Tag Archives: zucchini

Ratatouille

Ratatouille 1

The transition from fall to summer is my very favorite time of the year. I love the cool mornings and sunny (but not humid) days. It is the perfect time for making my favorite comfort food: Ratatouille. Like all good comfort foods, it is warm and filling and permeates your house with delicious smells as it cooks low and slow on the stove. And during this change of seasons, I love that I can still get great fresh garden vegetables and herbs to use in this recipe.

Ratatouille is not always the most visually appealing dish, but is bursting with flavor. It is full of hearty vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and lots of fresh herbs Then cooked down on the stove until the flavors blend and meld into the most delicious vegetable stew. Eating healthy has never tasted better!

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This is Little A’s very favorite side dish. His face just lights up when he smells it as he comes into the house. All of the kids love it except for Little J (but she hardly counts as she turns her nose up to EVERY vegetable in this dish).

Ratatouille makes a perfect side dish to grilled or roasted meats. I love to serve it this time of year, when we still like to grill chicken, pork, or other things outside. Grilled meat is wonderful, but also begs for something juicy to eat with it. Ratatouille fits that bill perfectly. It is also great later in the winter with a roasted pork tenderloin, roast chicken, or beef roast.

This recipe makes a good-sized pot of ratatouille. You could always scale it back if you don’t want to make that much, but I love to have leftovers of this dish. It makes a perfect lunch all on its own the next day. Or as a sauce for pasta for an easy meal later in the week.

I never measure things when I make this recipe. It is very flexible based on your personal tastes. Below is a good approximation of the amounts that I use.

RECIPE:

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Ratatouille

½ cup olive oil
1 large eggplant, skin on, diced
2 onions, chopped
1 red/orange/yellow pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced and quartered
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
3 cups chopped tomatoes
½ tsp Tabasco sauce (adjust to taste)
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil*
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley*
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme*
1 Tbs chopped fresh oregano*

Heat olive oil in a large saucepot. Add eggplant to the hot oil and cook until eggplant begins to soften. Add onions, red pepper and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, salt, pepper, and dried herbs; cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add chopped tomatoes and Tabasco sauce and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, until mixture is cooked down and thickened (30-40 minutes). Stir in fresh herbs during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary.

*Or substitute an additional 2-3 tsp dried Italian seasoning for the fresh herbs

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Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

It might not be traditional American Labor Day BBQ food, but it is a favorite around here. If there is soy sauce involved, my kids will always eat it. Add some peanut butter, and Little J is in heaven!

I like to serve this with either grilled zucchini or asparagus. Set aside a little bit of the marinade before you add it to the pork and use it to marinate your vegetables for about half an hour before grilling.

Pork tenderloins almost always come two in a package at the store. Our family at home keeps shrinking, so now I usually divide the marinade in half and freeze one tenderloin in the marinade to cook another day. This also makes a good freezer meal to prepare ahead of time and have on hand for busy days.

RECIPE:

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

2 (1-2 lb each) unseasoned pork tenderloins (usually sold 2 per package)
Optional: vegetables to grill: zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus
Hot cooked rice

Marinade:
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil or peanut oil
2 Tbs honey
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp chili paste
1 tsp lemon pepper

Peanut Dipping Sauce:
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup water
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
2 Tbs honey
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chili paste
½ tsp lemon pepper
½ cup natural creamy peanut butter

Place pork tenderloins in a Ziploc bag. (**See note below if planning to freeze one or both)

Combine Marinade ingredients. If you will be grilling vegetables as well, set aside ¼ cup of the marinade. Add remaining marinade to the bag with the pork tenderloins. Place the meat in the refrigerator and marinate for 4-6 hours (up to several days). Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

Slice squash lengthwise (or trim asparagus ends) and place in a Ziploc bag with reserved marinade for about 30 minutes.

In a Pyrex measuring cup, combine all of the Peanut Dipping Sauce ingredients except for the peanut butter. Heat in the microwave for 45 seconds. Stir in peanut butter. Add additional water if the sauce is too thick or too strong. Heat for an additional 30 seconds, just before serving.

