Tag Archives: Zucchini

ANTIPASTO – GRILLED SUMMER VEGETABLES AND A SCOOP OF SALADS

You really cannot beat a plate of grilled vegetables, especially when eggplants and peppers are so prolific at this time of year.

Zucchini, although not in this selection are also a good choice.  Grilled vegetables are perfect as an antipasto but they can just as easily be part of a main course.

The vegetables can be grilled on a BBQ or Grill press or in the oven.

To the array, throw in some of the cooked green beans, asparagus or broccolini (that perhaps are left over from the night before), add a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil, some chopped garlic, a little parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.

You could also add to the cooked vegetables different textures with a bit of crunch – some of that celery, fennel, cucumbers and apples that are probably in your fridge. Or it could be tomatoes, celery, spring onions and fresh basil leaves, once again a drizzle of that good olive oil that will add fragrance as well as taste.

So easy, so simple.

Just recently, in two different restaurants I ordered versions of grilled vegetables and they both were presented with Romesco sauce dolloped separately on the side of the vegetables.  In one of the restaurant it was grilled asparagus, topped with fried breadcrumbs. In the other it was eggplant. This had been grilled and rather than presenting it in slices it was pulped to a medium texture. Bread is a perfect accompaniment for scooping up the eggplant and the Romesco sauce. A drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil is a must.

Recipes in earlier posts:

 

PEPPERS WITH BREADCRUMBS- PIPI CA MUDDICA – PEPERONI CON LA MOLLICA

SALSA ROMESCO (Romesco sauce, this recipe is made with roasted peppers, tomatoes and almonds)

In this version of this sauce almonds are added to the the vegetables (garlic, peppers and tomatoes). These are roasted/chargrilled on a BBQ or Grill press:

Roast/chargrill the peppers whole, peel, remove seeds and break them into strips. If using fresh tomatoes cut them into pieces. If you are roasting / chargrilling the peppers do them at the same time.
*Click on above link to see a list of ingredients and how to make it.

A different Recipe for Romesco sauce made with hazelnuts

This recipe uses hazelnuts instead of almonds. Also the vegetables are roasted. in the oven rather than grilled.

Use the same ingredients as the recipe above, substitute the hazelnuts for the almonds, but roast the vegetables:

Place the tomatoes, peppers and a whole head of garlic in a roasting tray with a little oil and roast in a 190C oven. Take the vegetables out as they become soft, i.e. the tomatoes will take about 10 minutes,  the peppers and the garlic could take about 30-40 minutes..

 

ZUPPA DI COZZE SGUSCIATE (A thick soup made with mussel meat)

I have a tendency to always cook too much food and there are leftovers, but I enjoy transforming cooked ingredients into something different. You could say that I am being frugal.

musselsouphero

This time I had some cooked mussels in their shells in some of their broth and I thought that I would use these ingredients to make a soup by adding red tomatoes;  I also added a lot of basil and some grated zucchini and the results were a thick, fragrant and highly flavoured soup.

This made a soup for 4 people.

If you do not have ready cooked mussels, this is what you can do:

Stage1: The mussels
Clean the mussels in their shells (about 500gm; remove beards, wash or scrub the mussels under running water.
In a saucepan, heat two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and add 2 spring onions chopped finely; sauté for 1 minute. Add mussels in their shells, 2 tablespoon chopped parsley and about ¾ cup of white wine. Cover, cook on high heat and bring to a boil.  Toss them around now and again until the shells open.
Once cool keep the juice (this is the broth) and remove the mussel meat from the shells. Keep a few in their shell for decoration.

Stage 2: The soup
Mussels and their broth, see above,
ripe tomatoes, peeled  and chopped, 800g
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
fresh basil leaves, some to cook with and some to add at the end
2 zucchini, grated
1 spring onion
black pepper or fresh chill (sliced thinly)
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 
salt to taste (mussel broth could be salty)

PROCESSES
Place the tomatoes in a saucepan  add garlic, some of the oil and some basil. Leave uncovered and cook on low-medium heat until thickened (about 15 mins). This results into a tomato salsa which could also be used for dressing pasta.
In a  pan that is large enough to take all of the ingredients, heat the rest of the olive oil, add spring onion and zucchini and  cook until soft, stirring often.
Add the mussel meat, their broth and more water if necessary and simmer for another 5 minutes until heated through.
 Add fresh basil and serve.

