Main Course Recipes
Zucchini, mozzarella and prosciutto.
Even if you think you’ve had enough zucchini now that it’s cooling off, it’s a great excuse to make this casserole/gratin recipe!
Joyce, from Quattro’s, our local butcher, gave the Accidental Locavore this recipe. It’s super easy and might have served 4, but Frank and I ate the whole thing because there was no more room in the fridge for leftovers.
That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.
Zucchini, mozzarella and prosciutto recipe:
- 1 large or two medium zucchini
- 1 ball of mozzarella (about a pound)
- 3 ounces of prosciutto, thinly sliced (if you buy it packaged that’s the size, otherwise go for ¼ pound)
- Bread crumbs or panko
- Olive oil
- 1 medium sized garlic clove (optional)
- Parmesan cheese for the top (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°.
If you have really large zucchini, slice in half across the middle, stand on the cut end, and slice into 1/8” long slices. Otherwise, just cut off an end and stand it up and slice it. If you have a mandoline, this is a good time to pull it out.
Slice the mozzarella into 1/8” slices*.
Pour some of the olive oil into a plate and pour about a cup of bread crumbs into another plate.
Rub a medium-sized gratin pan with the cut garlic if using and lightly grease with some of the olive oil.
Dip a slice of zucchini into the olive oil and then the bread crumbs. Repeat with the rest of the zucchini.
Make a layer of zucchini in the pan. Top with a layer of prosciutto and a layer of mozzarella.
Repeat, ending with mozzarella on the top.
Sprinkle with Parmesan if using and any leftover bread crumbs (also optional).
Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the zucchini is cooked and the cheese is melted and starting to brown.
Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Might not have been the prettiest dish ever, but you can’t eat pretty! The fact that there was nothing left tells you that it was really good!
We decided that it would be a great platform for a lot of different variations. Italian sausage could take the place of prosciutto, eggplant could sub for the zucchini etc.
Joyce used a particular Italian zucchini which didn’t have a lot of seeds, we used a very large unknown variety that had some seeds but wasn’t watery. If you’re going to use standard zucchini, go for the smaller ones.
*Mozzarella slices much easier with a serrated cheese knife like this one:
If the idea of a lamb and green bean stew seems a little much for the extreme weather, you might want to think twice.
At my CSA, green beans are ripe for the picking.
And it cooks pretty fast.
So give it a try!
Lamb and green beans recipe:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ pound boneless lamb, cut into ¾” cubes
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, or 1 cup fresh, seeded and chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2” lengths
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan on high heat. Add the lamb and brown on all sides.
Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the onions and cook until they’re golden brown. Add the spices, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the beans to the pan, and simmer until they’re crisp-tender about another 10-15 minutes. Serve with rice pilaf or couscous and enjoy!
My verdict: Growing up, this was a family favorite that my mother made fairly often. The Accidental Locavore isn’t sure where/how she always had a sweet spot for Middle Eastern food, especially Armenian, where this supposedly hails from.
I hadn’t even thought about lamb and beans in years but when I was picking green beans at the farm, suddenly I just needed to make it. It was really good, especially with fresh-picked beans and local lamb and comes together in under an hour. I always add more allspice, because it’s a flavor I love.
Going against tradition (and not really feeling like messing with pilaf), I served it with some couscous, which is always the quicker/lazier/healthier(?) way to add something to soak up all the delicious sauce!
Frank loved it too and we ate it all up so sadly no leftovers…
If you want the original cookbook, Word of Mouth, which it comes from, it’s still available on amazon.com or possibly there are still copies under my mother’s bed.
There are three steps to making this version with lamb, but they’re all easy and you can do the spice rub and yogurt ahead of time. Serves 4:
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns or 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 2teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil (for grill)
- 1¼pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- Lemon zest
Rub: Coarsely grind cumin seeds, peppercorns, caraway seeds, red pepper flakes, sugar salt and pepper in spice mill or with mortar and pestle.
