veggies

Cheesey Creamed Spinach

This dish is inspired by an incredible meal Patrick and I had when we were in Chicago last summer (you can see more about our trip here).  Of course we had to hit up one of the city’s steak houses and Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf did not disappoint.  Dimly lit, with strong drinks and large steaks it was everything we could want right down to the amazing creamed spinach side covered in melted cheese.  The minute I got home I wanted to start figuring out this recipe but being that it was July in DC I had to wait for the temps to drop for this ultimate comfort food classic.  It took a couple of tries but I think this version comes pretty close.  For anyone who has ever cooked with fresh spinach you know how much it wilts down.

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Make sure when you drain the spinach after its been cooked that you really press as much water out as possible so your finished product isn’t all watery.  I used my Crate and Barrel pasta pot with the colander right in it which was perfect because I would really press on the spinach to get it dry.  This dish would also be really cute done individually for a dinner party.  I am mildly obsessed with these Staub mini roasting dishes which would be perfect so that everyone gets their own cheesy crust.  Probably goes without saying but this is the perfect dish to serve alongside a steak and a large glass of red wine.  I hope to get back to Bavette’s at some point but for now this should hold us over.

Cheesy Creamed Spinach (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  Bavette’s Bar and Bouef
Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 pounds baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese

In a large pot of boiling salted water cook the spinach for 30 seconds, then drain in a colander squeezing out any excess water.

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In a saucepan or skillet with high sides melt the butter over medium low heat.  Cook the garlic and shallots for 3 minutes until softened.  Add the nutmeg and flour and stir so that everything is combined.  Cook for another minute until the flour is incorporated then whisk in the milk.  Cook for another minute or two until the mixture begins to thicken.  Stir in the spinach and the cream and allow to cook for another minute or two.  At this point you can cool and refrigerate for several days.

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If you are going to serve it right away, preheat your broiler and pour the spinach mixture in a baking pan.  Sprinkle it with the gruyere and place the pan under the broiler for 2 to 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly (watch closely so it doesn’t burn).  Let it cool for several minutes then serve.

Cheesy Creamed Spinach

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 15 minutes
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Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 pounds baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese

In a large pot of boiling salted water cook the spinach for 30 seconds, then drain in a colander squeezing out any excess water.  In a saucepan or skillet with high sides melt the butter over medium low heat.  Cook the garlic and shallots for 3 minutes until softened.  Add the nutmeg and flour and stir so that everything is combined.  Cook for another minute until the flour is incorporated then whisk in the milk.  Cook for another minute or two until the mixture begins to thicken.  Stir in the spinach and the cream and allow to cook for another minute or two.  At this point you can cool and refrigerate for several days.  If you are going to serve it right away, preheat your broiler and pour the spinach mixture in a baking pan.  Sprinkle it with the gruyere and place the pan under the broiler for 2 to 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly (watch closely so it doesn’t burn).  Let it cool for several minutes then serve.

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

In keeping with the clean eating theme of the week and the new year I thought I would post one of the easiest vegetable recipes I know that features one of the best veggies to help clean up your act.  Cruciferous vegetables, think broccoli, kale and our little friends the brussels sprouts, are considered “super vegetables” because they contain high amounts of Vitamins A and C, and help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease.  I love them because they are usually inexpensive and also some of the only good looking things in the produce aisle once the weather turns cold.  I love roasted brussels sprouts (and also fried ones but that’s not really health conscious!) but those take time.  By shredding the sprouts you can saute them in minutes.  In the spring and summer I like to pair them with bright lemon like I do here but in the fall and winter something a bit deeper is called for.  For that I turn to balsamic glaze, essentially balsamic vinegar that has been cooked down to a rich syrup.  You can do that yourself but lots of places are selling glazes these days and that makes this even quicker to make (I like Wegmans version).  Want to speed up the process even more?  Skip the tedious task of slicing the sprouts thinly and let the slicer blade on your food processor do the work for you.  Look how fast!

If you don’t have a food processor you can thinly slice them with a sharp knife for on a mandolin several days in advance.  Just keep them in a baggie until you are ready to use them and this dish will come together in minutes.  This dish would be great alongside Veal SaltimboccaPistachio Crusted Pork Medallions or Cornish Game Hens with Herb Butter.

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  a healthy 2017
Special Equipment:  food processor fitted with a slicer blade (optional)

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic glaze

Heat your largest skillet to medium high and when it is hot add the olive oil.  Dump in the sprouts and season with salt and pepper.

