Posts tagged ‘zucchini’

Roasted Vegetable & Pesto Pizza

I’m writing this post from my new desk at my mom’s office, where I’m helping out for the next few weeks.

It’s interesting to be working again. I haven’t worked full time in quite awhile now. I’m finding it difficult to fit in my workouts, cooking, and of course, blogging!
I got up  at 6:30 am yesterday morning, and did my workout before work, and today I got up at the same time and went to swim laps. 6:30 am wasn’t too bad for lap swimming really, as Hisa and I usually get up at 7 am, so it wasn’t that much of a difference. The main difference was I had to swim faster than usual, and I had to keep checking to clock to make sure we left in time, so I would have plenty of time to get ready when we got home.

Anyway, enough talk!
On to the pizza!

This is a great vegetarian pizza that’s a nice change from your regular tomato sauce pizza. Instead of tomato sauce, I used pesto as the base sauce on the pizza crust. Then I spread the shredded cheese over that, and roasted zucchini, onion, and green bell pepper on top.

You can make your own pesto in a food processor (which I really want to do, but have yet to try!), or just use the stuff in a jar like you buy in the grocery store.
You can also make the crust ahead of time and keep it in the fridge, and then stick it in the fridge 24 hours before you’ll need it. Pizza crust is pretty forgiving stuff. And tasty too. 🙂

I used a pizza stone to bake this. If you use a pizza stone (and I highly recommend you do, but it isn’t necessary), stick it in your pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes before you bake your pizza. This will get the stone really hot, bake your pizza fast, and make your pizza crust wonderful! Basically, the hot stone mimics the hot bricks that bake the pizza in a brick pizza oven.
You don’t have to use a pizza stone for this. If you don’t have one, you can bake your pizza on a regular baking sheet. Pizza stones aren’t expensive though, so I recommend trying one out. 🙂

Roasted Vegetable & Pesto Pizza

(makes 2 round pizzas or 1 large rectangle pizza)

For the crust:

  • 2 1/4 tsp. dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. warm water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. corn meal
  • 2 1/2 – 3 c. bread flour

For the pizza toppings:

  • 1/2 c. pesto
  • 2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese (or whatever cheese you like on your pizza)
  • 1 green zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° F (200° C).
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in water. Let sit for 10 min.
  3. Add salt and oil, then stir in corn meal and 2 c. bread flour.
  4. Turn out dough onto a floured surface. Knead, adding flour until smooth and elastic.
  5. Place dough into a well oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour, or until double in size.
  6. Place sliced zucchini, onion, and pepper, in a greased baking sheet. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the vegetables. Bake for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Remove from oven.
  7. Punch down dough, roll out dough into 2 round crusts or 1 large crust. Place in an oiled baking sheet and let rise 10 – 20 minutes.
  8. Pre-heat oven to 425° F (220° C). If using pizza stone, place dry stone in oven to heat up for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove pizza stone from oven. Carefully place rolled out pizza dough on stone. Spread pesto on pizza crust. Sprinkle cheese on top of that, and then place the roasted vegetables on top of that.
  10. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until pizza crust is golden brown.
  11. Remove from oven, cut into slices with a pizza cutter, and serve immediately.




April 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm Leave a comment

Grilled Veggie and Pesto Sandwiches

It’s been unusually warm here in Oklahoma lately.

Well, actually yesterday and today have been a little cooler, and by that I mean more along the lines of normal April weather (temps in the 70’s).

Last week, the high temperatures were generally in the 80’s, and on Sunday it even got into the 90’s. Very weird for the end of March, beginning of April, no?

At our house, we just with it. Preview of summer? Okay then! Let’s crank the A/C and fire up the grill! And fire up the grill I did.

I wanted something quick, healthy, and tasty that wouldn’t heat up the kitchen any more than necessary. Grilling is great when it’s hot for that very reason. It’s usually easy, often tasty, and it won’t heat up your kitchen at all (unless for some odd reason your grill is in your kitchen, which is probably a huge safety no no, and generally just a bad idea).

