Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese and Barely Wilted Zucchini with Warm Walnut Dressing

There are oodles of recipes (and secrets for success) for macaroni and cheese. Choose the recipe you've enjoyed over the years or one you've been hankering to prepare and incorporate some of my unique ideas for a great tasting macaroni and cheese. I like to use different types of pasta, last night I used casarecce (cah-sah-rech-ee) pasta, it looks a bit like a slightly twisted scroll. It’s great to use for macaroni and cheese because the pasta grabs the creamy, cheesy goodness perfectly. While this dish ranks at the top of the charts in the comfort food category, often it can be bland, to up the ante, I use a variety of cheeses and I dissolve a vegetable cube (Rapunzel is bursting with veggie flavor) to the liquid part. Pesto crumbs (see September 6th post) give additional flavor and a fabulous crunch. To compliment the entrée, serve with my recipe for wilted zucchini and warm walnut dressing.

Barely Wilted Zucchini with Warm Walnut Dressing

Warm dressing barely wilts this prolific summer, autumn vegetable in a way that is so appealing. The key to its success is to serve it immediately after tossing the warm dressing with the vegetables.

Tidbits for perfection: You can cut and assemble the zucchini salad in advance, prepare the warm walnut dressing just prior to serving.

Zucchini Salad

2 medium zucchini, room temperature, unpeeled and cut into thin julienne strips

1 cup pepper, (red, yellow, orange or purple) room temperature, cut into thin julienne strips

2 medium shallots, room temperature, thinly sliced

In a large bowl, toss zucchini with pepper and shallots.

Warm Walnut Dressing

⅓ cup canola oil

½ cup walnuts, chopped

2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat canola oil and sauté walnuts for about 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently (you may need to adjust heat to a lower temperature) so as not to burn the walnuts. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar (stand back, it will splatter) and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Pour warm dressing over zucchini/pepper/shallots and toss to evenly coat. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.