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Let sit for a minute until some browning has occurred, then stir.  Stir again every couple of minutes for 5-7 minutes until the sprouts have wilted a bit and they are browned in areas.  Place on a serving platter and drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

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Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 7 minutes
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Special Equipment:  food processor fitted with a slicer blade (optional)

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic glaze

Heat your largest skillet to medium high and when it is hot add the olive oil.  Dump in the sprouts and season with salt and pepper.  Let sit for a minute until some browning has occurred, then stir.  Stir again every couple of minutes for 5-7 minutes until the sprouts have wilted a bit and they are browned in areas.  Place on a serving platter and drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

A Deconstructed Turkey Rachel

I used to be able to travel back to Boston all the time for work.  It was great because I got to see family and friends and stay connected to my hometown in a way I can’t do now.  However, I would be lying if I said it didn’t also have to do with frequent stops to the Paramount, an awesome diner like place on Beacon Hill.  Open since 1937 this place is always packed but worth the wait.  My standard lunch order was the roasted turkey Rachel with sweet potato fries.  If you have never had a Rachel, its basically a Ruben sandwich with turkey and coleslaw instead of sauerkraut.  The mix of the tangy Russian dressing with the hearty turkey and the rye bread make me super happy.  Since I no longer get to fly up to Boston for one every couple of weeks I started craving it big time.  That’s when the idea to deconstruct the Rachel came to me – turn a lunch classic into a dinner staple.  In place of the rye bread I simply breaded turkey cutlets with breadcrumbs mixed with caraway seeds (the nutty yummy flavor you get in rye bread comes from those seeds).  Then the Russian dressing and coleslaw come together as a bed for the turkey cutlet.  To elevate this a bit I made my own Russian dressing and used bagged broccoli slaw which is much more crunchy and flavorful then the cabbage kind.  A bite of the cutlet with the slaw together and BAM you have a Rachel sandwich!  This dish will definitely get me through until the next time I can go to the Paramount.  Serve it for a totally outside the box Thanksgiving with some hoppy beer and I am sure your friends and family will flip.  Have a great holiday!!

A Deconstructed Turkey Rachel(printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  the best sandwich at the Paramount
Special Equipment:  none

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 12 ounce bag of broccoli slaw
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound turkey cutlets
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

In a medium size bowl combine the mayo, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, apple cider vinegar, and hot sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Stir in the broccoli slaw making sure it is all combined.  This can be done several hours in advance, store in the fridge and just take it out 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off.  Set out three bowls for breading – one with the breadcrumbs and caraway seeds in it, one with the flour and one with the egg, beaten with a splash of water.

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Set out a plate or cookie sheet to place the breaded cutlets on.  First tip each cutlet in the flour, shake off the excess, then dip in the egg, making sure to coat the entire thing and then finish in the caraway breadcrumbs, pressing them on to make sure they stick.

Once all the cutlets are breaded heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Once they are hot add as many cutlets as comfortably fit in.

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Cook 3 minutes per side and remove, add the remaining butter and oil to the pan and cook the remaining cutlets.  Serve the cutlets on top of the slaw mixture.

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A Deconstructed Turkey Rachel

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 15 minutes
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Special Equipment:  none

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 12 ounce bag of broccoli slaw
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound turkey cutlets
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

In a medium size bowl combine the mayo, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, apple cider vinegar, and hot sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the broccoli slaw making sure it is all combined.  This can be done several hours in advance, store in the fridge and just take it out 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off.  Set out three bowls for breading – one with the breadcrumbs and caraway seeds in it, one with the flour and one with the egg, beaten with a splash of water.

Set out a plate or cookie sheet to place the breaded cutlets on.  First tip each cutlet in the flour, shake off the excess, then dip in the egg, making sure to coat the entire thing and then finish in the caraway breadcrumbs, pressing them on to make sure they stick.  Once all the cutlets are breaded heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Once they are hot add as many cutlets as comfortably fit in.  Cook 3 minutes per side and remove, add the remaining butter and oil to the pan and cook the remaining cutlets.  Serve the cutlets on top of the slaw mixture.

Fennel Slaw

No cook dishes are key for steamy DC summers and this slaw makes the perfect side for just about any meal.  It is great with fried chicken, grilled steak, piled on pulled pork sandwiches, or as a raw accompaniment to grilled veggies.  I subbed in thinly sliced fennel for the typical cabbage for this slaw because it provides more flavor and snap to the dish.  I LOVE fennel, raw and cooked, but I know a lot of people still aren’t super familiar with it.

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This prehistoric looking bulb can be intimidating but its really easy to break down and almost all of it is edible.  The stalks can be a little woody so for a raw salad like this I toss them but if you were going to cook the fennel you can slice them up just like the bulb.  The fronds are delicious and are great to reserve and sprinkle on top of any finished fennel dish.

