Zucchini Chard Cakes

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve shared this zucchini chard cake recipe with folks this summer. I was sure that as soon as I mentioned zucchini I would be greeted with a sigh and eyeroll.

“No more zucchini!” they’d say. “We’ve had enough!”

 

Because, let’s be honest, each summer we all have more than enough of the ubiquitous green squash. Even if we don’t, we probably know someone looking to give away a few dozen or so. But to my surprise, as I traveled around making zucchini cake after zucchini cake, I didn’t get one complaint. In fact, people were enthusiastic to find another way to put it to use.

I’m always happy to be proven wrong. Really. That’s why this became my go to dish (along with a complementary tomato basil chutney) for my cooking demos and local food tastings. Apparently we haven’t reached peak zucchini. Word is still out on kale, though.

rainbow swiss chard keene fm  by SC, 2008

 

These cakes use the classic technique of vegetable hiding. Zucchini doesn’t have a strong flavor all on its own and when you mix it into what is more or less a standard pancake recipe, you hardly can tell it’s there at all. So much so, that you can also get away with chopping up even more healthy green stuff – chard and parsley – and mixing it in as well. Simply avoid those fruitless debates with the picky eaters in your life (note: none of mine happen to be kids) and just go ahead and serve these anyway. Before they can tell you how much they don’t like these vegetables, they’ll be happily and unknowingly eating them anyway. Call me cruel, but this is one of my great pleasures in life.

Zucchini Chard Cakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: about 10 – 4 inch pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb zucchini
  • 1/2 onion
  • small bunch of Swiss chard leaves
  • small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • splash of milk
  • 2 Tbsp oil + some for the pan

 

We’re going to need to shred the zucchini. You can do this quite easily with a box grater, or if you’re intending to shred a large quantity, I’d opt for the food processor like I did here. If not using all of the zucchini at once, it does freeze nicely.

Next, grate the onion. I prefer to grate the onion instead of chop it, as it will blend better into the pancakes.

 

Remove the stems from the chard and save for another purpose. Chopped and tossed into a stir fry, perhaps? Then chop the leaves.

Combine the egg, salt, and flour in a bowl. Add in the zucchini, chard, onion, garlic and parsley and stir to form a thick batter. Add just a splash of milk and the oil to form a more workable, pourable batter.

 

Heat your skillet and lightly coat it with oil when hot. Preheat the oven to 200F. Pour 1/4 cup spoonfuls of batter onto the hot skillet and cook 2-3 minutes per side, until browned. Flip and cook another 2 minutes. Transfer the cakes to the oven to keep warm while you cook the remainder of the pancakes.

Serve as a side, topped with tomato chutney, or as a light summer dinner with a side of greens.

Drunken Beet Linguine

I like to cook with alcohol, but I hardly ever buy it specifically for that reason. When it comes to wine, in the bottom shelf of my fridge door you’ll find the remnants of bottles that were never quite finished. They’re tucked away there just for cooking purposes and that’s mostly de-glazing plans for sauces, stews and soups.
I don’t drink expensive wine, so naturally I’m not going to cook with it either. But most importantly, when cooking with wine – or any alcohol – you should only use something you like the flavor of and wouldn’t mind drinking.

beets

By boiling linguine in red wine and water, this pasta dish truly highlights its use by dying the linguine an attractive shade of purple. Cooking pasta in wine – “drunken” – is actually a common Tuscan technique. There are several methods out there regarding how much wine to use when doing so, and some suggest using wine as the only liquid. But the recipe below, since it is more heavily water based, offers a pretty mild wine flavor in the end, despite the vibrant result. You don’t have to be a wine lover to enjoy it and you don’t have to devote a whole bottle either. Unless you want to, of course.

Beets, with their similar shade of purple, felt like a logical addition to the pasta. Since I already happened to have some cooked in the fridge, I chopped those up and added them in, along with a mix of chard and beet greens.