Lamb: Prepare a grill for medium-high, indirect heat (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on one side of grill; for a gas grill, leave one or two burners off). Oil grates. Thread lamb onto 6–8 skewers, leaving a small gap between each piece of meat. Sprinkle generously with spice blend, pressing it onto the meat with your hands to help it adhere if needed.
Grill lamb over direct heat, turning every minute or so, until browned and beginning to char in spots, about 4 minutes. Move to cooler side of grill and continue to grill until lamb is cooked to desired doneness, about 4 minutes longer for medium-rare.
Yogurt sauce: Stir garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice into yogurt in a small bowl to combine; season with salt and pepper. Top garlic yogurt with cracked black pepper and a little lemon zest. Serve with the lamb and enjoy!
My verdict: If you’re looking for something to go with the baked rice, this is what we paired with it and it was a great dinner! Frank doesn’t think it’s really a kebab without veggies, so he added mushrooms, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onions and some lamb sausage to the skewers which meant we could have fed 6 easily. I “marinated” the lamb in the rub overnight and I’m not sure if that’s why it seemed a little overly peppery. Next time, maybe start with a heaping teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorns and add accordingly.
If you don’t have a grill, you know a grill pan will work just fine.
The yogurt sauce is delicious (and calmed the heat from the peppercorns a bit). Definitely make it if you’re doing the kebabs. There was a little leftover which I added some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to and used it for salad dressing the next day. Need to remember that!
Okay, by now you might be getting weary of yet another recipe from Made In India, but the Accidental Locavore is telling you, it’s one of the best cookbooks that’s crossed my path since David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. This time it’s a lamb stew/curry with baby spinach—perfect for spring! Serves 4.
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 1 3/4” piece of ginger, peeled and grated
- 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
- ¾ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 ¾ pounds lamb shoulder cut into 1 ¼” cubes
- 1 14 ounce can plum tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 pound baby spinach
In a large Dutch oven or casserole (that has a lid) over medium heat add the oil. When it’s hot add the onions and fry for 10-12 minutes until soft, golden and starting to brown. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the chili, cumin, coriander and the diced lamb and turn the heat to medium high. When the lamb pieces have browned all over, add the tomatoes, breaking them up, tomato paste and salt. Stir well. Add ¾ cup of water, stir and bring to a boil. Cover with the lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 1 ¼ hours or until the meat is tender.
Remove the lid and add the spinach in bunches, cook until just wilted. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Another winner! Working my way through the freezer, there was a package of lamb stew meat from our CSA so we were all set. I actually made the stew a day ahead, warmed it up and added the spinach just before we ate. You’ll need a pretty big pot as the spinach takes up a lot of room, but it does cook down. Along with (my now perfect) basmati rice, this was a great meal. When no one was looking, I added some mango chutney to mine and it was even better. Instead of grating the ginger, I just chop it really finely in my mini-chopper – it’s so much faster than grating for 10 minutes…
This is a lighter (and quicker) take on the classic Mexican hangover cure. The Accidental Locavore thinks you’ll like this fresh take on a classic Mexican (hangover) classic from bon appétit. It’s easy and serves 4.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced, divided
- 8 medium tomatillos (about 1¼ pounds), husks removed, rinsed
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems, plus more for serving
- 1 pound cod fillet
- 1 15-ounce can white hominy, rinsed
- 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
- 3 small radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced (optional, but pretty)
- Lime wedges (for serving)
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook shallots, garlic, and half of chiles, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 6 to 8 minutes. While that’s cooking purée tomatillos in a blender or food processor until smooth.
Add half of tomatillo purée to pot and cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup cilantro to remaining purée in blender and blend until smooth; set aside.
Add cod, hominy, clam juice, and 1 cup water to pot. Bring to a simmer and gently cook over medium-low until cod is opaque throughout and beginning to flake, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in reserved raw tomatillo-cilantro purée, breaking cod into large chunks; season with salt and pepper.
Divide stew among bowls and top with radishes, cilantro, and remaining chile, if you like it hot. Serve with lime wedges and enjoy!
