I fell in foodie love with these pretty pale green Patty Pan Squash when I visited the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City last week. I paired them with green capsicum in a Patty Pan Squash Mint Soup, and added mint and fresh orange juice for flavour and cumin and pepper powder for a touch of spice. Lovely purple edible hyacinth flowers again from the Greenmarket made a colourful garnish. (more…)
Ingredient: mint leaves
Cooking with cherries is fun. They look gorgeous, taste delicious (you can’t help popping a few into the mouth as you make the preparations, can you?) and manage to appear exotic all while being easy to work with. Except of course for pitting the cherries, which is not a happy task, though I can think of worse things to do (like prepping banana flowers for a traditional South Indian curry). The Fresh Cherry Mint Chutney was worth the little effort needed to pit the cherries, with its sweet and tangy taste and the light flavour of the orange coming through. (more…)
Gorgeous red birds eye chillies and some fresh zucchini in the biweekly vegetable supply from First Agro Farms, set me to searching for the perfect ‘winter’ soup. Broadly adapted from Simply Recipes ‘Spicy Zucchini Soup’, the chilli zucchini soup is one treat you will come back to again and again. The varied textures and balance of flavours are everything one would want a soup to be.
The curried chilli zucchini soup is easy to put together, and the walnuts add to the texture and flavour, contrasting with the silkiness of the pureed zucchini.
The red chillies give it just that zing you want from a hot bowl of soup on a chill Bangalore evening.You can manage the level of ‘heat’ by adjusting the quantity of red chilli used in the recipe for chilli zucchini soup below.
I have grated the zucchini and pureed the soup coarsely. However you could dice the zucchini into even sized 1 cm square or so pieces for uniform cooking. Or grate the zucchini and not puree the soup.
The origins of zucchini have been traced by archaeologists to as early as 7000 BC, in Mexico. Wikipedia says that ‘Zucchini, like all squash, has its ancestry in the Americas. However the varieties of squash typically called “zucchini” were developed in northern Italy in the second half of the 19th century, many generations after the introduction of cucurbits from the Americas (North and South, called the New World) in the early 16th century.’ The first description of the variety under the name zucchini occurs in a work published in Milan in 1901.
What’s in a name?
The origins of the name of the fruit is interesting, as it is said that the people who colonised New England, gave it the name of squash, which is derived from its North American description of ‘something eaten raw’.
The first records of zucchini in the United States are said to date to the early 1920s, and thought to have been brought over by Italian immigrants and probably first cultivated in California. Wikipedia says that in the United States, Australia and Germany, the plant is commonly called a zucchini, derived from the Italian zucca, meaning a “gourd, marrow, pumpkin, squash.
The name courgette is from the French courge, “gourd, marrow”, and is commonly used in France, Belgium and other Francophone areas, and in the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and South Africa. In the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand, a fully-grown, matured courgette is referred to as a marrow.In South Africa, the fruit is typically harvested as a baby vegetable, approximately finger size, and is referred to as “baby marrows”.
Nutrition and Health:
According to nutrition-and-you.com, zucchini has a number of health benefits: Because of their high water content, they are low in calories and without saturated fats or cholesterol, high in Folates, it is a good source for potassium, as well as having other minerals such as iron, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. It is often advised by dieticians in weight reduction and cholesterol control programs.
Zucchini has some levels of anti-oxidants (though not as much as some berries and vegetables) and the yellow skinned ones are rich in flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin, which can play a role in ageing and help fight cancer and other disease.
The peel is a good source of digestive fibre that helps in reduction of constipation and can be of some protection against colon cancer. Fresh zucchini is rich in Vitamin A and C as well as some moderate levels of B-complex group of vitamins all of which are important for good health.
Culinary uses of the zucchini:
Zucchini or courgette is such a versatile vegetable. Actually, it is a fruit, like the tomato, but of course not as sweet and soft which is why it is made into savoury dishes, like the zucchini soup.
Add it to pasta sauce, make zucchini soup, bake it as an au gratin or as bread, grill it, shred it, sauté or roast it and add to a salad, spiralize into noodles, or stuff and bake it, make a soufflé, theres a lot you can do with it. It cooks fast, and its rather bland taste complements most flavours, and gives texture to the dish. And is both nutritious and healthy too!
The culinary use of the zucchini is as varied as the many regions of the world. The flower and the fruit are both edible, as is the peel of the young zucchini.
A main ingredient in the French ratatouille, or stuffed with meat, tomatoes or peppers; in salads, raw or lightly cooked in Thai or Vietnamese recipes; in Egypt, cooked with tomato sauce, garlic and onions; fried and served with a yogurt dip in Bulgaria or sliced and baked with eggs, yogurt, flour and dill.
Cooked in different ways, in Italy, baked, boiled, fried, sautéed; stuffed with meat or rice, herbs and spices an steamed as in the Middle East and Greece where it is served with avgolemono sauce or fried or stewed with green peppers and eggplant. Zucchini flowers and fruit are used as a filling for quesadilla in Mexico, or made into zucchini soup or stews.
A favourite way to cook zucchini in Russia and the Ukrainian region is to coat the zucchini with flour or semolina and fry or bake and serve with sour cream.
Zucchini caviar is another interesting dish, where, according to Wikipedia, the squash spread is made from processed zucchini, carrots, onions and tomato paste.
