Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Soup with Veal Meatballs

Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Soup with Veal Meatballs

Bye bye, bad foods! I’ve consumed more junk than nutrient-dense food in the past two months, and it’s time to switch it back! (Save for the occasional treat. Duh!)

I’ve been off work since December 16th and don’t go back until January 3rd. Save for a few days up in Connecticut, I told myself, “Use this time to do things in the city you normally can’t do on work days. See a movie in the afternoon. See a play. Go to a museum. Find a new restaurant. Go to the gym. Walk through a park!”

In reality, I’ve spent my time either reorganizing my bedroom (…hey, I made four huge bags of clothes and linens to donate!), reading (Where Am I Now” by Mara Wilson is AMAZING, and I’m still contemplating over which “Molly On The Range” recipe to make first), or developing recipes. After my Inspiralized – inspired “get back on the right track!” epiphany the other day, I’ve been playing with lots of veggies and whole foods again. Hell, in the past few days, I’ve felt so much less bloated, which is always a good sign. Amazing what some huge salads, baked chicken, and kombucha will do.

At C-Town on Wednesday morning, I went to buy some ground pork on my grocery run, and accidentally bought ground veal, thinking that the pork had the special $1.10 price tag. A “South Park” fan through and through, this is all I could think of…

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Honestly, I’ve never cooked with veal and was trying to think what the HELL to do. Looking through my pantry, I found a can of crushed tomatoes, some chicken broth, a bunch of spices, and decided that soup would be excellent on that 45°F degree rainy late December afternoon.

Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Soup with Veal Meatballs

This actually came together quite nicely, which was great since I was just winging it! Though I started with a pound of veal, I only used half. (Hey, I’ve got more veal frozen for my next batch, now!) This soup is more brothy than stewy, but the fat from the veal gives the broth a subtle velvety mouthfeel.

Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Soup with Veal Meatballs

Overall, this is just a simple, clean, filling soup.

Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Soup with Veal Meatballs

Gotta end 2016 on a good note so I can start 2017 on a smooth path. ✌️

Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Soup with Veal Meatballs

Happy New Year, all!

Tomato & Zucchini Noodle Soup with Veal Meatballs
(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

– 1/2 pound ground veal (or ground meat of choice)
– 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
– 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
– 1 medium-sized zucchini, spiral cut
– 1 teaspoon oregano
– 1 tablespoons garlic powder (for soup) plus 1 teaspoon garlic powder (for veal)
– 1/2 crushed red pepper flakes
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 teaspoons salt

Before We Get Started…

– If you don’t have a spiralizer, use a julienne peeler or very carefully julienne cut zucchini into noodle-like strips.

– If making this soup for a meal (or meals) for later in the week, keep zucchini noodles raw and separate from the broth until you eat them. This will prevent them from getting soggy. Heat soup (on the stove until simmering or in the microwave for one minute), add noodles, and allow noodles in sit in soup for approximately 1 – 2 minutes before eating.

Directions:

1.) In a large bowl, combine ground veal, oregano, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and crushed red pepper flakes. Roll veal into small meatballs, roughly the size of a marble; I yielded 30 meatballs when crafting this recipe.

2.) In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add meatballs and stir immediately so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. (NOTE: They WILL stick, to some degree. Don’t be alarmed!) Cook meatballs for approximate 1 – 2 minutes or until all sides are browned; they will still be uncooked in the middle.

3.) Add tomatoes, broth, 1 tablespoon garlic powder to the pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow soup and meatballs to simmer for 20 minutes.

4.) While soup is simmering, spiralize your zucchini and trim noodles to noodle length. (i.e.: When spiralizing, many zucchini strands can, indeed, stretch out several feet in length! [Yes, I’ve stretched them out to see. Ha!] Just run a knife through the noodles to get them to proper noodle length.) After soup has simmered for 20 minutes, add zucchini noodles and cook for 1 minute before removing from heat.

