back to basics: simple zucchini & tomatoes with walnut pesto

a simple dish, a small compromise, and a most beautiful october sunset over the ocean:

La Jolla fall sunsets

in preparation and anticipation of the fast approaching holiday season with all the glorious food consumption it entails (it’s bad! already can’t stop thinking about what sides and pies to serve this thanksgiving) i’ve made the decision to feed us a lighter, simpler, and predominantly vegetarian diet for the next few weeks. after a few nights of different vegetable soups and a nice salad nicoise, it was time for a non liquid meal on the warmer side. lately i’ve been trying to cook with what i have as opposed to shopping for specific recipes, so i wanted to use the beautiful light green zucchinis i had picked up at the farmers market along with a large sweet onion, tomatoes (always abundant in my kitchen), garlic, and fresh basil. the plan was to serve the dish with yogurt and flat bread, sort of in line with a persian “borani kadoo”, but i realized i had a slight problem.

cooking minette's zucchini with tomatoes & pestowe have a dear visitor staying with us, and he doesn’t  like garlic at all, nor basil, for that matter. the dish would survive without the garlic, but my basil was starting to become slightly wilted and had to be used: pesto! dinner would be a simple “borani” (a typical persian appetizer served with yogurt) with an optional drizzle of lemony walnut pesto. everyone was happy. oh, and the sunset picture? i just had to share the magical moment i snapped with my phone a few nights ago-there are few things more beautiful than the special light of an autumn sunset over the pacific!

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                                          for 4 servings:

  • 4-6 light green zucchinis (peeled or not, your choice), sliced lengthwise in two or three portions
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced in rounds
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced (or omit and use pesto)
  • sliced ripe tomatoes (amount depends on what type of tomatoes you are using), sliced to about same thickness as zucchini
  • 1 tbs olive or avocado oil (best not to use olive oil for high heat cooking)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (optional if serving with yogurt without pesto)
  • for pesto see recipe

borani kadoo with pesto

in a heavy skillet or frying  pan, heat the oil, then add onions and allow them to caramelize (cook while stirring occasionally on med/low heat until they become light brown and glassy) before adding the zucchinis (and turmeric & garlic if using) and frying on both sides (turn carefully with kitchen thongs). season with salt and pepper. cover with tomatoes, and allow them to cook  (stirring very carefully if necessary because the zucchinis break easily- or cut zucchinis in halves before frying ) on medium/low heat for about 15-20 minutes. serve when any liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated and thickened.




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baby eggplants and heirloom tomatoes with cream sauce

yesterday i noticed a group of people huddled over something in the produce section of the market, and bagging(the questionable items) as quickly as they could. naturally, i (very) quickly walked over to see what the attraction was- they were the most beautiful baby eggplants, and the sign above them read “10 for a dollar”-thus the mad rush! i bought 20, but may go back for more…they were much tastier than i had imagined. this is how i prepared them:
you wash and cut the eggplants in half, slice up a couple of (beautiful) ripe heirloom tomatoes, line them all up on a sheet pan (as usual), drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, top with sea salt, ground pepper, and good oregano.  in to the oven at 375 degrees (in a few minutes the kitchen will  smell heavenly). you need to keep an eye on them, but they should be done in about 30 to 35 minutes. remove from the oven and let them rest and cool off before serving on a platter.
for the creamy  topping,   combine(whisk together):
1/2 cup organic sour cream
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard (maille)
a few drops of sriracha sauce
salt & pepper

last night i served them on a platter with some oven roasted (same method) asparagus, and drizzled the sauce over right before serving.

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