August 27, 2006

Dinner Party - August 26, 2006.

Last night my father and his wife were over for dinner. I love being able to base my menu on the things that I can take from my garden. I was able to use - zucchini, tomatoes, parsley, basil, oregano, and lavender. I also cut a few flowers from the Butterfly Bush for the table.

The menu last night included:

Sliced Beefsteak Tomatoes with Vinaigrette, Parmesan and Parsley

Zucchini Stuffed with Sausage and Brown Rice (recipe below)

Grilled Zucchini and Chickpea Salad with sundried Tomatoes and Asiago Cheese (original has tortellini)

Spicy Thai Mussels

Grilled Tequila Pineapple with Vanilla Ice Cream and Toasted Coconut

In my opinion it all turned out really well. I would maybe order only 2 lbs of mussels instead of 3 next time, but that is about it. Lots of flavour and fresh ingredients - YUM!

The mussel recipe was taken from and the salad from .

My recipe for stuffed zucchini came from us having too many of them lying around. My mother-in-law told me about a recipe that she saw, but I figured I could make one up just as well.
Please note that when I am cooking I rarely measure things so these are approximations. Tweak the recipe to your liking.

** When using canned tomatoes always buy whole ones and then chop or squish them to your desired size or texture. The best quality tomatoes are canned whole and the ones that are chopped or minced are like the fish they serve at restaurants on Monday - yucky!

Danielle's Savoury Stuffed Zucchini

2 large zucchini

1c small dice mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery)
1 T minced garlic
1 T olive oil
1T chili flakes
3 mild-medium Italian Sausage links
3 T fresh basil, chopped or 1T dried basil
1 c partially cooked brown rice
1 regular can whole tomatoes or 3 large tomatoes, chopped + 1/2 c water

1/2 c shaved Pecorino or Parmesan

1. Slice the zucchini in half length-wise and scoop out all the seeds. Set aside.

2. Saute the mirepoix and garlic in a pan with the olive oil and S&P (to taste) until soft, about 7-8 minutes. Add chili flakes and saute 1 more minute.

3. Remove the sausage from the casing and add to the pan. Saute until the meat is cooked through, breaking it into smaller pieces as you go.

4. Stir in basil, brown rice and tomatoes. If you are taking the tomatoes from a can, crush them in your fingers before adding them to the pan. Make sure everything in thoroughly mixed in and then leave the mixture on simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated - about 25 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

6. Allow the sausage mixture to cool slightly and then fill the zucchini with the mixture. Place them in a glass pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake them in the oven (covered) for about 20 minutes. Then uncover them and allow to bake for another 10 minutes.

7. When complete, serve stuffed zucchini with shaved cheese on top.

Makes approach. 4 servings.

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