Category Archives: zucchini

Veggie-stuffed peppers

This is a quick and yummy meal that I thought up at the last minute. I was watching the Food Channel and saw someone making a traditional stuffed-pepper meal, meaning hamburger and bread crumbs. Uhm, not gonna work. But I remember loving my Mom’s stuffed peppers when I was a kid. So, with my daughter by my side, we came up with an even better, gluten-free, vegetarian version.

Quick and easy veggie-stuffed peppers

Veggie-stuffed Peppers

3 large peppers (I prefer red or orange since they are a little sweeter)

1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms

1/2 chopped zucchini

1 large sweet onion, diced

olive oil/salt/pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bag Trader Joe’s frozen Jasmine rice (about 2 cups)

1 cup shredded Mexican cheese

Oregano, basil (dried)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place olive oil, onions and garlic in saute pan and cook till tender. Add salt and pepper.

3. While onions are cooking, slice the top off the peppers. (when choosing peppers, try to pick out ones that will stand on their own.) Clean out the peppers and leave whole, placing them in a glass baking dish or pie pan so they stand on their own, then dice up the tops and reserve those for the filling.

4. Add peppers to the pan and saute till tender, then mushrooms to the pan and saute till brown.

5. Add zucchini last and cook for a few minutes until just tender.

6. Finally, add the rice, a bit more olive oil, oregano, basil, salt & pepper to taste. Cook until the mixture is warm and mixed well.

7. Fill each pepper halfway, then add a pinch of cheese (a little less than 1/4 cup) in each one.

8. Finish filling peppers and mound it on top.

9. Top off each pepper with another pinch of cheese.

10. Bake for about 30 minutes, then let sit for about 10 minutes. (These are piping hot inside and so good you’ll burn your mouth for sure.)

These can also be made with brown rice (which I didn’t have at the time) and any veggies you have hanging around in the fridge. It’s a great way to use up any leftover veggies, just saute with some rice and stuff a pepper. Enjoy!

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Filed under cheese, cooking, dinner, dinner parties, dinner party, egg-free, gluten free, mushrooms, quick meal, rice, squash, vegetarian, zucchini

GF Veggie Lasagna

My cravings for lasagna have not gone away. Although I’ve made a GF version of lasagna using TJ’s brown rice pasta (and it was yummy) I’ve been craving the kind Mom used to make. Finally, I came across these GF lasagna noodles. Pow! I’ve heard about them, and was so excited to see them at our local Whole Foods Market.

I will tell you that I put them in boiling water, let them cook for a minute, then checked the box to see how long it takes to cook them. Imagine my surprise when I saw “No Boiling – Oven Ready” right on the front. I turned the flame off but let them sit in the water while getting everything else finalized. They sat in there about 5 minutes, then I pulled them out and used them. They turned out great and I think I’ll do it like that again. I liked having them just like “regular” noodles. But go ahead and try them straight from the box and let me know. Dear chef, lesson learned – read the directions before cooking.

This was made with zucchini and spinach, but give it a try with any of your fave veggies. I love carrots, yellow squash and mushrooms also. Can’t wait to make all kinds of varieties now that I know it’s an option to make lasagna. Even Daughter loved it.

GF Veggie Lasagna
4-5 GF lasagna noodles (pre-cooked or not)
2 zucchini, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tbs chopped garlic
1 package silken tofu, drained and pressed
1/2 cup TJ’s goat’s milk mozzarella (shredded)
1 large can plum tomatoes
1 cup chopped and roasted carrots
dried oregano, parsley and basil to taste

This sounds like a lot of work, but it can all be going on at once. Don’t let it intimidate you. It is so worth the effort and is truly a comfort food you will love.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Put chopped carrots in a flat roasting sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt, mix and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes.
3. Cook zucchini in a saute pan with 1/2 TBS of olive oil, salt and pepper until it becomes translucent.
4. Add spinach to zucchini by handfuls and let it wilt and cook.
5. Add 1 Tbs chopped garlic to veggies and cook for another minute, then put veggies in a strainer over a bowl to let the liquid drip off (too much will make the lasagna mushy).
6. Set a large pot of water to boil. When it boils, turn off the heat and add the lasagna noodles. Let them sit.
7. No need to wash the saute pan. Add the chopped onions and another 1/2 Tbs olive oil. Cook until onions are translucent.
8. Add 1 Tbs chopped garlic and cook for another minute.
9. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper.
10. Remove carrots from the oven. They should be carmelized and soft. Add to tomatoes, along with 1/2 tsp each of dried oregano, basil and parsely, mix and let simmer.
11. Place tofu in a bowl and add a 1/2 tsp each of dried oregano, basil and parsley. Add most of the mozzarella, leaving a little for the top of the lasagna. Mix well and set aside.
12. With an immersion blender (or regular blender if you don’t have one) blend the tomato sauce until smooth. (If you use a regular blender, be sure to keep the top slightly open so you don’t blow the top off the blender.)
13. Layer your lasagna in an 8X8 glass baking dish. Add sauce, noodles, half of the tofu mixture, half the veggies- then repeat. On the final layer, add noodles and sauce, then top with the reserved mozzarella.
14. Bake for 35 minutes until bubbly and cooked through. Let the lasagna rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

This is so much like Mom used to make. Yes, she used ricotta cheese, eggs and wheat noodles, but you’ll be surprised how much this tastes like the real thing. It hits that comfort spot with a warm, bubbly sauce, al-dente noodles and wonderful veggies. Add a little leftover sauce and it’s just like being a kid.

