I am still developing recipes for zucchini; my new creation is enhanced with the rich flavors of leeks and shallots, this week’s offerings at church from a faithful member’s garden; these are of the onion family, but very different from each other in appearance, flavor, origin…
Shallots are mainly of two varieties, which are usually reddish-brown, though sometimes purple; these roots are similar in looks to, but larger than, garlic cloves; this plant’s flowers primarily bloom in white or violet.
Leeks are big in comparison, looking like huge green onions, with wide flat leaves. They are best when their stalk formations-long, relatively hard, bundled sheaths-have grown to about 1 1/2 inches in diameter; ideally these should be fresh-not more than a week old-and stored in loose plastic bags in the refrigerator.
Shallots taste like a mixture of onions and garlic, though they are milder in flavor and more pungent; they bless exceedingly! Our worthy leeks are even milder yet, with a mild pungency as well.
Shallots, which are European in origin, are especially associated with French cuisine. Their roots/cloves can be eaten fresh, or cooked in butter; boiling is also possible. They are usually sautéed whole; though, halving them is best when large; their sweetness is exceptionally delightful!
In the U.S., leeks grow primarily in the northern sections, due to the cooler climates, a requirement wherever they grow worldwide. They, being so mild, should be simmered slowly, making them ideal for soups and stews; nevertheless, they may be sliced with a chiffonade-cut, as I describe in this recipe, and gently fried in butter, to augment the savor of special food combinations. This Allium is low in calories and high in nutrients, such as vitamin K, manganese, copper, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, iron, vitamin A, fiber, magnesium, calcium, vitamin E, and omega-3 fats, making it a power-packed food. For additional leek recipes and history go to Kale, Leeks, and Chicken (2017/09/04) and Leek Soup (2017/09/18).
Arrowroot is my choice for thickening the unequaled juices, resulting from simmering these leeks and shallots. It is a starch from certain plants of the genera Manihot, Curcuma, and Tacca, as well as the tropical American plant Maranta arundinacea. Its name consequently materialized from our Native Americans use of this root to absorb poison from arrow wounds. I decided upon it, because I was serving this meal to a diabetic friend: it adds only seven grams of carbohydrates to the entire six servings, which is about two percent of the daily requirement of this chemical compound, and this divided by six. For these same health reasons, I also selected the diabetic friendly Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Pasta. Our repast was a grand success!
Arrowroot is gluten-free, with twice the thickening power of flour. It makes smooth sauces, which have remarkable clarity. Great importance lies in not boiling the liquids you add it to, as this will stop its action. Unlike a roux made from flour, this thickens very quickly; it is comparable to cornstarch, but lighter and healthier.
The following entrée uses tantalizing rosemary and moist zucchini, of which we have abundance from our gardens right now. Its accompanying sauce, with the prized leeks and shallots, causes this chicken dish to explode with exciting tastes. Enjoy!
Zucchini Chicken with Leeks and Shallots Yields: 5-6 servings. Total prep time: 1 hr.
1 1/4 pound chicken tenderloins, approximately 7 large pieces, thawed (Natural is best; available reasonably in Trader Joe’s freezer.)
4 leeks 1 1/2 inches in diameter, white and light green part, 3/4 pound
1/4 pound shallots
1 1/2 pound zucchini
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1/4 cup butter, preferably unsalted
2 tbsp oil (Coconut or avocado oil is recommended, as olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)
Salt and fresh ground pepper (Real Salt is important for health; available in health section at local supermarket.)
1 tbsp arrowroot, dissolved in 1/4 cup cold tap water (May substitute cornstarch; arrowroot, however, is available inexpensively in bulk, at such upscale grocers as New Seasons; also accessible in spice section at local supermarkets.)
Fettuccine pasta (Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Pasta is health-promoting and diabetic friendly.)
Start thawing chicken in a bowl of water, set aside.
- Clean zucchini with a vegetable spray (combine 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide for an inexpensive effective spray); let sit 3 minutes; and rinse well. Meanwhile go to next step.
- Prepare leeks by discarding outer leaves; cut off green tops and roots; and rinse well. For chiffonade-cut, slice leeks lengthwise; rinse again; then, divide each half in 2 inch portions; next, cut each 2 inch length in thin strips (see above photo). Place in a large container, rinse well with water, drain in colander, and set aside (see photo).
- Meanwhile cut zucchini in 2-inch-long spears, place in a bowl.
- Heat butter in a sauté pan over medium heat, until a small piece of leek in pan sizzles; add half the leeks, stirring in butter. Reduce heat to low. Cook down enough to fit other half into pan, distributing oils well; cover and cook, stirring occasionally.
- Peel shallots, slice large shallots in half (see photo); add to simmering leeks; let cook slowly over low heat,
- Chop rosemary, measure 2 tablespoons, and place in a small container (may use less).
- Fill a stock pot 2/3’s full of water; add about 2 tablespoons of oil-any kind will do-but no salt; bring to a boil over medium/high heat.
- Meanwhile place tenderloins on paper towel; GENEROUSLY salt and pepper them. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil-preferably coconut oil-in a large frying pan, over medium heat, until small piece of chicken sizzles; add and cook chicken, until slightly pink in center (do not overcook, as it will cook more later on); cut each tenderloin in thirds with a spatula, removing pieces to a bowl; carefully save juices in pan.
- Add last tablespoon of oil to pan of juices; mix in zucchini, distributing oils evenly; cook only until tender, stirring occasionally; watch so it doesn’t get mushy. While cooking, go to next step. (Note: may have to add more water to stock pot, so it is 2/3’s full, and boiling.)
- Dissolve arrowroot in 1/4 cup cold tap water, set aside.
- Place pasta in pan of boiling water; turn down heat to medium; cook for 6-7 minutes, until al dente; do not overcook; drain; set aside.
- Meantime stir chicken, rosemary, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into leeks/shallots; cook over medium heat until hot. Add this mixture to pan of tender zucchini, stir together.
Turn down heat under zucchini/leek/chicken to insure the juices are not boiling, but hot; this is important for thickening to occur. Using a wire whisk, blend in small amounts of dissolved arrowroot to the liquids around edges of pan, tilting pan to bring forth juices; in this way, use all the arrowroot. Adjust seasonings.
- Serve over pasta, this is an exceptional treat!