5.) Serve soup immediately!

green shakshuka single serving

Green Shakshuka [Single Serving]

One of the most popular recipes on my blog has been my single serve Shashuka. That posts gets hits every single day, and, every now and then, it just blows up if some other website picks up the link. I’m so pleased that y’all love this so much! Shakshuka is, largely, a dish for at least two people, though I have seen plenty of people down a skillet of it with no issues. (You do you!) As a person that cooks for herself nine times out of ten, I enjoy making individual-sized versions of traditionally larger meals. I figured it’d be fun to tweak my original recipe and green it up a lil’ bit.

green shakshuka single serving

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I love vegetables for breakfast. People have questioned me when they’ve seen me eat leftover salads in the morning or if I sauté up a bunch of greens and root vegetables with some avocado or a fried egg. What rule is in place that allows vegetable consumption to be suddenly okay past noon, but not before, save for in an omelette or a smoothie? Vegetables in the morning make me feel so great! The nutrients within them sure beat any doughnut by a long shot, and the sugars that are in some fruits leave me feeling a bit lousy come late morning. Vegetables, with protein, sustain me the best.

green shakshuka single serving

You could surely switch up which greens you want to use in this dish, but I found this combination of Brussels sprouts, kale, and zucchini made me the happiest. Oh, and can we talk about the way the sprouts crisp up so wonderfully along the edges of the cast iron skillet? OH, BABY!

green shakshuka single serving

This meal is pretty guiltless, healthy, hearty, and endorphin-inducing.

Green Shakshuka [Single Serving]
(Serves One…if you were unable to deduce that)

Ingredients:

– 1 to 2 eggs
– 1/2 small yellow or white onion, diced
– 2 kale leaves, washed, deribbed, and torn into small pieces
– 5 – 6 Brussels sprouts, shredded
– 1/2 large zucchini, shredded
– 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1/4 teaspoon cumin
– 1 or 2 shakes of turmeric (optional, but highly suggested!)
– 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided into 1 tablespoon servings
– Cilantro, for garnish (optional)
– Salt and pepper, to taste

Before We Get Started…

– This recipe is best baked in an 8″ – 9″ oven-safe skillet. Though I tested my original shakshuka recipe in a skillet and a ramekin, I have not tested this recipe in a ramekin.

– When prepping the vegetables, it may seem like it all won’t fit in the pan; no worries! The kale will wilt down, much like spinach. Refer to Step #3 for more specifics.

– If you are vegan and want to ditch the egg, this recipe works just as well if you sauté and bake all of these wonderful vegetables and spices together!

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 375°F.

2.) In large bowl, toss Brussels sprouts and kale with garlic powder, cumin, turmeric (optional), and one tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside. Add shredded zucchini to colander and allow to drain for 5 minutes; press gently with clean dish towel or paper towel to expedite the process, if desired. Leave zucchini set aside.

3.) In an 8″ – 9″ oven-safe skillet, add one tablespoon of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add onions and cook for two to three minutes or until translucent. Be careful not to brown them! Add half of the Brussels sprouts / kale mixture to skillet and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once vegetables start to soften and kale wilts down, add remaining half of the Brussels sprouts / kale mixture and cook until kale starts to wilt. Add in zucchini, stir to combine. and cook for an additional minute.

4.) Use back of spoon to create a shallow dent in the middle of the vegetable mixture. Gently crack egg(s) into dent. Place in oven and cook for 7 – 10 minutes or until whites are set and yolk is set to preference. Remove from oven and eat immediately!

sautéed zucchini and tomatoes with basil

Sautéed Zucchini & Tomatoes with Basil

This heat wave in NYC is absolutely ridiculous right now. I’m looking at the forecast for the week. So far, it’s reading that Monday will be 97, Tuesday will be 93, Wednesday will be 95, Thursday will be 91…

I bet ConEd is going to love giving me my utilities bill in a couple of weeks. This gal is gonna owe them a lot. My A/C, on the other hand, is flashing that “clean filter” light at me, and I’m just trying to ignore it until this heat wave passes.

I’ve been waking up early on Saturdays and strolling up to the Inwood Greenmarket. Yesterday was a hot morning, so hot that the newly-laid asphalt on Isham Street was sticking to the bottom of my sneakers! (Good look.) However, the summer vegetable haul is currently fierce. There are some vendors selling zucchinis and yellow summer squashes that are roughly the size of newborn babies! I could cradle them, if I wanted to! (Okay, perhaps, that would look a little strange in the middle of a greenmarket…) Along with the summer squash, the tomatoes and herbs are abundant. I’ve been picking up loads of fresh basil and dill, much to my heart’s content.

I love sautéing zucchini and tomatoes together quite regularly, and putting a fried egg on top makes it hearty. However, have you ever added freshly chopped basil into sautéed vegetables? The moment that basil hits the heat, the smell is absolutely incredible.

