Zest for Food: Marie Cassady – Perfect recipes for early fall

  • Zucchini muffins, minestrone and apple-cinnamon oatmeal cookies are among the recipes that can be made with fall produce. COURTESY PHOTO

Published: 9/20/2022 9:00:43 AM
Modified: 9/20/2022 9:00:03 AM

It’s that time of year when color is starting to tinge the tree leaves, mornings and evenings are getting cooler but days are warm and sunny. Fresh produce is a mix of fresh greens, tomatoes and gourds.

These recipes are perfect for the transition from late summer to early fall.

Savory zucchini muffins

Another way to use up the abundance of garden zucchini, besides sweet zucchini bread. The mini-muffins make an unusual appetizer. The regular-size muffins are a nice meal accompaniment. Try them with soup, or with scrambled eggs for breakfast.

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

¾ cup milk

1 egg

½ cup shredded cheese (mozzarella, parmesan or cheddar)

1 cup grated zucchini

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grate the zucchini. Wrap the grated zucchini in a clean kitchen towel, hold over the sink and squeeze the water out. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and Italian seasoning. In another bowl, combine the milk and egg, then add to dry ingredients and combine. Add the zucchini, shredded cheese, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.

Spray muffin pans with cooking spray, or mist with olive oil. Spoon the batter into 12 regular-size muffins or 24 mini-muffins. Bake about 20 minutes for mini muffins, about 25 to 30 for regular-size muffins. Serve warm.

End-of-summer minestrone

This is a lighter version of traditional minestrone. Perfect for when the evenings are cool, but not cold enough for a hearty winter soup.

1 tablespoon olive oil (I like to use sun-dried tomato flavor)

1 stalk celery, sliced

1 large carrot, cut into ¼-inch pieces

1 medium onion, diced

2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided use

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

4 garlic cloves, grated or minced

1 (14-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

4 cups vegetable stock

1 (28-ounce) can diced or whole plum tomatoes

1 cup corn kernels (cut from one large ear or frozen and thawed)

½ cup orzo

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered

½ cup pesto for soup and ½ cup pesto for serving

Grated parmesan for serving

Torn basil leaves for serving

In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Stir in carrots, celery, onions and one teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook until softened, stirring frequently, about five minutes. Stir in zucchini and garlic and cook another minute. Add beans, stock and canned tomatoes (if using whole, break them up with kitchen shears or squish them in your hands before adding to the pot). Bring mixture to a simmer, then cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. While soup is simmering, toss together the cherry tomatoes and half-cup pesto. Stir in corn and orzo, then return to a simmer. Simmer until orzo is nearly tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add pesto-coated tomatoes to the pot. Simmer for two minutes longer to heat the tomatoes through and finish cooking the orzo. Serve with reserved pesto, grated parmesan, and basil leaves for topping.

Kale and quinoa salad with roasted squash and sweet potatoes

This is a substantial salad perfect for a lunch. Top with a salmon fillet for a healthy-but-filling meal.

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds)

2 large sweet potatoes (about 1 ¾ pounds total)

4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided use

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided use

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup quinoa, any color

1 cup water

1 large bunch curly kale (about 1 ½ pounds)

2 large sweet apples such as Honeycrisp (7 or 8 ounces)

6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)

For the dressing:

½ cup tahini

1 large lemon

¼ cup cold water

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon maple syrup

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and dice the squash and sweet potatoes into one-inch cubes. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with two tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle with one teaspoon of the kosher salt and a quarter-teaspoon black pepper and toss with your hands until evenly coated. Arrange into an even layer. Roast until tender and browned on the edges, stirring halfway through, for 35 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook he quinoa, prepare the kale and make the dressing. Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly under cool running water. Drain well. Heat a teaspoon of the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring constantly, until the water evaporates, and the quinoa is toasted, about two minutes. Add one cup water and half-teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a rolling boil. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting. Cover and cook until the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

Uncover, fluff the quinoa with a fork, and remove from the heat. Let cool at least 15 minutes. Strip the leaves from the kale and discard the stems. Coarsely chop or tear the leaves into one-inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil, season with half-teaspoon kosher salt and gently massage with your hands until you feel the leaves becoming tender, three to five minutes.

To make the dressing, place the tahini, juice of one lemon (about one quarter-cup), cold water, olive oil, maple syrup, kosher salt chili powder and black pepper in a large liquid measuring cup or medium bowl and whisk until combined. When ready to serve, dice the apples into half-inch cubes (no need to peel) and add to the kale. Add the quinoa, squash, sweet potatoes and feta and toss together. Pour the dressing over and gently toss to combine.

Apple-cinnamon oatmeal cookies

When the apples are coming in and you are starting to think apple pie, but it’s too warm to heat up the kitchen by baking a pie. These will give you the apple and cinnamon hit you are craving.

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 ¼ cups old fashioned oats

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup finely chopped apple (¼-inch cubes or smaller)

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 18- by 13-inch baking sheets with silicone mat or parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until combined. Mix in the egg and vanilla extract. Toss the apples with the lemon juice in a small bowl. Slowly add flour mixture to batter and mix until combined, then fold in the apples.

Scoop the dough out about two tablespoons at a time, and drop onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about two inches apart. Flatten them just slightly. Bake one sheet at a time in preheated oven until cookies are set, about 15 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for several minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.



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