Zucchini Pasta

This freaking heat has really been getting to me lately.

As a result, I have no appetite for anything heavy.

I picked up my CSA yesterday and had 4 zucchini, 5 cucumbers, a bag of chieftan potatoes, and basil.  With the extreme drought and high temps (2+ weeks straight of 100+ degree weather) the CSAs haven’t been quite as bountiful.

With the basil, I absolutely wanted to make pesto, but definitely didn’t want heavy pasta.  Instead, I opted to make zucchini pasta.  I had done this before with eggplant and figured it would work with zucchini, too.

The pesto was fantastic, plus I got to use my mortar and pestle!!  Overall, the “pasta” turned out pretty well.  The only downside is that this takes some time, because you’re supposed to let it drain.  I personally don’t know if this really makes a different or not.

Zucchini Pasta with Walnut Pesto

Zucchini Pasta
-using a potato peeler (or a mandolin, or whatever you want), thinly slice the zucchini
-place zucchini slices in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and let sit for 30 minutes

-after 30 minutes, rinse and cook in boiling water
-cut red potatoes into quarters, and boil with the zucchini

Pesto

-using the mortar and pestle, smash a clove of garlic
-add fresh basil leaves and continue to smash the leaves and garlic, add olive oil as needed
-add walnuts until you reach the desired consistency
-add salt, to taste

Normally pesto has parmesan, but I didn’t have any.  I really don’t think it made a difference.

To go with this, I also added some goat cheese and chicken I had cooked and previously frozen.

Total Price: $8.60

-4 organic zucchini: $4.00
-1/2 package organic basil: $2.00
-1 organic garlic clove: $0.10
-handful organic walnuts: $0.25
-4 organic chieftan potatoes: $1.00
-organic goat cheese: $0.25
-1/2-ish pound organic chicken: $1.00

I had no idea this ended up being so expensive.  I suppose what I have found is that grains are certainly cheaper than fresh vegetables.  Obviously  I think this has a lot to do with the recent weather, as the shares haven’t been as large lately.  oh well.

 

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Zucchini!

Being from Indiana, I know a thing or two about zucchini.

1. In the right environment (Indiana), it will grow like crazy.

2. It’s super versatile.

3. There are far, far better things you can do with this veggie than just delegate it to zucchini bread (even though that’s a good option!)

I’ve been hesitating to blog lately because I haven’t done a great job taking pictures, and, well, I hate blogs without pictures.

To overcome that, I’m going to post a stock photo of a zucchini to make myself feel better

I’ve been getting HUGE zucchini in the CSA lately…we’re talking zucchini the size of my forearm.  Literally.  So far I’ve done three things, each pretty different.  I have a recipe for chocolate zucchini cake, which I’m looking forward to trying, so stay tuned for that.  Each zucchini recipe I’ve made would be great for a gathering, especially the two salads I’m going to share.  The roasted zucchini would make a fantastic side dish with fish or tofu.

Pasta Salad with Zucchini, Cucumber, Garlic Scapes and Chard

-cook one package fettuccine (or whatever pasta is available)
-sautee 1 chopped zucchini, 5 garlic scapes, and 2 stalks of chard in olive oil
-when pasta is done cooking, add olive oil and vegetables
-stir in goat cheese, until pasta is coated
-add salt and old bay seasoning; continue to stir
-add 1 chopped cucumber

Total Price: $4.00
-1 box fettuccine: $1.00
-1 organic zucchini: $1.00
-5 organic garlic scapes: $0.25
– organic chard: free (garden!)
-organic goat cheese (Trader Joe’s): $0.75
-1 organic cucumber: $1.00

This pasta salad feeds a ton; I took it to a cookout and had enough left over for lunch and dinner

Fresh Zucchini/Cucumber/Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese
-chop one zucchini, one cucumber, 2 large strawberries, and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (I used aged, but normal b-v would work too)
-top with goat cheese

Total Price: $2.80
1 organic zucchini: $1.00
-1 organic cucumber: $1.00
-2 organic strawberries: $0.50
-organic goat cheese: $0.30

This was a perfect, single serving salad for me after a hot day when I just wanted something light.  Walnuts or almonds would also be great.

Roasted Zucchini “crostini’s”
-slice 1 large (this was the forearm sized zucchini)
-using a garlic press, press one large garlic clove into a small bowl filled with 1/8-1/4 cup of olive oil (alternatively, you can just finely chop the garlic)
-toss zucchini slices in olive oil, being sure zucchini is coated with both oil and garlic
-lay zucchini slices out on a baking sheet
-lightly salt and add a small dollop of goat cheese to the middle of each slice
-roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes

parmesan cheese also goes really well with this recipe

Total Price: $1.85
-1 organic zucchini: $1.00
-1 organic garlic clove: $0.10
-organic goat cheese: $0.75

 

Also, in case you were wondering:

 

Organic Tattoo

Seriously.

