Sauteed Zucchini with Meyer Lemons and Garlic

 

August always delivers an overabundance of zucchini which, for a cook, calls for a little creativity if you want to transform the ordinary into something extraordinary. That may sound like a tall order, but here is a quick and easy zucchini recipe that delivers a bright refreshing zucchini main course for a late summer supper.

Meyer lemons

Meyer lemons may be unfamiliar, but I’m here to make their case with the hope that you will give them a try.

Meyer lemons are a centuries old Chinese hybrid of citron, the mother of all citrus fruits, pomelo, and the mandarin orange. Meyer lemons are less acidic than a true lemon with a hint of mandarin and scent of citron.

Nicolas Meyer, an American horticulturist, developed the Meyer lemon in 1908 and this is  the variety you will find here in the US. Alice Waters and her restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley popularized California cooking and introduced Meyer lemons to American home cooks In the early ‘70s.

 

Meyer lemons are now widely available and generally identified by a softer paler yellow skin with a sweet citrus scent. If you live in California or Florida where Meyer lemons are commercially  grown you are likely to encounter various varieties and sizes. I have include a photo of two varieties I’ve found in my local farmers market a here in Hawaii.

For the recipe that follows you may of course use true lemons, but the Meyer lemons are well worth seeking out. I have found them at Whole Foods as well as and various specialty produce purveyors on the mainland as well.

Zesty Sauteed Zucchini with Meyer Lemons and Garlic

Equipment: a large stainless skillet with lid.

  • 2 medium green or yellow zucchini, ends trimmed, and sliced into paper thin rounds
  • 3 Meyer lemons, trimmed and sliced into paper thin rounds, seeds removed and discarded
  • 1 medium brown onion, peeled, thinly sliced and quartered
  • 3 plump garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • flaked sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • wedges of Meyer lemons

Prep all the ingredients and set them out on a platter.

Set the skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and swirl the pan until melted. Add the olive oil and swirl to combine.

Add the onions and saute until they begin to wilt. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.

Add the lemon slices and saute briefly and then add the zucchini. Using bamboo or silicone spatula begin turning the ingredients continuously until they begin to color ever so slightly. Add 1/4 cup water and continue sauteing until the water has evaporated.

Add the wine and saute for a few minutes until the wine has parochially evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Lower the heat and cover the pan with the lid and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. The zucchini and lemons should have a slight golden color around the edges.

Serving: Transfer to individual shallow pasta plates. Garnish with cilantro leaves and lemon wedges and serve.

I like serving this sauteed zucchini with meyer lemons with small baked mottoes topped with a good splash of olive oil, flaked sea salt, and dollops of G reek yogurt.

This, to me, a perfect light summer supper!

For some reason I keep returning to potato salads this summer. Chilled meals just make more sense. I like to get whatever has to be cooked out of the way in the morning so I’m home free when evening rolls around and I have supper on the table pronto!

Planning summer meals is so easy with the abundance of all the fresh herbs and salad greens available in local farmers markets. Herbs add that taste of summer to marinades, dressings and, of course, pesto! A chilled basil pesto dressing turns a potato salad into the main attraction on the table.

 

And don’t stop there. Make hay while it shines and squirrel away batches of pesto in your freezer. There is nothing like bringing the taste of summer to the table in the dead of winter!

 

 

 

A Summery Pesto Potato Salad with watercress

Plan to cook the potatoes several hours before making the potato salad. The potatoes must be well chilled before making the salad.

  • 2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and cut into a bite size wedges
  • water to cover
  • sea salt

Put the cut potatoes in a large pot and add water to cover. Add salt and bring to a low boil. Cook until the potatoes are al dente. Gently pour the potatoes into a large colander and drain well. Once cool, transfer the potatoes to a large bowl, cover with cling film, and put them in the fridge to chill for several hours.

Basil Pesto

  • 3 cups chopped fresh sweet Italian basil leaves
  • 2 plump garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ to ¾ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup pine nuts, macadamia nuts. or cashew nuts, chopped
  • ¾ cup finely grated Parmigiana cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cold water if needed

Place the chopped basil, minced garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt in a food processor, blender, or a bowl if using an immersion blender. Blend until emulsified.

Add the nuts and blend until smooth. Add the parmigiana and black pepper and pulse until combined.

Taste the pesto and add salt if needed. If the pesto seems a little thick add a little olive oil or
cold water and pulse until the pesto is the consistency you prefer.

 

Basil Pesto Dressing

  • 1 cup basil pesto
  • 1 tablespoon Grey Poupon mustard
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup full  fat Greek yogurt

combine all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and stir the dressing by hand until well combined. cover and refrigerate.