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FRIED ZUCCHINI – ZUCCHINE FRITTE (Zucchini are called CUCUZZEDDI in Sicilian)

 

One of the delights of my childhood was to eat a panino stuffed with slices of fried zucchini. Truly, this tastes amazing.

I found this variety of round shaped zucchini at my favourite vegetable stall in the Queen Victoria Market; last year Gus and Carmel also had this variety and I had seen them previously both in markets in Sicily and in Tuscany.

The method of placing zucchini (or slices of eggplants) on a baking sheet and cooking them in the oven is not used in Italy — grilled means having grill marks, cooked over an open flame or in the home kitchen (on a ferro – a grill pan) and fried means shallow fried in hot extra virgin olive oil.

The fried (and the grilled) zucchini can be placed on a plate of  pasta – spaghetti dressed with a simple, summer, tomato salsa made with ripe tomatoes, basil, garlic, a little salt and extra virgin olive oil. They also can serve as part of an antipasto plate or be a contorno (side dish to accompany the main).

Fried zucchini are usually presented at room temperature — this means that they can be cooked well in advance.

PROCESSES
Slice the zucchini lengthwise.
Sprinkle the slices with a little salt on one side. Rest for 10 minutes. Pat dry on paper towels (I have a number of tea towels that I use for this purpose) to remove the beads of moisture.
Fry in a little hot extra virgin olive oil. Turn only once.

I presented these fried zucchini with good quality bread, roasted garlic (not an Italian custom, French maybe ) and fresh mint leaves. We each made our own panini, had a terrific time and a great lunch!!

 

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MY FAMILY FEAST SBS ONE, my recipes have been selected

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I have some good news.
A few months ago I submitted three family recipes to the SBS Food website as part of a promotion for the upcoming SBS TV series MY FAMILY FEAST, which begins on Thursday, 27 August at 7:30pm on SBS ONE.

MY FAMILY FEAST is a weekly half hour television show that will take us into the lives and cooking traditions of Australian immigrants and their families, as seen through the eyes of award winning chef Sean Connolly.

The three recipes (as called on my web) are:
• SARDE A BECCAFICO (Sardines stuffed with currants, pine nuts, sugar and nutmeg)
• PASTA CON LE SARDE (Pasta with sardines, from Palermo, made with fennel, pine nuts and currants)
• EGGPLANT or ZUCCHINI PARMIGIANA (Milinciani or cucuzzeddi a parmiciana – parmigiana di melenzane or di zucchine).

All three recipes were selected and published on the SBS website. On their website they are called:
• Sardines a beccafico, stuffed with currants and pine nuts
• Eggplant or zucchini Parmigiana
• Pasta with sardines, fennel, pine nuts and currants

I have now been informed (by Shelley Hepworth Editor, SBS Food)
that one of my recipes Sardines a beccafico, stuffed with currants and pine nuts has been cooked by Sean Connolly and will be published as a video on the MY FAMILY FEAST website.

The SBS website is:
http://www.sbs.com.au/food

You can view the video on the SBS Food website here:
http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipe/893/Sardines_a_beccafico_stuffed_with_currants_and_pine_nuts

I have reproduced a photo of Sean Connolly from the web, therefore I will acknowledge it.
Executive Chef and restaurateur Sean Connolly poses at the official launch party for Sean’s Kitchen at Star City on September 10, 2008 in Sydney, Australia.
(September 10, 2008 – Photo by Gaye Gerard/Getty Images AsiaPac)

15th October 2009

My Family Feast

I have been overseas and have only had the opportunity to view three episodes of this adventurous, food series. I was very impressed by Sean’s obvious enjoyment and the respect he demonstrated to the people and the ingredients. I particularly enjoyed the informality of the interaction between the cooks and Sean. Congratulations, and I am sorry that I have not viewed them all.

Marisa


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WHAT TO DO WITH A ZUCCA (An overgrown zucchini – a marrow).

Those zucchini grow rapidly and before you know it, they become zucche (plural of zucca,) The marrows I am talking about are no longer than 22 cms, still tender and have flavour – any larger than this they become tasteless and dry and are good for the compost. Usually, zucche are stuffed, but these can also be used successfully to make a salad.