I decided to make grilled veggie sandwiches on ciabatta rolls, which ended up being really really good. For my vegetables, I grilled sliced onion, bell pepper, zucchini, and eggplant (but feel free to use whatever you like). I cut the ciabatta rolls in half, buttered them, and toasted them on the grill as well. To serve them, I put pesto and mayonnaise on the rolls, some of the grilled veggies, and mozzarella cheese (again, use whatever cheese you want/have).

These were really simple and fast, but oh so good! I will definitely be making these throughout the summer!

 Serve them with your favorite salad or vegetable. Cole slaw and grilled corn on the cob come to mind.
After 4 years of not being able to have a grill in Japan, I’m looking forward to grilling everything I can this summer! Bring it on!

Grilled Veggie and Pesto Sandwiches

(serves 5 – 7)

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • ciabatta rolls
  • butter
  • pesto
  • mayonnaise
  • mozzarella cheese (or any sliced cheese of your choice)
  1. Heat up grill on high for a few minutes, then lower heat to medium.
  2. Slice eggplant and zucchini. Chop onion and green bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill vegetables until tender, flipping eggplant and zucchini slices once, and stirring onion and bell pepper around. Remove to a serving plate.
  4. Cut ciabatta rolls in half, and butter each half lightly. Grill, buttered side down, until slightly brown and toasted. Remove to a serving plate.
  5. To serve, spread pesto and mayonnaise on ciabatta rolls. Place grilled veggies and sliced cheese between rolls halves and enjoy.

April 5, 2012 at 8:58 am Leave a comment

Tuna Veggie Patties

In a little bit, my husband and I will be heading off to his parents’ place for a week.

But instead of packing like I should be, I thought I would post something for you! 😀

I made these the other night for dinner, and they were a nice change from our regular tuna patties.


Using a grater, grate half a large carrot (or one whole small carrot) into a large bowl.


Grate half a zucchini into the bowl. If you’ve never grated vegetables, do not be alarmed. It’s quite easy. If you have a food processor with some sort of grating attachment then I’m going to steal it from you lucky you!

Lightly sprinkle some salt on the grated veggies, scoop them into a colander, and let the excess water drain.


Meanwhile, chop up and boil two medium potatoes (or one big potato). When they’re done, drain and mash them.


Put the grated veggies back into the bowl with the mashed potato and half a grated onion. Mix everything up. Go ahead, use your hands. Embrace your inner child.


Add two cans of drained tuna, and mix again.

Not pictured because I’m a dork: Add a dash of salt and pepper, 1/2 tsp. onion powder and garlic powder, 2 tsp. dried dill, 1 egg, and one cup of bread crumbs. If the mixture is too liquidy, you can add more bread crumbs.


Heat a little olive oil or butter in a pan over medium heat. Form the tuna mixture into patties (once again using your hands, and embracing your inner child) and place in the pan. Cook on each side for about 5 minutes or until browned.


Serve and enjoy! These are good by themselves, but they also go well with tartar sauce.


I served the tuna patties with braised spinach and onions and chilled kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) soup.


Tuna & Veggie Patties (serves 3 – 4)

  • 1/2 large carrot
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 2 medium-small potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 cans tuna, drained
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. dried dill weed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  1. Grate the carrot and zucchini and place in a colander. Sprinkle lightly with salt and set aside to let excess water drain.
  2. Meanwhile, boil the cubed potatoes. When soft, drain and mash.
  3. Grate onion into a large bowl. Add the mashed potato, the carrot and zucchini, and the drained tuna. Mix well.
  4. Add a dash of salt and pepper (to taste), onion powder, garlic powder, dill week, egg, and bread crumbs. Mix well. If mixture is too moist, add some more bread crumbs.
  5. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Form patties with the tuna mixture, and place in the skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until browned. Serve.


Okay! I have to go pack now! Have a good week everyone!


August 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm 1 comment

Fettuccine & Zucchini Carbonara

Continuing on with the tale of our Tokyo adventures over the weekend, after Hisa and I finished enjoying our tour of the Yebisu beer museum, we found a lovely Thai restaurant for lunch. I love love love Thai food, but unfortunately, there’s only one Thai restaurant in the city we live in, and the food is a bit sketchy if you ask me, so we don’t usually get to eat Thai food all that much unless we make it ourselves.

