Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ellie Krieger's Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Every Saturday morning my mom, my daughter, and I wake up early and head to a little neighboring town so we can shop at the most precious little farmer's market. This cute little market is a food lover's paradise. There are about 15 little stands arranged underneath a pavilion that sits right next to the Kentucky River. Each farmer's stand is total perfection and offers something fresh and delicious that no other does. Together, these 15 stands manage to cover almost each and every food group in a truly unparalleled way.

There is a squash stand, specializing in pumpkins and every other fall gourd you can imagine; a very happy orchard farmer selling the most beautiful apples, pies, and jams; two bakers, one selling sweets and one selling all kinds of specialty breads. Then there is a sweet and very hard-working lady who sells all cuts of grass-fed beef from her cattle farm; a lady who sells the most beautiful (and rather petite) versions of vegetables and herbs I've ever seen; a chicken farmer who raises organic chickens and eggs; a flower farmer selling all sorts of colorful flower bouquets; a soap maker who makes all-natural soaps using essential oils; someone selling homemade jewelry; and my new favorite, a pig farmer specializing in the best Berkshire pork of the highest quality. It's the most wonderful farmer's market with truly amazing treasures. It's quite simply my favorite place to be these days.
This time around I wanted to buy lots of veggies to dip into Ellie's Spinach and Artichoke Dip.  My daughter fell in love with these teeny tiny baby tomatoes and I thought they would look really cute served atop the dip and placed in the middle of the veggie platter. The veggie farmer also gave me some precious little carrots with the stems and leaves still attached, some tiny baby celery, little colorful sweet peppers, and the freshest snap peas I've ever bit into. I bought a loaf of some really soft Asiago & Basil bread from the bread maker, cut it into strips, brushed it with a little butter, and broiled it until lightly browned. It was definitely an ode to the farmer's market!

Ellie's Spinach and Artichoke Dip is creamy and cheesy without being too heavy, as most dips tend to be. As I do with most of Ellie's recipes, I found it to be perfectly balanced and very pleasing. This is a blended dip that is rather smooth and therefore, easy to eat. We found this lighter version perfectly satisfying. I imagine leftover dip would be great spread onto toast, or served in an omelet or sandwich. We found this lighter version perfectly satisfying and really enjoyed it. I thought it was a tasty and colorful way to welcome Ellie! I'm excited for a healthy and delicious six months.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Recipe found on Food Network
Written by Ellie Krieger
Makes 12 servings

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
1 (10-ounce) pkg frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, excess liquid squeezed out
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup (4 ounces) reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

To serve: Pita wedges, veggies, crackers, chips, etc. 
 Preheat oven to 375F. Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until onions are light golden but not browned. Remove from heat and cool.

In the bowl of a food processor combine artichoke hearts, spinach, sour cream, mayonnaise, cream cheese, mozzarella, salt and pepper.  Process until smooth.  Add cooled onion-garlic mixture to the food processor and pulse a few times to combine.

Transfer mixture to a baking dish (recipe calls for an 8-inch glass baking dish or a 9-inch pie plate) that has been lightly buttered. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until heated through (mine dip was finished baking but not piping hot like I want my dips to be when served, so I actually microwaved my portion a little bit before serving). Serve with pita wedges, crackers, chips, or veggies.

Theme: Hello Ellie! (Welcome to IHCC)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

All of My Jacques Pépin Favorites!

In April I started on one of my favorite culinary adventures so far, cooking with the infamous Jacques Pépin! Prior to April, I was in a major cooking rut. I wanted to eat good food, but I hardly ever felt like cooking and nothing appealed to me. Taking pictures of food became my nemesis and worse yet, when I would sit down to write about food, no words would come.  

Then I ordered two Jacques Pépin cookbooks and when they arrived I found myself very intrigued with who Jacques really was and why he was so well-known and well-loved. I looked over the cookbooks several times and then started watching his Youtube videos. I became taken with his gentle ways and kind face. I also found myself rather addicted to those Youtube videos, watching one right after another. His passion and love for cooking was evident and I loved that about him. His passion relit the spark in me. I realized I had never really cooked French food and a whole new cuisine opened up before me. While Jacques' recipes cover a multitude of cuisines, I vowed then and there to cook as much French food as possible. 

