Monday, September 26, 2011

Sauteed Zucchini with Pecorino and Onions

I used to be a huge vegetable person growing up. I thank my mom for this as it was ingrained in my brain that a balanced meal was one that contained some kind of vegetable. When I went to college, I started eating meals that were cheap and fast like macaroni and cheese, Funions - fake fried onions, ramen noodles, baked potatoes with cheese and ranch dressing. I think most of us have done this at one time or another - maybe it's just when things are crazy at work or home and you don't have time to cook a good meal. We do the best we can at times.
Now that I'm older (and hopefully wiser...fake onions??) I do try to always have a vegetable with our meal. Sometimes it's because of guilt...that little voice in my head saying, you must eat your vegetables, you must eat your vegetables. But for the most part, I really do enjoy them. Zucchini is one of my favorites. I forget about it though and seem to eat mostly broccoli and spinach. Every now and then, I remember it longingly and venture out to buy some. I did this recently and ended up making a really tasty dish (that we've now had three times!) that I'm sharing here with you guys. Yes, I did add some cheese...and butter but at least we are eating our vegetables.

I could eat this by the bowl, all by itself. The key is to caramelize the zucchini. You may not be able to tell by the photo but if you let the zucchini brown a bit, it enhances the flavor even more. Kind of like caramelized onions. This dish has so much flavor, you won't believe it. With the sharp cheese, the sauteed onions and caramelized zucchini. So good! If you don't like zucchini, give this one a try. Even my husband liked it.

Sauteed Zucchini with Pecorino and Onions 

4 medium sized zucchini, washed and sliced 1/4 inch slices
1 yellow or red onion, quartered and sliced thinly
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (can use EVOO)
1 teaspoon Nature's Season Seasoning (can substitute salt and pepper)
1 cup of finely grated pecorino cheese
2 tablespoons butter

In a hot saute pan, add the grapeseed oil and then add your zucchini, onions and Nature's Seasoning. Give them a quick stir to coat. Keeping your heat on medium, let the zucchini cook, stirring them every minute or so. You don't want them to burn, just brown. Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until slightly brown and soft. Reduce the heat if necessary if they turn brown and are not quite soft yet. When they're done, add the cheese and mix well. Turn off the heat and add the butter. Gently stir to combine. Serve hot!  Serves 4-6.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cheesy Vegetable Gratin

Where does the time go? Can you believe summer is almost over and it's time for orange sweaters, knee-high boots, Halloween candy, leaves falling from the trees and cool days?

I love the fall but I'm still relishing the last few weeks of summer and warm weather. It seems summer came late this year. We've had more warm evenings in September than in August which is definitely unusual.

Here is a dish to celebrate the end of the summer. It's delicious and you'll like vegetables that you normally don't like when they're in this dish. Trust me on this one.  If you have summer vegetables you need to use up like corn, zucchini, yellow squash, or tomatoes, I urge you to give this one a try. You can leave out what you don't like and add in ones that you do...the kitchen is your canvas.

This dish is great for leftovers. Serve with chicken, fish or any meat for that matter. You could add a salad or just have this, either way you'll have a very nice meal. 

I used a seasoning in this dish called Nature's Season Seasoning. My mom and I have used this seasoning for a long time on vegetables and it's really good. It adds flavor and wakes veggies up. We have always been able to get it at the grocery store. If you don't have it for this dish, just use salt and pepper. 

I urge you to season each layer of your dish with salt and pepper. It adds so much flavor when dishes are seasoned properly. If you cook this way, you won't need to put salt and pepper on the table because everything will already be seasoned perfectly.  

Slice your squash in 1/4 inch slices.

Layer your buttered dish with the squash.

Add sliced tomato, shallots and basil.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients - cheese, egg and more fresh tomatoes, basil. Bake!

Goodness right out of the oven. Let it sit and cool a bit and then serve...yum.

Cheesy Vegetable Gratin

1 lb. yellow squash or zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 lb. ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch slices
1/2 onion, sliced (I had shallot on hand so used this)
1 teaspoon Nature's Season Seasoning
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cup whole milk (to make it lower in carbs, I used cream and omitted the cornstarch)
2 tablespoon cornstarch
3 large eggs
5 ears of corn, with the kernels cut off or 1/2 bag of frozen corn.
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs (or regular breadcrumbs will work)
3/4 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Mozzerella cheese

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Butter a 9x13 baking dish. Add a layer of squash, overlapping if necessary. Add half of the tomatoes layered on top of the squash and then the sliced onion. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Sprinkle with the Nature's Season or salt and pepper. Add half of the basil. Place in the oven for 25 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk milk, cornstarch, and salt and pepper. Whisk in eggs. Mix well.

In another bowl, combine panko, 1/4 cup of cheddar, salt and pepper, and remaining basil and oil. Mix well to combine.

After veggies come out of the oven, sprinkle remaining cheeses over the roasted vegetables. Top with corn. Pour milk mixture over it all. Add remaining raw tomatoes. Sprinkle with the panko mixture.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until browned and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes and then serve.

Serves 12 or 6 if served as a main dish.

Adapted from Good Housekeeping