Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bringing Sexy Back

The other day I mentioned vegetable marrow. At the time, I didn't have one hanging about to photograph... I finally got one in my CSA basket, but I was so excited (and hungry) that I proceeded to cut it up before it occurred to me that  I should have taken a picture. Oops, my bad.

If you're wondering what this post's title has to do with overgrown zucchinis... Don't let your imagination run wild on this one! I am just referring to a great way to re-use left-overs, some would say it is downright sexy. I don't know how you feel about left-overs, but I know that quite a few do not like them. These persons do everything in their power to make only just enough food in order to avoid having to deal with them. I personally have no qualms about eating the same meal a couple of days in a row. If there really is too much to eat in two or three meals, I either pack it up and freeze it for another day, or I bring it over to a friend's. Left-overs also make great packed lunches, but my favourite way to make left-overs disappear is to make something else altogether.


Like stuffing. Okay, I admit, it doesn't look like much when photographed from such a close angle, but it is mighty tasty. My CSA baskets are getting bigger and bigger by the week, and space in my fridge is at a premium, so I have to clean it out on a regular basis to make room for the new arrivals. The above is the result of the last clean-up. Anything can go into left-over stuffing, as long as it is cut-up into bite-sized pieces. There are no hard and fast rules to making stuffing, but it is always good to have a balanced mix of the following: a grain or a seed of some sort (I used quinoa, but rice, barley or wheat berries are quite tasty); something saucy or juicy to keep the mix moist (tomato or any other sauce; a juicy vegetable/ fruit, like chopped tomatoes or grapes); and something to bind the whole lot (such as grated cheese; an egg or ground meat). Traditional turkey stuffing calls for bread cubes soaked in milk for the grain and binder; mix in some raisins or dried cranberries with sage, and your stuffed zucchinis will reach new heights!


Zucchinis aren't the only vegetables you can stuff: a popular summer dish in France are the Petits Farcis, baby vegetables stuffed with a mix of ground meat. Baby eggplants, zucchinis, patty pan squash, tomatoes and miniature bell peppers are all scrumptious with whatever stuffing you can think of.

Whichever vegetable you choose to stuff, cut them lengthwise and hollow out the seeds with a spoon. Make sure you leave at least 5mm (¼") of flesh, otherwise the walls will be too flimsy to support the stuffing. Also make sure you stabilize round bottomed-vegetables so that they don't roll around. Although I would avoid the seedy flesh, most trimmings can be chopped up for the stuffing. Tomatoes and bell peppers require slightly different treatment: cut off a small cap from the tail-end, making sure that the bottom end is flat enough to sit up straight; empty out the seeds. In all cases, season the inside of the vegetable before filling: even if the mix is properly seasoned, the vegetable will otherwise remain bland, which will make it hard going down with kids.


Once the vegetables are stuffed, they can go straight into a hot oven (180'C/ 375'F) for 30 to 45 minutes, or can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The following recipes are merely ideas to get you going.


Fridge Cleaning Stuffing
quinoa
tomato sauce
chopped vegetables
crushed garlic
grated cheese
ricotta cheese
chopped herbs
salt and pepper 


Day-old Bread Stuffing
stale bread, cubed
enough milk to moisten the bread
1 egg, beaten
raisins, or any other dried fruit
pine nuts
chopped herbs
left-over cooked meat, finely ground or chopped (optional)
salt and pepper


Stuffed vegetables are also lovely cold (or at room temperature) on a picnic or for lunch. For more ideas, have a look at La Tartine Gourmande, the pictures are absolutely mouth-watering!


Bon app'!



P.S. For those of you living in Montreal: are you loath to trek all the way to Jean-Talon Market to enjoy all the wonderful produce I mention in this blog? Can't find what you want at the supermarket? A new website is up to help you find a market close to you. There is a map of all the markets in Montreal, and the larger markets have their own tabs with links to the different producers on-site.
Les Marchés de Quartier is run by the committee that manages Montreal's public markets. The website is supposed to be both in French and English, however, the English does not seem to quite in working order.



1 comment:

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    Take care and keep posting!
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    ReplyDelete

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