Prepare and oil grill. If you are using a gas grill, leave one burner of the grill unlit so that you can cook the tenderloin with indirect heat (so it doesn’t burn).  Remove the tenderloin from the marinade and place on the unlit side of the grill. Close grill cover. Grill the tenderloin for about 5 minutes per side (4 sides) until the internal temperature registers 145-150°F in the center. Remove from grill and let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

While meat rests, grill the marinated vegetables over direct heat for about 3 minutes per side.

Slice pork diagonally into ½ – 1” slices. Serve the pork and grilled vegetables with peanut sauce and hot steamed rice.

**FREEZER NOTE: If you do not plan to eat both tenderloins (or just want to prepare a freezer meal ahead of time), place tenderloins in separate freezer bags and add half of the marinade to each bag and place in the freezer until ready to cook. The peanut sauce can also be prepared ahead and frozen. Thaw completely in the refrigerator before cooking. Do not freeze raw vegetables.

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Beef Kabobs

Beef Shish Kabobs 2

Summer may be ending for school kids, but it is still perfect grilling weather and fresh corn and zucchini are still plentiful at the farmers’ markets.

You can alternate the beef and vegetables on the same skewer, or separate them into meat skewers and vegetable skewers. I usually grill them separately so that I can better control the rareness of the beef (we like it medium) and how cooked the vegetables are.

I made these with fresh corn, mushrooms and zucchini, but you can use any combination of fresh vegetables that you like (including peppers, yellow squash, onions, cherry tomatoes). I especially like these with fresh rosemary in the marinade. It pairs really well with the beef, but you can also use other herbs like thyme or oregano.

RECIPE:

Beef Shish Kabobs 2

Beef Kabobs

Marinade:
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 Tbs lemon juice
3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp dry mustard
½ tsp salt
½ tsp coarse ground black pepper
1 tsp dried parsley
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Fresh (2 Tbs) or dried herbs (2 tsp): Rosemary, thyme and/or oregano
Kabobs:
2 lb top round or sirloin beef steak, cut into cubes
Vegetables: Choose a combination of: fresh corn (cut into 1” rounds), onions, peppers, whole mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, cherry tomatoes
Hot steamed rice

Combine marinade ingredients. Place the beef cubes and half of marinade in a Ziploc bag or lidded container and marinate in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours (or up to 3 days). Set remaining marinade aside to marinate vegetables later. Add vegetables to reserved marinade and refrigerate for 1-4 hours (don’t over marinate the vegetables).

Place meat and vegetables on skewers, discarding meat marinade and saving vegetable marinade. Grill skewers until cooked to desired temperature.

Heat vegetable marinade to boiling. Set aside. Serve over rice with heated marinade.

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Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread: where summer and autumn collide in a great tasting snack. This is a great way to use an over-abundance of zucchini from your garden (or local farmers’ market) and incorporate the great fall flavors of pumpkin and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.

You can also make these in muffin form for a delicious on-the-go breakfast or lunch box treat. There is no easier way to get your kids to eat their veges. Chocolate chips are optional, but always appreciated (unless you are a certain son of mine).

Pumpkin Zucchini Muffin

RECIPE:

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups canned pumpkin
2 cups shredded zucchini
½ cup butter, melted
1 Tbs vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground ground nutmeg (or cloves)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, optional
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 medium loaf pans.

Combine eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add pumpkin, zucchini, melted butter and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Gradually add to pumpkin mixture and stir until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Pour into 2 loaf pans.

Bake at 350°F for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

FOR MUFFINS: Line muffin pans with paper liners (or grease pan). Bake at 375°F for 15-18 minutes.

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Triple Chocolate Nutella Zucchini Muffins

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We are still working on getting through the numerous monster zucchini that came out of our zucchini forest this summer.

