Zucchini and Summer Squash With Garlic and Basil – CSA Week 9

Zucchini and Summer Squash With Garlic and Basil, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

You know that you have been slacking when the post about CSA Week 9 recipe comes couple of weeks after the finish of the CSA program. How did all those weeks disappear? All I’m going to say is that summer vacation, start of school year, and crazy work schedule happens to the best of us! Wild, I know!!!

In Week 9, Upswing Farm share included some lovely zucchini and basil. So recipe here is a really easy and quick take on what to do when life gives you zucchini, summer squash (this one was from my garden), and lots of fresh basil.

The recipe takes less than 30 minutes to make, used only a handful of ingredients, and is light, fragrant and incredible for the long, hot, lazy days of summer, as well as these fall moments we are now enjoying.

As summer squash, zucchini and fresh basil are now available year round, you can actually serve this “summer sunshine in a bowl” even at the dead of the winter. When choosing your zucchini and squash pick those that have smooth surface with bright color and fresh look. Those will be fresher pieces that you can use without peeling after giving them a good wash.

This recipe requires grating, and the easiest way to do this is to run the zucchini and squash through a grater attachment that most food processors include. Traditional hand-held grater works too! I recommend that you squeeze some of the excess water out of the grated squash and zucchini before using. If you skip this step, the final dish will be quite water-y, although it will still taste good. So, it’s up to you to decide the amount of liquid you’d like your final result to have.

Lastly, when it comes to fresh basil you will not need to do much to prep it. You can use the entire bunch, after you wash it and trim it. The point is to have basil infuse the dish, and you can fish the large pieces of basil out before serving. Of course, basil is delicious in its own right and if you want to enjoy it just go for it!

This side dish is best served warm, with some toast or good hearty bread for dipping and mopping the bowl. Delicious!

Zucchini and Summer Squash with Garlic and Basil

What you’ll need:

2 zucchinis, washed, trimmed, and grated

2 summer squash, washed, trimmed, and grated

6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cups basil leaves, whole

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

What you’ll do:

  1. Wash the zucchini and summer squash, trim the ends, and grate either using a food processor or a manual grater.
  2. Peel and slice garlic thinly. You can adjust amount of garlic to taste but I don recommend going beyond your comfort zone here.
  3. In a large pan bring oil to medium heat, add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini and squash, mix well, and sauté for 5-8 minutes until fully cooked.
  5. Add the fresh basil and vinegar, mix well and let rest for 10 minutes or so before serving. Enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Baked Spaghetti Marinara

Baked Spaghetti Marinara
Baked Spaghetti Marinara, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

What can be better than spaghetti tossed with a simple tomato sauce, and sprinkled with some parmesan cheese, olive oil and fresh basil? For me, pasta, and especially spaghetti, have been a huge go to food because they are (a) easy, quick and cheap to make, and (b) absolutely delicious!

Marinara sauce for all seasons

In my view, simple marinara sauce is the best sauce for dressing the spaghetti. Yes, sure, bolognese is also pretty good, especially this amazing lentil and mushroom bolognese sauce, or this ragù made with lentils and walnuts. Marinara sauce is the type of simplicity that can only be described as pure genius. The sauce is tomato based and usually includes only a couple of additional ingredients, like olive oil, garlic, onions, and herbs, like oregano and basil.

Homemade marinara sauce to the rescue

Although I have been known to reach for a jar of store-bought marinara sauce from time to time, I do prefer to make this sauce myself. It’s actually one of the easiest things to make as all you need is some olive oil, garlic, tomato sauce, and dried oregano and/or basil. The sauce is done in less than 15 minutes, which is probably less time than it will take you to boil the spaghetti given that getting a large pot of water to boil does take forever, and your dinner will be ready and on the table in a blink of an eye.

From quick pasta to baked pasta

However, if you do have a bit more time and don’t have to rush I recommend that you give the recipe below a try. It is essentially the same recipe, just elevated to a bit more gourmet experience. The sauce is made with fresh and canned tomatoes, and includes nutritional yeast that boosts the “cheesy” flavors. The spaghetti and sauce are mixed together then baked to create a nice balance of smooth, soft, and just slightly crunchy. Given some gluten sensitivity, my recipe here was made using gluten-free pasta, but you can use any spaghetti you like. I recommend that you cook spaghetti only 80% through as they will continue to cook in the sauce as they bake. I also recommend that you use an ovenproof pot, such as a Dutch oven I used below, in order to go from the stove top directly into the oven.

