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Parmesan Vegetable Tian

So we have a lot of readers. And we post a lot of stuff. Mostly totally tasty dishes that don’t break the bank, but also tutorials, tips/tricks, and crafts. But like I said, were mostly all about the food. And good food too, although not necessarily always good for you. So I suppose the question was inevitable, even though it still caught me a bit off guard.

The Sons look pretty healthy, so where are all the leafy greens? Where are all the yummy veggie side dishes I’m holding back?

well there are several answers. First, with four boys and busy schedules I heart a good casserole. It’s the kitchen equivalent of one stop shopping. The Sons also usually have a salad before or with each meal, so even on nights we’re not doing a casserole, I don’t always stress a ‘veggie’ per say. And then those nights that we do have a side of broccoli, or cooked carrots, or peas etc, I tend to keep it either pretty plain or just tend to pay it no mind.

But we have heard your request! And this tian is always an instant hit at our table. It’s a great way to brighten up your table and your meal with a pop of color. It’s also a totally tasty way to get your veggies in.

Parmesan Vegetable Tian

 Vegetable Tian

recipe adapted from The Comfort of Cooking

cooking spray
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 tsp minced garlic
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced (1/8″)
1 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced (1/8″)
1 medium baking potato, thinly sliced (1/8″)
2 medium Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced (1/8″)
heaping 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3 tbsp grated Parmesan

Directions

1. Use your cooking spray to lightly coat a pie pan or a small casserole dish.
2. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet. Once hot, add the chopped onion and garlic, and cook until the onions are soft, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the onion mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread it out over the bottom of pan. Evenly arrange the sliced vegetables on top, alternating as you go. Once you get all the way around, continue layering to fill the middle until no open space remains.
3. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil all over the layered veggies and sprinkle generously with Italian seasoning, before adding salt and pepper to taste. Cover with aluminum foil and bake covered at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
4. Remove the aluminum foil and sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan over top of the vegetables. Return the dish to the oven and bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown.

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Baked Gnocchi with Zucchini & Tomatoes

Have you started planting your garden yet? Are you already picturing the multitude of fresh veggies you’re going to enjoy in just a few months? Now that we’ve seen the last of Winter and the warmer weather is here to stay, I can’t wait to get my hands on some fresh vine ripened tomatoes and a ton of summer squash. And those are two things I just love.

I could lived off of tomato sandwiches on toast. I remember every summer growing up and going to Grandma’s house and her serving us up tomato sandwiches with ones fresh picked from the garden and so juicy they’d drip right down your chin if you weren’t careful. There wasn’t any delicacy better. It’s still my favorite summer time treat. Although tomato pie has become a close runner-up. And squash? I never thought I’d get my guys to willingly, and eagerly consume something like squash. I was not a very enthusiastic squash eater growing up, but that was because back then I didn’t know you could do anything with it beyond a microwave and a little bit of salt and pepper. My, my, my how things have changed.

 Baked Gnocchi with Zucchini & Tomatoes

Let’s talk recipes that take your summer squashes to the next level for a minute. Here’s the short dish list of some of the sons’ favorites:

Pimento Cheese Stuffed Squash

Zucchini & Squash Au Gratin

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

Zucchini Fritters with Chili Lime Mayo

We love taking such an old staple as squash and upgrading it from the country cottage table level and giving it that fancy city-fied attitude.

Baked Gnocchi with Zucchini & Tomatoes 3

And while those recipes were all well and good, something was still missing for me. I felt I hadn’t quite achieved the zenith of squash and tomato perfection. Close, but no cigar. And then I had a thought. Zucchini and tomatoes paired together in one perfect side dish. Add in a little gnocchi, fluffy little potato pillows of perfection, and we were more than in business. We were booming.

The flavors in this dish meld into one perfect ‘ah-ha’ moment in your mouth. We love the texture and just the over all cheesiness that the mozzarella adds, but feel free to leave it off if you’re trying to go for lighter fare.

Baked Gnocchi with Zucchini & Tomatoes

Baked Gnocchi with Zucchini & Tomatoes 2

recipe adapted from Chew Nibble Nosh

3 cups zucchini, sliced and halved or quartered
1 cup onion, roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with Italian spices (basil, garlic, oregano)
1 (17 oz.) package gnocchi (potato dumplings)
2 cups sliced mozzarella cheese, divided

Directions

1. In a large skillet, sautee the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium high heat. Saute about 5 minutes or until the onions are soft, and then add in the zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes, stirring to combine. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium low, and then let the mixture simmer while the gnocchi cooks according to it’s package directions.
2. Drain the gnocchi when it’s done cooking.
3. Add salt and pepper, to taste, to the zucchini mixture and stir. Gently stir the gnocchi into the zucchini mixture and let everything simmer together for about a minute. Remove the skillet from the heat.
4. Spoon half of the gnocchi mixture into a 8 or 9 inch square baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Take half of the mozzarella cheese and sprinkle it on top of the gnocchi mixture. Layer the remaining gnocchi on top of the cheese and then arrange the remaining cheese over that layer of gnocchi.
5. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Turn the broiler of your oven on and broil, watching carefully, for 2-3 minutes until the top begins to brown.
6. ENJOY!