So first cut off the stalks, saving them for another use or for the fronds.  Then slice off the bottom, which is tough, and toss.  Cut the bulb through the middle until you have two halves.  There is a core that is also tough so for a raw dish it should be cut out (if it’s being cooked down you can leave in the core).  Cut along the edge of the core and it pops right out.  Then slice or dice away!  For this slaw I used a mandoline because it’s much quicker than using a knife, but if you don’t have one just make sure to try and get thin, consistent slices.  I have a relatively cheap mandoline that I like because it doesn’t take up a lot of drawer space and is dishwasher friendly.  This one also gets very good reviews – what you want to make sure is that it has a hand guard and at least a couple of thicknesses you can choose from.  Now that you are a fennel cutting expert you should make this and this.  I will be serving this up for the rest of the summer or at least while it’s still 90 plus!!

Fennel Slaw (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  no cook dishes
Special Equipment:  a sharp knife or a mandoline

  • 1 large fennel bulb (or 2 small), cored and sliced thinly (fronds reserved)
  • 1 fresno chili, sliced thinly
  • 2 scallions, light green and white parts, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use light)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (I also use light here)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of honey

In a large bowl toss the fennel, chili and scallions together.  In a small bowl whisk the dressing together – the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, and honey.

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Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Start by adding half the dressing to the slaw, combine and then continue to add until dressed to your liking (I used 90% of the dressing and it was “lightly dressed.”)  Serve right away or store in the fridge overnight.  Bring to room temperature and sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds before serving.

Fennel slaw

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  a sharp knife or a mandoline

  • 1 large fennel bulb (or 2 small), cored and sliced thinly (fronds reserved)
  • 1 fresno chili, sliced thinly
  • 2 scallions, light green and white parts, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use light)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (I also use light here)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of honey

In a large bowl toss the fennel, chili and scallions together.  In a small bowl whisk the dressing together – the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, and honey.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Start by adding half the dressing to the slaw, combine and then continue to add until dressed to your liking (I used 90% of the dressing and it was “lightly dressed.”)  Serve right away or store in the fridge overnight.  Bring to room temperature and sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds before serving.

Pasta Primavera

Spiralizing veggies is all the rage these days.  Pinterest is just loaded with zoodle recipes (zucchini noodles) and I get it – good for people trying to cut back on carbs or who are gluten free.  However, no one is ever going to convince me a plate of zucchini is going to be as good as pasta!  I mean it’s pasta people.  Far be it from me not to try out a new kitchen gadget though, so when my aunt put a Veggetti in my stocking at Christmas I started trying out different dishes with it.  One of my favorite has to be this Pasta Primavera.  Usually this dish has large chunks of veggies that are either overcooked or under cooked tossed with pasta as almost an afterthought.  Zoodles are the perfect antidote to this – if I spiralized the veggies they could commingle right alongside the real deal pasta and elevate this dish to another level.  While there is some cream and yes good old fashioned pasta in here because half the dish is totally made up of vegetables and feeds an army you can still feel good about it.  This is also a great dinner to make in the summer months when the zucchini and summer squash are really huge and tender.

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Now I like my little Veggetti – its small, dishwasher safe and under $10.  For those of you who are really serious about spiralizing there are gigantic versions that probably work a bit better, perhaps have less food waste.  These things can run you up to $250!  I asked around and this one from Williams Sonoma has good reviews and is still under $50 but will take up more space.  I say get a small one and see if you really use it before making a bigger money and space investment.  My little guy has two settings, thin and thick and I used thin for this dish.

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If you want to make this gluten free then by all means nix the fettuccine and add another carrot, zucchini and summer squash to the mix.  Just don’t try and pass it off as pasta…

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Pasta Primavera (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  zoodles zoodles everywhere!
Special Equipment:  a spiralizer

  • 1 large summer squash
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 thinly sliced onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 pound fettuccine
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves thinly sliced

Spiralize the summer squash, zucchini and carrots.  Make sure to break off the strands every once and a while so they are not too long – you want them approximately the same length as the fettuccine.  Bring a pot of water to boil, salt it and toss in the fettuccine (cook as long as directed on the package, usually about 8 minutes).  Drain and set aside.  While the pasta is cooking heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions, some salt, pepper and the pinch of red pepper flakes to the pan and cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes.

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Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the summer squash, zucchini and carrot and turn up the heat to medium high.  Toss everything together and cook for 3 minutes until the vegetables are just starting to soften.  Add the pasta to the pan and toss again until everything is combined.

