How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cheese Helps

That great American poet Cyndi Lauper memorably exclaimed, "Money changes everything!" So, too, does cheese. In the case of our latest zucchini adventure, cheese enhanced a collaborative casserole without overwhelming the delicious local vegetables.

Just in time for the surfeit of zucchini that arrives each summer, the Boston Globe Magazine featured several recipes, along with directions for desiccating this often water-logged vegetable. I think I had tried this method before -- salting zucchini slices in a colander for an hour or so before cooking. Adapting the second recipe in the article, I errantly ignored the advice to blot the salt from the slices, since the recipe calls for salt anyway. The quantities, it turns out, are not comparable!

Other modifications were more conscious. Careful readers will note that the recipe also calls for olives, which are strictly verboten in family meals at our house. Also, we had Mexican queso blanco on hand, which everybody loves, and though we like crumbled goat cheese quite a lot, this was a worthy substitution. Finally, as careful readers will also notice, Paloma recently prepared caramelized onions as part of her pretzelito feast, and we had some of these savory bulbs left over. I intended to mix these in with the zucchini, but even though they were central to my decision to make the dish, I forgot them until fairly late in the process, so they became part of the topping -- a delicious part!

We were pleased with the results, though the salt in the cheese would have been plenty, and I've learned my lesson about blotting salt when using this drying method. The zucchini was much firmer than in other casseroles, though, and the flavor was quite nice. Paloma's spicy- onions did help to balance the salt, and some cool applesauce completed the meal.

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