Saturday, August 16, 2008

Calabacitas Casserole

Hello, cooking and blogging friends!

This is my first blog post, after spending most of the summer away. (Away in places like Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, where all you can get are delicious, fresh local veggies and fruits ... but that's another post!) One recipe-planning scheduling issue that I'm having in my push to use the farmer's market as our meal-planning driver is that I'm used to planning meals on the weekend and getting all of the week's food shopping done then. Our local farmer's market in Davis Square is on Wednesdays, and it's hard for me to get into the routine of waiting until then to plan. I know I could find a weekend market, but part of the appeal of farmers market shopping for me is walking to it, and seeing neighbors there, etc.
I decided to go with a squash and zucchini recipe because squash and zucchini seem to be still abundant, though I know posters have been supplying "use-up-zucchini" recipes for a while. This recipe, Calabacitas Casserole with Polenta and Cheese, was retrieved by a friend from the Food Network site in 2005, and I'm happy to see it's still here:

Essentially, the key ingredients - corn kernels, garlic, a green chile pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, onion, and tomatoes (recipe recommends a can of stewed tomatoes) - are sauteed.

They are then placed in a baking dish and topped with polenta and cheese. (Photo is taken before baking.)

This is a really comforting dish, and our kids were more open to it than they are to other all-mushed-together foods because the polenta and cheese part, at least (yes, the less-healthy part!), almost tastes like a mini-pizza. They ate some of the veggies, but like many of my casserole-type things, alas, it would be better to keep some zucchini and squash separate so that they can eat those without the influence of the spicy pepper, chili powder and garlic.

Here is a picture of the yummy but messy-looking leftovers, of which there are plenty:

To make the dish even more in season than the recipe linked above, you could cut the kernels off corn on the cob, and you could modify the tomato part to use fresh tomatoes. I haven't tried that yet, mostly because the recipe as written is quite quick - I also have relied on the pre-made tube of polenta rather than making my own. It's a good dish to start in the morning - chopping everything - and then very quick to assemble and cook (8 minutes) at dinner time.
I bet this could be made with many other veggies - I love that the polenta allows you to use less cheese, and yet the dish has an overall cheesy, comforting feeling.
Happy eating!

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