Summer Squash and Tomato Gratin


Give this gratin time to cook slowly, releasing juices and then caramelizing slightly.  This gentle treatment emboldens flavors and intensifies the sugars.  What you’ll get is not just an explosion of summer flavors, bur also a rich, satisfying dish that could easily be the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal.  Using the basic recipe, experiment with different vegetable combinations, such as potatoes and eggplant, and also with different cheeses.  You’re sure to agree that this dish captures the essence of late summer.  Adapted from Fine Cooking. Read More

Creamy Tomato Soup with Zucchini “Croutons”

tomato soup

courtesy Fine Cooking



Quite a few variations are permissible – even encouraged – on this delicious tomato soup, which happens to be one of many wonderful recipes from Danielle’s cookbook Happily Hungry. Using butter to saute the veggies provides creaminess, but olive oil would work fine for a vegan version. Same with the heavy cream, vs coconut beverage – you could also try it with regular coconut milk (lite for less fat), but you’ll get a stronger coconut flavor.  We like this version because the tomato shines through – even in the middle of winter! When good garden-fresh tomatoes aren’t available, we love the San Marzano canned tomatoes, but if you have a favorite of your own, go for that.  And if you don’t happen to have canned whole tomatoes on hand, try using plain old diced tomatoes – or stewed with basil. The zucchini twist is fun and provides something to chew on as you sip this rich, satisfying soup, originally adapted from Fine Cooking.

6 T unsalted butter
3 medium zucchini (about 1½  lb.), cut into medium dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C chopped yellow onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced
Three 15-oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1 t agave nectar
1½ C homemade or low-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth, more as needed
½ C dry white wine (may substitute water or broth)
1 C heavy cream or coconut beverage
½ C fresh basil or parsley leaves, chopped, for garnish

Melt 4 T of the butter in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini and ½  t salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is crisp-tender but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the zucchini mixture to a medium bowl.

Melt the remaining 2 T butter in the stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it becomes translucent, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add carrots and tomatoes and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add 2 C  broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by half, about 20 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and let the tomato mixture cool slightly. Purée the soup in the pot with a hand blender or in batches (with the top vented) in a regular blender. If you use a regular blender, return the soup to the pot. Add the cream. Bring to a boil and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir the zucchini into the soup. Garnish each serving with some of the chopped fresh basil.

Old World Zucchini Pie

Many steps of this recipe can be made in advance, then the pie goes together quickly.

2 T olive oil
4 C shopped onions (about three onions)
½ t salt
6 C zucchini, sliced or chunked, about 3-4 zucchinis
1/4 C dill, chopped (dry dill may be substituted)
3/4 C low-fat mayonnaise
1 T sour cream
1 teaspoon (or more to taste) of hot sauce
2 C grated cheese (combination of cheddar or Monterey Jack with Mozarella)
Pie crust – 9-inch pie shell, roll-out pie dough, or home-made

Heat a large saute pan on medium heat and add the olive oil; add onions and salt and mix thoroughly with olive oil. Cover and cook until onions are very tender, approximately 15 minutes. Remove lid and continue cooking onions, stirring to keep them from sticking, until they are a deep golden brown. Cool and reserve. (This step can be done in advance.)

Bring water to a boil in a large pan; add the zucchini and cover to bring the water to a second boil. Cook zucchini one minute. Drain and set aside. (This step can be done in advance).

In a large bowl, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream and hot sauce. Add the shredded cheese and blend thoroughly. Set aside. (This step can be done in advance.)

When you are ready to assemble the pie, preheat oven to 350°F. Cover pie shell with foil and pie weights. Place pie shell in oven and cook for 8-10 minutes or longer until barely golden. If you are starting with a frozen crust, you’ll need to cook it a little longer. Remove pie weights & foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Spread the reserved onions evenly over the bottom of the pre-cooked pie shell. Spread the zucchini onions. Sprinkle the dill over the zucchini. Spread the cheese mixture evenly over the zucchinis. Place in oven and bake until browned and bubbly, anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes.