Posted (Lori) in News

15-minute meals; spicy zucchini bread; fennel; cilantro

When it gets this hot, no one wants to keep flames burning for too long. These 7 meals may take a bit longer than 15 minutes to prepare, but none requires more than 15 minutes over heat.

On the other hand—adding heat in the form of spices (hot peppers and pepper sauce, garlic, ginger, curry) helps you cool down by making you sweat. So add spices to all of these dishes liberally. And drink plenty of water to keep hydrated—not juice, not soda, not iced coffee, just cold water.

Add a small salad to each of these—we have lettuce and spinach, and fennel, celery, and cucumber for crunch. Make a dressing or just add a splash of lime and chopped cilantro.

Each of these makes 2 servings unless otherwise noted, or unless you are very hungry.

Before we start: lots of recipes in the NYT today for summer squash and eggplants:





Yes, this requires turning on the broiler—but only for about 8 -10 minutes and it’s the only heat you need for the meal. This meal is vegan and low-carb (unless you add rice).

For the marinade:

¼ cup olive oil; save 2 TBS for the tofu

2 TBS balsamic, cider, or wine vinegar

Juice and grated zest of one organic lime or lemon

2 TBS minced cilantro or parsley

1 TBS fresh ginger, grated or sliced fine (I use a vegetable peeler to create thin slices)

salt and pepper to taste

4-6 cups of vegetables cut into ¼” slices; zucchini, eggplant, fennel, onions, mushrooms are good.

½ pound firm tofu

Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add the vegetables. Marinate for about an hour, turning occasionally (it doesn’t have to go into the refrigerator if you don’t have room. Then drain, reserving the marinade

Wrap ½ pound of tofu in a clean dish towel to squeeze out the water. Unwrap, cut into cubes, and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. If there’s oil left over, add it to the reserved marinade.

Grease a large cookie sheet or baking pan; you may need two. Arrange the tofu cubes and vegetables cubes on the trays, close together. Turn on the broiler. Place the trays under the broiler, about 2 inches from the heat—you don’t want to oil to get to the fire. Broil for about 3-4 minutes; if everything is browned, flip each piece and broil the other side. If not, leave for another minute or two. Check frequently; some pieces will be done faster and need to be removed from the pan.

When done, remove from broiler immediately and turn off the broiler. Toss the vegetables and tofu together; dress with the marinade and sprinkle with more cilantro. This is quite filling on its own, but if you’re very hungry, serve it over rice or another grain.


For the turkey burgers:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

3 cups of finely diced vegetables—onions, mushrooms, squash, fennel, celery, eggplant, spinach

8 oz. ground turkey

2 tablespoons tomato paste or ketchup

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 TBS breadcrumbs, wheat germ, or oatmeal

Salt, pepper to taste—1/2 tsp. salt, ¼ tsp pepper are a good start

2 hamburger buns or rolls

Horseradish sauce, pickle or relish

Heat the oil in a large skillet. When hot but not smoking, add the vegetables and sauté, stirring constantly for about three minutes. Allow to cool.

While the vegetables are cooling, mix the turkey, tomato paste/ketchup, eggs, crumbs, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, add them (don’t wash the skillet yet) and mix well, until they are fully combined.

Heat the last tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Make 4 large patties from the turkey mixture. And place them on skillet. Cook for about 6 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels; put one patty on each bun, add dressing or pickle, top with another patty (or use 4 buns and stretch this to serve 4). Serve with Cilantro Fennel Slaw

Cilantro Fennel Slaw (Fresh Flavors Aug ‘07)

2 bulbs fennel, stems removed and sliced

1 small red onion, sliced thin

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely minced

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

juice of 1 lime

4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tablespoon sugar

salt and pepper, to taste

Combine sugar, orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour over prepared fennel, onion and cilantro and toss to combine. Serve immediately while fennel is nice and crisp.