If you don’t have a specific use in mind, I can’t suggest enough to precook vegetables like beets and winter squash when you have the chance. They will store in the fridge for the week and make for a quick addition to a dish like this.

beets1

You could, and probably should, adapt this recipe in a number of ways. It was my first time making it, but next time I might add in a tablespoon or so of tomato paste to the pan before adding in the reserved pasta water to thicken up the sauce. I also see it being just as great with Parmesan cheese instead of goat. And I might save some time by boiling the greens with the pasta instead of wilting them in the pan.

Drunken Beet Linguine

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups red wine (about half a bottle)
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bunch beet greens, chard or kale, roughly chopped or torn
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 medium beets, cooked, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil or parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Add the wine to a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil, add the pasta and cook to al dente. Drain, reserving one cup of the cooking liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the onion and mince the garlic. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper. Cook about 8 minutes before adding the greens, nutmeg and ground pepper, to taste. Let wilt, then add the reserved cooking liquid, the butter and the beets. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Simmer until the liquid has reduced slightly. Toss in the cooked pasta until all is combined. Taste, adjust seasoning as needed, then top with the walnuts, goat cheese and herbs.

Eat Your Freezer Clean! Week Two – Vegetables

Thank you for joining us on our second installment of the Eat Your Freezer Clean challenge! By treating our freezer like an organized and important tool in our kitchen, not only can we feed ourselves and loved ones with wholesome, nourishing meals, but we will save time, money and reduce waste.

It is (finally!) spring in the Upper Valley and the opening day of the season’s outdoor farmers’ market is weeks away.  While we wait in anticipation of all the good things that warmer weather will give us, let’s take a closer look at the vegetables you saved from last year; a teaser to the variety we can all look forward to in the summer and fall months.

Recipes abound on the internet on how to use your frozen vegetables, so below we gathered a few of our personal favorites and inspirations that are quick, easy and flexible.

 

CORN

  1. Quick and Easy Pan Roasted Side Dish– Choose a large skillet with a lid. Heat the skillet over medium heat, add a teaspoon or two of olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer (takes several seconds) and slips around easily in the pan, but isn’t smoking, throw in a cup or two of frozen corn and quickly stir to coat with oil. Cover the pan and shake the corn over the heat occasionally, letting the corn steam for a few minutes. Uncover and continue to stir while the corn softens, browns and slightly carmelizes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a pinch of red chili flakes. I like to drizzle a bit of maple syrup on top when eating as a side dish with savory meats.
  2. Use in Soups, Chilis and Stews – Add a cup of corn to a pot of simmering soup, chili or stew during the last few minutes of cooking. Top with any fresh herbs you might have on hand or might be getting leggy in the window, parsley or cilantro being two readily available favorites.
  3. Salad – Thaw frozen corn overnight in the refrigerator and drain in a colander. Because corn is blanched before frozen, it is just toothsome enough after thawing that it pairs wonderfully in a crisp salad. Try topping chopped romaine with black beans, thawed corn, your favorite salsa and chopped cilantro.

cookedspinach_ccmorguefile_small

Greens, Cooking

  1. Thaw, Drain, Dry – This method applies to all sorts of greens, but is especially useful with spinach as the leaves tend to retain a lot of moisture. Thaw your greens and drain in a colander. Using a clean dish towel with a tight weave, gather a large handful and wrap in the towel, twisting and squeezing out the water. OR just use your bare hands, as I tend to do because I hate to do more laundry than I need to. Or better yet, click on over to The Kitchn and give this ingenious tip a try, especially if you have a potato ricer gathering dust in your drawer.
  2. Green Smoothie – This works best with small frozen chunks, rather than large or thawed greens, but if you have ice cube sized frozen greens, try throwing a few in a blender with a bit of your favorite liquid (dairy or dairy-free milk, juice or even a bit of water), some fruit (I like to use frozen apples or fresh past their prime, frozen bananas or berries) and a tablespoon of nut butter. Give it a whirl, sweeten with honey or maple syrup if you need to and you have yourself a tasty, healthy treat!
  3. Use in Soups, Chilis and Stews – Throw frozen greens into a simmering pot either a two or three minutes or several minutes before (if they are LARGE chunks) your favorite ladle-friendly meal is done cooking. Easy, delicious, healthy. We like that.

