Now that I’ve drawn you in with the term zucchini, allow me to admit that this recipe will NOT get rid of all your excess garden zucchini — just one of the things — so don’t give up on pestering your neighbors and co-workers yet.
But it’s July, you’ve got zucchini, I’ve got zucchini, the Farmer’s Market has got zucchini, and any recipe that incorporates the stuff is worth looking at. Plus, this uses a LOT of summer vegetables, so if you’ve got a garden or purchase a shareholder CSA box of produce, this is a fun way to eat well and healthfully. This recipe serves 4 light eaters, or 3 reasonably hungry ones:
Recipe: Garden Medley Melee
2 Tablespoons oil (I use olive oil)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 stalks celery with leaves, chopped (do you know that you can grow this stuff in your garden? I had no idea. It’s thinner that what the store carries, but it has an amazingly strong celery flavor. Much, much stronger than what you get in the conventional produce department).
2 green onions, chopped or snipped into small pieces with scissors
1 zucchini, 8-10 inches, diced or thinly sliced
8-10 leaves of greens (I used a mixture of kale and chard; anything but lettuce), ribboned
1 green tomato, chopped
1 cup pasta, any shape, cooked
1/2 cup grated cheese (I used fresh queso blanco goat cheese, but I’ve got goats; just poke around the fridge and see what you’ve got)
Optional: leftover cooked meat item from your refrigerator, chopped or sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons sugar
Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add garlic. Saute 1-2 minutes until the garlic sizzles, but doesn’t burn (burnt garlic is really, really yucky). Add the celery and saute until softened but still firm, 3-5 minutes.
Add the onions and zucchini and stir around for another 3-5 minutes, until the zucchini is softened, but not soggy. Stir in the greens and let cook another five minutes. (When you wash the greens, don’t worry about drying them; the moisture left clinging to them adds to the pan and keeps the everything from burning. If there isn’t enough moisture and you want more, add a little water or chicken stock.)
During the sauteeing process, when you’re not stirring vegetables in the pan, mix together the dressing ingredients of oil, balsamic vinegar and sugar until emulsified. Of course, it won’t stay this way, so just before you add it to the final mixture, whisk it again.
Back to the pan, your greens should be limp and cooked; stir in the chopped tomatoes and that piece de resistance, your leftover piece of meat — I used a chunk of halibut that was enough for one person but not four, and it sure wasn’t going to the dog.
Now, plate it up (I learned that term from Tired of Being Youngest, our culinary student). While you can mix the whole thing together in a bowl and serve from there, it looks nicer when you do this:
Divide the pasta onto 3 or 4 plates, however many servings you are making. Top with the vegetable/leftover meat mixture. Whisk the dressing and pour it over each serving on the plates. Sprinkle the entire thing with cheese.
Quick, cheap, healthy, and uses ONE zucchini.
One down. 277 to go.
Eating seasonally is a lifestyle change that you can make — gradually
so that it fits who and what you are — to save money. If there’s any secret to saving money, this is it: it’s a lifestyle. It doesn’t look the same from one household to the next, and what works for someone else may or may not work for you.
But developing this lifestyle is actually kind of fun, and the more you do it, the better you get at it. My book, Live Happily on Less, walks you gently through this process, and whether you are new to saving money or are a seasoned pro, you’ll find information that speaks to you.