Refrigerator freeze the reaming pesto for later use.

Basil Pesto Potato Salad

  • 3/4 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • precooked diced potatoes
  • basil pesto dressing
  • fresh watercress

 

Place the onions, celery, and potatoes in a large bowl. Toss the ingredients using your hands and set aside, or refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the salad.

Serving

Add generous dollops of the dressing to the salad and toss gently using large wooden salad spoons.

Line a large serving bowl or platter with fresh watercress Top with the potato salad and chill the salad until the very last minute before serving!

 

You are probably thinking where am I ever going to find purple sweet potatoes where I life? Well, Whole Foods does have them on their website, but Okinawan purple sweet Potatoes are gaining popularity so you may find them showing up in your local farm markets. They are delicious baked, or mashed ( see recipe below), But with summer’s arrival why not splash out with a Colorful “Hawaiian” Purple Sweet Potato Salad!

Purple sweet potatoes are generally identified as Okinawan sweet potatoes where thy are revered for their nutritive contribution to the islander’s historic longevity. The Okinawa’s are more likely to attribute their longevity to their warm tropical climate and their easy lifestyle. But that said, these purple sweet potatoes are just loaded with nutrients and antioxidants and have replace rice in the local Okinawan diet.

 

The purple sweet potato’s origins goes back thousands of years to Central and South America where native farmers cultivated purple sweet potatoes. After the Spanish Inquisition Spanish merchants brought the purple sweet potatoes to the Philippines, and from there to China in the late fourteen hundreds, Okinawa in the sixteen hundreds and onward into south East Asia and East Asia.

 

Here in Hawaii purple sweet potatoes arrived with Polynesian island settlers. Over time the original plantings were replaced with the Okinawan variety that are grown on the island of Molokai. They available in local farm markets and some super markets across the Hawaiian-islands.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Salad

The recipe that follows is my  own riff on a… Colorful “Hawaiian” Purple Sweet Potato Salad

  • 1 ½ lbs. Okinawa purple sweet potatoes

Peel the potatoes and cut them into ½ inch cubes. Place then in a saucepan and cover with water. Add a little salt and bring the water to a low boil. Cook until the potatoes are softened but still holding their shape. Purple potatoes will take longer to soften so be patient and attentive.

When the potatoes are done, drain and set them and set them aside to cool. when cool transfer them to bowl, cover, and refrigerate.

For the salad

  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced sweet Maui onion, or yellow onion
  • 1 six inch fresh red chile, seeded and finely diced
  • ½ cup diced canned pineapple, reserving the remaining rings that will be halved for garnishing before serving the salad.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate.

For the Dressing

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup full fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice + more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • sea salt to taste
  • ¼ cup sliced fresh cilantro leaves 

Combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk until completely combined.  Taste and add more lime juice and salt to taste. Cover the dressing and refrigerate.

Assembly and Serving   

  • several large lad leafy salad greens
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted macadamia nuts, cashews or pine nuts
  • sprigs of fresh cilantro leaves
  • halved pineapple rings

Line a serving platter or large shallow bowl with fresh salad greens leaves and set aside

Remove the bowl of salad ingredients and add the cubed purple potatoes and fold everything together until combined.

Add the dressing and fold the salad together until is evenly coated with dressing.

Spoon the salad onto the prepared serving platter or bowl and garnish with sprigs of fresh cilantro. Place half slices of pineapple rings around the the edge of the salad. Scatter the macadamia nuts lightly over the top of the salad and serve!

 

Mashed Okinawa Sweet Potatoes   

This couldn’t be simpler and absolutely delicious.

  •  4 Okinawan sweet potatoes
  •   1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
  • sea salt to taste

Peel the potatoes  and cut them into one inch chunks.  Put them in a pot and add water to cover. Add some salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer until the potatoes are soft.  Transfer the potatoes to a colander and drain. Then  then using  either aa potato ricer or a hand mashing tool, mash the potatoes into or in a mixing bowl.  Pour the olive oil over the mashed potatoes. Add the garlic and salt and, using a silicone spatula, fold the ingredients together without overworking to retain the fluffiness of the potatoes. Taste and season with more salt to taste. That’s all there is to it!

 

 

Hawaiian Macadamia nut sables flavored with Pandan

Everyone associates macadamia nuts with the Hawaiian Islands and for good reason. They have either enjoyed a holiday in Hawaii or have receved a a colorful Hawaiian Host gift boxefilled with chocolate covered macadamia nuts ! Hawaii is one of largest producers of these irresistibly rich and buttery nuts from the Pacific islands. But there is a fascinating backstory as well. Macadamia nuts are not native to the Hawaiian islands. Macadamia nuts and their host the screw pine trees are native to Queensland in northeast Australia.