Don’t forget fresh basil

Finally, don’t forget to top your pasta with some fresh basil. We all know what that will do of you, so let’s not belabor the point. Trust me, this Baked Spaghetti Marinara will quickly become your favorite!


Baked Spaghetti Marinara

What you’ll need:

1 lbs (454 g) box spaghetti (regular or gluten free), cooked al dente

4 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 pint (10 oz, about 300 g) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 28 oz (794 g) can of chunky crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried basil

2 tablespoons olive oil

Fresh basil

A pinch of salt

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a pinch of salt, then place spaghetti gently into the boiling water until fully submerged. Cook about 1 minute less than what the instructions on the box suggest. The spaghetti should be al dente, meaning still a bit underdone.
  3. Simultaneously with making the spaghetti, start working on your sauce. Add the oil to a large, ovenproof pot. I used my Dutch oven for this one, and it worked well. Place the pot over the medium heat, and add the sliced garlic. Let the garlic brown for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Once the garlic starts to release its aroma, add the halved cherry (or grape) tomatoes, and sauté until tomatoes are softened. This will take about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the nutritional yeast and let it brown for only a minute.
  6. Next, add the crushed tomatoes and mix well. When the sauce starts to bubble, add dried herbs, cover with a lid and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Turn the heat off, and add the cooked spaghetti to the sauce. Mix well until spaghetti are evenly distributed and fully covered. Place the pot into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or so, until the edges and the top are nicely browned.
  8. Serve with fresh basil and enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018





Baked New Potatoes with Cheesy Basil Sauce, CSA Week 5

Baked New Potatoes with Cheesy Basil Sauce, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

This summer is just flying by! I can’t believe we are already on Week 5 of our CSA – Community Supported Agriculture program. This week’s shares from our local farm, Upswing Farm, included one of my very favorite vegetables – new potatoes.

What are new potatoes?

New potatoes are, well, new! They are the first, early harvest of a potato crop, and growing up these types of potatoes were always a treat and a sign that school was out for summer and the fun was kicking into high gear. Since all the produce I ate growing up came from a farmer’s market, these new potatoes were available for couple of weeks only, making them even more special!!! Another thing that makes them special is that they are sweater than fully grown spuds, and that’s because they have higher sugar content than mature spuds, where most of their sugar has been converted into starch and stored away.

How to skin new potatoes?

New potatoes have very soft skin, and they really don’t need much peeling. What I like to do is take a peeling knife and gently go over the surface of the potato to remove only the thin outer skin without cutting in. This also helps remove any specks of dirt that are left over after the washing. An alternative way of skinning new potatoes is to place washed potatoes on a kitchen towel, sprinkle with some kosher salt and then wrap and gently roll. This will serve to exfoliate the potatoes. It may not remove all the skin but it will get rid of most of it. However, I should point out that none of this is really needed and it I purely cosmetic. New potatoes have such a soft and thin skin that you may decide to just leave it and cook them as is!

What to do with new potatoes?

These little suds are very versatile and easy to deal with. Because they are nicely sweet and soft, it is best to let them shine through. Simple boiling, roasting, or pan frying in very little oil will give you really great results (see here for details). But, you can go as wild as you like and new potatoes can be made into a potato salad, or a potato mash. Although I have not tried this yet, you can also put your new potatoes on the grill. In the recipe below I decided to go a bit wild and over the top. I baked new potatoes with some spring onions – those onions that are in between scallions and onions, with their greens still on but with a nice onion bulb now fully formed, which also came in our CSA share, and then topped them with an amazing sauce.

Easy and cheesy basil sauce

The inspiration for the sauce was another ingredient that came home in this week’s CSA share – a large bunch of fresh basil. The sauce is a simple mix of fresh basil, nutritional yeast and olive oil, and is added to the baked potatoes at the very end. The freshness of basil and the cheesy flavors of nutritional yeast make these baked new potatoes really amazing! I could eat this dish all day long – it does not need anything else really other than a cold glass of lemonade and it tastes good hot as well as cold. And if you have a summer pot luck, or a back yard barbecue, this is a great alternative to an old fashioned potato salad that you may want to try.


