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August 2007 Issue
Layering Foods
by Philip R. Gantt
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Welcome to Seasoned Cooking and to Phil's International Flair!

As I write this I'm preparing for another adventure to Alaska. I'm looking forward to the trip, and hopefully I'll bring back some new recipes along with the salmon I'll be catching.

My garden this year is doing well. The peas are flowering and the sunflowers are over 10 feet tall and they aren't even flowering yet! The seed packet said they were only supposed to grow 6 to 8 feet tall. Maybe it's the fish fertilizer I use. The corn is showing silk and should be ready to pick when I get back from Alaska. In the meantime I've been harvesting an abundance of zucchini and a bit of fresh basil and oregano.

When the garden produces so many zucchini, one needs to come up with innovative ways to prepare the squash so that people don't get bored eating the same thing every day. I came up with the recipe below to try something new and it came out very good. If you have a garden, give this a try.

In the meantime, I wanted to discuss layering foods. Layering is a basic technique that can turn an ordinary meal into a gourmet meal. You might ask: What is layering?

To answer, layering is simply placing one item on top of another. For a simple example, one might put sauce and meatballs on top of pasta, and then top it with cheese and chopped basil leaves. Another example might be to place a stir fry dish on top of rice or crispy noodles. Lasagna is prepared in layers as well.

Layering accomplishes several things. The first, of course, is improved appearance. The second is diversity or blending of textures. The third is blending or contrast of flavors.

When I made the recipe below, I actually served the zucchini on top of a bed of buttered pasta mixed with chopped basil and spooned the extra sauce around the pasta on the serving plates. The dish looked nice and was tasty. In essence, the dish became a complete meal with starch, vegetables and a little bit of meat. The layering made for an impressive presentation. If you leave out the pepperoni and use olives instead, this would be a vegetarian dish.

Now, on to the recipe! Be well, and good eating!

 

Zucchini Pizza

This is a simple dish and a great way to serve fresh zucchini. Begin by slicing the zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds to form a small cavity. Then heat the sauce and prepare as follows:
  • 4 zucchini, sliced lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 2 small cans tomato sauce
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Madeira wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mozzarella cheese, grated
  • Pepperoni, olives or other toppings
  • Olive oil
Heat the tomato sauce and paste in a small pot over medium heat until hot. Add the spices, wine and garlic. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should be somewhat thick.

Place each of the zucchini in a baking dish and spoon some of the sauce into the cavity where the seeds were scooped out. Top with grated cheese and place sliced pepperoni or olives on top. Drizzle with olive oil. Place in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 12 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown. The zucchini should still be firm and not mushy. A knife is a useful tool to cut the zucchini once it is served.

As a suggestion, serve these zucchini pizzas over cooked and buttered spaghetti noodles mixed with freshly chopped basil or parsley. Melting butter on the noodles when they are hot will prevent them from sticking and make serving easier. Adding herbs, like chopped parsley or basil will not only add color, but flavor as well. Spoon any extra sauce around the noodles. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or basil. Delicious!

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes
 



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