Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Parmesan-Crusted Goodness

I wasn’t planning on having a Parmesan-crusted theme dinner this evening, but sometimes that’s just what happens. For me it started with a recipe for Zucchini Oven Chips from Cooking Light. This is one of my favorite ways to use zucchini.

Oven Zucchini Chips
I made the recipe as noted, except I used buttermilk instead of milk, since I happened to have a leftover carton in the refrigerator from a weekend batch of buckwheat pancakes. When they were done, they taste tender on the inside and crispy on the outside and so good you would think they were deep fried.

But before I got there, I had about a half cup of leftover breadcrumb, Parmesan, salt and pepper breading left over. I didn’t want to throw it away and that’s what would likely happen to it even if I saved it for a few weeks in the refrigerator. Instead of dumping it, I decided to make baked tomatoes with it. I added a little dried basil to the mix and cut a tomato in half before pouring the leftover breading on top. To add a little moisture, I poured a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top. I slipped them in the oven to cook alongside the zucchini. When they were done, they were the perfect combination of the tart, cooked tomato and the crunchy topping.

Baked tomatoes, the black is balsamic vinegar
The zucchini and the tomato would need about a half hour to cook, so I turned my attention to the bag of beans in the crisper. Similar to green beans, I had received flat Romano beans in my box last week. I had received them in previous years and the Two Onion newsletter reminded me that I could use them similarly to other green beans, but that they may require a longer cooking time.

For these I decided to adapt a recipe I came upon this morning in the gym while reading my Oprah magazine. Ina Garten's Green Beans Gremolata recipe looked good as is, but I needed to adjust it a bit to adapt for what I had in my pantry. Instead of topping beans with pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan, parsley and lemon juice, my beans were tossed with pecans, garlic and Parmesan.

Romano beans with pecans, Parmesan and garlic
The final result was amazing. I still may make the Barefoot Contessa’s some other time, but my combination wasn’t too bad either. I forgot to weight the beans, but guess I had less than a full pound. I still used two cloves of garlic, so they were garlicky, but really good.

Surprisingly or not, all three dishes worked together. Though they had most of the same ingredients (especially the zucchini and the tomato) they tasted different enough. And since they did have a lot of the same ingredients they didn’t compete with each other.  

So the next time an ingredient speaks to you, go for it. You may just end up having a theme dinner you didn't plan on. 
Is it me or does this bean look like a bird?

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