I compiled a list of French recipes and set a goal to make as many of them as possible. Along the way there were times I wanted to take the easy route and make an easier, usually American, sort of dish. Sometimes I did, but more often than not, I would remember the delicious payoff in challenging myself with another one of Jacques classical French recipes. This reminder was usually all the encouragement I needed to stay on track.  

It was a wonderful six months cooking the recipes of Jacques Pépin. I've cooked with lots of chefs and made almost 1,000 recipes since I started food blogging six years ago, but these past few months cooking  Jacques Pépin's recipes have been some of my favorites. Jacques Pépin is a class act, the real deal, and a legend in his own time. His recipes are to be treasured. Much thanks to him for reigniting my passion and love of cooking.

My top favorite, number one, Jacques Pépin dish is this very delicious Egg and Onion Gratin. In fact, this is one of my favorite dishes I've ever made. It's a unique and fun option for breakfast lovers. Hard-boiled eggs baked in a cheesy, creamy, oniony sauce that gets all bubbly and browned under the broiler. Serve this over toast for an incredible breakfast!
Next in line, and only beating out Jacques Coquilles St. Jacques for it's family-pleasing qualities, is Pepin's Gratin Parmentier. As far as my family is concerned, this Gratin Parmentier is the most glorious way to put meat and potatoes on a plate. Beautifully seasoned roast beef and gravy topped fluffy and cheesy mashed potatoes. The ultimate comfort food!
Pepin's Coquilles St. Jacques is every bit as pleasing and delicious as his Gratin Parmentier. This is a beautiful dish of perfectly poached sea scallops served atop a rich and flavorful mushroom duxelle then topped with a heavenly and velvety Gruyere sauce. It is swoon-worthy and begs to be made often in my kitchen. A beautiful and romantic dish to entertain with or make for that special someone.
My mom and I are HUGE fans of crab cakes and these Crab Cakes In Red Sauce rate right up there at the very top of our list! Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, perfectly seasoned with full on crab flavor and incredible with the tangy sauce. If you're going to splurge on top shelf crab meat this is the recipe for you!
For years I have tried to recreate the crepes I had as a child. None of the recipes held a candle to the ones I had as a girl with my friends, until I tried Jacques Pepin's Crepes. The batter is perfectly easy, doesn't require a blender or any chilling time, and produces the most beautifully light and perfectly golden crepes I've ever made (and I've tried a lot)! These crepes always make everyone feel special. Fill them with whatever you chose. Enjoy them for breakfast or dessert. Having them on hand always equals happiness.
I'm convinced Jacques Pepin's Chocolate Mousse is THE ULTIMATE DESSERT. Seriously, if you are a chocolate really doesn't get any better than this! While not easy, this is a dessert worth mastering. A luxurious dessert with a velvety mouth feel and rich chocolate flavor. It is divine in every sense of the word. We actually fought over it in my house. It was known as the Battle For Chocolate Mousse. I won.
These pretty little Shrimp Casseroles are dainty and feminine and perfect for a girls lunch. Buttery and garlicky with a crispy breadcrumb topping they really hit the spot. If you're like me, you will have a hard time remaining dainty and feminine while eating them. They almost beg to be inhaled!
Loved equally for their comforting and family-pleasing qualities are Pepin's Pasta and Ham Gratin, shown above and also Pepin's Penne Au Gratin, shown below. Pepin's Pasta and Ham Gratin is an easy one pot weeknight meal. Pasta, ham, peas, and a cheesy Gruyere cheese sauce come together in one very satisfying dish. If you find yourself without leftover ham go ahead and use bacon with similar results.
Pepin's Penne Au Gratin is a delicious and summery version of classic mac and cheese. I fed this to my inconsolable teenage daughter and it was like magic. By the time she was done eating a bowl her ranting and raving and fussing were over. Top secret...penne noodles in a smooth cheesy sauce with pretty chunks of summer ripe tomatoes topped with a crunchy topping of Parmesan cheese and paprika calm teenage frustrations. Score!
Jacques Pepin's Wonton Cannelloni is a purely fun fusion dish. Chinese wonton skins are filled with tradition Italian cheeses and baked in a seasoned tomato sauce with a bubbly cheese topping! An easy and unique weeknight dinner that is fun to make! 
I absolutely adored Pepin's Butter-Glazed Carrots. No one else in my household likes cooked carrots but I love them with a passion. Pepin's Butter-Glazed Carrots were easy, perfectly glazed, and perfectly seasoned. I made a big batch and snacked on them for days.
While I love carrots, the rest of my family loves peas and Pepin's Braised Peas with Egg Yolks was a major hit! Tender peas in a thick egg yolk and cream sauce is a hearty and satisfying side dish to nearly any meal.
Pepin's Eggs Jeanette had been on my to-make list for years and is just a fun and unique way to serve eggs. Eggs are hard boiled; yolks removed, seasoned, and returned; then put face down in an oiled pan to and cooked to create a crispy coating on the yolk. The eggs are then served on a bed of spinach and drizzled with a creamy egg yolk vinaigrette that is zesty and tangy and perfect in every way.
These Croutons with Creamy Red Pepper Dip are a true testament to Jacques Pepin's recipes. I chose this recipe out of necessity to participate in the Mystery Box Madness challenge. I needed a recipe with at least 3 of our 10 mystery ingredients and this was the only one I could find. Red pepper, cottage cheese, cream cheese, dill, and lemon juice sounded a little strange together at first. But, I'd learn to put my trust in Jacques' recipes and decided to go with it. In the process I discovered a gem of a recipe. A pretty and creamy dip that highlights the wonderful flavor of red pepper without being very cheesy at all. This is a light dip that would be great to serve at a party and I can guarantee it would please even the pickiest eater. Serve it with croutons, veggies, or crackers.  Watch your guests eat it with gusto.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn't share an ode to Gruyere cheese. Thank you to Jacques Pepin for introducing me to the most wonderful cheese on the planet. Gruyere cheese is simply the stuff of dreams. I love it's robust flavor and melting ability. It's my favorite cheese by far! I've used it in nearly every recipe in this roundup and buy it weekly. It's worth the splurge, even at $24.99/lb!
Au Revoir Chef Pepin {Until We Meet Again - Much Love}