For the batter-dipped vegetables and tabouli:

3 tbs flour, more or less

3 tbs water, more or less

2 tbs + 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

12 vegetable slices—zucchini, eggplant, pepper, fennel


1 cup tabouli

½ small cucumber chopped (plus any other vegetables, such as tomatoes, spinach, onions/scallions, lettuce, fennel that you have)

1 tbs chopped cilantro or parsley

Salt, pepper to taste

On a shallow, flat plate, mix the flour and water to form a thin but solid paste—it should be liquid enough so that the vegetables sink into it. Put the vegetables in the paste, and turn them over to coat both sides. You may have to do this in two batches. Heat 2 tbs oil in a large skillet or griddle, big enough to hold the vegetables in one layer.

While the oil is heating, boil a cup of water (on the stove or in the microwave) for the tabouli.

When the oil is very hot but not smoking, arrange the batter-dipped slices on the skillet or griddle, close but not touching. They should sizzle when you put them down—if not, let the oil heat for another few seconds. After about a minute or two, the edges will begin to brown. Flip each slice and cook for about a minute on the second side—the whole thing should not take more than three minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

When the water is boiled, add it to one cup tabouli and let it sit for about five minutes. Then fluff it with a fork. Add the last teaspoon of oil and vegetables and herbs. Top with the batter dipped vegetables and serve with the frittata.

For the frittata

2 tbs butter

1 chopped scallion

2 cups chopped spinach

4 large eggs

1 cup grated cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium-sized, oven-proof skillet. Add the scallion and spinach; sauté for 1-2 minutes, until spinach is wilted.

In a bowl, beat the eggs; mix in the cheese, salt and pepper; scoop out the spinach-scallion mixture (it should be slightly cooled by now) and add to eggs and mix well. Put the rack in the broiler about 2 inches from the flames (with enough room for the skillet). Turn on the broiler (it will be on for only five minutes or so.)

Melt the last tablespoon of butter in the skillet. Pour in the egg mixture and turn flame to medium-high. Let eggs cook, without stirring for about 2 minutes, until they begin to set.  Immediately move the skillet to the broiler; broil the frittata for about 2-3 minutes, watching it carefully. It will be ready in about 3 minutes. Remove, turn off broiler, and cut into two serving. Serve with tabouli and vegetables.


The plum and fennel salad can be made well in advance of serving, but cook the scallops just at the last minute. From the California Walnut Board; serves 6.


1 head fennel, the stems and feathery tops removed

4 firm but ripe plums, pitted, halved and thinly sliced

1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves, torn in small pieces

2 tablespoons chopped chives

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup chopped toasted California walnuts


1 1/2 pounds large (sea) scallops



2- 3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

To make the fennel and plum salad, cut the fennel in half lengthwise. Slice it very thinly, using a mandolin, the thinnest slicing blade of a food processsor, or a very sharp knife. Place in a large bowl and add the plums, parsley, chives, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss to combine and coat, then refrigerate for an hour or two. When you are ready to serve, add the walnuts and toss the salad again.

Prepare the scallops just moments before serving. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and season them with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil over high heat in a heavy nonstick sauté pan or skillet. Keep a close eye on the oil, and when it is very hot, add the scallops to the pan. (Don’t crowd the scallops in the pan, and cook in two batches if necessary.) Sear, or brown the scallops well on one side for about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn the scallops and add the butter, garlic and thyme to the pan. Swirl the pan to distribute the seasonings and melt the butter. Rapidly spoon some of the melted butter over each scallop and cook for a minute or two more. Total cooking time will be 3–4 minutes.

Transfer the hot scallops to plates and arrange some of the chilled plum and fennel salad over and around them. Serve immediately.

5. Zucchini pancakes with Fennel-Celery Salad

Fennel and Celery Salad

From Mark Bittman, NYT

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, some fronds reserved

3 celery ribs, trimmed

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, more to taste

Salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon black pepper, more to taste

Freshly shaved Parmesan cheese.

Cut fennel bulbs in quarters lengthwise, discarding outer layer if it is exceedingly tough. Use a mandoline to slice quarters thinly; slice celery equally thin.

Put sliced fennel and celery into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently to combine. Top with lots of freshly shaved Parmesan and chopped fennel fronds if you like.

