Make us your home page
Instagram

From the food editor: Zucchini provides the base for a light summer meal

Zucchini with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor

Zucchini with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor

Where do you find inspiration in the kitchen? It's a question I've been asking myself lately, in an effort to become more creative with my meals in the weeks ahead.

We're heading into one of the most ho-hum times of the year for cooking. From about September to December, we're in holiday cooking mode. Even though we don't get seasonally appropriate temperatures in Florida, things feel cozier, more festive. January and February bring challenges of trying to eat healthier and cook meals that can help counteract the gluttony of the previous months. March and April offer a bit of spring.

But May through August generally feel like one thick, muggy cloud of meh. It's hard for me to want to do anything in 95-degree heat, and turning on my oven or spending an hour in the kitchen is right up near the top of that sweat-induced list.

I think it's also a time of year when we generally don't want to eat heavy foods, what with the inevitable parties at which bathing suits are part of the dress code.

So, something light. Something that doesn't require a ton of cook time. Something delicious. I think I found a new go-to.

The inspiration for it came from one of my relatively new kitchen appliances (wedding shower gift, this is why you register): a spiralizer attachment for my KitchenAid mixer that turns all manner of vegetables into gorgeous fettuccinelike strands and other shapes.

I know, I know. Not everyone has (or wants) an admittedly intense contraption. One of those handheld spiralizers works just as well, and in a pinch I am a big fan of using a vegetable peeler to get thick peels.

The real goal here is to turn a whole zucchini, a light vegetable just bland enough to work with whatever it is paired with, into a smaller cut that makes it more exciting to eat. You could even julienne it, cutting it into small matchsticks.

I used my spiralizer to turn the zucchini into thick noodles, spiralizing about three times more than I needed for this recipe so that I could more easily make it again. The veggie noodles kept perfectly in my fridge for about five days, during which I made this recipe four more times, the mark of a solid creation.

After I had a base, I went all in on the experimenting, turning to my favorite kitchen staples (onions, garlic and lemon) to create a refreshingly simple dish that delivers on flavor. The onion proved to be a little too oniony, so I switched to shallot instead. And, after making the recipe twice, I decided it was missing what most recipes are: two kinds of cheese.

Dinner inspiration accomplished.

easy

Zucchini with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup raw, skin-on hazelnuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • Handful fresh parsley
  • Parmesan cheese, for serving

Instructions

  1. Put zucchini through a spiralizer, or use a vegetable peeler to turn it into long, thick strips. Set aside on a paper towel and let it rest for a few minutes; the paper towels will absorb excess moisture.
  2. Set a medium skillet over medium heat and add olive oil.
  3. Roughly chop hazelnuts and add to skillet when oil is hot. Mince garlic and shallot and add to skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Stir mixture, then let cook, frying a bit in the oil, for about 3 minutes, until shallot and garlic are softened. Make sure your hazelnuts aren't burning; feel free to turn down the heat if you're worried.
  4. Add zucchini to skillet and stir to incorporate. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Let cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, until the zucchini is lightly browned but not super soft. You want it to have some bite.
  5. Add goat cheese to skillet and stir for about a minute, until cheese coats zucchini.
  6. Remove from heat and zest the lemon over the skillet. Roughly chop fresh parsley and sprinkle over everything in the skillet. Stir once, then divide between two plates. Top with grated Parmesan cheese, to taste. Season with more salt and pepper if desired. Serves 2.
Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times

From the food editor: Zucchini provides the base for a light summer meal 05/15/17 [Last modified: Friday, May 12, 2017 1:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bar review: The Landing at Jannus in St. Petersburg

    Bars & Spirits

    I've spent many evenings in St. Pete's Jannus Live courtyard, enjoying one of the best open-air venues in the Tampa Bay area. It's where I saw my first concert in Florida: Toadies, on the Rubberneck tour sometime in the mid '90s.

    The drinks at the Landing at Jannus in St. Petersburg are about as cheap as you’ll find at any other regular downtown bar, a nice surprise.
  2. Local craft beer of the week: Two Henrys Belleview-Biltmore Blueberry Vanilla Wheat

    Bars & Spirits

    Two Henrys Brewing Company is a unique entity in the Tampa Bay brewing scene, due to both its status as the only brewery in Plant City, as well as its location on a 27-acre working farm, which also includes a winery.

    Photo by Justin Grant
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for May 26

    Events

    Train: One of the most engaging frontmen in rock, Pat Monahan, brings along O.A.R. and Natasha Bedingfield for their annual trip through Tampa. 7 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $21.50-$191. (813) 740-2446.

    LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 12:  Singer Pat Monahan of Train performs as the band kicks off the Play That Song Tour in support of the album "A Girl, a Bottle, a Boat" at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 12, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) 700034174
  4. Interview: Todd Rundgren comes to St. Petersburg looking to reach a new generation

    Music & Concerts

    They're teaching Todd Rundgren in college now.

    Todd Rundgren will perform at the Mahaffey Theater on May 27. Credit: Lynn Goldsmith
  5. Volcano Bay, with waterproof wristbands that eliminate lines, now open at Universal Orlando

    Attractions

    ORLANDO — Universal Orlando opened its third park on Thursday, this one a resort-style water attraction called Volcano Bay that features a waterproof wristband that promises to eliminates lines.

    Universal Orlando opened its third park, on May 25, 2017, this one a resort-style water attraction called Volcano Bay that features the first waterproof wristband that promises to eliminates lines. [Willie J. Allen Jr. | for Universal Studios]