Sometimes, I’m surprised to realize how long ago I began this blog. It began as a little project to collect thoughts and share recipes shortly after I graduated with my undergrad degree, an entire six years ago. Much has changed since then, both on the blog and in life, but one thing that has stayed the same is my fervent and on-going affinity for the freshest, most-local, seasonal produce. Though there is a slightly deeper reason for this than simply liking vegetables, I’ll save that topic for another day. Instead, today’s post is for The Recipe Redux and the theme is Fresh From the Garden Produce.
Thanks to my mother who has the greenest of thumb(s), I was privy to garden produce from the very beginning. What came along with the garden were numerous lists of chores, which inevitably were put off until the heat of the day and the fear of not having them done when my parents got home were at their peak. The worst chore was picking green beans and I never have particularly cared for them, possibly as a result of being haunted by memories of spending “hours” picking in the hot sun. Realistically, I’m betting my attention span was less than 30 minutes.
The best of chores was devouring the hourds of zucchini that came from our garden. We often ate them in two ways; one in a variation of this cream of zucchini soup (which I soon shall be giving a facelift for less dairy and gluten), and two, drenched in flour and egg and fried to crispy golden french-toast-like rounds. Every person in the family loved these meals, and to my recollection we all loved zucchini in general. Since my parents had the joy of raising three hot-headed, disagreeing, and violent-toward-each-other, orange-haired children, it’s a wonder that we all could agree on anything!
To this day, I absolutely love zucchini. It is the simplest of plants to grow and goes every which way into summer meals. Lately, I’ve been grilling it up on the stovetop grill with a coating of dukkah, spooning it atop toasts spread with a cashew ricotta, and watching it disappear faster than my plants will produce. (Crazily enough, this is possible.)
Zucchini Toasts, Cashew Ricotta + Dukkah, serves 2
If you go ahead and pick up store-bought staples like bread and dairy-based ricotta, and make or buy the dukkah ahead of time, these toasts make for a very quick and simple meal. If you like to do everything or prefer a vegan ricotta, I’ve included recipes for all the fixings below. Dukkah is one of those super-easy-to-make seedy, nutty, spice mixtures that packs a serious punch in the flavor department and amps up the flavor profile of simple meals. It is Egyptian in origin and a suitable (although certainly different) substitute in this recipe could be za’atar, if you have that on hand instead. This book is my favorite source for truly great gluten-free bread. I made the 100% Whole-Grain Batons for these toasts and their slightly heftier density and crust worked out perfectly.
Cashew Ricotta, see below
2 Tbs. Dukkah, recipe below
1-2 Tbs. whole-grain or dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
2 medium zucchini, chopped into smallish squares
1-2 tsp. olive or coconut oil
4 slices whole-grain bread (a denser, baguette type works particularly great)
additonal dukkah to coat zucchini and serve
- Mix the 2 Tbs. dukkah, mustard, and salt into the ricotta. Set aside.
- Toss the chopped zucchini with a spoonful or two of additional dukkah and oil. Grill on a stovetop grill until slightly soft and charred edges begin to form, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from grill.
- While zucchini is grilling, lightly toast the bread slices and then slather a bit of the ricotta mixture atop each one.
- Then, pile zucchini atop the toast and ricotta, sprinkle a dash of additional dukkah on top, and serve.
1 cup cashew milk (or any other non-dairy milk)
1/4-1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
3/4 tsp. agar powder
- In a medium saucepan, stir together all ingredients.
- Very slowly, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for five minutes or until agar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and cool for about 10 minutes. Then, transfer to a sealed container and place in fridge until set, a few hours.
- After the mixture is set, transfer it to a food processor and pulse until you get the desired consistency.
Dukkah, adapted only slightly from Vegetable Literacy
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup coriander seeds
2 Tbs. cumin seeds
1 tsp. fennel seeds
several pinches each of dried thyme, marjoram, and oregano
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a saute pan, toast the hazelnuts and seeds until fragrant and lightly colored, about five to eight minutes. Then pour onto a plate to cool.
- Once sufficiently cooled, transfer the nuts and seeds to a food processor. Add the herbs, 1/4 tsp. salt to start, and pulse until the mixture is roughly ground but not yet paste-like. The goal is a fine but still crunchy textured mixture. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary, as well as a few pinches of black pepper.