potatoescutcolander_ccmorguefile

Potatoes

  1.  Casseroles – There is nothing tastier than a comforting, warm casserole on a cool spring day. Frozen potatoes can be thrown into any egg or potato based casserole of your choosing. For a nutritious and filling one dish meal, toss frozen potato cubes (or shred), frozen greens, frozen corn and fresh or frozen onions with a glug of olive oil, salt and pepper. Put in a casserole dish and pour on a bowl full of eggs beaten with a bit of flour and milk. Dollop with ricotta cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven until puffed and lightly brown or about 25 to 35 minutes depending on the size of your dish.
  2. Soups, Chilis and Stews – Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Frozen potato cubes can be thrown into any ladle-friendly meal about 15 minutes or so before it is finished simmering. You can also make a quick potato soup by covering two cups of frozen potatoes with your favorite salted/seasoned broth and simmering until tender and either pureeing for a silky bisque-like soup or keep it chunky and throw in other quick cooking veggies or leftover cooked meat.
  3. Get Ethnic! – Many cuisines use potatoes and two of my favorite are Indian curries and the delicious Spanish tortilla. Use care when cooking any frozen potatoes in oil and use the moisture they release to help cook them further by covering or partially covering the pan with a lid.

frozen-rhubarb_ccmorguefile_smallfrozen rhubarb_ccmorguefile_small

Other Frozen Friends:

  1. Rhubarb – bake in a pie with strawberries or stew with sugar and water to make a sauce
  2. Tomatoes – chop frozen whole tomatoes with a sharp knife and add to ladle-friendly meals or cook with butter, garlic, pesto or dried herbs for a quick pasta sauce
  3. Zucchini – add to ladle-friendly meals or thaw, drain and dry like you would frozen greens and add to muffins, cake, bread or saute in bit of butter and chopped onions until tender for a delicious side dish.
  4. Peas – beside the usual steaming or throwing into macaroni and cheese, try making soup! Here is a link to my absolute favorite recipe for fresh pea soup. And it is JUST as delicious and beautiful if you do not puree it.
  5. Winter Squash – Boil until tender, mash with a fork or whisk and serve as a side dish with a touch of salt and butter. Also try it in pancakes, make a silky coconut milk bisque or substitute the sweet potato in this delicious southern recipe for cake.
  6. Mixed Veggies – Use for stir-fry, fried rice, ladle-friendly meals or bake into a vegetable lasagna or make pasta primavera. It is that easy.

 

Resources:

The Kitchn – How to Make Your Frozen Vegetables Suck a Little Less

Epicurious.com

New York Times Diner’s Journal

BBC Good Food

Greens 101

We’ve been talking about greens all month here on the blog. And you’re probably seeing greens everywhere at the market and in your farm shares. But maybe you aren’t so sure the difference between chard and collards or mesclun and romaine. So here is a visual guide to a few of our favorite greens and some info to get you started.

Name: Arugula Season: spring – summer Taste: bitter Cooking Methods: braise, raw (salads), saute, soups, wilt Pairs well with: balsamic vinegar, cheese: goat and Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, tomatoesTry:arugula + balsamic + lemon + olive oil + Parmesan OR raw arugula + pears + prosciutto

 

Name: Bok choy
Season: year-round

Taste: bitter Cooking Methods: boil, braise, raw, stir-fry Pairs well with: ginger, rice, sesame oil, soy sauce Try:bok choy + oyster sauce + mushrooms (stir-fried) OR bok choy + sesame oil + vinegar + scallions (raw)

 

Name: Collard Greens Season: winter – spring Taste: bitter Cooking Methods: boil, braise, steam, stir-fry Pairs well with: bacon, black-eyed peas, cider vinegar, onions, salt pork,

Try: steamed collard greens + brown rice + black-eyed peas

 

