Zucchini Chicken with Leeks and Shallots

zucchini chicken with leeks and shallots

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 and Leek Soup .

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 for the whole recipe.  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!

References:

http://www.differencebetween.net/objects/comparisons-of-food-items/difference-between-leeks-and-shallots/

www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?name=foodspice&dbid=26

https://www.gurneys.com/Differences_between_Onions_Leeks_and_Shallots

chopping leeks with chiffonade-cut

Zucchini Chicken with Leeks and Shallots  Yields: 5-6 servings.  Total prep time: 1 hr.

1 1/4 lb chicken tenderloins, approximately 7 large pieces, thawed  (Natural is best; available reasonably in Trader Joe’s freezer.)

4 leeks, 1 1/2″ in diameter, white and light green part only-about 3/4 lb

1/4 lb shallots

1 1/2 lb zucchini

2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped fine

1/4 c 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  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available for $4..99 for 5 lbs at Costco.)

1 tbsp arrowroot, dissolved in 1/4 c 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.)

  1. rinsing cut leeks

    Start thawing chicken in a bowl of water, set aside.

  2. Clean zucchini with a vegetable spray (combine 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide for an inexpensive effective produce spray).  Let sit 3 minutes and rinse well.  Meanwhile go to next step.
  3. 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″ portions.  Next cut each 2″ length in thin strips (see photo at top of recipe).  Place in a large container, rinse well with water, drain in colander, and set aside (see photo).
  4. Meanwhile cut zucchini in 2″-long spears, place in a bowl.
  5. 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.
  6. Peel shallots, slice large shallots in half (see photo); add to simmering leeks.  Let cook slowly over low heat,

    peeling shallots

    stirring occasionally.

  7. Chop rosemary, measure 2 tbsp, and place in a small container (may use less).
  8. Fill a stock pot 2/3’s full of water; add about 2 tbsp of oil-any kind will do-but no salt; bring to a boil over med/high heat.
  9. Meanwhile place tenderloins on paper towel; GENEROUSLY salt and pepper them.  Heat 1 tbsp 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.
  10. Add last tbsp 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.)
  11. Dissolve arrowroot in 1/4 cup cold tap water, set aside.
  12. Place pasta in pan of boiling water; turn down heat to medium.  Cook for 6-7 minutes, until al dente; do not overcook.  Drain and set aside.
  13. Meantime stir chicken, rosemary, and 1/2 tsp salt into leeks/shallots; cook over medium heat until hot.  Add this mixture to pan of tender zucchini, stir together.
  14. finished product

    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.

  15. Serve over pasta; this is an exceptional treat!

The Best Zucchini Bread

zucchini loaves

It’s that time of year again for our proliferate zucchini.  Cucurbita pepo, a member of the cucumber/melon family, originated in Mexico; this was not only grown by Central and South Americans, but also by our own  Native Americans, long before the Europeans arrived.  Nonetheless, the version we know in the U.S. today is a variety of summer squash developed in Italy.

In actuality this is a fruit, not a vegetable, as it contains seeds.  While usually the male and female counterparts are present in one plant, these components in this fruit exist in separate plants.  In the biological world, the female produces ovules, the equivalent of eggs, while the male produces pollen, which is like sperm in the animal kingdom.  Birds and especially bees transfer this pollen from the individual male to the female zucchini plants, producing abundant fruit, providing both these individual organisms reside together in any given garden.

I have a proven recipe to make use of this fertile squash, in which I suggest utilizing the health-promoting ingredients grapeseed oil and coconut sugar.  Grapeseed oil, along with coconut and avocado oils, can be heated to high temperatures without producing carcinogens.  It is mild in flavor; thus, it is ideal for baking.

Comparing refined with coconut sugar, we see very little difference in their nutritional profiles on the surface; their caloric and carbohydrate content is very similar.  Such figures, however, don’t tell the hidden benefits of this healthier coconut sweetener which is barely processed; it is obtained by heating the sap of the coconut flower until most of the liquid is evaporated.

This alternative has a little more nutrition, as it contains small amounts of zinc, iron, calcium, and potassium, where the refined version holds empty calories.  More importantly, coconut sugar possesses a much lower glycemic index; this greatly reduces any tendency to spike the blood sugar, making it a possible substitute for those dealing with milder forms of blood sugar problems.  Always be sure to check with your healthcare specialist concerning your own personal diet!

I use this “healthy” substitute in both my zucchini and banana breads; see Banana Bread (2017/05/29).  My larder perpetually boast of one or the other of these, both of which I make with flour from freshly ground, organic, hard red spring wheat berries.  These specific berries contain a variety of nutrients including vitamin E, calcium, B vitamins, folate, and potassium.  One serving also provides 20% of the daily value of dietary fiber, 8% of needed iron, and the same amount of protein as found in an egg, or 6 grams.  Breads last for lengthy periods of time, when made with this fresh ground flour.

To easily bake these perfect zucchini loaves in the off-season months, I encourage you to freeze plenty of this grated “fruit/vegetable” in 1-cup packages, while the abundance lasts.