Baked New Potatoes with Cheesy Basil Sauce

What you’ll need:

1.5 to 2 lb (750g to 1 kg) new potatoes

4 spring onions, roughly diced

1 large bunch of fresh basil (about 2-3 cups, leaves only)

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Kosher salt to taste


What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. Wash the new potatoes and gently remove their outermost skin (or leave the skin on if you prefer). Slice them into 1/4 in (5 mm) thick slices. If your new potatoes are really tiny you may only need to half them, or even leave the intact.
  3. Slice your spring onions any way you like. I quartered my bulbs then sliced them across.
  4. Combine your potatoes, spring onions, a pinch of salt (the amount of salt is up to you!) and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well, then pour into a deep baking dish.
  5. Bake the potatoes for 45 minutes.
  6. Place the basil into a food processor that can comfortably hold this amount of basil. Pulse until the basil is finely chopped.
  7. Add nutritional yeast, and pulse 2-3 times. Then pour in oil gradually while pulsing. Pour the sauce over the hot potatoes, mix well and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
  8. Serve hot! You can store the leftovers in a fridge for 5-7 days and enjoy cold or reheated.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018



Red Curry with Sweet Potatoes & Zucchini

Vegan Red Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Zucchini, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
I do like strong and bold spices, and food that is full of flavors yet not overpowering. So I gravitate towards Indian cuisine as you may have been able to tell given that I’ve already shared my vegan take on Chicken Tikka Masala and Saag Paneer. Another style of food that I enjoy comes from Southeast Asia, and I’ve been experimenting with Thai and Vietnamese recipes in the past. Most of those recipes do involve some animal ingredients so I wanted to try my hand at testing out the idea that Thai can be vegan.

My first stop on this journey is this Red Curry. You can make your own curry paste but Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste is inexpensive, gluten free and vegan. It worked really well in this recipe so for now I am sticking with it!

In my view the secret to a great Red Curry is to go bold and diverse with your vegetables, and chop them in different ways so that your curry has some interesting color as well as texture. Here I use several different kinds of peppers, sweet potatoes and zucchini. You can use any kind of pepper you have handy. On this day in my kitchen I had a bag of mini sweet peppers that came in two colors, red and orange. I also got some shishito peppers that I’ve never used before but I figured it’s OK to be adventures. At the end, the shishitos turned out to be mild and did not overpower the flavors but I did remove all their seeds before using, which may have reduced any heat they would have brought in. If you do like your curry’s hot, you can use chili peppers, or other varieties with more heat.

Peppers and Zucchini for Vegan Red Curry, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Final tip that I think makes a big difference is cooking the sweet potatoes almost all the way through before adding them to the curry. I cooked mine, skin on in the microwave and they came out perfectly sweet and delicious. What also makes a huge difference is using fresh basil and adding it at the very end so that it has just enough time to release its aroma without getting cooked.

Vegan Red Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Zucchini

What you’ll need:

2 large sweet potatoes, skin on

2 large zucchini, unpeeled

6 mini peppers, orange

6 mini peppers, red

4 shishito peppers

1 13.5 oz (400 mL) can light coconut milk

3 tablespoons shredded coconut, unsweetened

2 tablespoons red curry paste (like Thai Kitchen)

10 basil leaves, fresh

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Wash the sweet potatoes and put them in a large, microwave safe dish with 1/2 cup of water. Put the lid on, but don’t close all the way. Cook on high in the microwave for 10 minutes. Let stand for 15-20 minutes. Make sure sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle before you peel them. Chop the potatoes into 1 in x 1 in (2.5 cm x 2.5 cm) cubes. Set aside.
  2. While sweet potatoes are cooking and resting, chop the zucchini and the peppers. You want zucchini chopped into small dice, and red and orange mini peppers into thin matchsticks. Clean the seeds out the shishito peppers and chop them very finely.
  3. Spray the bottom of a large pan with cooking spray and heat on medium-high. Add all the peppers into the pan at once. Sauté for 10-15 minutes, until peppers are soft and their edges start to get brown.
  4. Add diced zucchini and sauté for another 5 minutes, until zucchini is cooked about half way through.
  5. Add curry paste, stir well and let sauté for another 5 minutes.
  6. Add coconut milk and coconut shreds, and cook for another 5 minutes.
  7. Add sweet potatoes. Mix well, lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Turn the heat off, add fresh basil, and let stand for 5 minutes.
  8. Serve with rice, like the Saffron Brown Basmati Rice, or without it!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017