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Olivia's Tomato Soup with Rice & Pesto

My daughter is absolutely in love with tomato soup. It's her new obsession and after many, and I do mean many, trips to Panera (where she enjoys it in a bread bowl like the carb queen she is) I finally planned to make some at home. While looking through recipes I found this one that my sweet friend Deb made awhile back, Tomato Soup with Rice. Since I'm not a fan of crafting a bread bowl I figured the rice was a suitable carb replacement. My daughter agreed. All was set to get cooking, until I managed to blow out both of my 40 year-old knees jazzercising. 

Luckily, the recipe was very simple and my daughter was willing to make it for me while I supervised in a nearby chair. She didn't like chopping the onion because it made her cry, but she enjoyed prepping the rest. She seemed to take great enjoyment in stirring the pot and adding the rice (like she is in the picture below). She was really interested in how much liquid the rice absorbed and how thick the soup became.  It was a tasty lesson for her and one that the rest of the family enjoyed.

We served Olivia's Tomato and Rice Soup with a dollop of pesto and Parmesan cheese. On the side, some fresh toasted bread with a Parmesan Pesto butter. It was a delicious reminder that teenagers can indeed be sweet from time to time.

Tomato Soup with Rice & Pesto
Recipe adapted from Deb @ Kahakai Kitchen
Originally from Recipes and Dreams From An Italian Life
by Tessa Kiros
Serves 5-6

  5 tablespoons oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, chopped
1-3/4 lbs very ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
12-15 basil leaves or pesto
5 cups hot water
1 scant cup short-grain white rice
Parmesan cheese for serving

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and saute the onion until nicely golden and a bit sticky. Add the garlic and when it smells great, add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Tear in about seven of the basil leaves and simmer for about 5 minutes or so, squashing down most of the tomato lumps with a potato masher. Add the hot water and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.