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After a fall at a church young women camp, I spent most of the summer in this:

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I had spent a good portion of spring digging out old dirt and hauling in new topsoil to help rejuvenate our garden. The new soil made a huge difference and we ended up with zucchini plants that were almost as tall as me. I realize that at 5’2”, that is not a huge accomplishment, but for zucchini, I thought that was pretty impressive. Our garden is planted on a tiered hill, which was impossible for me to navigate in my new fashionable summer footwear. The plants were so tall that I had a really hard time getting my kids to wade through the jungle looking for squash. For some reason ratatouille and zucchini fritters (some of my favorites) were not a huge motivation for them to risk life and limb in the outback. However, when I switched to making zucchini brownies, pumpkin zucchini muffins and these chocolate zucchini muffins, I found I had ample volunteers!

And when they came across this little guy hiding out in the cucumber plants, they spent a good portion of the rest of the summer searching for living, crawling things in the garden.

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If you still have zucchini that you are working your way through, these muffins, spiked with Nutella and chocolate chips, make for a great breakfast (especially for a couple dozen awesome teenagers at 6am!) or a much appreciated lunchbox addition.

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RECIPE:

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Triple Chocolate Nutella Zucchini Muffins

3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Nutella
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk or kefir (or sour milk**)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom or nutmeg
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line regular muffin pans with paper or foil cups. Or use large Reynolds Foil 3 1/2” baking cups (these are self-standing-just arrange on a baking sheet).

In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, oil, Nutella, brown sugar, buttermilk and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in zucchini.

In a separate bowl, use a whisk to mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and cardamom or nutmeg. Add mixed dry ingredients to wet ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon into muffin cups (fill about 3/4 full).

For regular muffins: Bake 15-18 minutes.
For large muffins: Bake 20-25 minutes.

Yield: About 36 regular muffins or 20 large muffins (made with 3 1/2” baking cups)

**To make sour milk: place 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar in a 1/2 cup measuring cup. Add milk to 1/2 cup line. Let sit 5 minutes

 

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Dinner in under 30 minutes: Southwest Chicken and Zucchini Sauté

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Sometimes we all need a quick fix dinner that can be on the table in under 30 minutes. But we still want something healthy and delicious. This sautéed chicken and zucchini meal satisfies our entire family: I love that it is quick and healthy, and everyone loves the taste.

Don’t have zucchini? Or have too many zucchini-haters? Use any other vegetable of choice: asparagus is very nice, or green beans. You can even throw in a bag of frozen vegetables if you are short on fresh ones.

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Serve on its own, or over cooked rice or pasta. With or without cheese.

Recipe:

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Southwest Chicken and Zucchini Sauté

2 Tbs olive oil
4 chicken breasts (about 1 lb), diced
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sliced zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
1 can yellow corn (or 2 ears fresh corn)
1 can chili seasoned tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, for garnish

Heat oil in a large skillet. Sauté chicken and onion until browned. Sprinkle with chili powder, cumin and salt. Add zucchini to skillet and cook until chicken is cooked through and zucchini is crisp-tender. Stir in corn and tomatoes. Cook, uncovered, for 7-10 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Garnish with shredded cheese, if desired.

Serve alone, or over cooked rice or pasta.

 

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Zucchini Boats with Turkey Sausage

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One of my resolutions for the year is probably the same as at least half of the rest of the women in this country: to lose weight. My goal is pretty specific however, and has nothing to do with pounds, involves no commercialized diet plan, or even involves such vague undefinable goals like “eating healthier” or “exercising more”. My goal has to do with inches: I want to lose 1/2-inch (and I may be satisfied with about 1/4-inch). Pretty ambitious, don’t you think?

The kicker comes in where I want this 1/4” – 1/2” to come from. I need it to come from the ring finger of my left hand. So that I can remove the wedding rings from my finger! Not that I want to keep them off, it would just be nice to BE ABLE to take them off – for cleaning and such. So if anyone has any sure-fire finger-fat-shrinking diet they would like to share, I am open for suggestions!

Until then, I will have to stick with those unmeasurable methods of eating healthier (I am taking the “whole food, very limited sugar/refined starch” approach) and exercising more. We have always eaten a mostly whole foods diet, but I am going to be much more diligent about the exceptions that I allow myself to eat (like the cookies and desserts that filled my life over the holidays). I’ll let you know when I reach my goal, or my rings completely cut off all circulation to my finger.

