Green Sauce or “Going-out-of-Town” Sauce

If you love vegetables (and herbs) and/or you have a CSA or shop at the farmers’ market or have a vegetable garden, chances are you have pangs of guilt or sadness when you’re getting ready to leave town for the weekend and there’s beautiful produce in your fridge that may or may not last until you get back.

 

Over the last few years I’ve found myself making herb sauces, pestos and ratatouille before I leave town in late summer. Whether you’re going camping, staying with friends or booking a room somewhere, these things all travel well and improve anything they touch and are good at room temperature. They also are just delicious and need nothing but crackers to be consumed–as I recently did at a soccer tournament in a hotel lobby. Fellow soccer parents were thrilled with the spread!

 

I realize most folks are probably not in the habit of cooking right before leaving town but it may turn into something you do. Coming home to rotting vegetables/herbs is no fun and enjoying the fruits of that extra time spent before heading out may just be worth it.

 

I just made this sauce and it’s going to Walla Walla with us later today and it will grace the sandwich I pack for myself for the road.

 

P.S. If you’re tired of wasting produce and want more tips and tools like this subscribe to the Seasonal Recipe Collection and take control of that crisper:)!

 

Green Sauce

 

There are many variations for this herby sauce that improves anything it touches. It is a bit richer and more complex the than Italian-style salsa verde I make frequently. I particularly like this herb combination (parsley, tarragon, dill) but play around with different ratios and herb combinations including basil and mint, if you’d like. The above version employed cilantro, parsley and dill.

 

You can chop everything by hand (as I did above) or process in a food processor, it will be saucier/looser if you process and I kept the above version a bit drier (less oil) so I could use it as a sandwich spread as well. I usually use the processor but my knives had just been sharpened and it was a joy to chop all those herbs!

 

This makes a lot of sauce but I doubt you’ll have trouble finding ways to use it.  It is particularly good with poached, baked or roasted fish, boiled potatoes and/or carrots, turnips, summer and winter squash, etc.

 

1 good-sized bunch parsley, washed and stems cut off where the leaves begin

1/4 cup tarragon leaves

1 good-sized bunch dill, picked and tough stems discarded

2 green onions, chopped (or 2 tablespoons regular onion or shallot)

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed

3 anchovy filets

2 hard-boiled eggs, yolks and whites divided

Juice of 1 1/2 – 2 lemons (to taste)

1/2 cup or more olive oil

Sea salt and pepper

 

In a small bowl crumble or mash up the eggs yolks a bit and finely chop the whites. Process (or chop by hand) the herbs, onions, capers, and anchovies and yolks in the food processor until finely chopped.  Add the lemon juice and start adding the oil through the feeding tube and process briefly.

 

Taste and add salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper. Add lemon juice or oil to taste and to create a fairly loose sauce. I like my sauce quite lemony. Finally put the sauce in a bowl and stir in the chopped, cooked egg whites.

Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze

Let’s be honest, if we really want to use up a lot of zucchini we should make ratatouille or zucchini fritters or myriad other savory dishes that can be the centerpiece of a meal. Zucchini bread/cake does not really use up that much, or maybe I just don’t have the right recipes. However, this cake that David Lebovitz wrote about years ago, is worth making, and it uses 3 small-medium zucchini, which made a small dent in my backlog of zucchini, and is just so delicious it might as well be the centerpiece of a meal!

 

This recipe is fabulous as written but I’ve edited it slightly:

  • reduced sugar by a 1/4 cup
  • added zest of 1 lemon to batter
  • squeezed the grated zucchini out, just in large handfuls over the sink, and used a total of 350 grams (about 4 cups, packed) instead of his 300

Happy baking!

Make Your Own Rules! Aka You’re the Boss & Cooking is More Fun that Way

I just returned from a 4-day camping trip/music festival. First day back was busy and hot. No time for a trip to the store and there was a hungry family to feed & we spent too much money on food at the festival:

 

What did I have on hand?

1 giant zucchini that I should have picked before I left. 1 slightly shriveled peach, 1 quart of cooked rice in the freezer as well as a loaf of bread, a head of lettuce that still had a decently fresh core, plenty of herbs in the garden, red lentils in the pantry, plus 1 onion and a few cloves of garlic, a bit of butter, spices and a can of coconut milk. And a handful of roasted, salted cashews.

 

The Menu:

Zucchini & Herb “Butter” + Toasted Bread

Red Lentil Dhal & Rice w/ Plenty of Mint

Green Salad w/ Peaches, Mint & Cashews

 

The Verdict:

Delicious + enough for lunch the next day + cooking without spending an (extra) dime makes me very happy

 

My “Rules” (for this meal):

  • Don’t hesitate to serve an Indian-inspired dish next to a French-inspired one next to an undefinable salad
  • Rich nuts like cashews can stand in for cheese in salad
  • Nuts are critical pantry staples
  • Grating the zucchini and squeezing out some of the liquid before sauteeing it makes it cook more quickly and have a better consistency
  • A zucchini that looks too big to be good can be delicious sauteed with plenty of butter & herbs
  • Grating vegetables is easy and often leads to creative uses
  • Growing a few herbs pays off big time
  • Fruit is wonderful in green salads
  • Butter & salt make everything better

What are you cooking on the fly these days?

 

Happy summer!

 

P.S. Need more regular tips and inspiration to eat well and spend less? Use discount code SUMMER for 20% of a subscription to the Seasonal Recipe Collection. 

 

Summer Squash Herb “Butter”

–inspired by Food52.com

 

Whenever you have a lot of squash this is the prefect thing to do. Grated, it cooks down quickly, turning into a sweet and savory side dish or spread. Spread it on toast in place of actual butter or add a thick layer in a sandwich with  tomatoes and/or soft cheese. You can use it as a pizza topping or a pasta sauce too.

 

Serves 4 as a side, 2 as more of main with an egg or a hearty salad, etc.

 

About 4-5 medium zucchini or any kind of summer squash (feel free to use less or add extra — cooking times will vary)

1/4 cup olive oil or butter (I prefer butter in this one)

½ a medium onion, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, mint, basil or parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Squeeze of lemon juice or drizzle of vinegar

 

Coarsely grate the squash on the large holes of a box grater. Squash is really the easiest thing to grate so it won’t take much time at all. If you feel like it you can sprinkle the pile of grated squash with a little salt and let it sit while you sauté the onions. Even in just a couple of minutes it will release a bit of liquid. Before adding the grated squash to the pan you can then squeeze handfuls of the squash over a sink to release some extra liquid which will speed up the cooking a bit. But don’t worry if you don’t–it will be just fine.

 

In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil/butter. Sauté the onion for about 3 minutes on medium heat. Add the squash and a few generous pinches of salt and toss and cook and stir over medium to medium-high heat until the squash is nice and soft and almost spreadable, about 15 minutes. If you scorch the bottom, turn the burner down a bit but don’t worry about the browned areas. They will add flavor and be sure to scrape them up and reincorporate. Just before the end of the cooking time add the herbs and incorporate well. Cook another minute or two, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and a little lemon juice—you don’t need much but just a little brightens it up nicely.