Add the rice and simmer for another 20 minutes or so, putting the lid on at the end to prevent too much liquid from evaporating. It should be quite thick, but if it seems too thick just add a little hot water. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Serve in wide bowls. Tear a couple of basil leaves in half, or top with swirls of pesto, and add to each bowl. Scatter a heaping tablespoon or so of Parmesan over each and drizzle with a little olive oil. Grind a little black pepper over the top and serve.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Jacques Pépin's Tarte Tatin

When I began cooking the recipes of Jacques Pépin almost six months ago I made a goal. The goal was to make lots of classical French dishes. The journey started with the most flavorful Coquilles St. Jacques, a beautiful dish of scallops with a savory mushroom base and luscious mornay sauce topping. Next I tried my hand at Creme Brulee. Along the way I made lots of gratins: a phenomenal Gratin Parmentier with beef, pasta gratins, and some remarkable egg gratins. I made quiche with bacon and learned that Gruyere was very favorite cheese in the history of cheese! I made the most dream-worthy chocolate mousse and I made crepes that reminded me of wonderful childhood memories.

There were many weeks I wanted to change my dish and take the easy route, but I stuck with it. Along the way we not only fell in love with Pepin's recipes, but also with French food. There were several techniques I learned along the way.  Some I mastered. Some I did not. This Tarte Tatin, which will be one of my last French recipes for awhile, falls somewhere in between. It requires making a caramel, which has never gone well for me.  This time around my caramel was successful. I was so elated.

The trouble with this tart for me was twofold. The directions say to let all the liquid/caramel evaporate while cooking the apples. I knew I didn't want to do that so I left some liquid/caramel in the pan before I laid on the dough. When I pulled the tart out of the oven it was rather dry. Next time, I will leave even more of the juices and I think it would fix the problem. The other issue was placing my chilled dough over a hot skillet. I had the prettiest dough, but it was not so pretty when the heat started to melt the dough. Next time I would simply remove the chilled dough from the wrappings before I got anywhere near the hot skillet. With these two changes I think this would be a total success! As it was, it was still delicious, especially when paired with vanilla ice cream.
Oh, and worth mentioning...I am a lazy cook. I know the Tarte Tatin is supposed to be flipped over and served with the pastry on the bottom,but I couldn't be bothered to do that! We just scooped it out with a spoon.

Tarte Tatin
Adapted from Essential Pepin
by Jacques Pépin
Serves 6

1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons pear or apple cider

3 large Golden Delicious apples
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup apple cider

 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons confectioner's sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons milk
*Optional: Cinnamon/sugar to sprinkle on top

For The Caramel: Combine the sugar and cider in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes a light caramel. Remove from the heat and swirl the caramel in the skillet to cool and harden it. (If the caramel starts to darken too much as it continues to cook in the pan's residual heat; plunge the base of the skillet in cool water to stop the cooking.)

For The Filling: Peel the apples, cut them lengthwise in half, and core them. Cut them into slices. Arrange the apple slices cut side up in the caramel-lined pan so that what would have been the stem ends meet in the center.

Add the butter and cider and bring to a boil (the caramel will melt). Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to low, and cook gently for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and keep cooking, checking occasionally, until all the water has evaporated and the mixture in the pan has caramelized again, about 10 minutes longer, and the apples are tender.

For The Dough:  Process the flour,butter, and confectioner's sugar in a food processor for about 10 seconds. Add the milk and process for another 10 seconds.

Transfer the mixture to a sheet of plastic wrap and form it into a ball. Place another piece of plastic wrap on top of the dough and roll it between the plastic into a 10-inch circle. Refrigerate the dough (still encased in plastic) to firm it slightly.

Preheat the oven to 400F, with a rack in the center.