Top 3 reasons I am officially a Bloomington resident:

1. I am getting a tattoo with vegan/organic ink tomorrow
2. I got pulled over (sirens and all!) while riding my bike today
3. I exclusively shop at Bloomingfoods (and schlep my groceries home on my bike!)

Honestly, though, I’m getting a tattoo tomorrow.

I’m nervous/scared/excited/ecstatic.

Why now?

I’ve always wanted one.  forever.  as long as I can remember.  I’m coming off the tail end of a quarter life crisis so, if not now, when?

Why organic ink?

Besides the fact that I have extremely sensitive skin, I’m not a big fan of putting toxic metals in my body.  I checked out the MSDS (material safety data sheet) forms for the dyes and I’m pretty pleased.  I think I have less anxiety knowing my tattoo isn’t going to be comprised of mercury, lead, or chromium (or if it is, it is certifiably less than one part per billion 🙂 )   I did an allergy test…I seem to have a little bit of a reaction to the red color, but apparently that’s pretty normal.  I wasn’t planning any red anyway.

What am I getting?

A neon atom, similar to this, but without the straight lines.

Why the hell am I getting that?

Actually, the more I explain it the more I want to do this.

First of all, my family owns a sign business so I have been surrounded by neon signs my entire life.  This is one of my favorites:

Neon makes me think of my family, particularly my dad.  Being surrounded by the neon signs my whole life made me absolutely mesmerized by the element, and subsequently interested in chemistry.  I remember in 6th grade choosing it for a project and feeling unique since everyone chose gold, silver, or platinum.

If I could choose an element to describe me, I would love to think it would be neon.  I mean, come on, it IS  a noble gas and all 🙂

In reality, though, I love the idea of neon.  It’s inert, meaning it doesn’t need any other element in order to fit in.  It’s independent.  It’s stable.  Alone, it’s colorless, but with a littel bit of love it can be transformed into any beautiful color.  It’s an element that all others below it and a few above it strive to be like.  I went as neon for Halloween once, in what I would like to call a dorkier time in my life, but let’s be honest…I’m freaking writing a soliloquy about an element.

Finally, an atom represents my love of science.   Science itself strives towards the atomic level, but at the same time, atomic is just a theory.  I spend hours upon hours devoting my life to something that is just a theory.  In a sick, sad way, I find that incredibly romantic.

My family doesn’t understand why I would want a tattoo.  Albeit incredibly and astonishingly supportive (as long as it’s small), I know they’re a little bit unhappy about it.

I’m getting it on my left wrist.  My friend put it best to me- it’s the perfect area because it’s vital.  And that’s true.  My family, my odd personifications of my desires, science, romanticism – those are all vital to my life.  People are surprised I’m not getting a running tattoo.  Running is merely an offshoot of everything I have just described, but not the vital life source.  I love the idea of having this tattoo over the vein pumping to my heart.

But, I’m scared.

Of what, I’m not sure.

Regretting it?  I don’t think I have any reason to.  Worst case scenario I have to buy a lot of fabulous bracelets to cover it up.

Pain? nah..

Having a horrible infection and needing my hand amputated?  a little bit.

Mostly, I think I’m nervous that this is a change in me.  A change to my body.  But why should I be afraid of that when in reality, it’s going to become an extension of me and what I am?  Everytime I think I should back down, I explain again to someone why I want this, and what it means to me, and I am reminded again, in a new way, why this is meaningful to me.

I don’t want to talk about it anymore.  I want to do it.  I’ve spent the last 8 years talking about a tattoo.

The greatest mistake in life is continually fearing  you will make one.

Toasted Millet Rice Pudding

I suppose maybe I was inspired by Chopped, or maybe it was the fact my dinner literally consisted of tomato basil potato chips, a cucumber, and some yogurt with cereal.

…yeah….

So, I’ve been in a bit of a grocery rut lately.  I get such variety from the CSA that I’ve been neglecting buying a good variety of other foods.  This means if I want a snack, I usually have to do some actual cooking.

The theme of Chopped tonight is chocolate, which put me in a mood for sweets.

How I came up with millet rice pudding, I have no idea.