My verdict: Since I first had posole in Mexico, I’ve been a big fan! This is a great spring-like take on the classic. It definitely needs the lime to perk it up, otherwise it’s a great dinner. If you’re not a fan of heat, cut down on the chiles or leave them out. My guess is that if you wanted to take the time to soak dried posole corn, it would be worth the time. Next time I’m going to try that. You could add some warm tortillas, or even some chips, or just enjoy it as is.
- ½ pound dried small white beans, like pea or navy
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, plus 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 medium-large onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 cups cored and chopped tomatoes, with their juice (canned are fine)
- 3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ pound slab bacon or salt pork, in 1 piece
- 4 sweet Italian sausages, about 3/4 pound
- 1 pound boneless pork shoulder
- 2 duck legs (confit if possible)
- Chicken, beef or vegetable stock, or water, or a mixture, as needed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs, optional
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Combine beans, crushed garlic, onion, carrots, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves and meats in a slow cooker, and turn heat to high. You can brown the sausages and duck legs in a skillet before, if you’d like. Add stock or water to cover by 2 inches. Cover and cook until beans and meats are tender, 5 to 6 hours on high heat, 7 hours or more on low.
When done, add salt and pepper to taste, along with minced garlic. If you like, remove cassoulet from slow cooker, and place in a deep casserole; cover with bread crumbs and roast at 400 ° until bread crumbs brown, about 15 minutes. Garnish, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Three caveats before I begin: I’ve never been a big fan of Mark Bittman, but was intrigued by the idea of an easy cassoulet. If you think something is weird in a recipe, trust your gut and figure out a work-around. Finally, you have to cook with love and if you don’t things never taste as good. This was made in a series of bad-mood days and it was reflected in the finished product.
You’ve probably gotten the idea that this wasn’t one of my better meals. As a matter of fact, it was one of the worst. It started out with good ingredients, beautiful dried beans, sausages (breakfast, not Italian – really Mark?) from Four Legs Farm, ditto the pork shoulder. I had homemade duck legs confit and breadcrumbs from a recent baguette.
First sign of trouble – ignoring the warning signs in my head that the beans should have been soaked overnight before going in the pot. After the first day of cooking (and it was more than the 5-7 hours given) the beans were rock hard and inedible. The pot went on the back porch to cool down, we went out to eat. Long story short, I cooked everything for about three days, before the beans were tender enough to eat. By that time, we were both well over our cassoulet cravings, so we foisted it off as dinner on an unknowing, but very polite friend (sorry Laura!). It was essentially mush, and what might have been distinct flavors on day one or two, were just different textures.
So, except for the buttermilk biscuits I use for making strawberry shortcakes, I’m through with Bittman! But not cassoulet – I had a great one in Nice!
Although the short ribs from Hammersley’s Bistro (sadly no longer) are one of my go-to recipes, every now and then you need to step out of your short rib comfort zone. The Accidental Locavore saw this recipe in, of all places, the Wall Street Journal, and gave it a try. I halved the recipe to serve about 5 people. If you skip to the end, you’ll see what I did with the leftovers.
For the ribs:
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 5 (16-ounce) beef short ribs, trimmed of excess fat
• 1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger (about 5 ounces), thinly sliced
• 3 garlic cloves, sliced
• 1/4 cup finely-chopped lemongrass
• 1 dried Thai chili
• 3/4 cups soy sauce
• 5 cups water
• 1/2 teaspoon sugar
• 1 teaspoons kosher salt
For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup soy or tamari sauce
- 1/4 cup honey
- Pinch of five-spice powder
- 1 dried Thai chilies
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, Thai basil and/or chives, for garnish (optional)
Make the ribs: Heat oil in a medium Dutch oven with a lid over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook ribs until golden-brown, 3-4 minutes per side. Set aside.
Decrease heat to medium and cook ginger, garlic, lemongrass and chilies until golden and fragrant, 5 minutes. Add soy sauce, water, sugar, salt and ribs to pot. Cover and gently simmer until ribs are tender, about 1 hour.