The popular mücver or zucchini pancakes of Turkey, are made from shredded zucchini, flour and eggs and fried in olive oil, served with yogurt.
Mouth watering, are they not?
So: Have you had zucchini today? Try out this chilli zucchini soup and you will come back for more!
As usual, I had purchased the zucchini, herbs and the chillies for the chilli zucchini soup, from the zero pesticide growers of fresh produce, First Agro Farms, through their marketing arm, Sakura Fresh.
We Bangaloreans are lucky indeed to have this quality of vegetables and greens delivered to our doorstep -there is so much happiness in knowing that one has made something flavourful and nutritious and is able to access Safe Food for the family!
The link below is to a vendor to whom PepperOnPizza.com is affiliated. If you click and purchase through the link, I will earn a small commission. I only promote brands and products that I trust.
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I made the rice with Basmati rice, a fragrant one that I had bought in Punjab when I last visited. I followed the guidelines given in the blog Spice up the Curry, to some extent, and the rice was cooked perfectly, with the grains remaining separate without getting mushy. I cooked it in a covered vessel rather than pressure cooking it.
Kitchen Hints for making Pudina Rice:
iii. Vegetables such as potatoes or peas may be added to the rice. I put in capsicum slices to give some texture and for its fresh taste. If using potatoes, boil and peel, cube and add to the mint paste when you are sautéing it.
The garnish of browned onions is another idea from the blog Spice the Curry. I had been caramelising onions for another recipe, so all I had to do was take some of the onions and add them to the pudina rice before it was served. It added just the right touch of flavour and texture. I’m going to keep some browned onions in reserve, it gives such a delightful finish to most savoury dishes.
Boondi Raita goes well with this Pudina Rice. Check out my recipe on this blog:
Recipe 7 of my 100 Healthy Recipes Challenge: Beat the heat with this refreshing Cold Pink Watermelon Gazpacho with Tomato, Mint and with Basil Oil – Just right for summer. The flavours of watermelon, tomato and cucumber and honey meld together into a mildly sweet soup with just enough tartness added in from the yogurt and lime juice, and a bout of freshness from the parsley and mint.
This is one of my favourite cold soups, the pretty pink Watermelon gazpacho flavoured with home made basil oil and with fresh herbs. Red ripe tomatoes will help to give the pink colour to the Watermelon Gazpacho. I have used heirloom tomatoes of a darker hue, some greenish, some brown, in the image above, and red tomatoes in the image below – you can see the difference in colour.
The Tomatoes, Parsley, Cucumber and Basil were all purchased by me from First Agro Farms and Sakura Fresh. These zero pesticide vegetables and herbs enhance the health quotient and cancer fighting properties of this delicious Chilled Soup.
For the recipe for my homemade Basil oil for flavouring the Pink Watermelon Gazpacho, check out this link here. It takes just a few minutes and 3 ingredients (including salt) to make the Basil Oil, and it adds a lovely flavour to the soup.
Recipe 5: 100 Healthy Recipes Challenge: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Tomato Party, is such an easy recipe to follow. All you need is tomatoes of different colours and sizes, fresh herbs and couscous to make this Roasted Tomato Couscous Salad. A totally healthy and fresh salad, it is filling enough for lunch on a hot summers day.
You may use any variety of tomato and in a proportion that you prefer for the Tomato Couscous Salad. The more the mix of colours, the prettier the salad and the more varied the flavour. I had some Roma tomatoes which are a bright red when cut, heirloom purple black cherry tomatoes which are green on the inside, a cluster of cherry tomatoes on the vine, ranging from pale pink to peach to yellow, and a bright green tomato.
All these gorgeous tomatoes and herbs in this Tomato Couscous Salad, are from First Agro Farms and Sakura Fresh who deliver them faithfully to my door, pesticide free and fresh. You have to taste these tomatoes to feel the difference in flavour from those bought from stores and supermarkets!
Fattoush Salad – A fresh delicious bread salad, where the herbs are not meant just for garnish but are significant ingredients in the dish. Three ingredients normally used in Lebanese cuisine are featured here, i.e. flavouring the pita bread with za’atar, dressing the salad with sumac mixed with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar, and adding pomegranate molasses to lift the salad to sublime heights. The za’atar is sprinkled on the pita bread or other flat bread, and the bread is baked or grilled before it is added to the salad.
When fellow foodblogger and foodie Teena Sunoj asked me to contribute a ‘pink’ salad to her Facebook page ‘Salad Nation’ to promote awareness of Breast Cancer this October, I could think only of pomegranate and cranberries as the ingredients for the salad. I’ve taken a classic Watermelon Arugula Feta Salad, and ‘pinked’ it up with luscious strawberries, and arils of dark pink pomegranates.
Colourful salad bursting with flavours and textures. Roasted tomatoes, Peppers and Figs with a cherry tomato sauce, mint, parsley and purple basil and a dressing of lemon juice and white wine vinegar. (more…)
Yotam Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty’ Cookbook was a gift from my daughter several months ago, but I hadn’t got around to trying out any of the recipes since they all seemed to need ingredients not ready available in my kitchen.Armed now with a cupboard full of every possible ingredient, (most of them again gifted by my thoughtful daughters) the recipes are mine to conquer. One of the first that I tried out was a Saffron Linguine in spiced Butter sauce, adapted from Ottolenghi’s Saffron Tagliatelle in Moroccan Butter.