Actually…I do.  First I was going to toast millet so I could puff it up and have cereal with peanut butter and sugar.  Then, I was looking through my ‘ancient grains’ cookbook and saw a recipe for rice pudding.  I didn’t have any of the right ingredients, but it sounded good, so I made up a recipe of my own.

Is it truly rice pudding?  Um, probably not.  Do I care at this point that I’ve mislabeled this post?  No.

Also, I apologize in advance for this being the most haphazard recipe ever.  I used to believe in measuring ingredients at one point in my life.  Then I met my roommate.

Toasted Millet Rice Pudding

-layer a dry pan with millet and set to medium heat
-while shaking the pan, let the millet toast (you’ll hear crackling)
-once the millet starts to brown, add water and cook until the millet soaks up all the water
-add milk, honey, and vanilla
-continue to cook until liquid has been absorbed
-add orange juice, peanut butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar
-cook until liquid has been absorbed
-continue to add water/let it be absorbed until your millet reaches the right consistency (I don’t know what the right consistency is, soooo I cooked it until it was soft).
-for a more intense flavor, add orange extract

This ended up tasting pretty good.  I think adding chocolate chips would be amazing, and in the future I would maybe not add nutmeg.

Total Price: cheap

I don’t know exactly how much of anything I used, but the millet was something, like, $1.50/lb…I probably used $0.30 worth.  I used such trivial amounts of everything else that I don’t think this could have cost more than $0.75.

 

How to convince…

your picky 15 year old niece that eating healthy is cool

Solution: honesty.  I was worried when my niece visited over the weekend that she wouldn’t eat anything at my house because, well, I have weird health food.  Want cereal?  Sorry, all I have is toasted millet.  Yogurt?  I hope plain is okay!  When it came time for dinner, I realized I may have made a grave mistake by only picking up tofu the day before.  Instead of just making food and putting it on the table, or being overly apologetic about having weird food, I was very straight forward with her.  I told her what we had and then I took her to the organic grocery store to let her pick out anything she would want (I thought this was a good compromise because I knew pretty much anything she would have chosen would be organic/healthy).  To my absolute astonishment, she said she had been thinking about going vegetarian and would like to try the tofu.  We ended up leaving the story only with strawberries and bananas.  This majorly surprised me because I know she’s used to having fast food/frozen food most of the time.  So, I felt like I had a huge challenge ahead of me to not mess up dinner.  I ended up making her quinoa and barley with pickled tofu, cucumber, and a few other vegetables.  I had a lot of fun teaching her about pickling and the different things ingredients, since she had never heard of most of them.  She ended up loving it (or at least saying she did)- which I kind of believe because I haven’t gotten any messages from my sister yet asking why I made her daughter eat hippie food!  I think with teenagers, the way you approach food is really important.  If I had been apologetic, she probably would have naturally assumed my food was different or gross in some way.  If I had forced it on her, she maybe would have rebelled.  I was honest with her that tofu has a weird texture and plain yogurt tastes funky the first time you tried it.  I think that made her way more willing to at least try it, which was awesome!

 

Pickled Tofu, Cabbage, Cucumber, and Yukina Savoy over Black Beans and Red Quinoa

Tonight’s meal was an experiment.  It seems as though every chef on chopped ends up pickling something in the 30 minutes they’re given, but that doesn’t make sense to me.  Don’t you need 5-7 days?!?

As it turns out, you can still do a semi-pickle in about 10 minutes.  Which is good for me, because I’m slowly becoming addicted to the vinegary tang that comes with pickling.

finished meal

I’m also becoming addicted to quinoa.  I don’t know why, though.  The red quinoa doesn’t seem to have much taste to me.  I do like the texture a lot, which, when combined with the soft beans is really nice.

Pickled CSA Veggies over Black Beans and Red Quinoa

-bring water, 1/2 cup of red quinoa, three mint leaves, and a 29 oz can of drain black beans to a boil
-chop half a head of cabbage, half a cucumber, half a package of tofu, 1 swiss chard leaf, and 1 yukina savoy leaf
-sautee in olive oil
-add 1/8 cup white balsamic vinegar and 1/8 cup apple cidar vinegar
-add equal amounts of salt and sugar
-veggies should be simmering in liquid, if not, add more

-combine black beans/quinoa/veggies and enjoy!

This tasted really good, one thing I’m confused about is that half the cucumbers had an astringent taste.  Maybe those were the cucumbers that soaked up the white balsamic vinegar?  The cabbage really tasted good with the vinegar.

