Tag Archive for 'zucchini'

Turkey and Vegetable Ragu

One of our longtime favorite dinners and that of many other families we know is ‘Spaghetti Bolognese’. This is the dish we parents feel we can really load up with vegetables and get away with it. The bowl full of pasta it comes with somehow creates so much excitement, especially among younger children, that everything else looses it’s threat. Of course there’s also the concentration it takes not to lose the pasta on it’s way from bowl to mouth and the shear pleasure of having tomato sauce all over little hands and faces.

Most likely, we all concoct our own versions of the traditional ‘ragu alla bolognese’. When done according to the books, it is made with half beef/half pork, white wine, milk, onion, celery, carrot and canned tomatoes and it is simmered for at least an hour or two to bring out all it’s delicious flavours. I have made it for years, mostly with beef, as there were no real alternatives in some of the places we lived. Whenever possible however, I try to get ground turkey thigh meat instead, which I love as a replacement of beef or pork in burgers, chilies and this ragu. I also add lot’s of vegetables and cut down on the meat part (better for the animals, us and the planet) and still tastes delicious. When in season, I stick in a couple of zucchinis, mushrooms, and a red or yellow pepper, on top of the carrots, onions, celery and garlic in the soffrito. I also use celery root instead of celery sticks, when it’s available, since it adds a lovely earthy taste. I cook it on very low heat for 2-3 hours which brings out all the wonderful complex flavors and creates a rich consistency, unlike the tomatoey, runny sauce you encounter so frequently on the children’s menu.

I make a huge pot full and freeze half of it. It’s a fantastic meal to come back to when you come home from a long day out, a weekend away or especially a holiday, when everybody is tired from the journey, laundry piles appear everywhere and the kids are in no mood for Indian take out. Grateful for my rare organisational skills, I pull the lovely frozen ragu out of the freezer, tip it into a large pot and slowly bring it back to life over low heat with the lid on. It takes about the same time to warm up as it takes to cook the pasta and the smell makes everyone happy to be back home.

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Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

This one is for all my friends in the Northern Hemisphere, who are currently inundated with zucchinis and need help finding new ways to reduce their supply. Zucchinis have long been a staple in baked goods such as delicious zucchini bread, but the combination with chocolate is fairly new – at least to me. I made them 6 months ago for the first time and no one in my family could tell they had zucchini in it, which is a good thing. They are much more open to bananas and cranberries. I have made them ever since and get a total kick out of the surprise on people’s faces when they find out that they are loaded with vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and agave syrup. I admit, the combination sounds a bit scary and way too healthy for a treat like a muffin. But that’s what I am here for, to find new ways to combine the tasty with the healthy and make it delicious. I used agave syrup as a sweetener, which has a neutral taste and won’t give you the sugar high you will get from regular sugar. I packed in 2 medium zucchinis, grating them extra fine in the food processor and squeezing out the liquid with my hands. The flour is once again spelt and buckwheat, but any other will do without the need for adjustment. I used extra virgin olive oil, which might come as a bit of a surprise to you, but it’s my favorite oil and I try and use it whenever I include vegetables in my baking. You won’t notice the taste difference, I promise! Right at the end, I couldn’t resist and added 3.5 oz. of 70% chocolate, chopped into small pieces. Heaven!

Makes 12

Ingredients

2 small to medium zucchinis, finely grated and some excess liquid squeezed out

1 bar (100g or 3.5 oz.) of good quality 70% chocolate, cut into small pieces or a generous 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole spelt flour
  • 1 cup white spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk

Method

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).

In medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients.

In large mixing bowl, mix together wet ingredients.

Add half of dry ingredients to wet mix and gently combine. Mix in grated zucchini and stir until incorporated. Add chocolate. Gently fold in remaining half of dry ingredients. Don’t overmix!

Divide batter into 12 muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes.

Chickpea, Tomato, Zucchini and Spelt Soup

I found this recipe on the ‘whole living’ website and was very excited about another soup recipe that is perfect for an easy weeknight dinner. The soup is packed with lots of goodness;  it’s got protein, whole grains, lot’s of vegetables and tastes great. Spelt grain is nutty and a nice change, but it could easily be substituted with brown rice or barley. If zucchinis are out of season, substitute with cauliflower, chard or kale or use more carrots.

Ingredients

Serves 4 (makes 6 cups)

  • 1 cup spelt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch lengths
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Basil stalks, shopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Place spelt in a medium bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak for 1 hour; drain.
  2. Bring 4 cups of water to boil. Add spelt and cook for 30 minutes or until spelt is tender, but still has a little bite to it.
  3. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini, bay leaves, paprika, cumin and cook for another 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes and wine. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add cooked spelt and chickpeas and warm through (5 min). Season with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaves. Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve with grated cheese.