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Add the cream and again toss to combine.  Taste for salt and pepper and let cook for another minute or two so the flavors can blend.  Add the tomatoes and basil at the end, toss and serve.

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Pasta Primavera

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  a spiralizer

  • 1 large summer squash
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 thinly sliced onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 pound fettuccine
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves thinly sliced

Spiralize the summer squash, zucchini and carrots.  Make sure to break off the strands every once and a while so they are not too long – you want them approximately the same length as the fettuccine.  Bring a pot of water to boil, salt it and toss in the fettuccine (cook as long as directed on the package, usually about 8 minutes).  Drain and set aside.  While the pasta is cooking heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions, some salt, pepper and the pinch of red pepper flakes to the pan and cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the summer squash, zucchini and carrot and turn up the heat to medium high.  Toss everything together and cook for 3 minutes until the vegetables are just starting to soften.  Add the pasta to the pan and toss again until everything is combined.  Add the cream and again toss to combine.  Taste for salt and pepper and let cook for another minute or two so the flavors can blend.  Add the tomatoes and basil at the end, toss and serve.

 

 

 

Mexican Beans and Greens

Beans and Greens is a super traditional Italian dish that is usually made with bitter escarole greens and creamy white cannellini beans.  I love this dish and make it often.  However, for Fiesta Friday I wanted to come up with a Mexican version.  Black beans sub in along with black kale to give this dish a more rustic touch and mezcal is thrown in for good measure.  I had lovely spring onions from the farmers market but you could use a red onion, or regular white onion no problem.  This dish comes together really quickly and can be a great vegan/vegetarian main dish served alongside quinoa or rice.  I love to have it with braised turkey tacos or grilled skirt steak.  This is a great side to make extra of so you can have it for lunch the next day – really filling and healthy with a ton of flavor.  Happy Fiesta Friday and see you all next week!

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Mexican Beans and Greens (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  a spicier, smokier version of the Italian classic
Special Equipment:  none

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch spring onions, chopped or 1 medium red or white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large bunch of black kale (also called dinosaur or lacinato) – leafy part ripped off the stem and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup mezcal

In a large skillet (that has a lid) heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic (being careful not to burn the garlic) and jalapeno.  Cook for 3-5 minutes until the onions are soft.  Add in the beans and kale and toss so everything is combined.

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Add the mezcal and cover – adjust the heat until it is just simmering, usually low or medium low.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Remove the cover and season with salt and pepper.  If the liquid hasn’t all cooked off yet cook uncovered for several more minutes.

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Mexican Beans and Greens

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch spring onions, chopped or 1 medium red or white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large bunch of black kale (also called dinosaur or lacinato)
  • 1/2 cup mezcal

In a large skillet (that has a lid) heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic (being careful not to burn the garlic) and jalapeno.  Cook for 3-5 minutes until the onions are soft.  Add in the beans and kale and toss so everything is combined.  Add the mezcal and cover – adjust the heat until it is just simmering, usually low or medium low.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Remove the cover and season with salt and pepper.  If the liquid hasn’t all cooked off yet cook uncovered for several more minutes.

 

Parmesan Mini Zucchini

Make anything mini and I am on board.  Even non cute items like zucchini suddenly become adorable!  I found these at Trader Joe’s but I have seen mini zucchini at regular grocery stores as well.  Aside from being so stinking cute they are also a bit more tender and I find more flavorful than the big ones.  Not to say you couldn’t use regular zucchini in this, just cut them down to a similar size as these halved mini ones.  You want lots of exposed surface area so they can get nice and brown and crispy.  A sprinkle of parmesan over the hot zucchini and it melts on for side vegetable perfection.  These would be delicious with roast chicken or maybe pork tenderloin and can be served room temperature if you wanted to serve them at a picnic or on a buffet table.  An easy side for any night of the week really.  Thank heavens for baby vegetables.

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Parmesan Mini Zucchini (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  baby squash!
Special Equipment:  none

  • 24 ounces baby zucchini, cut in half lengthwise (or regular zucchini if you must, cut in half and then in quarters lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat your broiler.  Toss the zucchini with the olive oil and some salt and pepper.  Spread out on a baking sheet and broil for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.  When browned and softened toss the zucchini with the Parmesan cheese and serve.

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Parmesan Mini Zucchini

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 24 ounces baby zucchini, cut in half lengthwise (or regular zucchini if you must, cut in half and then in quarters lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat your broiler.  Toss the zucchini with the olive oil and some salt and pepper.  Spread out on a baking sheet and broil for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.  When browned and softened toss the zucchini with the Parmesan cheese and serve.

 

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