Zucchini Carpaccio

I came across this tweet from Julia Bainbridge just as the zucchini from the CSA and our own garden were starting to pile up. They are good grilled, but I’m always on the lookout for something different because they are so plentiful this time of year.

As Julia notes, she isn’t the first to come up with this, and neither am I. Just sharing the good news in this time of beaucoup squash.

You can make a full plate with one medium zucchini or squash, which makes an excellent side dish for two people.

For background, carpaccio is usually a thin-sliced meat dish dressed with an oil, an acid, and seasonings. You can apply that same framework to other foods, basically anything that you can slice thin and eat raw. It is almost like a quick pickle, but without the sugar.

It is definitely possible to slice the zucchini or squash with a sharp knife, but using a mandoline definitely helps. Here is the one I use, but it is by no means the best or even cheapest on out there.

Here are three recent variations I’ve made:

Zucchini sliced thin with dill, parmesan, tomatoes, borage flowers, lemon juice, and olive oil.

This one is zucchini sliced longways with dill, parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, Penzeys Tuscan Sunset, black pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, and borage flowers.

yellow squash sliced thin with cilantro, cotija, tomatoes, lime juice, and tajin.

This one is yellow squash sliced shortways like discs, which I find easier to eat, even though it doesn’t look as pretty as if it were sliced longways. It was meant to similar to the top one with parsley added, but when I realized after I chopped it that I had grabbed the cilantro instead of the parsley, I rolled with it and made a Mexican flavored one instead: Lime juice, olive oil, cotija cheese, cherry tomatoes, Tajin seasoning and cilantro.

This third carpaccio is roughly Middle East inspired: Sumac (since I didn’t have any za’atar on hand… this pandemic has kept me from Kalustyan’s!), feta, shaved carrots, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Some tips:

  • Use whatever you have in the fridge, pantry, or garden. Don’t make a special trip to the store for this.
  • Cheese is essential, no matter what kind it is. Every single zucchini carpaccio we’ve eaten this summer has been better with cheese.
  • Make it beautiful. Take a few extra minutes to make it look nice on the plate. Food that looks pretty tastes better.
  • This is best eaten outside. On a porch or in a yard if you have one, on the roof, stoop, or local park if you don’t. This is more about getting outside and tasting summer, especially during these pandemic times.
  • Your favorite spices will mostly likely work on this! Don’t worry, just try it.
  • Leverage fresh herbs from your garden, window box, or kitchen terra cotta pot that you sometimes forget to water. Knowing that you grew an ingredient makes it taste better and makes it more yours.

Cooking the Books: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, Sister Pie, and The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie

This is a guest post from KatieRose McEneely, a fellow culinary experimenting friend from college. She is a fantastic artist who created the paper cuts of a cow, sheep, and pig that currently hang above our couch. Thanks for joining in the challenge, KatieRose! 

If you want to join the Cooking the Books challenge, see the details at the bottom of this post.


1. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, Mark Bittman 

Recipe: Caramelized Squash with vinegar

  • Butternut squash, cubed
  • sugar
  • balsamic vinegar
  • onion, minced
  • garlic (omitted)
  • salt and pepper
  • rosemary, fresh and minced

I made the balsamic and rosemary variation–the original recipe uses sherry vinegar and chili powder. I didn’t take a photo, but it looks like cubed squash in a dark sauce, so.

Why I tried it: I had all of the ingredients and the cooking method was unfamiliar to me (it’s Vietnamese in origin). Plus, I thought I’d have a fighting chance of more than one member of the household giving it a taste.

It is technically not a one-pot meal, so I served it with a green salad and risotto, per Bittman’s recommendation.

Result: Real talk: would never make this again. The first step consists of making caramel, then adding vinegar and water to dissolve the caramel (and perfume your kitchen with the scent of hot vinegar, which was met with protests from other members of the household). Then, add the onion and cook until softened; add cubed squash, cover and steam for three minutes, then cook uncovered until squash is tender. Finish with the spices and cook a bit longer, until the sauce thickens.

I really liked the texture of the squash–I usually default to roasting it–but the flavor was much too sweet, and the rosemary was not discernable, despite adding a full tablespoon. Also, I question the nutritional value of a vegetable dish that contains more sugar than the following recipe, which is a dessert.

 

2.  Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-hearted Bakery in Detroit, Lisa Ludwinski

Recipe: Coconut Sweet Potato Pie

Why I tried it: I love pie (and I’m a huge fan of the Sister Pie cookbook), but I generally don’t enjoy custard or squash pies, possibly because I am lactose intolerant. This recipe has a very small amount of dairy, and uses full-fat coconut milk for the bulk of the liquid.

The recipe is available in full in many places, but here’s a link to it on Wisconsin Public Radio.

Result: Well, I’m converted. The pie is delicious; a faint coconut flavor, a smooth texture accented by the toasted unsweetened coconut garnish, and it’s not milky at all. It also baked in the time given in the recipe, but I attribute that less to the recipe and more to the fact that I finally bought an oven thermometer.

