truss and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

Place the chicken on the “raft” of celery in the pan; roast at 400º F for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 F and roast for another 15 to 18 minutes per pound.

Whisk the blood orange juice together with the honey and garlic; 20 minutes before the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and baste with the honey/orange juice mixture. Return to the oven and roast until the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with a fork.

Once the chicken is done, allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving. Serve with the pan juices.

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Posted in participation with Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday

Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts with Glazed Carrots

It’s Friday!!  I’m giving you all a virtual high-five – we get to sleep in tomorrow.  Or at least I do.  Yay, me.

I have a post in the works about the dangers of non-stick cookware (Teflon® in particular), but it’s not finished yet.  Next Friday.  Honest.

So, you get a recipe full of lovely seasonal (more or less) vegetables, instead.  I don’t know where I stumbled across the idea to combine roasted cauliflower and brussels sprouts with glazed carrots, but I am SO glad I did – you wouldn’t believe how delicious this is.  I made this last weekend to go with a roast chicken, and I’ll probably make it again this weekend to go with the venison roast I’m planning.  It was just that good.

And it’s super easy, too.  What more can you ask for?

Have a lovely weekend, y’all.

Note: I found a use for those Italian olive oils in my refrigerator, after all.  🙂

Roasted Cauliflower Brussels Sprouts Glazed Carrots

Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts with Glazed Carrots

serves 6

1 pound cauliflower florets (about 1/2 head)
1/2 pound Brussels sprouts
1 small onion coarsely chopped
1 cup baby carrots
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Trim the ends of the Brussels sprouts, removing any coarse outer leaves, and slice in half lengthwise. Toss the Brussels sprouts, cauliflower florets and onions with the garlic and olive oil to coat. Spread the vegetables on a shallow, rimmed baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, until softened and brown.

While the cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are roasting, bring a quart of water to a boil. Add the carrots and cook for about 3 minutes; drain and return to the pot. Add the butter and honey to the carrots and cook over medium-low heat until the honey is slightly caramelized.

When the cauliflower and Brussels sprouts have finished roasting, remove them from the oven. Pour the carrots onto the pan with the roasted vegetables; toss well to combine. Serve immediately.

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Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday