Sunday, 15 March 2015

It Is What It Is!

Zucchine Tonde Ripiene di Topinambour, Menta & Piselli, al Cartoccio
Round Zucchini, Stuffed with Jerusalem Artichoke, Mint & Peas, Baked in Foil Parcels


I wish to point out that this is neither a full-blown rant, nor either a rant-ette... but there is something I have to say about my dishes - or many of them. I do not think of them as vegetarian or vegan or any such thing! To me, it is all simply food! I can not STAND these silly labels!

There- I've said it!

I must say that I find this awful need to categorize food most terribly un-appetizing! I did not grow up in a household where we had "meat dishes" and "vegetable dishes"- and I will be honest- I never see this kind of categorizing of food back home in Sicily, or in Italy, or France either... unless they are doing it for tourists!


If you are one of those people who are afflicted by some illness or intolerance, or if you do not eat fish, fowl or meat for ethical reasons... ok... but the rest of you? Why do you freak-out when you see a dish that doesn't contain the bacon or meat or butter that you are accustomed to?

A meal can consist of purely vegetable ingredients, simply because they taste good together and for no further, higher reason than that! It's not such a difficult concept to understand, surely?

Just chill-out and enjoy it without having to name it... it will taste better!

This dish was not created out of any other reason, than because I thought that the combination of flavors, ingredients and textures would work wonderfully together... and they did! End of story! And beginning of recipe!

For my 2 little appetizer-sized servings, I needed 1 round zucchini, 2 Jerusalem artichokes, 1 small onion, 1 cupful of peas (frozen in this case, as you can see) and a handful of fresh mint. Salt, pepper, nutmeg, olive oil- the usual! Nothing more and nothing less than that!


Being as mint, peas and artichoke is a traditional Italian combination that I know and love, I decided to see if it would work in combination with zucchini, which also tastes great with mint... and lo... and behold... it surely did!


I hollowed-out the zucchini, simply using a tablespoon- no need to use any fancy gadgets for that at all! I then chopped the insides and the onion into a relatively fine dice. I peeled and diced the Jerusalem artichokes and was then basically, ready to go!

I put the chokes into a small saucepan with just a little well-salted water to boil and turned on the oven to get it hot and ready- and then got busy with the fun stuff... the filling!


I fried the diced onion and zucchini in a little olive oil until the onion had become translucent and the zucchini had begun to turn golden- then added the frozen peas.


After just 10 minutes or so, the chokes were "soft" enough to mash down with a fork- not too finely, and to add to the other ingredients. It is nice to leave them a bit chunky, so that they will have a bit of bite left to them later on.

I also added plenty of finely chopped fresh mint, salt, pepper and nutmeg and stirred everything through thoroughly.

Once the filling is thoroughly mixed... well- you know what is coming up next!

But here is one little tip- before filling the zucchini, prick them with a fork here and there- this will allow heat to get into the zucchini easier, steam to escape... and they will cook more quickly!

Fill the zucchini generously with all of the ingredients, season with salt, pepper and a last hint of nutmeg, drizzle with olive oil and twist together the foil into a little parcel.

Make sure it is tightly sealed, but at the same time, that it does not squeeze down and come into direct contact with the topping... it would be a shame for it to stick to the foil and to them be pulled away when you open it later.


Pop the foil-wrapped parcels into a very hot oven- at 180°C, for 20 minutes, then carefully open the foil and let them brown a little further under the broiler- although you will be surprised at just how brown they get in there!


My motto when it comes to food is simply... enjoy your food! Let it be whatever it is- just let it be healthy and tasty and everything will be just fine!


 And the result? Looks pretty terrific, doesn't it? And crazily enough... it IS too!

You may be thinking to yourself, that some cheese would have been good... or egg... or breadcrumbs... or- haha- bacon! And yes- they would ALL have been good things in this... but MY point is- it was perfectly fantastic already... without!


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