I had some over zealous basil plants, 4 zucchini, some mozzarella, and some frozen marinara sauce, thus the zucchini pesto gratin was born. Using my absolute favorite recipe for pesto, below, I sliced the zucchini, tossed it with the pesto, placed in a 10" round gratin, and topped with about 1c mozzarella. The entire pan was covered with foil so the cheese would melt down into the zucchini and form a sauce that would give the dish some structure as it cooled. I baked the concoction at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes, removed the foil, and baked for an additional 15 minutes. in the meantime, I cooked down the marinara to a thick, flavorful tomato sauce. The gratin was sliced like a pie and topped with the tomato sauce. Fantastico!
However ... if I were to do it again, I'd drastically reduce or eliminate the oil in the pesto for this dish in particular. Water might be a good substitute. The amount of basil, etc. was great, but there was a fair amount of seepage. Worth noting that I would *not* precook the zucchini -- it had a very pleasant crunch (not al dente) that added to the dish.
[Herb of your Choice]-Walnut PestoThis pesto recipe comes from the Voluptuous Vegan, by Myra Kornfeld.
... makes 25 - 2 tablespoon servings
3/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted (*far* better than pine nuts)
1 bunch herb of choice, ends trimmed
1 large garlic clove, pressed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon mellow barley miso
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a blender, adjust salt and pepper and use or freeze.
This pesto is incredible by itself on a spoon or used any of the ways you see pesto in the wild. It freezes amazingly well.
I'd like to point you towards a blog entry, and a tremendous accomplishment, my friend Karen (and her partner ChefThomE) posted earlier today: Looks Like We Made It!
Karen and ChefThomE have lived locally for one solid year -- in Indiana -- which is much more of a challenge than California. (I feel OK saying that since I grew up in Illinois and now live in California -- there is a difference! No state rivalries implied, just kudos to Karen and ChefThomE!) Many of their top 10 lessons learned ring true for me, but this one in particular stands out in our meal tonight:
You will cook more creatively with limited supplies. Let's face it, the beginning of Spring is a tough time for dining locally at your own home. The winter supplies have dwindled. The spring crops have yet to arrive. You will become incredibly resourceful when you start to evaluate what you can make with apples, green beans, corn on the cob, pureed peppers and plums. Danger: There are no known recipes that contain all these ingredients!I've had a chance this week to experiment with the food on hand and making something satisfying and enjoyable - without a trip to the store. Far, far better than the alternatives.
Congratulations Karen and ChefThomE! You made it!