Getting Inventive With Zucchini
Late breaking news: As of this week, my daughter is walking around the neighborhood by herself. This is HUGE progress and we are both thrilled and delighted. Speaking of progress, persistent technical difficulties have now been cleared up so these posts will once agan reach you. Onward, right?
About That Zucchini
One of my favorite aspects of this time of year is the way friends and neighbors love to hand out extra vegetables. Whenever I share extra plants in the summer, a sweet share of the harvest appears like magic on my porch: little piles of ripe tomatoes, garlic, a handful of tender pole beans, a fat winter squash, and of course zucchini. LOTS of zucchini. I know some people complain about getting zucched, but to me, it’s a lovely gift, especially this year when I really didn’t have the capacity to tend my garden beyond a loving, regretful minimum.
There are so many things to do with this delicious squash, from savory pancakes and fritters to risotto and stir fries and of course it can be added to all sort of soups. I sneak it into casseroles and stews, add it to chili and pasta sauce, and even put shredded zucchini into chicken pot pie. Best of all, I know my daughter is getting her vegetables even if she doesn’t realize it. There are plenty of ways to hide zucchini, but why not let it shine? To me, it’s best cooked quickly so it doesn’t turn to mush. The thick, hearty soup below cooks fast, so the firm, late harvest zucchini still has a pleasant texture. See what you think!
A Little Pesto Goes A Long Way
This afternoon I made some pesto with the last of my plants which were fading fast in the now-chilly nights. It’s a super quick very easy vegan recipe (no cheese, because I don’t have any right now) that adds body and that enticing, crave-able flavor to pretty much anything and even freezes beautifully. You really don’t miss the cheese as it’s plenty rich thanks to the oil and ground up nuts. Sometimes I use all walnuts or almonds or cashews, but this time I used mixed nuts because we were just given some (porch gift!) that also included hazelnuts and pecans. Why not?
Speedy Vegan Pesto
6 cups basil leaves, stems and blossoms (not packed)
1/2 cup roasted, salted mixed nuts
2 very large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons avocado oil (or any)
1/8 teaspoon salt (taste before adding this as the nuts might be enough salt for you.
A little freshly ground pepper
Combine everything but salt and pepper in a food processor and grind to a fine slurry. Season to taste and use within 3 days or freeze. I freeze it in a dedicated ice cube tray and store the cubes in a freezer container to add a little to dressings, sauces, etc. later on.
Perfect Pesto Soup
This soup was made with what I had on hand (grated carrot, roasted cauliflower, roasted chicken, freshly made pesto) and despite the somewhat random nature of the ingredients, it makes a perfect meal on a chilly, drizzly day. If you don’t have all the ingredients, you can always add, omit and edit as you see fit. Gotta say the roasted cauliflower lends this soup wonderful depth, though (easiest ever recipe below, if you want to try it). I just added enough pesto to give this speedy soup a warm, satisfying flavor without overpowering the other ingredients but more would be lovely too.
Chicken and Vegetable Soup With Pesto
1 teaspoon avocado or vegetable oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt (I used basil salt recipe from last week)
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup shredded kale
2 medium zucchini, chopped
2 cups cooked chicken, diced
3 cups roasted cauliflower
2-3 tablespoons pesto
In a soup pot, combine oil, onions and salt over medium high heat and cook until barely soft (2-3 minutes). Add celery, carrot, kale and zucchini, stir to coat and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken, cover pan and cook for 5 minutes. Add cauliflower (if using) and water to barely cover everything. Bring to a simmer, stir in pesto to taste and serve hot. Makes about 6 delectable cups.
Irresistible Roasted Cauliflower
1 head cauliflower
2 teaspoons avocado oil (or any high temp oil)
1/4 teaspoon salt (I used rosemary garlic salt, recipe from last week)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut cauliflower florets into similarly bite sized pieces, leaving some stem on them and adding and smaller leaves. Pour oil in a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with half the salt, add cauliflower and toss to coat. Sprinkle with remaining salt and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Stir with a spatula, return to oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes until well browned on at least one side. Serves at least one.