The time has finally arrived when—according to my brother-in-law in Virginia, that you have to lock your car, or it will be full of zucchini when you return. Well, please bring it on! You can put zucchini in my car any old day. I was recently teaching a class to women who don’t cook very much, and we made lasagna out of ingredients right off the shelf, including no-boil noodles, tomato sauce, ricotta/cottage cheese mixed with eggs, and cheese. One of the class leaders, Teri Freel, made a lasagna by using thinly sliced zucchini, sliced longways, to replace the noodles. I had never heard of it, but it was great, and everyone loved it. The recipe goes something like this:
2-3 twelve-inch long zucchinis, sliced lengthwise, about 1/8” thick (unpeeled)
3-4 cups tomato sauce, homemade or store bought
2 cups cottage or ricotta cheese
3-4 cups excellent cheese, such as Kenny’s smoked Gouda, grated
½ cup shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese, such as Kenny’s
3 large tomatoes, sliced thin
½ cup shredded basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Grease a 9” X 13” baking pan, and line with very thin strips of zucchini. Mix cottage or ricotta cheese with eggs, and spread over zucchini “noodles.” Cover with 1 cup tomato sauce, 1/3 of the basil, and salt and pepper. Spread 1/3 of the Gouda or other cheese. Repeat with two more layers of zucchini strips, cottage/ricotta/egg mixture, tomato sauce, and cheese. On the top later, place thinly sliced tomatoes over all, the remaining basil, salt & pepper, and top with Gouda and Parmesan/Asiago. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Serves 6 or more.
Tomato Pie: We are all looking forward to Lelia Gentle’s Tomato Pie, and alas, I don’t have the recipe. However, my friend Mimi Pate supplied a different kind of tomato pie recipe, called Bacon, Tomato & Onion Pie, and it is very good. You can use a prepared crust. She adapted it from Just a Pinch Recipes.
"Just Heavenly" Bacon, Tomato, and Onion Pie
1 9-inch pie shell
5 large tomatoes, peeled and sliced
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
1 sweet onion, sliced or chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Ritz crackers, crushed
2 tsp. butter, melted
2 green onions (scallions), sliced
Prick pie shell with fork and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Fry bacon. Cook till tender. Drain, set aside. Peel and slice tomatoes, and drain for a few minutes on a towel to remove excess water. Fill bottom of pie shell. Sprinkle with chopped onion and salt and pepper. Layer more tomatoes, salt and pepper (again). Mix mayo, bacon and cheese and milk. Spoon on top and pat down to cover tomatoes. Sprinkle with Ritz crackers mixed with melted butter. Sprinkle scallions on top. Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Tomatoes & Corn: Can’t get enough! Maybe there are never enough fresh tomatoes or sweet fresh corn. I am chagrinned to admit that I can’t remember where I learned this recipe—since almost all of my recipes have stories—but I guess there is just too much institutional memory for this one. No, I didn’t create it originally, but it is delicious!
Grilled Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad with Honey Lime Dressiing
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 ripe avocado
2 ears of fresh sweet corn
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Honey Lime Dressing
Juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
Dash of cayenne pepper
Remove husks from corn and grill over medium heat for 10 minutes. The corn should have some brown spots and be tender and not mushy. Cut the corn off the cob then scrape the cob with the back of your knife to get the juices. Set aside and let cool. Slice the tomatoes in half. Dice the avocado and chop the cilantro.
1. Add all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
2. Combine the sliced tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and grilled corn and honey lime dressing and mix gently so everything is evenly coated. Be careful not to mash the avocados. Let the salad sit for 10-15 minutes to let flavors mingle.
A Word About Cilantro: I didn’t grow up using cilantro, but have fallen in love with it in the last few years. I’ve learned that there is no middle ground on cilantro: you love it or hate it. My grown children say it tastes like soap. My granddaughter Riley had to send back a dish at El Camino restaurant because it had so much cilantro, and she couldn’t tolerate it. I loved the cilantro pesto that Tomese Buthod wrote about last summer, and make it often. I have a new cilantro condiment that is fabulous, and so easy to make. It is pretty spicy, so you may wish to tone down the chili or cayenne, or start with a little, increasing it according to taste. This is a Mark Bittman recipe, and he is my new best friend! It is wonderful on any bland food, from baked potatoes to eggs, fish, grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers—you name it!
1 ½ cups fresh parsley leaves
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red chile flakes (I substituted ¼ teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons neutral oil, such as Canola
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste.
In a food processor, combine all ingredients except olive oil, and process until combined. Taste, adjusting seasonings, and add remaining olive oil by hand. Swoon! Use sparingly as a condiment. It will last only a few days in the fridge, so enjoy it lavishly when you make it. Makes about 1 cup.
Check out our radio show, “La Vida Local” on Crescent Hill Radio:www.crescenthillradio.com, with former Courier-Journal food editor, Sarah Fritschner, Patty Marguet and me. If you know a great cook, please recommend them for an interview. You may stream the show on the CHR website at 1 p.m. Saturdays or find it on the sound cloud or Facebook.. Bardstown Road Farmers Market vendors Ken & Colter Hubsch were recent guests. Check for other recipes on my website, www.phyllisfitzgerald.com, and you may contact me at email@example.com.