Corn, Roasted Tomato and Zucchini Pasta

It's getting to that time again.
Cool nights.  School meetings.  Dance class registration.  Pens and Pencils.  Getting the lunch kits ready for use.  Earlier evenings. The freezer is getting more and more full - green beans, pesto, corn, peas.  The fruit is frozen and waiting for me to turn it into perfect little jars of jam.  And tomatoes... that's how I really know.  The tomatoes.  I've got 3 bushels ready to go.  I feel a little scared each year that I do it but it's so worth it afterwards.  In the middle of the winter when I'm pulling out a jar of my own sauce or my own diced tomatoes... it's so worth it.  So, fall is upon us.

With everything else going on in the kitchen right now I'm finding myself a little uninspired about getting meals together.  The lovely thing about fresh summer veg is that it does so well on it's own.  It doesn't ask to be fiddled too much with to taste fantastic.  We've had our fair share of meals consisting of corn cobs and mashed potatoes. Doused in butter and sprinkled lightly with salt it's hard to imagine anything better.  You can only get along with just corn for so long before the troops start to protest.  Fortunately for the all of us my hand was forced.  I had to use up some meat.

Derek has this terrible habit of taking meat out of the freezer and then not using it.  Granted, he does it with the best of intentions.  He just gets busy and then the next thing he knows it's 4 days later and the meat hasn't been cooked and has gone bad.  We've had to keep a stricter eye on things since we are spending more on meat to get good quality, grass fed stuff.  So the meat that he took out had to get used up and this dish was born.

It's kind of a throw-in-whatever-you've-got-kind-of-thing.  It's one of those things where the finished product is much much better than the sum of it's parts.  It's very forgiving but some small details will make all the difference.  The roasting is nice so using vegetables that you can roast it will taste infinitely better.  If I had even more time (or inclination) then I would have grilled the veggies - that would be the best.  Either way, the corn is crunchy and sweet, the pork is perfect and the tomato is divine.  I used a cheese that contained black peppercorns and it definitely added a nice kick.

Corn, Roasted Tomato and Zucchini Pasta (I made this one up... I swear)
serves 6

1 med. leek (or 1/2 cup onion), thinly sliced
1 med. zucchini, thickly sliced
2 1/2 cups (or about 3 med sized) tomato, thickly sliced
1 ears of fresh corn or about 2 cups of kernels
1 lb ground pork or 5 about slices of bacon finely chopped
1/4 cup mixed herbs, chopped
1 veggie boullion cube
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1 cup semi soft cheese (brie, brick etc), cubed
4 cups penne pasta cooked to al dente

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicon liner.
Place the sliced zucchini and tomato onto the baking sheet.  Brush lightly with oil or fat.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and roast for about 20 - 25 minutes or until the zucchini is looking soft and well browned.
Meanwhile in a wok or large pan heat a little oil and add in the sliced leeks.  Cook for about 3 minutes or so.  Add in the corn kernels and cook together for about 8 - 9 minutes.  Add a little more oil or fat if necessary.
Add in the ground pork.  Cook together and stir regularly.  After the meat browns add in the veggie boullion, Worcestershire Sauce, honey and salt.  Continue to cook for another few minutes.  Add in the roasted zucchini and tomato.  Toss together.
Add in the cooked pasta and toss to combine.
Top with the cubed cheese.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yeasted Zucchini and Sausage Pie

I really wanted this to be amazing.  I wanted to give you a fantastic recipe to use up all that zucchini.  This recipe, however, sounded better than it was.  I would make some changes... but we'll come to that.
As I've settled back into the last week of summer vacation and come down from my five days in a place where the air is clear and the water tastes amazing, I've found myself ever so slightly depressed.  What's funny is that I'm not feeling depressed about going back to work... that's cool and I'm looking forward to being in the swing of things again.  I'm not really feeling depressed about summer going either (well, maybe just a little bit if I'm honest).  What I'm feeling depressed about it our way of life.  How we live, how limited our choices are and how damaged everything is because of it.
I found myself feeling depressed driving back into Ontario - the highway was so bright.  Lights are everywhere.  It's like Peter Jackson's film rendition of Shelob's Liar (Lord of the Rings - Tolkein), even the dark is light.  Additionally, all the reading I've done this summer has brought my to a new place and to some new decisions.  I don't think that I've done a very good job of communicating what I've been learning and how it has affected me.  I feel like I need to take some time here on this blog to express how deeply I feel about this issues we face as a society around our food.