Zucchini Fritters With Feta And Dill

adapted from Cooks Illustrated

12 fritters, 4-6 Servings

1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium), trimmed

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 scallions, minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup corn starch or all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

6 tablespoons olive oil

Lemon wedges, for serving

Shred the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor fitted with the shredding disk. Transfer the zucchini to a fine mesh strainer and set over a bowl. Toss the zucchini with the salt and let it sit for 10 minutes. Wring all of the excess liquid out of the zucchini with your hands, then set aside.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Mix in the dried zucchini, scallions, dill, feta, garlic and black pepper. Sprinkle the corn starch and baking powder over mixture and stir until uniformly incorporated.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Drop 2-tablespoon sized portions into the pan, then use the back of a spoon to gently press the batter into 2-inch-wide fritters. Pan-fry until golden brown on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the fritters to a paper towel-lined plate. Wipe the skillet clean with paper towels. Return the skillet to medium heat, add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, and repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm or room temperature with lemon wedges.


Stir-Fried Cabbage and Chicken

Adapted from All-recipes.com; omit the chicken & add tofu for a vegetarian version

1 chicken breast, about 6 ounces, pounded to about ½” and cut into strips

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound shredded cabbage

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine, or another Chinese flavoring, such as Szechuan sauce

Heat the 1 tablespoons vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken strips and stir-fry for a few minutes, until cooked through. Remove and drain on paper towels. Addthe remaining oil; stir in the garlic, and cook for a few seconds until it begins to brown. Stir in the cabbage until it is coated in oil; cover the wok, and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the soy sauce, and cook and stir for another minute. Increase the heat to high, and stir in the Chinese cooking wine. Cook and stir until the cabbage is tender, about 2 minutes more.

Japanese Cucumber Salad

3 small cucumbers

1/4 tsp salt

3 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp sesame seeds

Slice cucumbers as thin as you can. Stir in salt, and let it sit for 5 minutes. Squeeze water out from cucumbers.

In a small bowl, mix rice vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce together until sugar dissolves.

Add vinegar mixture and sesame seeds to prepared cucumbers and mix well.

Spicy Eggplant Salad With Sesame Oil

Members Judd and Justin suggested this recipe, from David Tanis’ NYT collection of eggplant recipes. It fits right in to the 15-minute meals recipes—you can steam the eggplants while the cabbage is sautéing, so your heat is only active for ten minutes total.

This Chinese-inspired salad has complex flavors and is quite refreshing. At the market, choose eggplants that are firm and shiny; they will taste sweeter and have fewer seeds. Make it several hours ahead or up to a day in advance.

2 pounds small, firm eggplants

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Juice of 1 lime

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon brown sugar

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons grated ginger

1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon hot pepper oil, optional

2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish

6 scallions, thinly sliced diagonally

1 thinly sliced serrano chile, optional

Cook the eggplants in a covered steamer over rapidly boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes. Let cool, then peel. Put the flesh in a fine meshed strainer to drain excess liquid.

Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, salt and sugar. Add garlic, ginger, sesame oil, vegetable oil and hot pepper oil, if using.

Put drained eggplants in a bowl. Using 2 forks, shred the eggplants a bit, then pour dressing over and toss, coating well. Leave to rest for 10 minutes, then taste and adjust seasoning.

Just before serving, stir in chopped cilantro. Pile eggplants on a platter and sprinkle with scallions. Garnish with serrano chile, if using, and cilantro sprigs.


This is the recipe that Maryanne sent. It’s from Foodandwine.com and can be served hot or cold



1 pound farfalle

1 garlic clove

1/3 cup unsalted roasted almonds

1 1/2 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound zucchini (2 medium), halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/8 inch thick

Pinch of crushed red pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the farfalle and cook until it is al dente. Drain the farfalle.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the garlic clove until it is finely chopped. Add the almonds and pulse until they are coarsely chopped. Add the parsley and 1/2 cup of the olive oil and process until the parsley is finely chopped. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and pulse just until the pesto is combined. Season with salt and pepper and scrape the pesto into a large, shallow serving bowl.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Add the zucchini and cook over moderately high heat until tender and browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the zucchini to the bowl with the pesto. Add the farfalle, toss well and serve.