While the ribs are cooking, make the glaze. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer hoisin, garlic, soy sauce, honey, five-spice powder, chilies, orange zest and vinegar until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.
Preheat broiler. Remove ribs from liquid and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Brush glaze all over ribs, reserving extra, if there is any. Broil until glaze starts to bubble, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer ribs to a platter and brush with extra glaze, if you have some. Garnish with chopped cilantro, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: These were really good! I served them with steamed jasmine rice and some broccoli that I steamed, tossed in a little sauce and stuck under the broiler for a minute after the ribs had cooked. You might want to line the baking sheet with parchment to keep the clean-up easier. The glaze is delicious and would probably go well with anything pork (but that’s kind of an easy call). Since my pantry doesn’t have any Champagne vinegar, I just used white balsamic and white wine vinegar would be fine too.
We didn’t want to dump the leftover liquid down the sink because of the fat content, so I put the pan in my auxiliary fridge, aka the back porch overnight. When I went out to grab it, it occurred to me that there was some fine “bone broth” in that pan, so I took the fat off, strained the ginger and garlic out, packed it in one-cup servings and froze it. It will make great stock for cooking rice or stir-fries etc. However, do not use it in anything that you would reduce it in! Because of the soy sauce, reduced it will become unbearably salty. Just saying. The two leftover ribs were stripped, went with the leftover rice and broccoli and made a terrific fried rice lunch!
Everyone loves a good meatball and while the first dish the Accidental Locavore planned to cook from the new Ottolenghi book Nopi was the Vine Leaf Beef Pie, I haven’t been able to corral enough adventurous eaters to make it worth doing (without leftovers for weeks). These lamb meatballs looked great and I had some really good ground lamb from my Four Legs Farm share. The original recipe was for six but I halved it to feed 3:
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- Large pinch dried mint
- 2 teaspoons allspice
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ medium onion, finely chopped
- ½ serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped
- ½ pound Swiss chard, stems removed and greens shredded
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 cup Greek yogurt (whole milk) or labne
- ½ tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water to form a paste
- 1 small egg, lightly beaten
- Seeds from ½ pomegranate (optional)
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
Place the first six ingredients in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of the allspice, 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt and a couple of grinds of pepper. Mix well and form into golf-ball-sized meatballs; you should have about a dozen.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saucepan with the onion and the other garlic clove. Cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened but not browned. Add the chile and the Swiss chard and cook for 2-3 minutes until the chard has wilted. Stir in the other teaspoon of the allspice, chicken stock and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.
In a large mixing bowl, add the yogurt, cornstarch paste, egg and ¼ cup of water. Whisk well to form a smooth paste. Gradually spoon in the chard mixture, stirring well after each addition until the two mixtures are combined. Add a teaspoon of salt and a couple of grinds of pepper and set aside.
Pour the remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and fry for 4 minutes, turning so all sides get browned. Do this in batches if you need to.
Wipe down the pan and pour in the yogurt sauce. Bring to a very gentle simmer on a medium-low heat. It should just barely be bubbling. Stir continuously in one direction to prevent the yogurt sauce from separating. Return the meatballs to the pan, stir to coat and cook on low heat, covered, for 20-25 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through.
Serve garnished with the pomegranate seeds and the cilantro sprinkled on top and enjoy!
My verdict: Maybe the recipes are “restaurant food” because in a restaurant you have someone to wash the dishes! Without sounding too much like The Twelve Days of Christmas, this used four measuring spoons, three frying pans, two cutting boards, and a mixing bowl washed twice. However, if you can con someone else into washing up, this was a delicious dinner! The meatballs were tender and juicy with a nice crunch from the pine nuts. The yogurt sauce was reliable, for once not only not breaking, but adding a rich creamy touch to the lamb. It might have been because I actually used labne instead of yogurt – that’s an experiment I may have to run in the future, and I was very careful to keep the heat low. When I made this, I actually made the meatballs ahead of time, refrigerated them, made the sauce later in the day and added the meatballs until they were warmed and cooked through. Even though there are a lot of steps (and dishes), nothing is terribly difficult and the results are worth it! Next time, I’ll make the full recipe of meatballs, freeze half and do the sauce as needed. That will save a pan or two.