Pimento Cheese Stuffed Squash

I’ve been seeing pictures of stuffed squash blossoms in the foodie world for a few years now, and I’ve been intrigued. I love squash, but really had no idea what in the world they might taste like. It got me thinking though. Then a year or two ago, my Pinterest feed got flooded with tons of pictures and recipe ideas for stuffing zucchini. Now the wheels were really turning. So this summer when my mother-in-law planted a ton of squash, I kept my fingers crossed that I could beg persuade her to let me have A LOT of the crop. And she did!

And then this happened.

 Pimento Cheese Stuffed Squash

Beautiful, fresh yellow squash stuffed with creamy pimento cheese and topped with crispy panko bread crumbs and parsley.

It’s one of the best ways to enjoy squash, well in our opinion at least. This dish works well as a side or even as a vegetarian main meal. Not a fan of yellow squash? Try using zucchini instead.

Pimento Cheese Stuffed Squash 3

While this dish is a no-brainer for us in the summer with the influx of dirt cheap, and/or free, squash, it’s also become a holiday staple. It’s rich, it’s indulgent, and the combination is perfectly Southern.

If you were on the fence about what to make, or scrambling to find a last minute recipe for your familys’ Thanksgiving meal, this one’s sure to be a hit.

Pimento Cheese Stuffed Squash

Pimento Cheese Stuffed Squash 2

recipe adapted from Spicy Southern Kitchen

4 medium squash or zucchini
pimento cheese, your favorite brand or homemade
⅓ cup panko crumbs
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp parsley flakes

Directions

1. Cut squash in half horizontally. Place squash in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam about 6 to 8 minutes, just until tender. Let cool and then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp.
2. Place squash, cut side up on a baking sheet.
3. Salt and pepper the squash.
4. Fill each squash cavity with pimento cheese.
5. In a small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, butter, and parsley.
6. Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top of the ‘stuffed’ squash.
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees, or until cheese is warm and melted.
8. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes to lightly brown the panko crumbs.

Zucchini & Squash Au Gratin

I may or may not have an … obsession. A zucchini obsession. It all started when I was inundated with bags and bags of free summer squash. I had to do something with them. I had to do something new too, since the sons wouldn’t stand for having one more zucchini muffin shoved down their throats. Instead, they got these harmless little zucchini fritters. Before them I really was only a casual zucchini user. Nothing much creative about it.   Then I got really creative with the cheesy zucchini rice. And then a couple of weeks ago I died and went to zucchini heaven with the glazed lemon zucchini bread. But today, it’s official. We’ve revolutionized their use with this zucchini and squash au gratin. Which is saying something since summer squash, especially zucchini, are pretty much one of the best, most versatile, veggies ever.

Move on over potatoes, there’s a new star in town.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Squash Au Gratin

recipe adapted from Dishin With Rebelle

2 tbsp butter
1 large zucchini, sliced
1 large squash, sliced
2 shallots, minced
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup heavy cream, or half and half
Shredded Cheese (mozzarella or provolone works best)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
pinch of oregano
Parmesan cheese, to taste
 
Directions
 
1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When melted add in the shallots and garlic, and saute until they begin to turn clear.
2. Next, add the zucchini, squash and cream. Give it a stir and then add the salt, pepper, and Parmesan.
3. Cook the mixture 8 to 10 minutes over medium-medium low, stirring occasionally. You do not want it to boil, only lightly simmer.
4. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle the top with a little more Parmesan and evenly distribute the shredded cheese over top.
5. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes at 450 degrees, or until the casserole is bubbly and golden brown on top.

Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread

The gardening gods have seen to it that this summer I have more zucchini than I knew what to do with. Fortunately for me, that’s led to finding all these awesome new recipes, and I’m constantly, and pleasantly, being surprised by all the wonderful ways I’m discovering this summer that zucchini can be used. And for someone who does not particularly like surprises, that’s saying something. Flecks of zucchini give a delicious third dimension to the popular lemon and quick bread combination in this moist, breakfast/dessert hybrid. Seriously, lemon and zucchini are a match made in flavor heaven. Who knew?!  This little loaf is easy to make. Quick breads are a perfect starting point for non/new bakers and an easy, old faithful recipe for those who’re already in the ‘fold’.

Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread

4 Sons 'R' Us: Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread 2

recipe adapted from Lil Luna

2 cups cake flour*
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup buttermilk
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup grated zucchini
 
For The Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp milk
 
*To make your own cake flour: for each cup of all purpose flour, remove one tablespoon of flour and replace by adding one tablespoon of cornstarch

4 Sons 'R' Us: Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread

Directions

1. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir to equally incorporate and set aside.
2. Add eggs to the bowl of a mixer and beat well. Continue mixing and in the oil and sugar until evenly combined. Next add in the lemon juice, buttermilk, and zest to the batter and blend until combined completely.
3. Gently fold/blend in the zucchini until fully incorporated.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and blend together until evenly combined.
5. Add the batter into a greased 9×5 loaf pan.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until done.
7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool some. While still warm, make glaze and spoon over the bread. Allow the bread to stand for a bit so that the glaze ‘sets’ before serving.