I’m not a great fan of the flavor of fennel, but I find that when it’s mixed with other vegetables, it adds a great background texture and taste. People rave over the Marinated Fennel and Mushroom recipe in Recipes from America’s Small Farms, p.115. Steve Waxman’s recipe for Tomato-Fennel Soup, also in recipes from America’s Farms is also great.

SOME THOUGHTS ON FENNEL from Carnegie Hill website, by Barbara Thalenfeld

Fennel can be eaten raw, although the flavor might be too intense for some. Remove the tough outer skin and core and then shave it into thin slices using a mandoline. Mix the fennel with baby arugula, chopped kalamata olives, thin apple slices and orange segments. I toss with a simple balsamic vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. Sometimes I top the salad with chopped walnuts. Braised fennel is also delicious tossed in veggie pasta or served alongside fish or chicken. I remove the outer layer (but not the core – this helps it stay together), slice into 1/2 – 1″ slices and lay flat in a casserole dish. I season the fennel with salt and pepper and add approx. 2 tablespoons of vegetable stock or chicken stock and 1 tablespoon of white wine, cover and braise in a 325 degree oven for about 30 minutes until tender (you may want to braise it longer or shorter, depending on the size). I then remove the cover and allow the fennel to brown just a bit in the oven, about 15 minutes. The flavor is sweet and mellow.

The leaves on top of the fennel bulb can be saved to use as an herb to add extra flavor or as a garnish.

Squash Smothered in Fennel and Thyme


2 small summer squash, (about 12 ounces)

1 1/2 cups sliced fennel bulb, (about 1 small bulb), plus 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds, divided

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic


1      Preheat oven to 450°F.

2      Quarter squash lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Combine the squash with sliced fennel, oil, thyme, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread the mixture evenly on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and roast until the vegetables are tender and the fennel is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes more. Stir in fennel fronds and serve.

Spicy Zucchini Bread

Carolyn Reid, who has been a member since our second season (1999) created this recipe

Pre-heat oven to 350°

1 C. whole wheat flour

1/4 C. wheat germ

1/4 C. wheat bran

1/2 t. baking soda

1/4 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt (optional)

1/3 C. canola (or olive) oil

2/3 C. honey (from Stoneledge, of course)

2 large eggs

2 t. vanilla extract

1/2 t. ground ginger

1/2 t. ground cinnamon

1/4 t. ground cloves

1/4 t. ground nutmeg

1 C. walnuts

1 1/2 C. grated zucchini (about two small zucchinis, also from Stoneledge)

Mix dry ingredients together well in large bowl (a large, sturdy whisk works well). In separate bowl or large measuring cup, mix wet ingredients together well starting with oil (use the whisk here, too, but AFTER you’ve mixed dry ingredients). Blend in spices thoroughly then add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in bowl and stir to mix thoroughly. Fold in the nuts and zucchini. Coat a 4×4x8 inch loaf pan with canola oil spray, being sure to include the bottom and sides, and pour mixture into pan. Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 55-65 minutes, watching carefully during the last 15-20 min to avoid over browning/burning. Done when toothpick inserted off-center comes out clean. Cool in pan at least 10 m in and then remove from pan and continue cooling on rack. Serve alone or with cream cheese or fresh fruit.

For muffins or mini-muffins: spray pan cups thoroughly and fill about level with top. Bake only 20-25 min (10-15 min for minis) as much less time is needed for muffins.


Nuts: Other nuts like pecans or almonds are also be good, as are sunflower seeds (shelled, unsalted) or a mixture of your favorites.

Spices: Allspice and/or pumpkin pie spice can be used with or instead of the spices above or use cinnamon alone — or no spices at all.

Flours: Use all whole wheat flour instead of adding wheat germ and bran, or use ground flax seed as part of the dry ingredients. Total should be 1 1/2 C. dry ingredients and probably at least half to two-thirds of it should be flour.

Fruit: Adding 1/2 C. raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dates, or other chopped dried fruit with the nuts and zucchini is another option.

Created by Carolyn Reid, July 2004

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