Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Variety keeps summer squash satisfying

Margie Mansure cooked up pasta with sauce at Italian cooking class, Venice
Winter-time longings often include foods such as tomatoes, peaches, and watermelon, but usually not squash. While squash has a pleasant enough flavor, the more methods you have to prepare it, the better. It’s easy to grow, and most gardeners are very willing to share their abundance.

I recently took a cooking class in northern Italy, the birthplace of the zucchini variety. After being introduced to summer squash from the Americas, it is thought that the Italians developed zucchini in the late 19th century. Our Italian chef taught us how to cook and blend the middle of the zucchini to make a pasta sauce. This turned out to be a healthy, creative way to make a thick sauce for our home-made pasta.

Pasta Sauce with fresh tomatoes and zucchini
300 grams, or around .67 pound zucchini
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon minced parsley
2 ripe tomatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Boil a pot of water large enough to submerge tomatoes. Submerge tomatoes for 2 minutes into boiling water. Peel the skin off the tomatoes, remove the seeds, and dice them. Set aside.
Cut 1/8” of the skin off the zucchini. Julienne the skin, or cut in 1/8” wide strips. Dice the white part of the zucchini. You will need 2 different small saut√© pans to cook the zucchini white separate from the julienned skin. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to each pan and place over medium heat. Add 1 clove minced garlic to each pan and ½ tablespoon minced parsley. Add diced zucchini white to one pan and julienned skin to the other. Add ½ cup or so of water to the white, enough to make it the thickness you want. Stir both pans occasionally and cook until white is soft, and skin is desired texture. Puree the white zucchini in a blender or food processor. Stir cooked zucchini skins and diced tomatoes into the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve this over pasta and top with parmesan cheese as desired.    

After receiving a huge squash that was unsuitable for anything other than baking, my daughter prepared this recipe for a summer gathering. Most people thought it was brownies. A real hit!

Chocolate zucchini cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13-inch pan with nonstick spray. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Combine the milk, applesauce, eggs and vanilla in another bowl. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture. Add the zucchini and stir until just blended.
Pour the batter into the pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 35 minutes). Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.

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