This past weekend I had a house warming party and after all the festivities and cooking I had done for that, elaborate meals were not high on my list and neither was extensive grocery shopping. So on my way home from work I grabbed a rotisserie chicken and a few zucchini and then set to work raiding the fridge when I got home. I was quite happy with the results and have actually made this dish two nights in a row. This is a one pan, one person recipe and therefore you can increase, decrease and omit ingredients to fit your tastes.
Zucchini Pasta and Mushrooms with Deconstructed Pesto
- 1 zucchini, spiral sliced
- 3-4 large mushrooms, sliced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, diced
- 4-5 large fresh basil leaves, finely sliced (chiffonade)
- 1-2 tsp pine nuts
- 1-2 oz shredded, rotisserie chicken
- 1/2 – 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp. Brummel and Brown
- salt and pepper
In a medium skillet on medium heat add the olive oil and Brummel and Brown until the B&B has melted. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they are browned and tender. Add in the pine nuts, garlic then salt and pepper to taste. Cook until garlic becomes fragrant. Add in the zucchini and cook until desired tenderness (I like mine to still be slightly crisp). Add the chicken and let go until warmed through. Add the basil and remove from heat. Serve.
If you wanted to go with the full on pesto flavor you can top with some parmesan but I felt like it didn’t need it one bit and was super fresh and healthy as it was.
I have to admit with all that has been going on lately and all of my projects that I have neglected cooking up the wonderful produce that I got at Apple Annie’s. So, tonight I decided that I definitely needed to do something with at least one of the items I got and preferably one of the ones that has a shorter shelf life. I decided to go with the pattypan squash. When I picked these pattypan I specifically got large ones so that they would be the perfect size for stuffing with some yummy filling. Here is what I threw together.
- 2 large or 3 smaller pattypan squash
- 1/2 lb lean ground beef
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1/2 an onion chopped
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- pinch of ground cloves
- dash of cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste
- spicy V8
Cut the top off of your pattypans and then scoop out the inside to create a thin shell. After hollowed out place in a baking dish.
Start browning your ground beef and then add onions. When beef is almost cooked through and onions are starting to get translucent and brown add in the garlic. Once completely cooked season the mixture with cloves, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
In a large bowl mix your beef mixture with the rice, cottage cheese and pine nuts.
Fill your squash bowls with the beef and rice mixture.
Pour the spicy V-8 over your squash and add about 1 inch to the bottom of the baking dish.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until a fork easily inserts into the squash (depending on the size and thickness of your squash this will take 40-60 minutes). Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes.
If you are using larger squash cut in half and serve. If you are using smaller squash a whole squash would be a serving. You can pour some of the thickened sauce over the top if you would like
In making this there were a few things that I learned. One was that you can buy cottage cheese with chives in it. However, if you are unaware that there are chives in your cottage cheese when you open it this will lead to the immediate thought of “OMG I just bought this and it’s moldy.” Luckily, the chive flavor was really mild so I went ahead and used it without really changing the flavor I was aiming for. Secondly, was how much longer giant squash take to cook versus the smaller squash that I have used for stuffing in the past (this is why the cooking times I provide are so varied). In general this turned out really well. I think next time I may skip the V-8 and just use a little olive oil and salt on the outside instead. The V8 is better suited for softer vegetables, such as zucchini, and it is absolutely amazing when used with eggplant. The best thing about stuffing squash is that there are so many combinations of filling that you can try, different meats, chesses, vegetables, spices. Mix it up and experiment with the flavors you love and maybe you will surprise yourself with what you come up with.
Like all foodies I love a good kitchen gadget, especially one that helps me incorporate more vegetables into my meal. My newest is a spiral slicer which creates long, delicious ribbons of the firm veggie of your choice.
So far I have made “noodles” with zucchini, carrot and tonight was yellow squash (have to utilize the basket goods whenever you can :)) There are many things that you can do with the noodles. You could eat them raw and dress them with a vinaigrette (for example cucumbers in a rice vinegar and sesame dressing would be amazing) or you can steam, boil, sauté or even roast them. Normally I mix them in with regular pasta to fill it out, add more fiber and sneak in those veggies. To do this you will boil your pasta as directed and then add your veggie ribbons the last two or three minutes with the pasta (carrots I usually do for three and squash around two). After I drain the pasta I usually mix it with a jarred spaghetti sauce and sometimes add in some extras like sautéed mushrooms. Tonight I went for a quick and healthy version of chicken parmesan by topping my sauced pasta with a frozen, lightly breaded chicken breast and a sprinkle of cheese. I have the GEFU Spirelli Spiral Cutter but there are several other brands on the market. With so many possibilities expect to see veggie ribbons play a roll in future blogs!
healthy chicken parmesan with yellow squash noodles