Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Zucchini Bandit Strikes Again

Tomatoes and squash never fail to reach maturity. You can spray them with acid, beat them with sticks and burn them; they love it. –S.J. Perelman, Acres and Pains, 1951

The Zucchini Bandit has struck again. Apparently this isn't just a local custom; it is a common practice in other parts of the US as well. While I was looking for a few new zucchini recipes, I ran across an article by a man in Pennsylvania who has created a holiday specifically for sneaking zucchini onto your neighbor's porch. He's also suggested some other creative ways to get rid of extra summer produce.

This time The Bandit left us a really large zucchini and a really large yellow squash. Too bad there were no tomatoes, but beggars can't be choosers. Maybe next time. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it or, well, half of it – Minestrone. I searched for another recipe that would use up what was left of the vegetables and struck gold.

Zucchini, Chicken & Rice Casserole
3 cups {1½ lbs.} chicken, cooked and diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
2 cups {about 1 medium} zucchini, diced
1 cup {about 1 small} yellow squash, diced
2 cups {about 6 oz.} mushrooms, chopped
1 cup uncooked rice
2½ teaspoons chicken bouillon crystals {or 2½ cubes} dissolved in 2½ cups hot water
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese {omit for dairy-free; you won't miss it anyway}
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon rosemary
¾ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup onion, chopped
2 cups {about 5 medium} tomatoes, chopped
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper

• Heat oven to 375˚. Place chicken in a baking dish, sprinkle with a little salt and pper, cover and bake for 35 minutes. When chicken has finished baking, wrap in foil and refrigerate until completely cooled. Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients for assembly. When the chicken has cooled, dice into bite-sized pieces.
• Heat oven to 350˚. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" baking dish.
• In a 12" skillet heat 3 tablespoons oil; sauté ½ cup onions and garlic for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini, yellow squash and mushrooms and sauté for 3 minutes more.
• Add the chicken, rice, broth, parmesan, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper to the vegetables in the skillet. Place in the prepared baking dish.
• In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté ¼ cup onions for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chili powder, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Spoon over the rice and chicken in the baking dish.
• Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour; remove foil and bake for 15 minutes more, making sure rice is completely cooked through.

• Even the picky-eater Little Bugs liked this dinner :clap:. Mr. Bug and I both l♥ved it.
• A full 9" x 13" casserole is too much for our family to use all at once, so I divided the recipe before baking and froze half of it for another time. That is why it is in a smaller dish than the recipe calls for.
• I tweaked the recipe a bit and that is reflected in the instructions above. You can see the original recipe here. I reduced the amount of onions by A LOT {you'll thank me later}. I added quantifiable amounts of salt and pepper {'season to taste' drives me nuts} and divided out the ingredients that were used twice. I did 2 cups of zucchini and 1 cup of yellow squash {instead of 3 cups zucchini} because I had a squash to use and because I like the extra color.
• The original recipe calls for brown or white rice. It is really tasty with either kind. If you use brown rice, though, be sure to allow for about 30-45 minutes extra cooking time.
• I'll post the Minestrone recipe soon.
• Other zucchini recipes that I love:
Italian Chicken Pasta Toss
Two-Bean Chicken Chili

1 comment:

Paulette said...

That looks tasty! How do you think leaving out the Parmesan would affect it (I can't eat dairy)?