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This meal is quick, fresh, and filling. Between chopping and sautéing, you’ve got a great meal in less than 15 minutes. This meal is summer on a plate, and it tastes great, no matter how hot it is outside…or your kitchen.

sautéed zucchini and tomatoes with basil

Sautéed Zucchini & Tomatoes with Basil
(Serves 1 as a meal, 2 as a side)

Ingredients:

– 2 small zucchinis or 1 large zucchini
– 1 large tomato, seeded and diced, or 8 – 10 cherry / grape tomatoes, quartered
– 1 clove garlic, minced, or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 4 – 6 basil leaves, chopped in a chiffonade

Optional Ingredients:
– 1 tablespoon butter or 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 egg

Before We Get Started…

– Though it may go without saying, the egg is optional. Omit it for a vegan option.

Directions:

1.) In a large pan or wok, bring olive oil to eat over medium heat. Add zucchini, tomato, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes or until cooked to preference. Add basil and cook for 30 more seconds. Remove from heat and serve. Top with optional fried egg; cook in olive oil or butter for approximately 3 minutes on each side or to preference.

Cheese Grits & Chimichurri Zucchini

Something about the title of this recipe already makes it seem very involved, yes?

Well, you’re right. There are a few too many parts to this recipe, but it’s worth it! I promise! Plus, you’ll end up with lots of chimichurri for additional recipes, or perhaps to just eat by the spoonful. (Guilty as charged.)

chimichurri

One of my favorite comfort foods is cheese grits topped with sautéed vegetables. I’m failing to remember the first time I cooked this, but I know that it’s one of my go-to “easy” dinners nowadays. Though the time spent stirring the grits over the stove is relatively tedious, the end result is worth it. Plus, it’s a good arm exercise. (Silver linings, people!)  My Italian roots automatically dictate my love for polenta, but I love grits because of their slightly heartier grain. Admittedly, the sautéed vegetables add bulk to the dish, but not always extra flavor. I usually spice up my veggies with garlic powder and a few red pepper flakes, but one night, that just was not cutting it. Finally, an idea dawned upon me: chimichurri! I happened to make a batch a few nights prior to serve on some steak, and after finely dicing up a mere four cups worth of cilantro and parsley by hand, I had a few spoonfuls to spare. The warmth of the garlic and pepper was replaced by the freshness of the herbs, and wow, it rounded out the flavor of sharp cheddar in the grits quite nicely.

chimichurri

I would suggest making the chimichurri sauce at least one night before, as one, 24 hours in the fridge allows the flavors to grow, and two, if doing it by hand like I did (because I prefer big shiny sharp knives over food processors), it’ll take you a good 20 minutes to slice and dice everything up, at least.

cheese grits

Cheese Grits & Chimichurri Zucchini 
(Serves Four)

Before We Get Started…

Many cornmeal-based dishes, such as grits or polenta, tend to seize up and solidify rather quickly upon removal from a heat source. It is my strong suggestion that your zucchini is sautéed, dressed with the chimichurri, and ready to be served before the grits have finished cooking, so all can be served immediately.

Ingredients:

Chimichurri Sauce:

-1 cup cilantro
-1 cup parsley
-3/4 cup olive oil
-4 cloves garlic
-Salt, to taste
-Red pepper flakes, to taste

Directions:

Finely chop cilantro, parsley, and garlic cloves. Add to bowl. Add olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes. If your sauce is too pasty, slowly add more olive oil until desired consistency is reached.

– – –

Sautéed Zuchinni

Ingredients:

-2 medium-sized zuchinni, unpeeled and diced
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-Salt, to taste
-Garlic powder, to taste (optional)

Directions:

Add olive oil to non-stick frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add zucchini to frying pan and cook for five minutes or until desired consistency.

– – –

Cheese Grits
(Adapted from Alton Brown’s Cheese Grits recipe from Food Network)

Ingredients:
-1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
-2 cups whole milk
-2 cups water
-4 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I prefer Cabot!)
-4 ounces butter
-Salt, to taste
-Garlic powder, to taste (optional)

Directions:

Add milk, water, and salt into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Upon boiling, slowly add in cornmeal, whisking after each addition. Once all cornmeal has been added, reduce heat to low and continue to whisk frequently, roughly every 3 – 4 minutes. Grits should have a creamy consistency after 20 minutes. Once grits have reached appropriate consistency, remove from heat. Add butter and whisk until incorporated. Slowly add in shredded cheese and mix until incorporated.

To Serve:

After sautéing zucchini, add two to three spoonfuls of chimichurri sauce; toss. Divide grits into four bowls or plates. Top grits with the chimichurri zucchini. Top with additional chimichurri, if desired.

cheese grits