Last year  - give or take 6 months - was about committing to local and seasonal vegetables.  I did that both through the food box (which tells me where my food is coming from) and through local farmer's markets. This year has been about going deeper than just my vegetables.
I really do feel sick when I read about the way factory farms treat animals... any animal.  It makes me sick because it represents to me that even the human animal has no real value anymore outside of the profits that we can provide.  I've been slowly moving us away from factory farmed meats.  However, it's not enough for me and I've pledged to myself to make further changes.  So...
I need to buy a small chest freezer.
I need to finally contact the beef farm that my friend C recommended (she's friends with the farmers... doesn't get any better than that)
Additionally, I'm not feeling bad about eating butter, cream, lard and bacon anymore.  I'm beginning to comprehend more deeply how important these foods are to us humans.  We need fat.  Whether we like it or not we're eating it and I'm going to choose to eat it in the forms that help my body (Yeah - I said 'help' as in 'are good for me') in the form form of butter, cream, lard and bacon rather than the forms that  are hidden from me and hurt my body in the form of corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated vegetable oil and the like. That means goodbye to processed foods.

In this recipe I've added sausage and cream (I wish to goodness that I could get raw milk) and if you wish to adapt then please do.  As I stated at the beginning of this post, this recipe sounded better than it tasted.  I like the idea though and I want to tinker with it some more.  I found it too much bread so you might want to play around with putting into the bottom of a larger roaster or something.  Better yet, save half the dough and freeze it and use the other half in a pie plate.  I would also tinker with some stronger flavours... smoked paprika, chipotle or even more pizza'ish'... something a little bolder.  Last but not least - do not scrimp on the zucchini.  I had two very large zucchini's and only used 1 1/2 because I thought that it would be too much.  It wouldn't have been.

Yeasted Zucchini and Sausage Pie adapted from 'Simply in Season'
makes 1 9x13 pie (serves about 6)

1/2 cup warm water
pinch of sugar or tsp of honey
1 tbsp dry yeast
1/4 cup + 1tbsp milk
1 tbsp oil or melted butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup whole wheat or red fife flour
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose or bread flour

8 cups zucchini, thickly sliced
3/4 pound sausage of choice
oil or melted butter to brush
3 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup fresh basil and oregano, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
5 lg eggs, beaten
1/4 cup cream
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
pinch of cayenne or pepper sauce
2 cups (or so) cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Combine the warm water, sugar and dry yeast.  Set aside for about 5 minutes until the yeast dissolved and begins to get foamy.
Combine the milk, oil and lightly beaten egg.  Mix well and add to the yeast mixture.
Combine the whole wheat/red fife flour, shredded parmesan, salt and all purpose flour.  Mix and form a well in the middle.  Pour the milk milk mixture into the well.  Stir to combine and until it forms a smooth but very sticky dough.
Place in a lightly greased bowl and turn so that all sides of the dough ball are greased.  Cover with a clean cloth and set aside in a warm, dry spot.
Line a 9x13 baking dish with foil and lightly butter.  Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the sliced zucchini strips and the sausage on a baking sheet.  Lightly brush the zucchini with oil or melted butter.  Sprinkle lightly with salt.  Roast for about 20 minutes or until the zucchini is soft and just beginning to brown.
In the meantime, combine the eggs, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, dijon, Worcestershire and cayenne.  Mix well.

Place the lightly risen dough (mine rose for about 35 - 40 minutes at the most) in the greased baking pan.  Spread out evenly making sure that the dough goes well up the sides.  Sprinkle a little bit of the cheddar on the bottom of the crush.
Place a layer of zucchini strips on top of the cheese.  Sprinkle with some sausage. A little more cheese and so on until the zucchini is all used up.
Pour the egg mixture over everything and sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese over the top.  Bake for about 25 minutes or so until the pie is golden on the edges and the centre of the pie is firm to the touch.
Cool for a good 15 - 20 minutes before serving.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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