References:

https://www.thespruce.com/history-of-zucchini-1807689

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/all-about-zucchini-zbcz1405

biologicalthinking.blogspot.com/2011/07/birds-do-it-bees-do-iteven-zucchinis-do-it.html

optional grinding of flour, with attachment for Kitchen Aid

Zucchini Bread  Yields: 2 loaves.  Total prep time: 1 1/2 hr/  active prep time: 30 min/  baking time: 1 hr.

3 c flour  (Fresh-ground provides the highest quality; use 2 c organic, hard red spring wheat berries to make 3 c freshly ground flour; see photo.)

3 lg eggs

2 1/4 c sugar  (Coconut sugar is best-always available at Trader’s and at times Costco, or an organic coconut sugar can be found inexpensively in bulk at our local Winco.)

1 c oil  (Grapeseed  or avocado oil is important here; these may be heated to high temperatures without damage.)

3 tsp vanilla extract  (Ask vacationers to bring a liter-bottle back from Mexico; this is of the highest quality and dirt cheap.)

1 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco.)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

4 tsp cinnamon  (Our local Fred Meyer’s has an excellent, organic Korintje cinnamon in bulk inexpensively.)

thawing individual frozen zucchini packages

2 c zucchini  (If using frozen zucchini, remove 1 tbsp of liquid from each thawed 1c package; be sure to thaw in a dish to catch juices; it is best to freeze these ahead, while zucchini is available; see photo.)

1 c nuts, optional

Spray oil  (Coconut spray oil is best; Pam is available in most supermarkets; our local Winco-brand, however, is far less expensive.)

Flour for dusting pans

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. If grinding fresh flour, do so now; see above photo.
  3. Beat eggs in a large bowl, add sugar, blend until creamy.  Beat in oil and vanilla well.
  4. Place flour in a large bowl; stir in salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon with a fork vigorously, or shake all well in a sealed gallon-size storage bag.
  5. Mix flour mixture into egg/sugar/oil; when adding flour, do not over beat, as this toughens the bread.
  6. Fold in zucchini and optional nuts.  Note: if using frozen zucchini, remove 1 tbsp of liquid from each 1 c package, which has been thawed in a bowl to preserve juices.
  7. Spray and lightly flour two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans (coconut spray oil is important for quality and flavor).  Pour batter into prepared pans.
  8. cooling zucchini loaves in pans for 15 minutes

    Bake for 60 minutes, or until the loaf responds when pressed with finger; may also test with a toothpick, which will come out clean when done.  Do not over-bake, as this will continue to cook some, while cooling for 15 minutes in the pan, set on a rack; see photo.

  9. This is magnificent, health-giving bread!

A Simple “Frittata”

dinner with Dave

dinner with Dave

My pastors provide our congregation with fruits of their labors during the harvest season; this year’s bumper crop of tomatoes and zucchini inspired Pastor Dawn to create this frittata-like dish, which I have expanded on here. It boasts of these rich autumn vegetables. The receipt is so easy that it cries out for many encores.

The traditional frittata, or Italian omelette, has a two-stage cooking process.  You normally begin making this egg dish on the stove top and finish it in the oven. One may even purchase special pans for preparing this.  However my simplified version is made in a frying pan, solely on top of a burner.

The original frittata is a cross between an omelette and quiche, which is comprised mostly of eggs with some vegetables.

"frittata"

“frittata”

On the contrary, my “frittata” is mostly vegetables with several eggs scrambled in.  There is no guessing with these easy steps of preparation. The result is intense flavor, good protein, and creative cooking with fall produce.

My beloved cousin and his wife, whom I hadn’t seen since 1995, were here for dinner several weeks ago.  We indulged in this European creation and my honeyed-lime kale with turkey. (See Cooking with Kale, 2016/09/07.) The presence of God and this delicious food nourished our souls during our lavish repast.

You will relish this “frittata”-it is so good!  Enjoy.

A Simple “Frittata”  Yields: 4-6 servings.

1 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best.)

1 med yellow onion, halved at the core and thinly sliced

3 med/large tomatoes cut in eighths

2 med/small zucchinis, thinly sliced

½ tsp dried oregano  (A great, inexpensive, organic variety is available at Trader Joe’s.)

3/4 tsp dried basil

4 lg cloves of garlic, minced  (May use 2 cubes of frozen garlic from Trader’s.)

Salt and pepper to taste  (Real Salt is best, available in health section of local supermarket.)

4 lg white mushrooms, brushed, with mushroom brush, and sliced

3 oz good quality cheese, grated

3 lg eggs, beaten  (I like to use duck eggs, which are creamier and higher in protein.)

  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Place a small piece of onion in hot oil. When it sizzles, add the rest of the onions.  Cook until golden brown; stir occasionally.
  2. Add chopped tomatoes, zucchini, herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to med/low. Cook vegetables about 40 minutes, or until liquid is gone and sauce is thick. Be sure to stir occasionally. Watch carefully toward the end of cooking, so vegetables don’t burn.  (May set aside at this point and reheat, to finish recipe, just before serving.  Watch carefully when reheating, so as not to burn the sauce.)
  3. Add mushrooms and cheese to hot sauce. Stir well.
  4. Add eggs to vegetables; stir gently several times, as they cook. Cook until eggs are done. Mixture will be soft.
  5. Adjust seasonings.
  6. This is delicious served hot, room temperature, or ice cold.  Leftovers are great!