After the apples have cooked for about 20 minutes, remove the dough from the refrigerator, peel of the top sheet of plastic wrap, and invert the dough onto the apples. (This step was a bit tricky for me because the heat of the apples in the pan caused my dough to stick to the plastic wrap- so I would remove the plastic wrap from both sides before going anywhere near the hot pan next time).  Peel off the remaining plastic. (Drizzle dough with cinnamon/sugar mixture if desired) Place the skillet in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. The dough should be nicely browned on top and, when you tilt the pan, there should be a rich layer of caramel in the bottom. Let cool to lukewarm or room temperature.

At serving time, if the Tarte Tatin has cooled beyond lukewarm, rewarm over medium heat until the caramel dissolves (the apple mixture in the pan will move when you shake it). To unmold the tart, invert a serving plate on top of the dough and turn the tart out onto the plate.

Slice the tart into portions and serve with vanilla ice cream.
Theme: Seasonal Specialties!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Apple, Blue Cheese, and Hazelnut Salad

I live in small town in Kentucky so anytime something new opens it's a big deal. When we got the news that Panera was coming to town everyone was beyond excited. I think I've been to Panera at least three times a week since they've opened.  My new favorite is their Ancient Grain, Arugula & Chicken Salad. The salad is sweet and savory, full of texture, reminiscent of autumn, and is tossed in the most delicious white balsamic apple vinaigrette. I have daily cravings for this salad.

Over at I Heart Cooking Clubs it's Mystery Box Madness week and our ten mystery ingredients are: salmon, green peas, hazelnuts, eggplant, Parmesan cheese, kale, apples, blue cheese, rosemary and bread rolls/buns. I had NO IDEA what to make but then my friend Joyce of Kitchen Flavours posted a gorgeous Blue Cheese, Hazelnut, and Apple Salad courtesy of Jamie Oliver. Since I've been craving autumnal apple salads I decided to take Joyce's recipe and add some pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. I also decided to look for a copycat recipe for Panera's white balsamic apple vinaigrette.  I found a wonderful copycat recipe, which I will share below, and the salad was a total success! It was a wonderful light dinner on a beautiful fall day and I will certainly be enjoying it again.

Apple, Cheese, & Nut Salad
Adapted from Jamie's 15 Minute Meals
by Jamie Oliver 

  1/4 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 cups baby spinach or romaine
1 apple, cut and sliced into thin slivers
   1/2 cup blue cheese in big crumbles
1/4 cup Parmesan 

Wash and dry the lettuce and/or spinach and place in a salad bowl. Cut and slice the apple into thin slivers. Place the apple in a medium bowl, toss in the nuts and seeds and mix thoroughly.  Arrange the apples, nuts and seeds on top of the lettuce. Arrange the blue cheese and Parmesan cheese on top of the apple mixture. Make the Fuji Apple Dressing (shared below) and drizzle on top of salad.  Serve immediately.

Fuji Apple Dressing
recipe found on The Lazy Mom's Blog
Makes 1 cup
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
4 tablespoons apple juice concentrate
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey

Combine all the ingredients in a mason jar and shake.
Theme: September 2015 MBM

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Jacques Pépin's Gratin Parmentier

 My daughter walked in and said, "Wow, that's like something you made for us back when you didn't work."  I had to laugh because she was right. Years ago, when I stayed at home, I spent most of my days in the kitchen.  Now that I work, and both kids are so busy with activities, a meal like this is a real treat. It makes me realize how much I miss those days of kitchen therapy.

Gratin Parmentier is pure comfort food. Tender chunks of pot roast in a delectable gravy with a very light mashed potato topping and a crispy layer of Gruyere cheese.

You need about one a half pounds of cooked pot roast in order to make this dish. There is no such thing as leftover pot roast in my house, so I started from scratch with a 3 pound pot roast. I sliced one onion into thin slices and browned the onion with a little oil in my Dutch oven. I added a touch more oil, put the roast in the Dutch oven, and browned the roast on all sides. Once the roast was browned, I removed it and set it aside. Next I deglazed the pan, with the onions still in it, with about 1 cup of beef stock.  I had one ripe and gorgeous homegrown tomato on the counter so I deseeded it and cut it into chunks. I threw the tomato in the Dutch oven with the onions, added some beef stock and a peeled garlic clove, and watched as it come to a boil. I added the roast back in (making sure the beef stock reached the middle of the roast, but did not cover it) put the lid on, and roasted it at 300F for about 3 hours. It was tender and perfect. The tomato was a lovely addition. In fact, I will be sure to add a tomato to my recipe from now on.

