Fresh garden veggies are what summer is made for. Eating fresh and in season not only tastes amazing but is so enjoyable.
I’m sure everyone is well acquainted with the zucchini ‘boat‘ idea. Basically zucchini sliced in half lengthwise, hollowed out and filled with whatever you choose. I think incorporating the zucchini you scoop out into the filling is a good idea. This versatile veggie takes on the flavor of whatever your cooking, so the possibilities are endless.
For this recipe, I’m keeping it simple and filled the zucchini boats with rice and succulent pieces of marinated shrimp then topped them with parmesan cheese. I find the best zucchini to use is a medium size, about 8-10 inches in length. Zucchini that is smaller than that really tastes the best but should be saved for other recipes because their not big or sturdy enough to hold the filling. Those super large zucchinis are best for grating to add to baked goods like bread and muffins.
It seems like just about the time you think you made everything possible with this veggie, one more idea pops up. Yay zucchini!
Shrimp Zucchini Boats
In a container with a lid, place cleaned shrimp & remaining marinade ingredients. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Cook rice in chicken broth until tender.
Slice zucchinis in half lengthwise; scoop out centers, leaving 1/8-inch thick shells. Place in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
Chop zucchini flesh that was scooped out of centers. In a large skillet, melt butter; add chopped zucchini & sauté until tender crisp. Remove from heat & add cooked rice, garlic powder & some of the parmesan.
Fill hollowed shells with rice mixture. Drain shrimp & place on top of rice mixture. Drizzle marinade over top of shrimp boats. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until shrimp is cooked & zucchini is tender crisp.
Scallops are beloved by pretty much everyone who can eat them …. they’re tender, sweet and taste ever so slightly of the sea. Being not only expensive and easy to overcook, scallops are often considered restaurant only fare.
Wild scallops feed by filtering microscopic plankton from the water. They are hand shucked immediately and frozen at sea to capture their fresh sweet flavor.
Pan-seared scallops pair well with bright, tangy flavors that contrast their meaty sweetness or in creamy dishes that emphasize their richness.
One of my go-to ‘sauces’ that I’ve used on numerous occasions on the blog, contains hot red pepper jelly. I’ve added a raspberry preserve to the jelly for a new twist on the flavor this time. The parmesan risotto brings it all together, definitely making this meal a ‘keeper’.
Pan-Seared Scallops w/ Spicy Raspberry Sauce
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook & stir diced bacon until browned, about 5-10 minutes. Drain the bacon & reserve.
In the skillet, melt the butter & sauté onion & garlic for about 4 minutes until soft & translucent. Add the rice & mix well until it is fully coated with the butter.
Pour in 1/2 cup of the broth & lemon/lime juice. Once the rice has absorbed all the liquid, turn heat to medium low. Add one cup of broth & continuously stir until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat, one cup at a time, with the remaining broth. This will take about 20-25 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup water & take the pan off the heat once risotto is at your desired consistency. Add the parmesan cheese, reserved bacon & parsley; stir to combine. Add salt & pepper to taste.
In a food processor, puree ingredients for sauce & set aside.
Thaw scallops as directed on package. Rinse & pat dry with paper towels; season with salt & pepper. Add oil & butter to a non-stick skillet & heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Sauté scallops by turning over once until browned & just cooked through, 4-6 minutes total.
Serve over a bed of parmesan risotto & drizzle with sauce.
- Of course, if you live where you have access to fresh scallops, your in a whole different class!!
Thanks for the memories! This phrase says it all when I think back to the wonderful time we spent in France. Although this holiday is now 20 years past, the memories remain very vivid and special.
My sister, Loretta had joined Brion & I on this French vacation which had made it even more special. Our journey began in Paris where we had rented a car, then travelled south (about 613 km/380 miles) to the sleepy little village of St Thibery. For this segment of our trip we had rented an apartment to use as ‘home base’ during our time in this part of France. Many of these houses are from the 14th,15th & 17th century. The apartment was quaint but adequate even having a roof top patio.
St Thibery is situated between the larger towns of Agde & Pezenas and is just a short distance from the Mediterranean Sea. On one of our day trips we visited the town of Agde. It is one of the oldest towns in France and is captivating by its maze of narrow streets. Agde was built of black basalt from a volcanic eruption thus the black color of its buildings.
It was here we discovered a nice restaurant where we enjoyed some classic French steamed mussels. It would be an understatement to say how much the three of us enjoyed this feast of fresh seafood.
During the time we spent in the area, we made the 20 minute drive from St Thibery to Agde just to have some more mussels on numerous evenings.
Brion & I decided to revisit the taste of those ‘French’ mussels today with our supper meal. Of course, nothing compares to the ‘taste of a memory’!
French Mussels w/ Bacon & Leek Risotto
Bring vegetable broth to a boil in a saucepan, then turn heat to low & keep at a simmer.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add bacon & sauté until crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain & set aside.
Remove all but 2 Tbsp bacon drippings from skillet (add extra olive oil if necessary to equal 2 Tbsp) then add leeks, mushrooms & shallot. Turn heat up to medium-high; season with salt & pepper. Sauté until vegetables are tender & starting to turn golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Add garlic & sauté for 1 minute. Add rice; stir to coat & cook for 1 more minute.