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

The summer squash just keeps on growing, and I’ve been inundated with zucchs (pronounced zukes). Believe me when I tell you, I am not complaining. I’m always appreciative of my gorgeous green bounty. I really can’t get enough of them. But I  have struggled some this year with coming up with more uses for them than the previous go-to 3 I had, as I mentioned a few weeks ago. Now, I’ve discovered yet another new use for my beloved summer squash. Cheesy Zucchini Rice! Seriously, it’s the perfect summer side dish for you. I know you haven’t tried it yet, but you’ll have to trust me on this.

This little recipe also incredibly versatile, and goes well with pretty much any main dish – grilled chicken, pork, fish, steak, shrimp (you get the idea). You could even mix in some extra vegetables and serve it as a vegetarian entree, or just a light summer lunch. You can feel pretty safe changing up the cheese, too! We love a good cheddar, but I’m certain most cheeses would taste great. I mean, when can you go wrong with cheese? Trying to eat healthier? Try a little less cheese, and add in a little extra zucchini. However you decide to make it, just make it – before zucchini season is over!

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

4 Sons 'R' Us: Cheesy Zucchini Rice

recipe adapted from Buns In My Oven

1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cups of chicken broth
2 tbsp butter
1 medium or 2 small zucchini, grated (you can use a food processor or a standard cheese grater)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
splash of milk, as needed

Directions

1. In a medium pan, or pot, over medium heat, heat the oil.
2. Add the rice, briefly giving it a stir to coat, and then add in the broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cover.
4. Simmer 15 – 20 minutes, or until the majority of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
5. Remove the pan or pot from the heat source. Stir in the butter, zucchini, cheese, and garlic and continue stirring until evenly combined. Re-cover and let the rice sit for about 5 minutes.
6. Stir again and then add in the salt and pepper and a splash of milk (if needed)  if you’d like to thin =the mixture out a bit or if it needs an extra dash of creaminess.

Zucchini Fritters with Chili Lime Mayo

My MIL is like the plant whisperer. So, I wasn’t surprised two weeks ago when bags full of summer squash started appearing on my doorstep. Seriously, these things were huge…and plentiful. But I was stuck in a rut. A zucchini rut.

When the dark green squash lands in my kitchen, it  always met one of three fates:

1. Being sliced into rounds, topped with Parmesan cheese, and baked;

2. Shredded up and baked into some form of zucchini/vegetable bread; or

3. Shredded or diced and hidden in various casseroles to trick my kids (and husband?) into eating more veggies.

While I love all of these uses for zucchini, I knew there had to be some sort of unheard of zucchini greatness out there to help shake things up and pull us out of our rut.

I don’t normally fry our veggies, but when I saw this recipe I immediately decided I was making an exception. The hubs took one bite and couldn’t believe that something so delicious could be made from just zucchini and onions. They reminded of a crispier version of potato latkes. They’re great plain, but the spiced mayo makes a perfectly paired dip adding just the right amount of tang & spice. We served the fritters as a side with dinner, but they would also make a great light lunch.   Looking for a way to rise out of your own stagnant zucchini or side-dish rotation? Is your bounty overflowing with the green garden veggies and you need to get creative to use them all up? Whatever your reason, you can’t go wrong with these. Just look at them. Gorgeous, isn’t it? They taste just as great.

Zucchini Fritters with Chili Lime Mayo

 4 Sons 'R' Us: Zucchini Fritters

recipe adapted from Family Feed Bag

vegetable oil for frying
3 cups grated zucchini
1 cup diced onion
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper

For the Mayo

1 cup prepared mayo
1 tbsp lime juice, lemon will work as a substitute
1/2 tsp chili powder

4 Sons 'R' Us: Zucchini Fritters with chili lime mayo

1. Pour the oil in a skillet so that it is half an inch deep and turn the heat to medium.
2. While waiting for the oil to heat up, combine the zucchini, onion, and eggs in a large bowl. Stir the mixture to combine. It may get a little frothy, but that’s ok.
3. In another bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, 1/2 tsp of chili powder, salt, and pepper and stir to combine
4. To finish the batter,  add the dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture and fold it all together.
5. Once your oil is hot (dip a spoon with some batter on it into the oil to test, if the oil starts bubbling in contact with the batter, it’s ready) you can drop the batter a tablespoon at a time into the oil, frying for 2-3 minutes per side. If you want a more substantial fritter, form the batter into loose ‘patties’ and fry in oil 3-4 minutes per side.
6. When the centers are firm, remove them from the oil and allow the to drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.
7. To make the dip, simply combine the prepared mayo, lime juice, and chili powder in a small mixing bowl and stir it all up.

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