I (heart) courgettes on a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

Unbelievably, I haven’t gotten sick of zucchini and summer squash yet this summer. I think I’ve eaten more than usual, but I’ve managed to keep the recipes rolling. Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast has been especially helpful for this as many of the seasonal summer recipes call for squash. But I’m kind of nearing the end of my creativity with summer squash, so I am leveraging my position as organizer of this week’s Gluten Free Menu Swap to try to get all my fellow GF bloggers to feed me their favorite recipes.

Pan-Seared Summer Squash with Garlic and Mint

For those who are unfamiliar, the Gluten Free Menu Swap is a wonderful weekly event organized by Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness. Gluten-free bloggers from all over the net (and the world!) get together to share our menu plans and our inspiration for the week.

This week I have a ton of tomatoes left from my box, four cucumbers (!) and of course a good amount of summer squash as well. I also have a bunch of lettuce I really, really should use up! The rest is kind of up to me as it is a farmer’s market week, rather than a CSA box week. Other considerations are a ton of plans (I hope I even have time to cook!) and a houseguest coming later in the week. I don’t know his tastes (we haven’t seen each other in almost ten years!) so I’ll likely end up switching things around.

Salad rolls with kitchari and tomato relish

For summer squash this week, I’ve got my new favorite summer recipe, Pan-seared summer squash with garlic and mint, plus an eggplant stew with zucchini and chick peas, and Korean noodles with zucchini and kale. I’m eager to see what other squash delights are on the menu this week in the gluten-free blogging world!

And of course don’t forget to check out OrgJunkie for a ginormous round-up of Menu Plan Mondays from all over the world!

Monday
Kitchari (red lentil and quinoa mixture) with tomato-basil relish (I’ll try to post the recipes later this week)
Cucumber salad made with lemon cucumbers and red onion (Fresh Food Fast, 89)

Tuesday
Chana masala (Vegan Express, 99)
Pan-seared summer squash with garlic and mint
Salad of chopped tomato, basil, and cucumber with Annie’s Goddess dressing

Wednesday
Spicy summer bean and chickpea salad with harissa vinaigrette (FFF, 125)
Fresh corn polenta with sauteed cherry tomatoes (FFF, 126)

Thursday
Middle Eastern eggplant, zucchini, and chickpea stew (manazilet badhinjan)
Tomato salad with marinated shallots
Gluten-free pita bread (this is totally overambitious, but I made hot pockets last week, so it could happen…)

Friday
Pasta with spicy vodka sauce, cherry tomatoes, and seasonal veggies
Green salad with citrus dressing

Saturday
leftovers

Sunday
Jap Chae (shiritaki noodles with carrot, zucchini, and kale)
Brown rice
Kim chee

Shopping list: 1 large/2 med ears of corn, 3 pint cherry tomatoes, 1/2 lb green beans, 1/2 lb wax beans, small red onion, med eggplant, 2 med zucchini, other veggies for pasta (whatever looks good), 1 bunch kale

As for my fellow GF menu planners? What tantalizing treats will they be concocting for themselves and their loved ones this week?

Renee of Beyond Rice and Tofu and I wish we were neighbors because we always want to gobble up what the other has planned! This week Renee solves the “what do I do with too many summer squashes” dilemma by just foregoing them entirely, and turning her attention instead to a weeklong feast of spicy tofu, red beans and rice, and two different cucumber salads that sound like summer personified! Renee is headed out of town this week – Bon Voyage!

Wendy at Celiacs in the House gives us some gorgeous farmer’s market eye candy and has frozen a brilliant assortment of summer bounty to keep her going through the winter (jealous! I totally want to do that but I never manage to…). She gets zucchini into a yummy quinoa salad and makes it into ribbons to accompany homemade gnocchi! Pasta salad and kale pizzas also have me salivating and planning a little “neighborly visit” in her direction. Wendy is also headed out of town – Bon Voyage to you as well!

Heather of Celiac Family makes a decadent-sounding chocolate chip zucchini bread (wow!) and likes her zucchini cooked simply, grilled or sauteed. Sounds good to me! Heather takes a trip around the world this week with chicken enchiladas, beef and broccoli stir fry, and a new recipe for lamb chops with garlic mashed potatoes. She also has sweet potato fries planned, which are one of my very favorite foods. I haven’t had them in ages – looks like Tuesday I’ll be popping by Heather’s house just to see how her week is going (and snag a few fries…).

Review of Fresh Food Fast by Peter Berley

Recently I went on a research spree to find “quick and easy” vegan cookbooks, in an attempt to have at least some of my meals not take 2 hours to prepare. I’ve been slowly trying to review them here and post the results of my research. Somehow in my explorations I came across Peter Berley’s cookbook, Fresh Food Fast. It’s vegetarian, not vegan, but when I read the description I knew I needed to check it out from the library. FFF is arranged by season, and then within each season by menu. Each menu contains two dishes that are meant to be made together, and is preceded by a shopping list, pantry list, equipment list, and “game plan” for how to time the steps in order to prepare the two dishes in the most efficient way possible. Each menu is meant to take under an hour. At the end of the seasonal section there are additional recipes for desserts.

