Stuffed Zucchini

About this time every year, I am looking for new ways to use zucchini.  This recipe is easy and tasty, and it uses another veggie that I have plenty of right now–Swiss chard.  If you don’t have Swiss chard, feel free to use spinach.

6 smallish zucchini, halved lengthwise
4-5 c. Swiss chard, sliced and packed
1/2 c. onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. oil
1 T. fresh basil (or 1 t. Italian seasoning blend)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. dry bread crumbs (or cracker crumbs)
4 T. grated parmesan, divided
2 T. butter

Scoop out the pulp of the raw zucchini halves.  Chop the pulp coarsely.

Cook the Swiss chard, then drain and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Saute the onions and garlic in the oil until soft.  Add the spinach, zucchini pulp, herbs, salt, pepper, bread crumbs and half of the cheese.  Mix well.

Place the zucchini shells in a baking dish and stuff with spinach mixture.  Melt the butter and drizzle over the top.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

NOTE:  These can be completely cooled, wrapped in plastic wrap or wax paper, then placed in a freezer bag for freezing.


Sauteed Swiss Chard

After a morning of canning green beans, this is one of the “fast foods” I’m cooking for lunch.  You can also use spinach in place of the chard.

2 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pinch cayenne pepper (or red pepper flakes)
big handful of Swiss chard leaves, washed, stems trimmed and leaves sliced
2-3 T. lemon juice
salt to taste

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat; add olive oil and allow to heat.

Add garlic and red pepper; sauté about 30 seconds.

Add Swiss chard and stir until leaves are coated.

Cook a couple of minutes or until leaves are wilted.

Squeeze lemon juice over leaves and season with salt.

Serve immediately.

Creamy Penne with Swiss Chard, Spinach or Kale

This is both delightful and versatile.

16-oz. pkg. penne pasta, uncooked
1 bunch Swiss chard, trimmed and sliced (or spinach or kale)
1 T. butter
2 onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ t. red pepper flakes
1/8 t. nutmeg
1 c. ricotta cheese
1/3 c. vegetable
¼ t. salt
½ c. oil- packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced

Cook pasta according to package directions; add Swiss chard 2 minutes before end of cooking time. Drain; set aside.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat; add onion, garlic, pepper flakes and nutmeg. Heat until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. In a blender, puree ricotta with broth and salt until smooth.

In a serving bowl, combine ricotta mixture with onion mixture, tomatoes and pasta mixture; toss to coat.

Serves 6.

Freezing Spring Produce on Indy Style

This is a segment from an Indianapolis-based talk show in which I demonstrated how to take advantage of local spring produce.

When produce is at its peak in freshness and nutrition, it is a cost-effective time to acquire bulk amounts to preserve for enjoying year-round.  While many people are hesitant to jump into canning, most spring produce can be preserved easily by freezing.  For leafy greens like kale, spinach and Swiss chard, remove any woody stems, wash well, blanch in boiling water for a minute or two, then remove greens to an ice water bath.  When cool, place in a colander to drain.  After draining, put greens into a freezer container, being sure to label with contents and date.  These greens can easily be used in soups, lasagnas, smoothies or creamed in au gratin-type dishes  Asparagus uses the same freezing method, though it is helpful to spin or towel-dry the spears a bit before freezing.  This last step will keep quiches from getting soggy when using the asparagus after being frozen.  Strawberries can be washed, topped, sliced and frozen in portions that are conducive to making pies, smoothies or jams.  Rhubarb is also easy to freeze.  Just wash, dice and put in a freezer container in desired amounts for use in Victoria sauce, breads, jams or crisps.  Eating regional, in-season produce is a great way to save money, take in higher nutrition and support your local community.