 

Name: Dandelion greens

Season: late spring – early autumn Taste: bitter Cooking Methods: raw, saute, steam Pairs well with: anchovies, bacon, Dijon mustard, garlic, onionsTry:steamed dandelion greens + garlic + onion + Parmesan

Name: Kale Season: spring- autumn  Taste: bitter, sweet Cooking Methods: blanch, boil, braise, saute, steam, stir-fry Pairs well with: chicken stock, garlic, nutmeg, olive oil, onions, pasta, red pepper flakes, roasted meats, thyme, tomatoes Try:kale + garlic + olive oil + red wine vinegar OR kale + onions + salt + smoked sausage

Name: Loose leaf lettuce (lettuces in general)

Season: spring- autumn Cooking Methods: raw Pairs well with: apples, bacon, basil, cheese, dill, eggs, mint, nuts, olive oil, parsley, pears, raisins, raw vegetables, sprouts, tarragon, vinegar Try: limitless options here

 

Name: Mesclun (mixed baby lettuces)

Season: spring       Taste: bitter, sweet Cooking Methods: raw Pairs well with: basil, goat cheese, chives, lemon, olive oil, pecans, shallots, tarragon, vinaigrette Try:mesclun + goat cheese + hazelnuts or pecans

Name: Romaine (Head lettuce)

Season: spring- autumn Taste: bitter, sweet Cooking Methods: grill, rawPairs well with: anchovies, avocados, Dijon mustard, eggs, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, red onions, shallots, vinegar, walnuts

 

 

Try:romaine + anchovies + Parmesan cheese OR romaine + capers + garlic + Parmesan cheese + red onions

Name: Swiss chard
Season: year-round    Taste: bitter

Cooking Methods: boil, braise, sauté, steam, stir-fry

Pairs well with: bacon, garlic, lemon, onions, mushrooms, pasta, potatoes, red pepper flakes, thyme, vinegar

 

Try: chard + bell peppers + Parmesan cheese + eggplant OR chard + red pepper flakes + lemon juice

Frittata with Spring Greens

A frittata is a tasty combination of eggs, vegetables, and cheese cooked on the stove and then finished in the oven. This is a basic recipe that can be widely adapted.

Frittata with Spring Greens

Ingredients • One large sweet or yellow onion, diced • One clove of garlic, minced (if desired) • 2 tbs of butter or olive oil • One bunch of green vegetables: chose one or more: spinach, asparagus, swiss chard, kale, arugula, scallions, leeks, etc., rough chopped • 3/4 to full cup of your favorite cheese: shredded cheddar, ricotta, goat chevre, feta–just about anything works! • 1/4 cup grated parmesan for the top • 8-10 eggs • ½ cup cream, half and half, or milk • salt and pepper to tastePreparation Melt butter or warm oil in a heavy, ovenproof, non-stick or cast iron skillet (approximately 10 inch). Saute onion and garlic in the butter or oil until translucent. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and cheese with salt and pepper. Add chopped vegetables to the skillet and saute briefly (longer for thicker veg like asparagus). Add egg mixture to skillet; fold gently to combine. Cook until almost set. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. Broil until frittata is puffed and cheese begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

The Topping On The Pizza

Thanks to the Domestic Diva for sharing her favorite pizza topping combinations with us!

Goat Cheese & Seasonal Greens Pizza

Seasoned oil

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • Salt, to taste

Topping

  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, kale or blistered tomatoes.
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 8 oz. whole-milk mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
  • 4 oz. soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)

 

Pear, Cheese and Walnut Pizza

  • 12 oz. bleu or gorganzola cheese (manchego or brinata work well too)
  • 2 pears (about), halved, cored, very thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup walnut pieces, coarsely broken
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

 

Pizza Margherita

2 cloves garlic- crushed into ¼ cup olive oil.  Drizzle on and spread olive oil over crust.  Reserve left over.

Cover with:

  • 1 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
  • 2  large tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • ½ bunch basil, chiffonade