Peel-delicious Applesauce

August 17, 2006 at 11:53 am (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing)

My CSA farmer emailed me today and asked me if I could use some “discard” apples~ones with big bruises, bites taken out of them, holes, etc. I said sure!

When I went to my pickup today there was a *HUGE* box of apples waiting for me. I had no idea it was going to be so many. So I went through pulled out the worst looking apples, cut out the cores and bad spots, roughly diced them, and boiled them in a bit of water. There were two different types of apples, a yellow and a red one, one of which broke down quickly and the other stayed more chunky. I used a potato masher to break the chunky pieces down a bit more. The sauce is beautiful colored and textured and it tastes great! And since I left the peels in it’s a whole food with all the great fiber and antioxidants and everything. Why can’t I find commercial applesauce with the peels?

The applesauce didn’t need any sugar in my opinion, so I just added some cinnamon and put it in the fridge–almost two quarts of apple sauce and I still have the other 3/4 of the apples left! Of course, they’re in pretty good shape so I’m guessing I can leave them out for a few days? But what should I do with them??

Rating: B+

Update Nov 2012:

This week I made a ginger cranberry applesauce that is bright and hot:

  • 725 g apple chunks (with peels but no cores) 
  • 100g raw cranberries
  • 17g peeled, minced ginger
  • 2? Tbs. of water

Instructions:  Add all the ingredients to a 1.5- to 2-quart pot, bring the water to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.  Cook, covered, until the applesauce has the consistency you like.

I used a mix of a baking apple that dissolved into sauce and an eating apple that stayed a bit chunkier.  The applesauce was intensely ginger-y and a very cheery red.  If you want something a little mellower, you could probably use half as many cranberries and half as much ginger.

This made 725g of  applesauce (about 1 pound 10 oz), about 3 cups worth.


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Stuffed zucchini with black beans, corn, and chipotle chiles (B)

August 17, 2006 at 7:47 am (Beans, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cook's Illustrated, Summer recipes)

Unlike many vegetarian dishes which are basically “mush,” stuffed veggies are a cohesive main dish, with real structure. (They are, however, more time-consuming to make.) Stuffed zucchini often comes out soggy and tasteless. Cook’s Illustrated suggests pre-roasting the zuchinni cut-side down for a flavorful sear before filling them with hearty vegetables and seasonings and baking them briefly. The recipe is based on the original Cook’s Illustrated recipe, but I made a few changes for health/ease of preparation)

Serves 4 as a main dish or 8 as a side dish


The spicy chiles are complemented nicely by the juicy, almost sweet zuchinni flesh and savory black beans and cheese. I think this is a marvelous combination. Fresh corn is slightly sweeter and much more crisp, but I use frozen corn when fresh is out of season. Ditto tomatoes, although I think the canned Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes are better than the ones found at the supermarket most of the year. I’ve tried these without the cheese and they’re okay, but nothing to get excited about. Unfortunately, it’s the browned cheese that really brings the dish together.

* 4 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces each), washed
* Salt and ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 medium onion, chopped fine
* 1 cup fresh corn kernels cut from 2 medium ears (or frozen corn)
* 5 large garlic cloves, minced
* 3 medium chipotle chiles en adobo, minced (about 3 tablespoons) or 0.5-1? tsp dried chipotle powder
* 2 medium tomatoes (about 12 ounces), seeded and chopped (or 1 15-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained well)
* 1 can (15 ounce) black beans, drained well (about 1 1/2 cups)
* 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (more?)
* 6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups) (or other cheese)

1. Adjust one oven rack to upper-middle position and second oven rack to lowest position, and remove baking stone if you have one. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the lower rack and heat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Meanwhile, halve each zucchini lengthwise. With small spoon, scoop out seeds and most of flesh so that walls of zucchini are 1/4 inch thick. Season cut sides of zucchini with salt and pepper, and brush with 1 tablespoons oil; set zucchini halves cut-side down on hot baking sheet on lower rack. Roast zucchini until slightly softened and skins are wrinkled, about 10 minutes; Using tongs, flip zucchini halves over on baking sheet and set aside.

3. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; stir in corn and cook until almost tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and chipotle chiles; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and black beans; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in cilantro and 1/2 cup cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Divide filling evenly among squash halves on baking sheet, spooning about 1/2 cup into each, and pack lightly; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Return baking sheet to oven, this time to upper rack, and bake zucchini until heated through and cheese is spotty brown, about 6 minutes. Serve immediately.

(This recipe seems to make about 2 cups too much filling, and could be reduced).

Rating: B
Without cheese: B-

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Raw Zucchini Salad with Lemon and Basil

August 17, 2006 at 6:25 am (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Italian, Jack Bishop, Quick weeknight recipe, Salads, Summer recipes)

Slicing zucchini paper thin yields a salad with a wonderful, silky mouthfeel; the lemon and olive oil and basil all come together to create one unifying flavor. This simple but lovely recipe is from The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook by Jack Bishop.


4 medium zucchini (about 1.5 pounds)
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
10 large fresh basil leaves, cut into very thin strips

Add instructions here!

My Notes

After trying two of Bishop’s tomato salads that looked simple but tasty, and not being too excited about either, I was nervous about this one, since it’s even more simple! But I’ve never eaten raw zucchini so had to try it. I used a vegetable peeler to slice the zucchini into long thin strips. Bishop says to refrigerate the sliced zucchini until well chilled, but mine was already cold so I didn’t bother.

I’m not sure of the exact proportions I used, but I only used 1 zucchini and I vaguely recall that I needed more lemon juice than called for: 3/4 Tablespoon. I think I actually used 1.5 Tablespoons, and maybe the zest too? In any case, the salad was wonderful. It was totally different than I expected. I’ll definitely be making this salad for friends!

Rating: B+
Derek: B-

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Two Tomato Salads (B-)

August 17, 2006 at 6:17 am (C (1 star, edible), Italian, Jack Bishop, Quick weeknight recipe, Salads)

It’s the peak of tomato season here in sunny Pennsylvania, and so of course I pulled out my Complete Italian Vegetarian cookbook by Jack Bishop. It seems that every other recipe in that cookbook requires fresh tomatoes, so most of the year many of the recipes are out of reach. Not so in August!

There are two tomato salads that caught my eye. The first was tomato salad with black olives, capers, basil, and oregano. I didn’t have fresh oregano so used a bit of dried and extra basil. I also probably used less olive oil than called for. The end result tasted fine, but didn’t excite me. I thought that the briny olives and capers overwhelmed the tomatoes. The flavors really didn’t come together.

The second salad was tomatoes, red onion, basil, and vinegar (half red wine, half balsamic). Again, I wasn’t excited. This time the flavors weren’t too strong exactly, just not really any better than eating plain tomatoes.

Now, I’m thinking that to some extent the result will depend on the tomatoes you use. I was using “heirloom pinks”, which are sweet but not very acidic. Perhaps with a more acidic tomato these salads would work better?

If anyone has any advice please let me know. I’d really like to make a heavenly tomato salad before the season is up!

Rating: B-

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