Sheet-Pan Chicken Thighs with Caramelized Zucchini & Basil

This healthy and delicious summer meal was quick to prepare- a great combination. The recipe caught my eye after receiving some beautiful zucchini from a neighbor. Perfect.

I was also able to use my new Japanese mortar and pestle to crack the coriander seeds. Exciting! 😉 The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, modified the roasting time and method, and served the dish over brown Basmati rice to absorb all of the wonderful pan juices.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 8 thighs)
  •  coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced into 1-inch rounds
  • 3 large or 5 medium garlic cloves, finely grated, passed through a press or minced
  • 2 tsp dried mint or oregano
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, cracked with a mortar and pestle or the flat side of a chef’s knife
  • 1/4 tsp red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice from half of a lemon, plus lemon wedges, for serving, as desired
  • 1/2 cup torn or chiffonade fresh basil leaves, for serving
  • 1 cup brown Basmati rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast with a racks positioned in the center and top third of the oven.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Bring the chicken stock to a boil and add the rice. Cover, reduce temperature to low and cook for 30 minutes or until cooked.
  3. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, and season all over with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
  4. Place zucchini on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed sheet pan, and season with a little more salt and pepper.
  5. In a small bowl, combine garlic, mint or oregano, coriander and red-pepper flakes. Whisk in oil.
  6. Add chicken to the pan with the zucchini pieces and pour garlic mixture over all, tossing until well coated.
  7. Spread chicken and zucchini in a single layer, and roast until chicken for 10 to 12 minutes. (I placed the chicken “skin side down.”)
  8. Remove pan from the oven and flip chicken over (to “skin side up”).
  9. Continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through and zucchini is browned and caramelized, about 10 to 12 minutes more, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
  10. Remove the pan from the oven and squeeze the juice from half of a lemon over the chicken and zucchini.
  11. To serve, fill a rimmed platter with the rice. Top with the chicken and zucchini followed by a drizzle of pan juices over the top.
  12. Garnish with basil and serve with more lemon wedges and red-pepper flakes on the side, as desired.

Chicken & Corn Stir-Fry

I have a couple more dishes featuring sweet summer corn to share. This quick stir-fry was perfect to serve after a busy day outside. After prepping the ingredients in advance, it was fully prepared in the time that it took for the rice to cook.

This recipe was (slightly) adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. The original recipe notes that peppers, peas, mushrooms, or summer squash could be substituted for the fresh corn. Great!

Yield: Serves 4

  • 3 T oyster sauce
  • 1 T unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 4 to 5 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 lb), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 4 T vegetable oil, divided (I used canola oil)
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped (about 1 T)
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper (or other mild chile flakes or paprika), or more, to taste
  • 3 ears of corn, kernels cut from cobs
  • cooked rice (I used white Basmati rice)
  • cilantro leaves with tender stems, for serving
  1. Stir together oyster sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Trim the chicken and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Prep the red onion, garlic, ginger and corn. Set aside.
  4. Cook the rice using your preferred method.
  5. While the rice is cooking, season the chicken pieces with salt and sprinkle with cornstarch; toss lightly to coat.
  6. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large well-seasoned wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high. (I used a 14-inch stainless steel skillet.)
  7. Cook chicken, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and nearly cooked through, 6–8 minutes.
  8. Add red onion, garlic, ginger, Aleppo-style pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Cook, tossing, until vegetables are softened, about 2 minutes.
  9. Add corn kernels and cook, tossing often, until tender, about 3 minutes.
  10. Stir in reserved oyster sauce mixture and cook, tossing often, until reduced nearly to a glaze, about 2 minutes.
  11. Taste and season with salt if needed.
  12. Serve stir-fry with rice, topped with cilantro.

Summer Bucatini with Buttery Zucchini Sauce

I love trying new ways to use summer zucchini. Making pasta sauce out of grated zucchini is absolute genius! This dish gobbled up all of the zucchini that I received in my CSA share- amazing.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. I used bucatini (our favorite) instead of spaghetti. I also modified the proportions and method. It was a vegetarian crowd-pleaser. Super quick to prepare too.

