A box full of when will I have time to cook

WOW, the past two weeks have been hectic, between moving and midterms I’ve had absolutely no time to really cook. Last weekend was the big move day, and of course our CSA box arrived just days before. So while all the fruit was eaten, I still have a shiney new refrigerator of slightly wilted veggies. I wasn’t particularly inspired either, I was tired of chard, and pretty sick of broccoli too. Which brings us to… how to use veggies you’re not wild about, part 1:

Zuccini and Spinach Pasta Bake
Serves 6

  • 2 zucchini
  • two large handfuls of spinach
  • 3 shallots
  • pinch of chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 cups of whole milk
  • 2 Tbls unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbls olive oil
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 pound pasta
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese

First we’ll do a mies en place so you don’t end up like me and run around trying to stir your reducing sauce while hunting for wherever you left those dang shallots. Wash the zucchini and spinach. Grate the zucchini and drain all liquid (mix in some salt and let it sit in a strainer for about 15-20 minutes). Mix the flour, nutmeg, pepper, and chili powder in a small bowl and set aside. Dice the shallots, or just throw them in a food possessor for a few seconds (seriously cutting shallots by hand is one of my least favorite activities, especially when coupled with the word mince).

First, set a pot of water to boil and preheat the over to 425 degrees with a center rack.

In a large sauce pan heat the butter, when completely melted sprinkle in flour mixture and let it cook for about 3 minutes or until it starts bubbling. Pour in the milk and add the thyme, basil and grated lemon. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat, stirring as frequently as possible as avoid the top from creating a film. Continue stirring for about 20 minutes, or just until the sauce has thickened enough to pass the back of a wooden spoon test.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the shallots for about 3 minutes or until they turn translucent. Add the zucchini (squeeze as much water out of the zucchini right before you add it the the pan) and cook for another 5-10 minutes on low heat.

As soon as you start the shallots, pour the pasta into the boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes, or until al dente.

When the cream sauce is done, strain out the bay leaf and thyme and return to the stove on the lowest heat setting. When the pasta is done, drain and wash it and add it to the cream sauce. Next add the zucchini mixture, followed by the cheese (minus about a tbls of each which we will sprinkle on top when all is done). Lastly mix in the spinach.

Transfer the mixture into a baking dish, sprinkle the top with the last of the cheese and bake in the over for about 20 minutes, or until the top gets golden brown. Once it’s done, let it cool for about 10 minutes and then enjoy!


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