Thursday, August 27, 2009

More Summertime Cooking: Zucchini Stew

I adore the produce this time of year; you can’t go wrong when you’re making dinner with such lovely fresh ingredients!

The recipe I’m sharing with you tonight is actually a casserole, but Sue’s family always calls it “Zucchini Stew.” From the first time Sue’s mom served it back in the 1970s, it was wildly popular with the family, a huge hit. The whole family loved it—and that’s saying something in a family with three kids!

So that’s the first thing: People like it. It tastes good. “Even though” it’s full of veggies.

Here’s the second thing: It’s a great way to “use up” that surplus zucchini you might have at this point in the summer. (And grating is not required!) This is an easy recipe!

Third, if you’re like me an’ Sue, you will welcome the leftovers. It can make a lot.

Fourth, you can modify it in all kinds of ways—using more veggies, adding flavors, etc. (See below.) Get creative!

So here you go—this is a total “jackpot” recipe.

The recipe is from Betty Ferber, though I’ve added some notes.

Zucchini Stew

Sliced zucchini—as much as you want [sliced into rounds].
Sliced onions—as much as you want [white or yellow onions, I’d say].

Steam the above until done [depending on the size of your steamer, you might need to work in batches].

Make white sauce; use half to cover the bottom of the casserole dish. Add zucchini and onion, and cover with the rest of the white sauce.

Top with shredded mozzarella; sprinkle saltine cracker crumbs over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly, cheese is melted, and crumbs and cheese are slightly toasty on top.

Now. If you don’t know how to make a white sauce, you’ll have to ask Better Homes and Gardens or Betty Crocker—or just Google it.

Obviously, the size of the casserole dish and amount of the ingredients and white sauce can all vary. It’s okay for you to wing it.

And speaking of winging it, here are a couple of variations: Add a layer of tomatoes, and/or a thin layer of chopped fresh basil. Or any herb, for that matter. Thyme.

I’ll bet you could add crumbled (cooked) bacon, diced ham, or little balls of (cooked) sausage, to make it really decadent.

You could also add chopped mushrooms, chopped (and steamed) sliced bell pepper (red would look really nice) . . . it’s kind of a blank slate.

Anyway, this is what we had last night for dinner—I added basil, but that’s all.

And because it was kind of hot and stewy, we needed something crisp, colorful, and zippy to go with it. So I made a Fattouch vegetable salad, too. I won’t give you the recipe here, but here is a link to a video that shows how to make this lovely, bright, fresh Lebanese salad. (Don’t forget the pitas!)

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