Yield: Serves 5 to 6

  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for pasta water, and to taste
  • 16 ounces (1 pound, 450 grams) bucatini, cooked al dente (I used De Cecco)(can substitute with spaghetti, linguini, or fettuccine)
  • 2 cups (470 ml) pasta water, reserved
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds (about 1100 to 1300 grams) zucchini, trimmed, coarsely grated (I used 3 large zucchini- about 8 cups grated)
  • 12 tablespoons (170 grams, 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 generous cup (90 grams) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons (about 2 large handfuls)
  1. Mince the garlic cloves in a food processor. Set aside.
  2. Coarsely grate the zucchini in a food processor, emptying the bowl as necessary. Set aside.
  3. Melt butter in a large, deep skillet or pot over medium-high heat. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  4. Add the garlic, stirring it into the butter for one minute.
  5. Add the zucchini, salt, and red pepper. Cook the zucchini, stirring from time to time, for 13 to 15 minutes. It will first let off a puddle liquid, the liquid will cook off, and the zucchini will become soft and concentrated. If the zucchini begins to brown, reduce the heat slightly.
  6. Stir frequently for 2 more minutes until it reaches an almost spreadable consistency.
  7. Meanwhile, boil your pasta in well-salted water until it’s 1 minute shy of fully cooked. Before you drain it, reserve 2 cup of the pasta cooking water and set it aside. (I cooked my pasta for 9 minutes.)
  8. Pour in 1 cup of the reserved pasta water into the zucchini and butter mixture scraping up any browned bits.
  9. Add the drained pasta, and cook together for 2 minutes. Use tongs to pull up the zucchini butter sauce into the pasta strands, tossing frequently, and adding some or all of the remaining pasta water as needed to loosen.
  10. Taste and adjust seasonings, as desired.
  11. Incorporate a generous half of the parmesan and basil and mix, then transfer to a serving bowl, if desired. (I served the pasta from my cast iron pan!)
  12. Garnish with remaining parmesan and basil. Serve.

Summer Corn Pasta with Sausage & Basil

This is a crowd-pleasing and quick summer dish. It was a wonderful meal served with a giant green salad. The original recipe notes that any summer vegetable, or a combination, can be used instead of the fresh corn. Chopped tomatoes, broccoli, summer squash, or even green beans would work.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I modified the proportions. Great!

Yield: Serves 6

  • 16 oz rigatoni
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs basil, plus 1 cup leaves for serving
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper (or other mild red pepper flakes)
  • fresh corn kernels from 3 large ears
  • 5 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 oz (about 1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high.
  3. Add sausage and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a plate.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and cook sliced garlic in same pot, stirring occasionally, until light golden around edges, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add basil sprigs and Aleppo pepper; cook, stirring, until basil is wilted, about 1 minute.
  6. Place an ear of corn upright in a medium sized bowl. Use a knife to cut off the kernels. (The bowl will prevent the kernels from flying all over the counter.)
  7. Add corn and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water to the pot and cook, stirring often, until corn is mostly tender, about 3 minutes.
  8. Stir in pasta and 1 cup pasta cooking water.
  9. Add butter and cook, stirring, until butter is melted and sauce is smooth and creamy.
  10. Add the Parmesan in several additions, stirring after each addition until sauce is smooth.
  11. Return sausage to pot and cook until flavors meld, about 1 minute. If needed, add additional pasta cooking liquid to loosen the sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  12. Place in a serving bowl or individual shallow bowls. Top with basil leaves and more Parmesan and serve.