Once the pot roast is finished reserve the one and a half pounds needed for this recipe and set the rest aside for another recipe. You can also reserve the juices from the pot roast. The juices from your pot roast will be much more flavorful than any beef stock you can buy. You'll need 2 cups of beef stock or pan juices for this recipe. I had one cup from the roast and used another cup of store-bought beef stock.

After making the roast everything comes together pretty easily. You make a quick gravy with the reserved juices and allow the roast to simmer in the gravy while you make the potatoes. The potatoes get passed through a potato ricer and then half and half and eggs are added to make a very light and fluffy potato topping. Sprinkle the topping with cheese and place in the oven. You will be so pleased when you peek in and see all the bubbly browned goodness in the oven.  This meal is a total treat!

Gratin Parmentier
Adapted from Essential Pepin
by Jacques Pepin
Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2-1/2 cups very thinly sliced onions
2 teaspoons very finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups homemade beef stock or pot roast juices
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-1/4 pounds leftover pot roast
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups half and half
3 lage eggs
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
For the Beef: Heat the oil and butter in a large pot until hot. Add the onions and saute over high heat for 5 minutes, or until a bit transparent and lightly browned. Add the garlic and flour and mix well. Add the stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Add the meat and bring to a boil again, then cover, lower the heat, and simmer very slowly for 20 minutes for boiled or braised meat; increase the cooking time if you use meat from a roast that was cooked medium or rare. Stir in the parsley.

The stew could be served alone at this point. For the gratin, put in a buttered 3-quart flamefproof gratin dish and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

For the Potatoes: Put the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water, add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the point of a knife. Drain and push through a food mill or ricer into a bowl. (If you don't have a food mill, use a fork or potato masher; don't use a food processor.)

Add the half-and-half and mix well with a whisk until smooth. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste, then add the eggs one after the other and mix well.

Pour the potato mixture on top of the meat (or put it into a buttered flameproof gratin dish if making it to be served on its own) and spread it gently with a spatula. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes. Place under the broiler for 3 to 4 minutes to brown the top. Serve.

Theme: Le Plat du Jour

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Pasta with Zucchini, Mint, and Feta

A quick weeknight pasta dish that celebrates glorious garden fresh zucchini. A friend gave me these cute little baby zucchini and I wanted to make something special to showcase them. This pasta is a bright and fresh summer treat that can be put together in the time it takes to boil pasta. Tender slices of zucchini, the brightness of fresh mint, and the salty crumbly feta cheese make for one perfectly balanced and delicious pasta dish. I would definitely recommend this if you have an abundance of zucchini.

Pasta with Zucchini, Mint, & Feta
Adapted from Apples for Jam
by Tessa Kiros
Serves 3-4

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 small zucchini, finely sliced or about 6 baby zucchini
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and squashed a bit
1/2 teaspoon dried mint or a tablespoon fresh diced mint
3/4 cups small cubes feta cheese
1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
16 ounces pasta of your choice
olive oil, to serve
grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan and add the zucchini and garlic. Saute over quite high heat until the zucchini are cooked through and golden in places. If the garlic starts to burn, sit it on top of the zucchini. Season very lightly with salt and remove from the heat. Toss in the mint, crushing it between your fingers, and add the feta and lemon juice to the pan.  

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling water, following the package directions. Drain the pasta, not too thoroughly, and save a little cooking water. Toss the pasta, directly into the zucchini pan, if it fits.  If not, return it to its own pan and add the zucchini sauce. Add 1 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil and toss quickly and thoroughly to mix it all through (add a little cooking water if necessary if it seems at all dry). Serve immediately, with Parmesan and an extra drizzle of olive oil, if you like.
Theme: August Potluck!