Total Cost: $4.63

1 29 oz. black beans: $0.99
-1/2 package tofu: $1.00
-1/2 organic cucumber: $0.75
-1 organic yukina savoy leaf: $0.44
-1 organic swiss chard leaf: free! (garden)
-3 organic mint leaves: $0.15
– 1/2 a head of organic cabbage: $1.30

As per usual, plenty leftover for lunch, so another organic meal under $3.00!

Kohlrabi and Yukina Savoy Sautee over Red Quinoa and Barley in Garlic Scape Tzatziki Sauce

As of late, I feel like the names of my meals have become more and more complicated.

I was so excited to come home and cook today.  I had a long, frustratingly unproductive day in the chemistry building after an AMAZING weekend with my best friend from college.  This meal came out better than I expected it to, and I absolutely attribute that to the sauce.  I had a few moments of trepidation about mixing the sauce with the grains and greens, being afraid to ruin the dish, but it came out so. great.

Before I talk about that dish, first I want to share the pasta salad I took to a picnic I had with my visiting friend (Dani) and two new friends, Matt and Matt.

We went to Oliver Winery, bought a bottle of Moscato, and sat outside to eat the food we each brought.  I had so many veggies to use up from the CSA that I thought mixing them with pasta would make a perfect picnic food.  I don’t have any pictures of it, but I do have a picture from our picnic!

Dani and me!

CSA Pasta Salad
boil a 1 lb bag of rigatoni with 1 cup (cooked) black beans.  When I’m making pasta salad I cook the noodles a little bit past al dente since they will be served cold
-while the pasta is cooking, toss 2 sliced beets, 8 chopped garlic scapes, and 2 chopped kohlrabi, including stems and greens in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt.
-roast the veggies at 400 degrees for 20ish minutes
-add olive oil to the pasta and toss the veggies together
-add goat or another soft cheese and blend all together

This salad was so cheap.  I had bought the pasta for $1, the leftover black beans cost me about $0.20, and all in all the CSA veggies were probably $3.25.  That makes this salad about $4.50, but it lasted through the picnic and 3 more meals!

Anyway, onto the main meal I’m trying to blog about.  I’ve been really, really bad about posting what I’ve been getting in the CSA as of late.  This week I got Irish Cobbler potatoes (already gone, boiled them, then seasoned with olive oil, rosemary, salt, and parsley), Yukina Savoy, Kohlrabi, Cabbage, and a cucumber. When I came home, I went through the fridge and pulled out everything that *needed* to get used soon, along with some grains that had been sitting in my pantry for a while, and the tofu I opened last night.

tonight’s ingredients

Let me take you through my thought process:

1.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph that’s a lot of garlic scapes.  I’m going to pickle those with the kohlrabi because I am getting sick of kohlrabi
2.  I have a cucumber, garlic, AND plain yogurt?  tzatziki- no brainer
3.  Does tzatziki go with quinoa?
4.  Does it matter?
5.  I’m sick of eating greens raw so I’m going to sautee them.
6.  I can add mint leaves to the tzatziki.
7.  Browned tofu sounds really good.
8.  I’m going to sautee the tofu/greens and serve them over the quinoa/barley, and mix in the sauce.

..and that is pretty much a look inside my brain at how meals are made.

If you’ve never heard of yukina savoy before, you’re not alone.  I never had, either, before the CSA.  If you’ve ever eaten in a Japanese restaurant before, though, you have probably had it, or something similar.  It’s what I consider to be hardy.  It sautees really well because it maintains some of its crunchy silkiness.  if that makes sense.

-chop tofu, kohlrabi greens, and yukina savoy
-coat a large pan with olive oil and add the veggies.  Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and zahtar
-sautee, but also let sit for 2-3 minutes at a time to allow tofu to brown
-combine quinoa and greens/tofu
-in a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 1/4 finely chopped cucumber, 2 finely chopped garlic scapes, a couple dashes of salt, and 3 finely chopped mint leaves
-combine, add black sesame seeds, and toss together in a large bowl

Like I said, I was worried about adding the sauce and ruining the flavors.  The zahtar and black sesame seeds, however, went really well with the garlicy sauce.  Also, I’m not sure when I got so into tofu, but it’s most definitely thanks to Becca!

Total Cost: $5.35

1/2 cup organic red quinoa: $0.88
-1/4 cup organic barley: $0.40
-1/2 package organic tofu: $1.00
-1/4 organic cucumber: $0.25
-greens from two organic kohlrabi: $1.00
-2 organic garlic scapes: $0.15
-1/4 cup organic plain yogurt: $0.42
-3 organic yukina savoy leaves: $1.00
-3 organic mint leaves: $0.25

Considering I had enough for 2 helpings, plus lunch tomorrow, I’d say this turned out pretty great 🙂