Today was one of those days where I felt like I was winging it all day long! I found out when I was leaving work Friday that I would be making a staff lunch today. With such short notice I had NO plan, and no chance to prep anything or get any vegetables harvested. So when I walked in the door this morning, I knew I needed to get started right away.
I called up to the red shed to find out what I could get quickly and easily. The answer – tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchini. From there, I took a peek in the pantry and started chopping. I washed a big pile of red, blue, and fingerling potatoes…
And chopped up a big handful of fresh rosemary picked out of the kitchen garden.
I made a vinaigrette of grapeseed oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and rosemary…
And then dumped it onto the big bowl of sliced potatoes.
Stirred to combine and coat each precious potato…
And then poured out onto a sheet pan. I started these off at 400 and let them roast for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 or so. Once they were browned and fairly soft, I backed the heat down on the oven to 200, and left them in there for an additional hour (because I was serving them at a specific lunch time).
Starting them high and then backing the heat down low resulted in absolutely delicious potato pillows.
The farm boys gobbled up every last one!
For a main course at the lunch, I decided I was going to make zucchini boats – something I had never actually done before. I knew it would be a little bit tricky since I had three varying sizes of zucchini, but I decided to just go with it.
First step was to cut the ends off each zucchini and slice them all vertically into two halves.
Papa, mama, and baby bear.
Then I took a spoon and scraped out the fleshy stuff inside each half. If I had been at home I would have used a melon-baller or my serrated grapefruit spoon, but this regular spoon was fine too – just took a little more arm muscle!
I made a big pile of all the scooped out zucchini flesh…
And then drizzled the inside of each half with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.
Time for the filling! I started by chopping up one small white onion and half of a huge red onion.
Threw them in a sauté pan with olive oil to soften and start to brown.
With the onions softened, I chopped up the zucchini guts and threw them in to the pan to cook too.
Meanwhile, I also cooked up some quinoa in my nifty rice cooker. Because our farm lunches are vegetarian, I always try to incorporate some sort of veggie protein. Quinoa is such a quick and easy way to do this! If you don’t have one of these, you can very easily make quinoa on the stove top in 20-25 minutes. Just use a 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups liquid ratio, and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Once the quinoa was cooked and fluffed, I added it to the pan with the onions and guts, and then sprinkled it with a little cumin and lemon juice. Once it was seasoned to taste with salt and pepper, I tossed in a handful of shaved parmesan for a final flavor boost.
Spooned the mixture evenly into my zucchini boats…
And then gave a final topping of a little extra cheese for melting.
Into a 400 degree oven, covered with foil for 30 minutes, and then uncovered for an additional ten. Final product – gooey and browned zucchini goodness!
Since I was cooking for a large group and wanted to make sure I had enough servings, I cut the halves into equally sized pieces, and stacked them together in a serving dish.
These were a HUGE hit! The farm staff seriously freaked out. They declared it the best lunch ever – hurrah!
The parmesan cheese was a great addition, and by taking the foil off for the last ten minutes, there was just enough crispiness and browning.
Oh yes – and one more thing! I also made a summer tomato salad…
Tomatoes, peaches, red apples, and basil – all chopped up and tossed in a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
Perfect sweet ending to a delicious meal.
What started with no plan ended up being a delicious lunch, and one of the staff favorites! Just goes to show that you shouldn’t be scared to try something new. If the zucchini boats were a disaster, my back up plan was going to be to chop it all up and sauté it until soft, but I didn’t end up needing a plan B. And now not only did I serve a well received lunch, I taught myself how to make stuffed zucchini – a win win! :)
This week kicks off the next round of summer travels and craziness, starting with Friday’s trip to DC to find a place to live! After that I’ll be heading down to the ATL for a wild bachelorette weekend, and the following weekend I’m up in Chicago for the Healthy Living Summit.
(Who else is going?!) Should be a fun and busy few weeks!