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 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!
A chilled Limoncello is hands down my favorite summer aperitif, equally refreshing straight up or on the rocks with a splash sparkling water. Limoncello captures the essence of summertime in southern Italy where Lemon trees dot the sun drenched landscapes of of Naples, Capri, Sorento, the Amalfi coast, Calabria and Sicily.
Happily, the region’s spectacularly lemony flavored limoncello is exported and most likely available at your local spirits shop. Otherwise you could make your own. All that’s need is a bottle of 100 proof vodka and the zest from 12 organic or California meyer lemons. Combine both in a jar, seal, and set aside for about a month to infuse the vodka with an intense lemon flavor. A simple sugar syrup is then added to sweeten the limoncello to your liking.
O course, as a cook, limoncello also inspires all sorts of other applications.
The Limoncello Pound Cake recipe that follows is a versatile summer delight personified. Serve it with coffee in the morning, sliced and toasted and topped with fresh seasonal fruits for a picnic, or a leisurely alfresco lunch, or as a zesty sweet finale for a supper under the stars.
Limoncello Pound Cake
Makes one 10” loaf or a 9” & a 6” loaf
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup full fat Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup limoncello
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons slivered almonds
For Limoncello Yogurt Sauce
- 1 ½ cups full fat Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup limoncello
Preheat the oven to 350 f /180 c
Prepare a 10 inch” loaf pan or an 8 “ & and a 6”loaf pan, lined with parchment and buttered.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt n a bowl. Whisk until evenly combined, and set aside.
In another bowl combine the Greek yogurt and limoncello. Stir until smooth and set aside.
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed until fluffy. Then add the sugar in three additions while continuing to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Add the eggs in three additions while you beat on medium sped until the mixture is nearly smooth.
Reduce the speed to low and begin adding the dry ingredients and the Greek yogurt mixture alternately. Continue until the batter is relatively smooth and evenly mixed. Then mix in the lemon zest until combined.
Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pans. Gently shake the pan to even out the surface. Scatter the sliced almonds evenly over the surface.
Place the cakes in the center of the oven and bake for approximately 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the cakes after 25 minutes.
The cakes are done when they are nicely browned. Test by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean with a few crumbs the cake is done. If the cake requires more time return it to the oven for five minute intervals until the cake test done.
Transfer the cakes to a rack and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the yogurt limoncello sauce. Combine the yogurt and the limoncello and whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve the pound cake.
Once the cake are cool enough to handle, inspect the rim of the cake and remove any excess cake that may have spread over the edges of the cake pans. Gently run a knife around the edges of the cake pan and tip the pan onto a cutting board to release the cake. Turn cake upright and set aside until you are ready to serve.
Serve generous slices of the pound cake with the Limoncello yogurt sauce to the side.
Here is a recipe for an Italian butterscotch budino that I came across years ago in Nancy Silverton’s The Mozza Cookbook. Of course we Americans remember those Jello butterscotch puddings our mothers whipped up when we were kids. They seemed good enough at the time, though once you have tasted a rich and creamy homemade butterscotch budino you will discover a butterscotch pudding like none other. As a cook this is a butterscotch pudding you can rely upon to elicit oohs and aahs whenever you serve it, and reaffirms the old adage that there is indeed proof in the pudding!
makes 6 servings
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- ¾ cups whole milk
- 2 extra large egg yolks
- 1 extra large egg
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup water
- 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon whiskey or brandy
- 2 tablespoons slivered almonds browned in butter
Fill a large bowl with ice water and set a smaller bowl inside. Set a fine-mesh strainer in the smaller bowl.
Stir the cream and the milk together in a medium bowl and set aside.
In another medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, egg, and cornstarch together and set aside.
Combine the brown sugar, salt, and ¾ cup of water in a large heavy bottomed saucepan set over medium high heat. Cook the sugar without stirring, instead swirling the pan occasionally for even cooking. Don’t be alarmed: the sugar will become foamy and lava like with slow-bursting bubbles as it cooks. Once the sugar is caramelized, nearly smoking, nutty smelling, and dark caramel color, about 10 to 12 minutes, promptly pull the pan off the heat!
Immediately add the cream milk mixture in a thin steady stream, stirring with a whisk as you add it. This stops the cooking process and prevents the sugar from burning. This will cause the sugar to seize up and harden. Return the pan to the heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the seized sugar has dissolved and the mixture is liquid again, 5 to 7 minutes.
Turn off the heat and ladle out about one cup of the hot cream and sugar mixture and gradually add it to the bowl with the eggs, whisking constantly to prevent the cream mixture from cooking the eggs. Continue adding the cream to the eggs until you have added half the cream. Then gradually add the contents of the bowl to the saucepan with the remaining caramel, stirring constantly with a whisk, and cook the custard over medium heat until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not overheat the custard to avoid lumps in the custard.
Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the butter and whiskey or brandy until combined and smooth.
If there are any lumps in the custard pas the custard through the strainer into the bowl set in the ice water.
ladle the budino into dessert bowls and set a side to cool until the custard has set. Then and decorate the centers of the budinos with the slivered almonds.
Let the budinos cool to room temperature. Then cover each bowl with cling film and refrigerate.
Remove the budinos from the refrigerator about an hour before serving to bring them to room temperature before serving .
Zucchini is the very essence of summer for me. The shades of deep to light greens along with tinges of yellows tease your memories of endless summer meals gone by where zucchini’s presence on the table defined the taste of unforgettable midsummer meals with family and friends.
Preparation of zucchini is a lesson in less is more. A recipe is hardy required, but keep in mind, a lightness of touch and just a scent of fresh herbs is all that is needed.
Serving this roasted zucchini with a creamy polenta is a match made in heaven! (click here for polenta)
Roasted Zucchini with a Lemon Vinaigrette serves 4
Needed: large shallow oven baking tray
Preheat oven to 375 f/ 190 c Have oven rack placed in the middle position.
- 3 or 4 plump garden fresh zucchini, ends trimmed and cut into ½ inch thick wedges
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon thyme leaves
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Place the wedges of zucchini in a large bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the zucchini and toss to coat the wedges evenly.
Add the lemon thyme leaves, season with salt and pepper and toss until well combined.
Place the zucchini wedges in the baking tray in a single layer. Transfer the tray to the oven and roast for 6 to 8 minutes. Then reverse the tray and roast another 6 to 8 minutes. The zucchini should be very lightly colored and softened, but still firm around the edges.
If you like you can place the try under the broiler for a couple of minutes for added color.
Transfer the tray from the oven to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature.
- 3 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1 garlic clove, whole, peeled and pressed
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- pinch of sugar (optional)
- freshly grated Parmigiano (optional)
In a non reactive bowl combine the shallots, garlic clove, lemon juice, lemon zest, white wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Whisk until all the ingredients are combined.
Combine both oils in a pitcher. While whisking slowly begin adding the olive oils in a thin slow and steady stream while continuing to whisk vigorously. Once all the oil has been added and the vinaigrette has emulsified, taste the vinaigrette and add additional salt as needed. Adding just a pinch of sugar is optional. Cover and refrigerate the vinaigrette until you are ready to serve.
Place the roasted zucchini in a bowl and lightly drizzle the lemon vinaigrette over the zucchini, toss, and serve.
As suggested above, serve roasted zucchini along with creamy polenta is a perfect summer meal in itself.
Dusting with Zucchini and polenta with Parmigiano is optional, but a nice compliment.