In the afternoon we looked around little clothes shops and stores, found a really cool Italian market/restaurant where we enjoyed sampling delicious cheeses, and indulged in gelato and Italian coffee.

Later in the afternoon, we eventually checked into our hotel, rested a bit, and then left to meet up with some friends for dinner in Shinjuku.

I think we probably picked the worst possible day and area of Shinjuku to meet at, because when Hisa and I got to the East exit of Shinjuku station where we’d agreed to meet, it was total chaos. There was an anti-nuclear energy demonstration going on, so there were a huge number of people participating in that, and generally making a deafening amount of noise (think whistles, drums, and shouting). Because of the demonstration, there were about a hundred police officers running around trying to keep things under control. On top of all that, well, Shinjuku station is simply one of the most crowded train stations in Tokyo, so there’s always a lot of people.

After some confusion and frantic text messaging (it was too loud to call), we finally all found each other and left to go eat as quickly as possible.

We ended up going to two different izakaya (Japanese pubs), and had a generally great time.

Don’t we look like we’re having fun? Hisa and I were actually in the middle of laughing about something when this was taken.

Hisa and I ended up heading back to our hotel after midnight. We caught the last train, so we barely made it really. I think it was after one by the time we both collapsed into bed, but it was definitely a fun day.

I’ll tell about what we did on Sunday tomorrow. I know you’re so excited to hear about it right? Right…?

*        *        *

Although it doesn’t seem to be all that popular in the U.S. (at least not in the South West), carbonara is super popular here in Japan. On the flip side, I’ve never seen any pasta dish with alfredo sauce here, so there you go. Both are a delicious treat once and a while, but any more than that and your waist line will grow to hate you.

I made fettuccine & zucchini carbonara for dinner last week, and it was great! Now, if you’re Italian or an Italian food purist, you may cringe at this recipe, because authentic carbonara sauce does not have cream in it. All of it’s creaminess comes from adding whisked eggs to the dish right before serving. I’ve tried making carbonara sauce with only eggs and no cream, but no matter how much I try and let everything cool, my eggs always end up getting lumpy.

So, I decided to throw purist notions to the wind and make this carbonara sauce with cream and eggs. Lovely.

I found this recipe on Jamie Oliver’s website that has both cream and eggs in the sauce, so I decided to try it out, and I loved it. I love Jamie Oliver. He’s so down to earth and laid back, but extremely sincere and passionate at the same time. Oh yeah, and his recipes are really good too, hehe. But I digress.

So here’s my take on Jamie’s Courgette Carbonara recipe. Oh, and if you’re confused by this, courgette is the same thing as zucchini. Zucchini is the Italian word, and courgette is the French word. Interestingly, while we use zucchini in the U.S., they use courgette in the U.K. Interesting, no?

Fettuccine & Zucchini Carbonara (serves 2)

  • fettuccine for two people (use your own good judgment here)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 – 3 slices thick bacon, diced
  • 1/4 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 zucchini (green, yellow, pick your favorite)
  • 1 c. good quality cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Put a pot of salted water on to boil. Cook fettuccine according to package instructions.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook for 2 minutes. Add onion, zucchini and garlic, and continue cooking for another 3 – 4 minutes. Turn off heat.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cream and egg yolks and whisk together. Add a little pasta water and whisk together. Gradually pour mixture into the pan with the bacon mixture while stirring. Once mixed, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the fettuccine to the pan with the sauce and mix until the fettuccine is well coated. Dive everything between two plates, garnish with some grated parmesan cheese (optional), and serve immediately.

God I love Italian food.



June 14, 2011 at 12:16 pm 2 comments

Ratatouille, a dish for all veggies (unless you’re Julia Child or a talking mouse)

My closet smells like syrup.

I’ve thought this ever since we moved into our current apartment, over two years ago.

Hisa swears he can’t smell it though. It’s just me. And we keep our closet open all the time, so it’s not like our closet isn’t being aired out all the time.