Vegetable Baked Rice with White Beans & Leeks

Baked rice is quick and easy to prepare and is really delicious. This baked rice dish was inspired by prasorizo, the classic Greek rice-and-leek dish. It makes a great vegetarian main dish or a phenomenal side. We ate it as a main dish with rotisserie chicken on the side. 😉 The freshly grated Parmesan really added richness to the meal.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. Almost any vegetable can be incorporated into the dish.  I added my beautiful CSA Romanesco cauliflower (with its greens) as well as baby spinach. The original recipe suggests alternatively adding tomatoes, zucchini, and/or broccoli with the leeks, or arugula and/or sliced sugar snap peas after the dish is removed from the oven.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 4 to 5 leeks (about 2 pounds), trimmed, white and pale green parts, cut lengthwise & sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 lemon
  • chopped tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli florets, and/or cauliflower florets, optional (I used Romanesco cauliflower florets)
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds (I used raw slivered almonds), or more, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked white basmati rice
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white beans (such as cannellini or great Northern), drained and rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water or stock
  • coarsely chopped spinach and/or arugula, or sliced sugar snap peas (I used 2 cups chopped baby spinach)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced or chopped basil, chives, mint or fennel fronds, plus more for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Soak sliced leeks in a bowl of water, remove with a slotted spoon or spider, then shake or pat dry.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, peel 1-inch-thick strips of lemon zest, then cut the lemon in half. Cut one half into four wedges and reserve the other half.
  4. In a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, combine the leeks, lemon zest strips, almonds, red-pepper flakes and olive oil. (I used an enameled cast iron baking dish.)
  5. If adding chopped tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, and/or cauliflower, add to the pan with the leeks. (I added Romanesco cauliflower florets.)
  6. Season generously with salt and pepper, and arrange in an even layer. Roast until the leeks start to caramelize, about 20 minutes.
  7. Remove and finely chop the lemon zest strips, then stir the zest back into the leek mixture. Arrange in an even layer.
  8. Sprinkle the rice evenly over the leeks, then top with the beans and 1 teaspoon salt.
  9. Add the boiling water or stock, then seal the pan tightly with foil.
  10. Bake until the rice is tender, 20 to 22 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven, and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  12. If adding spinach and/or arugula, or sliced sugar snap peas, add them in at this time. (I added the Romanesco cauliflower greens, ribs removed and finely sliced, as well as 2 cups of baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped.)
  13. Squeeze the lemon half over the rice, then stir in Parmesan and herbs.
  14. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  15. Serve with lemon wedges, and more Parmesan and herbs, as desired.

Caramelized Zucchini Phyllo Pie with Corn & Herbs

This phyllo-crusted savory pie is packed with caramelized summer zucchini. It is a wonderful way to gobble up an abundance of fresh squash from the garden or your CSA share. 🙂 I loved that it was baked in a cast iron skillet too.

