Zucchini Gratin

I decided to test out a new contender for one of our Christmas dinner side dishes.  Last night I made this Barefoot Contessa recipe and was pleasantly surprised… I made a few minor adjustments  and  I think we’ve got ourselves a new side dish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 4 large zucchini (2 green, 2 yellow), sliced thinly
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly and then in halves
  • 2-3 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg (Don’t leave this out!  It won’t be overpowering, it will just make you wonder, “What is that?”)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup milk + 1/4 cup cream or half & half (I combined the two because I usually buy skim milk, but if you have whole milk on hand, just use that), hot
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs (here’s how you make them)
  • 1 cup grated gruyere cheese
  • 1 tbsp butter, diced into small cubes

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Melt the 6 tbsp butter in large saute pan and add in the sliced onions
  • Saute the onions until they’re tender (5-10 minutes) and then add in the sliced zucchini
  • Cover the saute pan and cook the zucchini for 10 minutes or until its tender
  • Add in the nutmeg, salt and pepper and stir well and cook uncovered over low heat for about 5 minutes
  • Sprinkle the flour over the zucchini mixture and mix well
  • Pour in the hot milk and stir over low heat until the liquid begins to thicken a bit
  • Pour the mixture into a 8″x10″ baking dish
  • Combine the bread crumbs and grated cheese and sprinkle on top of the zucchini
  • Place small cubes of the diced up tbsp butter on top of the breadcrumbs
  • Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes
  • Let the zucchini gratin rest for at least 10 minutes before serving
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Stuffed Zucchini

These pair perfectly with stuffed grape leaves.  When my mom makes a big pot, she usually combines the two together.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • Approximately 10 narrow zucchini (cut in half)
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • First, prepare the pot
    • Place your slices of tomatoes along the bottom of a small pot – this will prevent the zucchini from burning while cooking
  • Soak the rice in very hot water for 1/2 hour – then strain
  • Mix the rice with the raw ground beef with your hands – season with salt and pepper
  • With a small spoon, scoop out the pulp of the zucchini until they’re hollow, but not open all the way through – leave about 1/8″-1/4″ around the interior wall
  • Stuff the zucchini with the rice and meat
  • Line the pot with the zucchini (if you’re also making grape leaves just randomly mix in the zucchini)
  • Place a small dish on top of the zucchini to add some pressure
  • Dissolve 1 tbsp of salt in 1 cup of water (for every cup of rice you need 2 cups of water) then pour the water into the pot
  • Cook it on high heat until it starts to boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low heat for approximately 1 hour
  • Check to see if the zucchini is cooked – once it’s cooked, pour in 1  1/2 oz. of fresh lemon juice
  • If the rice is not quite cooked, add in more water a little bit at a time (2-3 oz. at a time)
  • Once the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and let the pot settle while covered for at least 15 minutes
  • When you’re ready to serve, put a large round platter face down on the pot and tip the pot over
  • Serve with fresh pita bread and plain yogurt
    • If you have extra rice and meat, cook it in a small pot as you would normally cook rice (roughly estimate how much water you need – rule of thumb is 2 cups water to every cup of rice)

Veggie Lasagna

This vegetable lasagna is loaded with flavor and is so good for you.  My meat-eating hubby even said he likes this more than “regular” lasagna.  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small onion (I like to use vidalia), chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced and then quartered
  • 1 small yellow squash, sliced and then quartered
  • 1 can quartered artichoke hearts
  • 1 package chopped frozen spinach, defrosted
  • 1 small (15 oz.) container of ricotta cheese (I use low fat and you can’t tell the difference)
  • Approximately 1/4 – 1/2 cup of pesto sauce
  • Approximately 1  1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • Approximately 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 – 28 oz. can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 – 28 oz. can ground tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 box no boil lasagna noodles

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Heat the olive oil in a a large pot
  • Add in the chopped onions and garlic and cook until softened
  • Add in the zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers artichoke hearts and cook for about 5 minutes
  • Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes
  • Stir in both cans of tomatoes and bring to a simmer
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes
  • Add the pinch of sugar, oregano, basil salt and pepper to taste
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, spinach and pesto sauce
  • Spread a little bit of sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 lasagna dish
  • Lay 4 noodles across the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping by 1/2  inch
  • Spread 1/3 of the ricotta and pesto mixture evenly on top, sprinkle with about 1/2 cup of mozzarella and a handful of parmesan
  • Top the cheese with another layer of vegetable sauce and repeat the layering in the same order
  • Layer the top with noodles and cover the noodles with sauce with no veggies on top and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and mozzarella
  • Bake at 350°F covered with aluminum foil for about 40 minutes, or until the sauce around the edges is bubbling, then bake for 5 minutes more uncovered – let it sit for 10 minutes before serving