Not that I’m complaining, because who doesn’t like the smell of syrup, right? Syrup reminds me of pancakes, and pancakes make me feel all warm and happy inside. Almost every time I go to my closet to get something I end up thinking, “Mmmm, pancakes…”.

That would make a great air freshener don’t you think? If you had a syrup air freshener in your closet, you could feel warm and happy every time you went to your closet like me! And if you were really lucky, it would even make your clothes smell like syrup, so all day the people around you would end up feeling warm and happy (Either that or they would randomly start licking your clothes and nibbling on you *cough*)! I smell a business franchise here…

I think perhaps I shall never solve the mystery of why my closet smells like syrup, and why I’m the only one that can smell it, but at least in provides incentive to make pancakes for breakfast every weekend.

Mmmmm, pancakes…

*        *        *

I don’t recall ever having ratatouille before until my husband made it for dinner a couple of years ago. Since then I’ve been hooked. I love the combination of vegetables and the burst of flavor you get from each of them. It’s great to use fresh summer vegetables for, but I usually end up making it all year round with whatever fresh veggies I can get.

That’s another great thing about ratatouille, there are no rules really (unless you’re a French chef, Julia Child, or a talking mouse that is). There are traditional ingredients like tomatoes, eggplant, onion, garlic, zucchini, and bell peppers, but you don’t have to adhere exactly to that. You can put in whatever fresh veggies you want.

The key word here is fresh. Don’t put in anything frozen or canned (besides tomatoes). Just don’t. It’ll hurt me and it’ll hurt you, and we don’t want that. Listen to your inner Julia Child/talking mouse and use fresh veggies.

A lot of people also argue about the proper technique for cooking ratatouille. Some say you should individually cook each vegetable before adding it to the pot. Some say you should layer all the vegetables. Some say you should bake it. Some say not. Some say you should just throw it all in a pot at once and be done with it.

I say. Choose whatever method floats your boat, because it’ll probably taste fine whichever you choose.

I like to saute the veggies individually before adding them to the pot. I think it brings out the flavor of the individual veggies more, but that’s just me. If you prefer to just throw all the veggies in the pot then power to ya.

Also, you don’t really need a whole lot of seasoning for this dish. The star of the dish should be the flavors of the fresh veggies, not the seasoning. I usually just add a little basil and oregano, and then salt and pepper to taste. That’s why it’s so important to use fresh, in season vegetables.

So here’s my ratatouille recipe. Again, feel free to substitute vegetables. For example, it’s really hard to find zucchini in Japan, so I don’t usually include it. I even left out the eggplant once when all the grocery stores in my vicinity were mysteriously out of eggplant. Other veggies I’ve used before include asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, and yellow squash. Go with the flow (and season). And use fresh veggies.

Ratatouille (serves 2)

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 c. fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 eggplant (or about 5 Japanese eggplants), halved, quartered, and sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper (2 – 3 Japanese piiman), chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 2 whole tomatoes diced (or one can diced tomatoes – this is the only non-fresh veggie I think it’s okay to fudge on)
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil (or handful fresh basil, chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano (or handful fresh oregano, chopped)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat about two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about two minutes. Add garlic and cook for about one minute. Turn heat down to low/med-low.
  2. In a separate skillet, heat another tablespoon of olive oil. Saute each remaining vegetable separately (except the tomatoes) over med-high heat for 3 – 4 minutes. You want the vegetables to get slightly browned, but not lose their crispness. After sauteing each vegetable, add it to the pot with the onion and garlic.
  3. Add the tomatoes, basil, oregano, and bay leaves to the pot, and mix. Raise heat back to medium and cook until vegetables tender, about ten minutes. Remove bay leaves, season with salt and pepper, and serve with fresh bread.

May 19, 2011 at 9:40 am 3 comments

About Me

My name is Rachel. I'm a small-town girl born and raised in Oklahoma, currently living in Japan, who likes cooking, baking, reading, working out, and traveling. Join me in my culinary adventures, my domestic doings, and the story of my life, one day at a time.

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