A special shout-out and thank you to Bob & Edesio who hand carried my signed copy of Nopi back from the UK! Come up and I’ll make the Vine Leaf pie!
While you might think that a gratin has to have cheese, as the Accidental Locavore recently found out, it just means that it is topped with a browned crust. I was making the famous chicken from Judy Rodger’s The Zuni Café Cookbook and came across her recipe for a beef gratin or le Miroton, which she says is a French way to transform leftovers. Having some leftover roast beef, I thought this would be a good alternative to roast beef sandwiches (even on Tartine’s great bread, 2-3 days lunch is enough). Her recipe is per person, I doubled it to serve 2:
- 10 ounces leftover beef from Pot au Feu or short ribs, sliced ¼” thick
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound onions (about 4-5) sliced
- Salt & pepper
- 2 teaspoons flour
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 small ripe tomatoes
For the topping:
- ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Splash of white wine
In a sauté pan that will hold the onions in a ½-1” layer, warm a splash of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and stir once or twice. Cook until they are colored slightly. Salt and stir again. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook until the onions are soft and silky, about 15 minutes.
Sprinkle the onions with the flour, stir and simmer until the juices have thickened. Stir in the broth and cook for a few minutes until you have a syrupy stew. Salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 425°.
Slice off the ends of the tomato and slice ¼” thick. If the tomatoes are really wet, place between paper towels while you’re prepping the gratin.
Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl and toss well.
Construct the gratin. In a shallow gratin pan lightly greased with olive oil, begin with a smear of the onions, then a layer of the meat, slightly overlapping. Spread with a thicker layer of onions, then the tomatoes. Repeat, ending with a Spartan layer of tomatoes. Tamp lightly to encourage the layers to sink into each other. It should be quite moist. If not, add a splash of broth or water. It will thicken during cooking and you want it have enough sauce.
Top with a thin layer of breadcrumbs (depending on the size of your dish, you may not need them all).
Bake until it bubbles at the edges and the topping is golden brown, about 15-30 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: A great way to use any number of leftovers! Judy suggests that instead of the tomatoes, you could use truffles and I almost used some truffle paste I had, but decided not to go overboard. Mushrooms or potatoes would be fine – actually, you could just use whatever was kicking around the fridge. I ended up using red wine with the bread crumbs and other than having pink breadcrumbs, it didn’t seem to make a difference.
Every now and then you need a meatball fix. While the Accidental Locavore loves them in almost every size and configuration, every now and then you just want classic spaghetti and meatballs. I figured that this recipe on the Food52 site from Rao’s had to be pretty much the standard. It makes about 24 meatballs.
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground veal
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- 1/2 small clove garlic, peeled and minced
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- Olive oil, for cooking, about 1 cup
Combine beef, veal, and pork in a large bowl. Add the eggs, cheese, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Using your hands, blend ingredients together. Blend bread crumbs into meat mixture. Slowly add water, 1 cup at a time, until the mixture is quite moist. Shape into 2 ½” balls.
Heat about 1/4” oil in a large sauté pan. When oil is very hot but not smoking, fry meatballs in batches. When the bottom half of the meatball is very brown and slightly crisp, turn and cook top half. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.
After browning them, if you want to cook them in sauce, use your favorite sauce and add the meatballs into the simmering sauce and cook for 15 minutes. Serve alone or with pasta and enjoy!
My verdict: About as good as they get! It seems weird to be adding water when you’re making them, but it does get absorbed and the meatballs were great! Don’t tell anyone, but I probably didn’t have any parsley when I made them and no one complained. The amount of olive oil you’ll need will depend on the size of your pan and be sure not to crowd the meatballs or they’ll never brown. Better off to do them in batches. What’s your go-to meatball recipe?