Zucchini Boats with Turkey Sausage

This recipe, from Simply Recipes, turned out to be both super healthy and a new family favorite (probably because no one could tell just how many vegetables were packed into that filling-Hurray for the food processor). Most of them even ate the zucchini boat! Which actually surprised me, as we have only one admitted-squash-liking child.

The zucchini I used were pretty long, so I cut them in half both length-wise and width-wise. This also made for better kid-sized portions. Just be sure to leave part of the shell on both ends when you are scooping. A small melon-baller worked great for scooping out the insides. I softened these “boats”  slightly before filling by brushing with olive oil, sprinkling with s&p and microwaving for 2 minutes.

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The turkey sausage filling is made using ground turkey, onion, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini-insides, seasonings and Parmesan cheese (I kept that a secret from Big A, as well). I chopped all of the vegetables, except the tomatoes, in the food processor so that they would not be recognized. This is not a dish that it would be easy to pick out more coarsely chopped mushrooms and squash bits. Once my home is occupied by fewer picky eaters, I will keep those veges more chunky. They would provide a nice texture.

But for now, the food processor is my friend.

The turkey filling is pre-cooked, then cooled and mixed with an egg and the cheese. Not being a patient dinner preparer, I flash-cooled the pan of turkey filling outside on my deck full of snow. I just set the pan, straight off of the burner into the 6 inches of snow that had collected. It quickly sank quite a ways into the snow, but it did cool off mighty quick!

Fill your zucchini shells and bake about 45 minutes, until browned. The crispy browned pieces of filling were especially delicious, so don’t take it out of the oven too soon!

In fact, the browned bits were so good that I broiled the extra filling until most of it was brown and crispy (thinking that the original amounts would not feed our whole family, I made much more filling than I ended up needing) and made a breakfast casserole with it the next morning.

RECIPE:

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Zucchini Boats with Turkey Sausage
(Adapted from Simply Recipes)

2 zucchini
about 4 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 lb ground turkey
2 Tbs white wine
2 diced tomatoes (I used 1/2 of a well drained can of diced tomatoes)
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out insides (a melon-baller works great here), leaving about 1/4 inch of the shell on all sides. Chop zucchini insides; set aside. Place zucchini shells in a glass baking dish and brush insides of zucchini with a very small amount of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Microwave for 2 minutes to soften zucchini slightly.

(For my vegetable-adverse children, I chopped the onion, garlic, mushrooms and zucchini-insides in a food processor)

Heat 1-2 Tbs oil in a large skillet. Sauté onion, garlic and mushrooms until tender. Add zucchini-insides and cook until tender. Remove from pan and set aside.

Heat an additional 1-2 Tbs oil in the same skillet. Add the turkey and cook until browned. Drain any fat. Add wine and stir to deglaze pan. Stir in onion/mushroom mixture, tomatoes, basil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool.

Stir Parmesan cheese and then egg into cooled turkey mixture. Fill zucchini shells.

Bake, uncovered, at 375°F for 45 minutes, or until well browned. Serve hot.

 

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Apple Zucchini Muffins with Maple Streusel Topping

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I love apple season and the smell of warm baking apples and cinnamon, in all of their varieties: apple pies, apple crisps, apple butter, and now apple muffins. These muffins also have a little bit of summer thrown in, in the form of  some shredded zucchini frozen from our summer harvest.

DSC02037This is a pretty simple muffin recipe to throw together and it leaves your house with that wonderful smell of fall baking for the rest of the day!

Start with peeling an apple and finely chopping it. Also shred your zucchini. Set aside.

Combine your dry ingredients: flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.

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Mix two beaten eggs with maple syrup (not pancake syrup, but REAL 100% maple syrup), melted butter, vanilla and maple extract. Stir in zucchini and apples.

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Prepare Maple Streusel Topping: Stir together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. With a fork, mix in maple syrup and maple extract and then butter. Mix until crumbly.DSC02057

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Add nuts, if using.

Spoon batter into muffin tins, either lined with paper liners or sprayed with baking spray. Fill each cup about 3/4 of the way to the top. Sprinkle with streusel topping. I ended up with a little bit more of the topping than I had muffins.