Three Sisters Stew with Arepa stuffed with vegan cream cheese

Out of the twelve summer menus, there were eight that I could easily prepare, some using substitutes, as both vegan and gluten-free. That’s a pretty good ratio for a vegetarian cookbook and way better than I usually get with an omnivore cookbook. Eight out of ten summer desserts could also be made vegan and gluten-free. The five menus I’ve prepared so far have each taken over an hour, but just barely in most cases. And having the shopping list and game plan truly were helpful in taking some of stress off of meal preparation, which can be every bit as flustering as the time things take.

Pizza with Olives, Cheezly, and Chopped Salad, with Pan-Seared Zucchini (and Impressionist Cauliflower)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the menus are impeccably seasonal. Every single produce item called for has been available at the farmer’s market. This means a LOT of recipes featuring corn, zucchini, and tomatoes. Which did get a little boring. But I do like eating seasonally, and that’s what’s in season right now. Of the ten dishes I made (in five menus plus one dessert), seven were excellent and two were definitely not keepers and not worth the time and energy it took to make them. But again, that seems like a pretty good ratio to me.

Thai-Style Tofu and Veggies in Spicy Coconut Broth

The menus I’ve made so far are: Black Bean and Zucchini Quesadillas with Chipotle Salsa + Chilled Cucumber Mint Soup; Warm Green Beans with New Potatoes and Grilled Onions (to which I added lemon-pepper tofu to sub for the hard boiled eggs); Three Sisters Stew with Okra and Leeks + Arepas: Pan-grilled Colombian Corn Cakes; Asian Cucumber Salad + Thai-Style Tofu and Vegetables in Spicy Coconut Broth with Jasmine Rice; Pita Pizza with Olives, Monterey Jack, and Chopped Salad + Pan-Seared Summer Squash with Garlic and Mint.

Asian Cucumber Salad

The arepas were absolutely incredible and have now become a staple. They are so easy and quick and really provide that “hot and satisfying” feeling that can be difficult to find with ease from vegan, gluten-free food. The three sisters stew was delicious, as was the Thai tofu and the cucumber salad. The pizza topped with chopped salad sounded so odd, but was incredible! It was a bit less convenient for me because I couldn’t make it on a pita base, but luckily I had a prebaked GF pizza crust on hand. I don’t really care much for dessert, but I wanted to check out at least one, so I also made roasted nectarines with cinnamon labneh which I made from soy yogurt and that was truly divine. On the other hand, the zucchini quesadillas were really bland, and the green beans and new potatoes were kind of a boring mush that took an inordinately long time to make. The cucumber soup was tasty but I’m not that into cold soups so I don’t think I would make it again.

Warm Green Beans, New Potatoes, and Grilled Red Onions (with corn and lemon-pepper tempeh croutons)

Overall, I think this is a very solid cookbook. For a vegetarian I think it would be even more of a treasure-trove. The layout is beautiful and the pictures are lovely and the way the cookbook is arranged is very functional. I like the “don’t think, I’m guiding you through this” aspect of the book as well. However, not every recipe was a solid winner, and not every recipe could be made vegan, so that does cut down on the awesomeness-factor somewhat for me.

Pan-Seared Summer Squash with Garlic and Mint

Here’s a tasty preview of the book – one of my very favorite recipes and one I’m sure I’ll be making again and again.

Pan-seared Summer Squash With Garlic and Mint
(recipe directly from Fresh Food Fast by Peter Berley)
Yields: 4 servings
2 lbs summer squash, sliced 1/2 inch thick (he means lengthwise – if I had grokked this it would have save a lot of time!)
2 T. freshly squeeze lemon juice
2 T. fresh mint, torn into pieces
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 t. coarse sea salt or kosher salt, plus add’l to taste
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly milled black pepper

1. Warm a large heavy skillet, griddle, or grill pan over medium heat. Arrange the squash in a single layer and sear until speckled with brown and beginning to blacken, about 5 minutes more. (You don’t need any oil for this process, at least I didn’t in my seasoned cast iron pan.) Flip the squash and cook for 4-5 minutes more. Repeat with remaining squash.

2. In a serving bowl, combine the lemon juice, mint, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes and let marinate for 5 minutes. Whisk in the oil. (I actually did this in a small bowl so I could pour it over the squash rather than adding the squash to the sauce. Just personal preference.)

3. Transfer the seared squash to the bowl, toss to coat with the dressing, and let rest for about 5 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper and serve.

This is delicious hot or cold!