The recipe was adapted from thekitchn.com, contributed by Grace Elkus. We ate it for dinner with a green salad but it could also be served for a special brunch or lunch- an amazing summer meal.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 6 phyllo sheets from a 1-pound package of frozen phyllo dough (13×18-inch), thawed in the refrigerator overnight
  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium)
  • 2 medium-large shallots
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup tightly-packed coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese (1 scant cup freshly grated)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (from about 2 ears fresh)
  • 3 ounces feta cheese (about 1/3 cup crumbled)
  • hot sauce, for serving (optional)
  1. Thaw 1 (1-pound) package phyllo dough overnight in the refrigerator, if needed (if there are two interior packages, just thaw one). Unroll and stack 6 of the phyllo sheets on a large baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap, wax paper, or a damp kitchen towel and leave at room temperature. Reroll the remaining phyllo sheets, place in a gallon-size zip-top freezer bag, and refreeze for another use. (I covered it with a damp paper towel topped with plastic wrap.)
  2. Trim the ends off 1 1/2 pounds zucchini. Slice each in half crosswise, then halve lengthwise. Slice lengthwise into thin planks. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Halve and thinly slice 2 shallots. Add to the bowl with the zucchini.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10-inch cast iron or straight-sided ovensafe skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the zucchini and shallots (reserve the bowl), season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, and toss to coat in the oil as best you can (the pan will be very full).
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash and shallots are slightly caramelized and beginning to stick to the pan, 12 to 15 minutes.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium, add 1 tablespoon water, and continue to cook 5 minutes more, scraping up the flavorful stuck-on bits as you go.
  7. While the squash cooks, arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F, preferably on convection.
  8. Whisk 2 large eggs in a large bowl.
  9. Prep and add the following to the eggs in the bowl: Coarsely chop fresh basil leaves until you have 1/4 tightly-packed cup. Coarsely chop fresh dill until you have 3 tablespoons. Finely grate Parmesan cheese until you have 1 scant cup, if needed. If using fresh corn, remove the husks and cut the kernels from the cobs (about 1 1/2 cups). Crumble in 3 ounces feta cheese. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
  10. When the squash is ready, add it to the bowl and stir to combine.
  11. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a small bowl, for brushing. Wipe the skillet clean and brush with a thin layer of the oil.
  12. Working quickly to prevent the phyllo from dying out, transfer 2 phyllo sheets to the skillet, overlapping them to completely cover the bottom and sides of the pan, folding any overhang into the pan. (Keep the remaining phyllo covered). Brush lightly with olive oil.
  13. Place a third phyllo sheet in the skillet so that half is hanging over the rim. Repeat with the remaining 3 sheets, arranging them so they completely cover the rim of the skillet.
  14. Spread the zucchini mixture into the skillet in an even layer.
  15. Fold and crimp the overhanging phyllo toward the center, leaving the center 4 inches exposed.
  16. Gently brush any remaining oil over the phyllo.
  17. Bake until the phyllo is golden brown and crispy and the center is slightly puffed and set, 24 to 30 minutes.
  18. Let sit 10 minutes before slicing.
  19. Top with torn fresh basil leaves. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Grilled Vegetable & Fresh Ricotta Sandwiches

One of our absolute favorite dinner sandwiches is filled with garlicky grilled eggplant and feta cheese. After seeing this recipe, I kept thinking about making this version on freshly baked sourdough bread. I loved the idea of slathering the bread with fresh ricotta cheese too. Yum!

The recipe was adapted from SaraMoulton.com. I used my favorite recipe for fresh ricotta and served the sandwiches on homemade sourdough bread. I added garlic and grilled the vegetables instead of roasting them as well. We ate them with creamy cucumber-avocado salad on the side. It was an amazing vegetarian meal.

Yield: 4 servings

  • 1 small to medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 2 medium to large zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 6 to 8 Campari tomatoes or 6 plum tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • fresh ricotta cheese (see Note)
  • 8 slices of no-knead sourdough bread, crusty bread, or whole grain bread
  1. The evening before serving the meal, start the homemade sourdough bread process, if using. Bake the bread the day of the meal. (Alternatively, use another crusty bread or whole grain bread.)
  2. Place the vegetable slices in a single layer on a cutting board or rimmed baking sheet; season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Crush the garlic cloves with a garlic press and spread the garlic over the top of the eggplant slices. Let rest a minimum of 30 minutes (the longer the better).
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the fresh ricotta cheese. I made it according to the recipe but simmered the mixture for approximately 5 minutes, until it was visibly curdling. I strained it for about 15 minutes and omitted the addition of lemon zest. (The longer it is strained, the thicker the consistency.) Set aside.
  4. Brush both sides of the eggplant and tomato slices with olive oil. Toss the zucchini slices with olive oil.
  5. Grill the vegetables separately until slightly charred and tender; grill the eggplant directly on the grates and grill the zucchini and tomato slices using a grill basket. (Alternatively, the vegetables can be roasted on parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheets in a 425 degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.)
  6. Divide the warm ricotta among 4 slices of bread and top with the hot vegetables and remaining 4 slices of bread. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve.

Note: Making fresh ricotta can have varied results- sometimes it has large curds, sometimes it has small curds and occasionally it has no curds. If this should happen to you, don’t panic, just add another tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and the curds will appear.

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