Turn heat back to medium; add wine & stir until absorbed by rice. Add hot vegetable broth; stir near constantly until rice is tender & all the broth is absorbed, about 25 minutes. If broth gets to a hard boil, turn heat down. Remove skillet from heat; stir in thyme, parmesan cheese & cooked bacon. Keep warm until mussels are ready.
Heat olive oil & butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Sauté the onion & garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the mussels, wine, cream, butter & parsley. Season well with salt & pepper to taste.
Mix well, cover pot with a lid & cook until mussels are cooked through & opened, about 12-15 minutes.
Serve mussels along with the juices in the pan with risotto & crusty or garlic bread.
Rice has always been a staple at our house. I think Brion could eat rice almost everyday without problem. Although the steamed long grain would be his favorite, I can’t resist making a risotto periodically.
A properly cooked risotto should form a soft, creamy mound on a dinner plate. It shouldn’t run across the plate, nor should it be stiff and gluey.
Risotto’s signature tenderness is traditionally achieved by slowly adding spoonfuls of liquid while the rice cooks. This shortcut version eliminates most of the stove top stirring, but produces equally silky results.
Chicken & Mushroom Risotto
Heat 1 tsp oil in a LARGE POT or DEEP SKILLET over high heat. Add bacon & cook until golden. Transfer to a small microwave-proof bowl.
Leave about 1 Tbsp bacon drippings in pot & discard the rest. Add chicken & cook until browned through. Transfer to a separate bowl. Add mushrooms & cook until light golden. Add to bowl with chicken.
Turn heat down to medium & return pot to the stove. Add butter & melt; then add garlic & onion. Saute for 3 minutes or until softened. Turn up heat, add rice & stir until grains become partially translucent, about 1 minute (do NOT overcook).
Add wine & cook, scraping the bottom of the pot to get any brown bits, about 2 minutes. Turn down heat to medium-low; add about 3 cups of chicken stock. Leave, uncovered, stirring just once or twice, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Check firmness of rice & add 1/2 cup of broth at a time, stirring in between until absorbed & rice is cooked to YOUR taste. Add the chicken & mushrooms back into the risotto towards the end, just to heat through. Right at the end when the risotto is ready, add a 'splash' more chicken broth to make the risotto slightly soupy, then take it off the stove.
Add butter & Parmesan cheese, then stir vigorously (this will activate the starch & make it super creamy). Serve immediately. Garnish with reheated bacon & extra Parmesan if you wish.
- Risotto is best made with Arborio rice which is starchier than other types of rice, making it essential to achieve a creamy risotto.
- In order to use this 'no stir' method of cooking risotto, you MUST use a large pot or deep skillet so the rice & liquid is spread out & not too deep.
With Easter coming up real soon, why not bake something different this year or should I say, different for me. Swiss Rice Tart has a custard type filling made with rice, eggs, milk, citrusy lemon zest, ground almonds all baked in a sweet, crunchy pastry. Traditionally only served during Easter time in Switzerland, it is a wonderful non-fussy and unusual brunch dish/dessert item.
It took a bit of time to try and learn some history of this Easter specialty. It seems that the first available recipes for a similar tart are from the end of the 16th century. In a cookbook by Anna Wecker, (the first German cookbook to be published by a woman) there was mention of a similar tart. In some of the early recipes, Parmesan cheese was included in the dough but this was abandoned for a sweeter crust. Another version used bread as a starchy filling instead of rice or semolina and the flavoring was rosewater and wine. By the 19th century, the tart, as it is known today, made its way into the rotation of most Swiss bakeries.
The key to getting the right consistency for the filling is to slightly overcook the rice from the beginning as it needs to to become smooth and creamy. The ground almonds, amaretto liqueur and raisins all add richness to the flavor of this ‘rice pudding baked in a crust’.
Swiss Easter Rice Tart
In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, salt & baking powder to blend. Add butter & pulse about 3-4 times, until butter is in pea- size pieces. Sprinkle in the ice water; pulse another 4 times. Turn dough out on a lightly floured work surface & knead gently a few times to form a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap & refrigerate at least an hour.
In a small bowl, combine amaretto liqueur & raisins & allow to marinate until ready to add to filling.
In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in rice, lower heat to medium & cook until rice is soft & water is absorbed. Add evaporated milk, skim milk, butter, sugar & salt. Bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to low & add amaretto liqueur ONLY, setting raisins aside.
Simmer until mixture has thickened almost to a 'risotto' consistency, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat & place the saucepan in a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes to cool mixture.
Preheat oven to 350 F. & place oven rack in the lowest position. When cooled, pour rice mixture into a bowl; add lemon zest & raisins. Mix ground almonds with the 1 Tbsp flour & fold into mixture along with eggs.
Press chilled pastry evenly into tart pan. Trim edges flush with pan. Pour filling into pastry dough & bake about 35 minutes, until filling is set & golden. Cool on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar & almond slices (create a design if you wish) before serving.
- This recipe was adapted from a site called cuisine Switzerland.
- I had used a 10-inch tart pan for mine but there was a small amount of filling left over which had to be baked in a casserole dish.
- I would suggest using a 10-inch spring form pan instead so the pastry sides could be higher to accommodate the extra filling.