 

3. The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie, Paula Haney

I’ll note that I did make an additional new-to-me recipe on Jan. 30; it was Hoosier Mama’s apple pie, from the eponymous cookbook, which I also own. (If you like pecan pie, her recipe is superlative.)

Look, I’ve made a lot of apple pies in my time, and this was the taskiest of them all (and the first to omit cinnamon!). Never have I pre-cooked the drained liquid from the apples, let it cool, chilled it further, and then incorporated it to the rest of the pie filling. I’ve eaten this recipe before, because it’s delicious, and the result was great.

I’m of two minds: I make pie because I have things lying around that can go into a crust, and most of the time I’m winging it. But the final product here is very consistent, and my dad really likes it. It might be a game-time decision (and on the plus side, it baked more quickly than my usual method, which involves piling apples into a shell and baking until the filling reaches the set temperature for jam).

All told: this was fun! My sister and I have an agreement to try at least two new recipes per month, so it was a good jump-start. I’m fortunate in that my cookbook selection is small and I’m pretty good about using them, but I’m a librarian, so I have a lot of access to new titles without committing to a purchase.

Thanks for the invite!

Cheers,

KatieRose


Join us!

If you want to join us in the Cooking the Books challenge, send your posts to cagrimmett@gmail.com! I’ll guest post them here on Cook Like Chuck. Here are some guidelines:

  • Send me a decent photo of the book to use as the featured image
  • Send me photos of the meal you cooked
  • Write a little bit about the book, why you chose it, and how the meal turned out
  • Send me a photo of the recipe

Let’s dust off those cookbooks and put them to use this year.

Sisters Hill Farm 2018 CSA: Week 7

This week is a quintessential summer vegetable share. Eggplant and yellow squash are finally here and tomatoes are a bit early this year!

What we received in this week’s share:

  • Lettuce, carrots, cucumber, scallions, tomato – Lunch salads!
  • Cabbage – I’ll combine this with last week’s cabbage and start some homemade sauerkraut.
  • Squash, Japanese eggplant, basil, and garlic scapes – I added this to a pasta dish tonight with chicken sausage and the spinach from last week. I let the flavors shine with olive oil and fresh grated pecorino instead of a tomato sauce. We’ve been using a red lentil pasta from Trader Joe’s to cut down on carbs.
  • Italian Eggplant, peppers, and garlic scapes – I love charring the skin of the eggplant and then roasting the eggplant whole along with a hot pepper, an onion, and some garlic (scapes will do!). Purée everything in the food processor with some fresh oregano and eat it with pita chips or tortilla chips.
    • I’m also thinking seriously about trying this za’atar eggplant fries recipe with a lemon tahini dipping sauce.
    • Eggplant is also great sliced and roasted or grilled. Combined with the squash it could make a nice ratatouille.
  • Kale – Just like the past few weeks, I’ll make a frittata with the kale and some sausage. I also toss in any leftover garlic scapes.
  • Carrots and squash – Both are great for roasting for a quick side dish. Cut the carrots into quarters along their length and the squash into 1-inch thick discs along their width. Roast for 20 minutes at 400F with olive oil and your spices of choice. I like garlic powder or paprika for the squash and cumin for the carrots.

What I’m Doing With My CSA Shares: Weeks 10 and 11

Week 10

  • Green Beans: Putting 1/4 of them in cauliflower rice and the rest we’ll steam and toss with butter and garlic.
  • Potatoes: We turned these beauties into a breakfast skillet.
  • Tomatillos: We’ll probably turn these into either a salsa or a stew this weekend. We’ll see.
  • Green Peppers: We put one into tacos and another into the aforementioned breakfast skillet. The other two will probably go into salads.
  • Heirloom tomatoes: We turned one into a glorious BLT and the second into a caprese salad.
  • Regular tomatoes: I cut up one for a taco salad. The other two will probably go into regular salads.
  • Cherry tomatoes: I cut each of these in half and made a quick pasta sauce (which we ate with Banza chickpea pasta) with onions, garlic, and oregano.
  • Yellow Squash: I’ll probably cut this up and add it to a big salad for a Friday picnic.
  • Green chiles: I added a few of these to tacos so far. The rest might go in the tomatillo salsa or stew.

Here is the BLT and breakfast skillet:

 

Week 11

IMG_8599.JPG

  • Onions – We used one for a breakfast skillet with potatoes and another in cauliflower rice.
  • Hot peppers – There are three different types here: Jalapeno (left), shishito (middle), and some unknown long green chiles (right). We used the 4 shishito in cauliflower rice.
  • Green tiger tomato – We’ll either use this for another caprese salad, or perhaps roasting with some garlic for a simple side dish.
  • Green peppers – We used one in a breakfast skillet and another in cauliflower rice. I’ll use the other two for similar things.
  • Garlic – We’ll probably save this, use up the garlic we have, then use this. It is a hardneck variety, so it will last a while.
  • Tomatoes – We put one in a corn and tomato salad with Old Bay. We’ll put the others in salad or roast them.
  • Not pictured: A beautiful heirloom tomato, just like last week. We made it into another caprese salad with our apartment-grown basil.