Enjoy!

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Filed under gluten free, pasta, spinach, vegetarian, zucchini

Zucchini Pesto "Pasta"

Well, another day of healthy eating. Started out the day with a green smoothie. Yum! Just add a frozen banana, handful of frozen mango chunks, handful of fresh blueberries, very large handful of raw spinach and a squeeze of agave syrup and just a little water. Blend until smooth…it’s amazing. The spinach gives it so much in the way of nutrients and such, but the only way to know it’s there is with the bright, beautiful green color. Other than that it tastes just like a regular fruit smoothie.

Here’s a tip… take any bananas that are getting overripe and you’re not going to eat, then just throw them in the freezer. Take one out when you want a thick smoothie. No ice needed. Frozen fruits are great and you can make them yourself. Just cut up, put in the freezer and viola! Fruit as needed.

But last night, I made a fun snack that I had to tell you about. I’ve been scouring Web sites and books, as well as visiting the recent raw foods meetup in town. I’ve gotten so many great ideas that I can’t wait to try them all out! Last night I sliced up a zucchini with a vegetable peeler to get long, thin ribbons. Then I added some fresh pesto (you can make and freeze that also, it’s easy). Add some ground flax seeds for texture and great Omega 3s, then mix it up and there you have it.

One afterthought… I realized that you need to eat it right away. If you want to wait, just salt the zucchini first and let it drain to get some of the moisture out first. There’s so much moisture in the zucchini that the sauce begins to get a little watery if you wait too long to eat it. Just salting it will do the trick, and add a little flavor too. Use sea salt for the best flavor. I think I’ll do that next time, but the flavor is wonderful either way and the crunchiness is so satisfying.

Enjoy!

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Filed under gluten free, pesto, raw, zucchini

A New Twist on an Old Classic

After a great visit to New Orleans, it’s nice to be home again. I made the spaghetti frittata while I was there, and it was yummy. Everyone ate it all up. There was one piece left the next morning and Daughter and I decided to share it. But we mistakenly took the cocktail sauce instead of the marinara sauce from my sister’s fridge and smothered it before noticing. Hmmm, not a great combo. But luckily there wasn’t that much left, although I hated not to eat it. I just couldn’t.

So now that we’re back, Daughter and I are making the most of the Quorn Chicken Tenders. It’s basically like the Quorn roast, but small chicken-like chunks. They are wonderful. We found them in the Whole Foods in New Orleans and ate them for lunch twice. Tonight, we decided to try a Shepard’s pie with them. What a great idea! For this one, I used cauliflower, baby zucchini and Quorn tenders, topped off with mashed potatoes of course. We had to stop ourselves from eating the whole pie, it was that good. This picture doesn’t do it justice. We took a quick shot before devouring it. But trust me, it rocks. Give it a try.

Shepard’s Pie with a Quorn Twist
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 bag of Quorn Tenders
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp dried basil
salt/pepper to taste
4-5 baby zucchini, sliced
1 cup chopped cauliflower
2 cups mashed potatoes

This one is easy and quick, but the flavors are so great.
1. Add frozen Quorn to a hot pan with olive oil. Add garlic powder, basil, pinch of salt and pepper to tenders and let them brown slightly.
2. Place zucchini and cauliflower in a separate glass bowl and microwave for about 2 minutes until tender.
3. Add veggies to the tenders in the saute pan and mix.

4. Spray a tart pan with nonstick olive oil spray. Add Quorn mixture to bottom of pan and spread out to cover.
5. Add mashed potatoes on top of Quorn mixture and spread out evenly to the edges. You can use leftover mashed potatoes, make your own, or even use pre-made. For a quick dinner, I don’t mind pre-made mashed potatoes.
6. Since everything is already cooked, you really don’t need to heat for long. If the potatoes are cold, put into a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes. You may need to put it on broil for a few minutes to brown up the top. If the potatoes are warm, just place your pie under the broiler for about five minutes to brown up the top.
7. Let it sit for a few minutes to cool, then serve.

Enjoy!