I use a mandoline (kitchen utensil used for slicing and cutting) to cut the marrows into matchsticks and then use a method similar to the one for making Italian vegetable preserves.

Sicilians (and southern Italians) are fond of preserves – the most common are made with eggplants or green tomatoes, sliced, salted, squeezed dry (the next day), then placed in vinegar for a day, squeezed dry and finally placed in oil and oregano.

I treat marrows in a similar way, but because I want to eat them fresh it is unnecessary to go through the lengthy process I have described above – the salting process takes about 30 minutes and the rest is completed in no time at all. If I am using zucchini, I slice them long-wise and very thinly (a potato peeler can be good).

The following amounts are for processing 1 marrow…..and not too large or seedy.

INGREDIENTS

marrow, 1

salt, 1 teaspoon

white, wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon

extra virgin olive oil, 1/3cup

oregano, ½teaspoon dried is more pungent,

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

PROCESS

Cut marrow  into half, remove seeds. Cut into match sticks or use a mandoline or a turning slicer which cuts into spirals.

Place in a colander with salt. Leave to drain for at least 30mins. Squeeze dry.

Dress with the oil and vinegar and crushed oregano.

Leave for about 10 minutes for the flavours to infuse.

PASTA CON ZUCCHINE FRITTE (Pasta and fried zucchini)

Fresh Taste, Simplicity and Low Cost.

Sometimes the most simple ingredients make the most sumptuous dish.

My friend and I have just been discussing how fresh, young zucchini can make a great pasta sauce. They can be the  long, dark green skinned variety or the newer pale green ones. The round zucchini are becoming more common; these can be dark  or pale green in colour and some are variegated.

Round zucchini_0083

Often, when guests come, I remind myself that having costly ingredients is not the most important factor. What is fresh, in season, and have they had it before, are far more important factors.

Pasta chi cucuzzeddi fritti (Sicilian), Pasta con zucchine fritte (Italian) is very common all over Sicily and consists of thinly sliced zucchini fried in extra virgin olive oil. Garlic is used to flavour the oil and is then discarded.

It is important to fry the zucchini in plenty of oil in a wide frypan – the zucchini will release liquid if they are overcrowded in the pan and if necessary fry the zucchini in batches.

My partner took some left over zucchini pasta to work and I was amazed when he reported to me that one of his collegues referred to this vegetable as tha blandest vegetable! I think I will need to invite this person to dinner.

Thin spaghetti is the favoured pasta for this dish – a coating of flavoured oil is preferred. Short, tubular or ridged, surfaced pasta may trap too much oil.

Like so many of the vegetable paste sauces it is made in minutes and makes me wonder why takeaways are seen as a quick solution.

 
spaghettini, 400g
zucchini 800g, sliced into approx 10 mm slices
garlic cloves, 4 squashed with the back of a knife
extra virgin olive oil, 1cup
salt and pepper
ricotta salata or pecorino pepato, grated
Heat the oil in a wide frypan and add the garlic. When it is golden discard it.
Ensure that the oil is very hot and add the zucchini – this will seal the surfaces. You could do this in a couple of batches but keep the oil very hot and add fresh oil to fry each batch.
Turn and toss till golden.
Place the fried zucchini into a bowl and add salt ( the salt is added at this stage otherwise the zucchini would have released their liquid).
Cook the pasta in salted water till al dente and drain.
Toss zucchini, oil and pasta together and add plenty of freshly ground pepper.
Serve with abundant freshly grated cheese and pepper.
 
VARIATION
· After the zucchini have been fried and set aside, reheat the oil (or add more), add about a cup of chopped parsley and 2 cloves of chopped garlic and fry this mixture for a few minutes before adding it to the pasta.
· For a favourite summer dish add a dollop of tomato salsa and fresh basil on top.
· Add a dollop of ricotta either with or without the tomato salsa.
· Chopped mint sprinkled on top of the dressed pasta is probably not traditional, but I like to do it – it accentuates the fresh zucchini taste.
And by the way… the ini at the end of any Italian word (zucchini) means small, those bigger than a finger are zucche (marrows).
Pick them young as they are intended to be.