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Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes. This recipe makes about 15-18 muffins.

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RECIPE:

Apple Zucchini Muffins with Maple Streusel Topping

2 ½ cups flour
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten slightly
½ cup maple syrup (use 100% pure maple syrup)
½ cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp maple extract
1 cup peeled, finely chopped apple (about 1 medium apple)
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Streusel Topping:
1 cup flour
2 Tbs brown sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
3 Tbs maple syrup
¼ tsp maple extract
3 Tbs butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tins with paper liners, or spray with baking spray.

Combine flour, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, maple syrup, melted butter, vanilla and maple extract. Peel and chop apple; shred zucchini. Stir into egg mixture.

Prepare Streusel Topping: Stir together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. With a fork, stir in maple syrup and extract. Stir in butter until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

Stir together wet and dry ingredients (not topping) just until moistened. Add nuts, if desired.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans. Top each muffin with 1-2 Tbs streusel topping, crumbling the topping with your fingers. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Yield: 15-18 muffins

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Pizza with Roasted Zucchini Pomodoro Topping

Copy of DSC01851Last week the weather turned cold, and it was time to bring in all of the remaining vegetables and herbs. Some of these things will be dried or frozen, but I took the opportunity to use some of the last of our oregano and thyme to make this pizza topping.

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This recipe came my way from a good friend Amelia, who had given it to my daughter, Middle K. M-K was working on a project where she had to plan and prepare all of the meals for our family for two weeks. I was surprised that she chose such a healthy pizza option as one of her dinners, but I am so glad that she did. We have made it several times in the last month since her project finished. We modified the recipe quite a lot, roasting the vegetables instead of sautéing them and changing up the spices.

Grow Your OwnI have followed the Grow Your Own event for some time now, and I am excited (as a new blogger) to now submit my own garden harvest recipe. I love seeing how other people use the fresh produce from their gardens. For all of the Grow Your Own recipes this month,visit host Andrea Meyers.

Slice fresh zucchini and tomatoes and place them on an olive oil brushed roasting pan.

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Brush the veges again with additional olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. Roast at 450°F for 10 minutes.

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DSC01815Meanwhile chop your herbs of choice- we used oregano and thyme  (basil would also be good)  and stir in some chopped garlic. Top zucchini and tomato slices with herb/garlic mixture. Roast again for another 10 minutes.

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While the zucchini and tomatoes are roasting again, prepare your pizza crust. Instead of a regular pizza crust, we used sliced French bread and some whole wheat tortillas. I loved how the tortillas turned out. The flavor of the toppings really dominated the dish! It did require a fork for eating, however!

We also used a Basil Pesto for sauce instead of a tomato based sauce. It was fabulous-highly recommended.

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Add a layer of cheese to your pesto-topped crust and then arrange roasted tomatoes and zucchini over the cheese. I would have liked for these to have had even more of the toppings, but we didn’t have quite enough for all of our pizzas. Next time I will roast lots more zucchini and tomatoes.

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Cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Serve with crushed red peppers, if desired.

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RECIPE:

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Pizza with Roasted Zucchini Pomodoro Topping

Topping:
1 lb fresh plum tomatoes, cut in half (or any variety, thickly sliced)
2 zucchini, cut into slices
2 Tbs olive oil
salt & fresh ground pepper
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1-2 Tbs chopped fresh oregano
1-2 Tbs chopped fresh thyme or basil

Pizza Crust
Pizza Sauce/Pesto Sauce
Cheese (try mozzarella, shredded or fresh, goat cheese, Parmesan)
Crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 450F. Line a broiler pan with foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray.

Arrange tomato and zucchini slices on the pan. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes.

Combine garlic, oregano and thyme (or basil). Sprinkle over partially cooked vegetables and return pan to oven. Cook an additional 10 minutes.

Spread crust with pizza sauce, pesto sauce, or use no sauce. Add a layer of cheese and then the roasted tomatoes and zucchini. Bake until cheese melts. Serve with crushed red pepper flakes.

 

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