The first screw pine trees that produced macadamia nuts in Hawaii were brought to Hawaii around 1880 and planted in Kukuiheale on the big island of Hawaii. The rich volcanic soil from the Mauna Loa volcano proved to be the ideal and macadamia nut orchards thrived. The industry grew and flourished and Hawaiian macadamia nuts are now exported to the rest of the world.

Sables, essentially shortbread cookies that originate from Breton in France, seemed a likely match for macadamia nuts with their light crumbly texture and a lovely buttery flavor that blends seamlessly with the macadamia nuts subtle tropical flavor notes.

Several years ago I posted a Saigon cinnamon sables recipe (click here) that turned out to be a complimentary Asian  pairing as well

Macadamia nuts isolated on white backgrounds.

The macadamia nuts subtle flavor and rich coconut like texture makes them a perfect choice for baked goods. White chocolate is hands down the most popular pairing and indeed an excellent choice. But I was looking for a more local melding of flavors when pandan popped up in my head. Pandan is a local palm leaf that has a sweet aromatic flavor and scent as well as adding a very very pale green tint to whatever the application. It is the perfect alternative to vanilla and used throughout South East Asia to flavor rice, sweets, or in any recipe that calls for vanilla extract. This is an ingredient, like kaffir lime leaves, that can add a whole new dimension to your cooking repertoire. A few fresh or dried leaves of either cooked with rice will fill the kitchen with the most incredible aroma you could ever imagine. And yes macadamia nuts, pandan, kaffir leaves are all Available on line at.    See note following the recipe.

Hawaiian Macadamia nut sables flavored with Pandan

makes 36 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup / 5.2 ounces best quality salted butter (Kerrygold Irish Butter) at room temperature
  • 4 large organic egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1cup coarsely chopped dry roasted macadamia nuts with sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pandan extract (thinned with a little water if using paste) or vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, whisked

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter using a silicone spatula until completely smooth.

In another bowl whisk the egg yolks while gradually adding the sugar until light and fluffy.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and gradually stir into the butter mixture until completely combined.

Stir in the pandan extract or vanilla extract until completely combined and then fold in the macadamia nuts until evenly combined.

Gather the dough together and transfer to a piece of cling film placed on your the work surface. Pat the dough into a rectangle loaf. Cover with cling film, and refrigerate for at least one hour, for several hours, or overnight.

Line two baking sheet pans with parchment or silicone mats and set aside.

When the dough is very well chilled divide the loaf in half and refrigerate the other half.

Place a sheet of parchment on your work surface, and dust it with flour. Place the dough in the center and dust lightly with flour. Begin rolling out the dough slowly, dusting with flour as needed, until it is about ½ inch thick.

Using a 2 inch round cutter, cut out circles of dough and, using a spatula or dough scraper, lift the cookies and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet ,placing them about ½ inch apart. Gather any scraps of dough and set aside.

Transfer the sheet pan of cookies to the refrigerator while you role out the remaining dough, cut out the remaining cookies and place them on the second prepared sheet pan.

Gather up the scraps of dough, kneed them together, roll out the the dough, cut out the remaining cookies and place them on the baking sheet. and transfer them the refrigerator. Discard any remaining scraps of dough.

preheat the oven to 350 f / 180 c Adjust the baking rack in the center position of the oven.
Beat the reaming egg until frothy and set aside.

For the best results bake each baking sheet of cookies separately.

Remove a tray of cookies from the fridge. Mark the tops with a crisscross pattern using a fork. Then brush the tops of each cookie with the egg wash.

Transfer the cookies to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, rotating the tray half way through the baking time.

The edges of the cookies should be slightly browned and the tops are a light golden color. Do not over bake!

Remove the cookies from the oven and place the tray on a cooling rack. After about 15 minutes you can remove the cookies from the tray and placing them directly on the rack to cool completely.

Repeat the same sequence for second batch. When all the cookies are completely cool they may be stored in an airtight container for at least a week at room temperature.

Keu a ka ono !

 


Note: Ingredients available at Amazon.com

Oven roasted macadamia nuts with sea salt
24 oz / 1.5 lb $26.95 (they freeze well)

McCormic pandan flavor extract
2o ml $12.76 (2 pack)

Pandanus Leaves Dried 0.5 oz 9.99

Kaffir Lime Leaves Dried o.5 oz 9.99

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