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Filed under cauliflower, gluten free, potato, Quorn, shepherd's pie, zucchini

Pignoli Pasta Salad


Daughter and I are going on a hike tomorrow and bringing along a lunch. I’ll leave it in a cooler at the bottom of the mountain, but what can I bring that will satisfy my hunger, taste great and not taste boring? I had an “aha” moment in Trader Joe’s when I saw the pignolis (pine nuts). Why not make a pasta salad with toasted pine nuts? Yum. There’s no mayo, so letting it sit in the cooler for a few hours works fine. With lots of fresh, crunchy veggies, it’s sure to satisfy after a long hike in the desert. Of course, Daughter and I had to eat it for dinner too, just to make sure it was good. The pine nuts give it a wonderfully nutty flavor, and the veggies give it a crisp and light taste. I love fresh herbs, so please use the fresh parsley. Dried parsley just wouldn’t give it the fresh, spring taste. But feel free to add any fresh veggies you want and substitute anything. I adore crispy, fresh baby vegetables, and with the farmers’ market overflowing with great veggies right now, you can’t go wrong. I found the fennel and tomatoes there last weekend. Can’t wait to go back and find out what else I can make next week.

As I write this, I realize that since I’m in Arizona I forget that the rest of the world isn’t having 80-degree weather with sunny skies and farmers markets on the weekends. I know so many of my friends are shoveling themselves out of snow and trying to find anything green outside. If that’s your situation, I wish you a nice, warm, cozy fire to sit by and a good movie to watch. And have some pasta salad while you’re at it.

Pignoli Pasta Salad
1 cup raw pine nuts
1 cup chopped baby zucchini (one small bag from TJ’s)
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced fennel
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup diced tomatoes (I had these left from the farmers’ market trip)
3/4 cup shredded Romano cheese (leave out if you’re vegan or DF)
1 bag of Trader Joe’s brown rice fusilli pasta

Dressing:
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
1 tsp chopped Basil (or dried)
1 Tbs grated romano cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt
Pepper

Ratio is 2/1 for oil and vinegar totaling about 1/4 cup. Then just add herbs and spices and taste. I don’t like my dressing with too much vinegar, but some people do. Just add a little more of each till you have it just right. Depending on what veggies you use, you may need a little more.

1. Start out by cooking the pasta as directed. When it’s done (al dente), drain and quickly rinse it in cold water to stop any further cooking. You don’t want mushy pasta salad.

2. In a frying pan without any oil, toast the nuts lightly over medium heat. Stir often and when they turn golden brown, remove from pan to prevent burning. I burned the first batch, so be careful, they go from brown to black quickly.

3. Once the pasta has cooled, add the veggies, cheese, nuts and dressing. Mix thoroughly. I saved a little of the dressing for tomorrow since it usually soaks everything up overnight.

Enjoy!

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Filed under fennel, gluten free, pasta, salad, zucchini

Crispy Tofu and Squash

While trying to limit carbs, I’m also trying to improve taste. That’s not easy being on a gluten-free, vegetarian, mostly dairy-free diet. Making that low carb can put a crimp in what’s left to eat. But I’m learning to adapt. Last night I decided to stir fry up some tofu and some beautiful baby zucchini from Trader Joe’s. Yum. My daughter decided she wanted fried rice, so we combined the two for a wonderful two-way dinner.

Using a little nutritional yeast is the key. It gives flavor and crispiness to the tofu. Don’t be afraid of it, I had never heard of it before last year and I was pretty nervous about trying it, but it’s really great. I found it in the bulk section of Whole Foods. You only need a small handful to last a long time.

Crispy Tofu and Squash
8 oz. Extra firm tofu
1 tsp nutritional yeast flakes
7 baby zucchini
1 yellow squash, cut into small pieces
2 eggs
1.5 cups Jasmine rice
splash of wheat-free tamari
splash of sesame oil

Take about one cup of cubed firm tofu, drained and pressed to get out most of the liquid. Let that sit and drain while cutting the baby zucchini and yellow squash in small pieces. Stir fry squash and zucchini in a little olive oil and wheat-free tamari. Add a few tablespoons of water to steam after a few moments, then let them brown for a moment.

Take out zucchini, add olive oil to the pan and add tofu (I like to add a little butter also, it helps to brown the tofu). Sprinkle tofu with about 1 teaspoon of nutritional yeast. Stir fry until tofu gets crispy and browned on all sides. It doesn’t take long, shake the pan often to loosen tofu and brown it.

When tofu is done, add zucchini to the pan. At this point, I add a little garlic and salt and I’m good to go. Daughter wanted her rice, so to the pan (after I had taken my half out) we added two scrambled egg whites (or whole eggs) cooked earlier and broken into small pieces and one and a half cups of jasmine rice, precooked (Trader Joe’s). Stir fry this for a few moments, adding a little more tamari and a small splash of sesame oil.

Tofu with added rice and eggs

Either way, it’s beautiful. Without the rice, this is a high-protein meal with low carbs. You can also add the eggs in with the tofu and zucchini for an even bigger protein boost. With the rice, it’s a great, filling meal with lots of protein and veggies.

Enjoy!

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Filed under dairy free, gluten free, low carb, rice, squash, tofu, zucchini