Monthly Archives: April 2020

Grilled Zucchini with Basil Pesto and Orzo Salad

@dannettemitchellphotography

In my farm box came tender new zucchini and a sweet little box of brightly colored heirloom cherry tomatoes. Discovering a dreamy bundle of basil, I decided to combine two of my favorites: grilled zucchini with basil pesto and and a riff on orzo salad. Mediterranean orzo salad is a staple in my house, we make so many versions of it, sometimes adding roasted peppers, grilled eggplant, lots of lemon and zest, great olive oil, kalamata olives, thyme, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese; whatever is in the fridge that can tie it all together. My lovely spring zucchini with an herby, nutty pesto topped with one of our favorite salads is a perfect vegetarian main or side dish.

Let me know how you enjoyed this recipe, how it turned out for you and any changes you made! Please be sure to find me on Instagram to see more recipes and stories!! Or find me on Facebook Live for Kids Cook Along Classes.

@danettemitchellphotography

Grilled Zucchini with Basil Pesto and Orzo Salad

Ingredients:

1 bunch of basil leaves

1/4 cup of nuts (pine nuts, pistachios, almonds, walnuts all do well here!)

1-2 garlic cloves

2-3 tablespoons of good quality olive oil, plus more for zucchini

4 whole zucchini, stems and bottoms trimmed, cut in half lengthwise

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, cut into halves

1 cup of cooked orzo (just follow package instructions, rinse and drain, then coat with a light drizzle of olive to keep from sticking)

1 lemon, zested, then juiced

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Freshly ground pepper & sea or kosher salt

Method:

In a small food processor or blender, combine the basil, nuts, garlic and olive oil, and blend until combined but still a little chunky. It should look like a paste, if it’s too dense, add a little more olive oil, and process more. Taste for seasoning and add pepper and salt as needed. Remember, we are adding in feta cheese at the finish, so don’t make it too salty.

Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Drizzle the zucchini with olive oil to coat, and season with pepper and salt. When grill is hot, place the zucchini on with tongs. Grill until grill marks form and zucchini is slightly softened, then flip and grill until marks show on the other side. Remove from grill and arrange on a platter. Drizzle the pesto over the grilled zucchini.

Mix together the orzo, cherry tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, and feta cheese with a drizzle of olive oil. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and salt, then dish out over the grilled zucchini to serve.

Spring Vegetable and Chick Pea Curry Bowls

I’m looking back on a happy memory as we start our fourth week of quarantine, when my dear friend Danette came to my home to shoot some dishes. Collaborating, seeing her point of view with her excellent eye, laughing and tasting food together was such an enriching and warm way to spend an afternoon. She made the food look so inviting with her take on lighting and had so many fun styling suggestions. Remembering spending a creative day with a friend is a comfort to me, as we are all under safe at home orders in California.

But we can cook! My family and I have already created so many memories in the kitchen, from baking scones, bear claws and cookies with my daughter, to making traditional Brazilian food with my husband. I have started teaching kids cook-along lessons online, and taking lots of photos of the food I’m making (although not as lovely as Danette’s) so I can share what we are making with friends and family. These moments are priceless and important, and although I miss my community, I’m growing new skills and thriving with the love of my family.

I’m making a list of all the things I’d like to do once we all are healthy and safe again, and number one includes seeing my friends. Until then, if you’d like to see some gorgeous portraiture and meet a photographer with a talent for light and whimsy, check out Danette Mitchell Photography. And here’s a dish full of spring flavors and beautiful colors that taste as good she made them look.

Spring Vegetable & Chickpea Curry Bowls

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Extra virgin olive oil

1 can (14 ounce) chickpeas, drained

Kosher or sea salt and  freshly ground pepper

2 zucchini, or summer squash, sliced

2 ears sweet corn, kernels removed from the cob

1 shallot, chopped

1 inch fresh ginger, minced or grated

2 cloves garlic, minced or grated

1 1/2 tablespoons yellow curry powder

1 14-ounce can of coconut cream

Zest and juice of one lemon (zest first, juice after J)

1/4 cup fresh cilantro or basil, roughly chopped

2 cups cooked jasmine, basmati or brown rice

Sesame seeds, green onions, and sliced Persian cucumbers, for serving (optional)

Method:

Heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chickpeas and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the chickpeas begin to crisp, about 5 minutes. Carefully remove 1/2 cup of chickpeas and reserve for topping, if you’d like them as a garnish. Otherwise, just leave them in. 

To the remaining chickpeas, add the zucchini, corn, shallot, garlic, and ginger. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the veggies another 5-10 minutes or until they just begin to soften.

Stir in the curry powder and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the coconut milk and stir to combine, bringing the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Cook 5-10 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. If the sauce thickens too much, add a little water to thin. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice, and cilantro. Taste the curry for seasoning and adjust with more salt, pepper or lemon juice if needed.

To serve, divide the rice among bowls and spoon the curry over. Top with the reserved chickpeas, green onions, sesame seeds and cucumbers.