When I was growing up, my mom would make food we (my brother and I) hardly ever enjoyed eating. From rabbit, to liver and onions there were many dinners my brother and I didn't want to eat.
However, for as many unappetizing dishes that she made, she made equally as many tasty dishes that I enjoy to this day. Taco salad, Nine bean soup, and this dish that was like beef stew only it emphasized potatoes and a can of green chilies. Heck there's even dishes my mom claimed to make often, that I can hardly recall, like the Zucchini Pizza Pie.
Not like your usual pizza, this one has a "crust" made from shredded zucchini (courgettes as they're called here) and egg, baked before being topped with browned ground beef (mince) and onions, tomato sauce and cheese. Just thinking about it, sounds a bit like a finger food you might enjoy at a shower or dinner party. Nevertheless, when the pizza ingredients are all layered together it is baked again and the result is a bit like a lasagna or better yet a gluten-free pizza.
All food memories aside, yesterday I was struggling to come up with an appetizing menu for dinner. Our weather's been so lovely it's hard to want to make hardy foods we enjoyed through the winter. I was hoping for something light and trying to incorporate the leftover "ranchero beans and chicken" from the previous nights Mexican Style Salad. I thought we'd cleared most of the food from the freezer, except when I opened the "Veggie and Fruit" drawer I spotted something green under the bags of sloe berries and blackberries. Upon digging it out - I realized I still had two packages of shredded zucchini - this ingredient instantly changed the direction dinner was heading in.
I flipped through our family cookbook and stumbled upon my mom's Zucchini Pizza Pie and figured this would be a good test to use the zucchini and leftover beans. For this blog, I'll provide my version and mom's original recipe. So interesting how you can twist the ingredients to make a tasty dish.
Original Recipe - Zucchini Pizza Pie
1 1/2 lbs shredded zucchini (courgettes), with all water drained out
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic, fresh or powder
1 lb ground beef (mince), browned
1 medium onion, chopped
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons Oregano
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup olives, sliced
Brown beef, drain liquid and add in chopped onion. In a bowl, mix zucchini with 1/2 cup of each cheese (reserve other cheese for topping), and 2 eggs. Press into greased 10" x 15" pan and bake at 400F/205C for 10 minutes. Mix the tomato sauce into the browned beef and onions and spread over zucchini crust. Arrange the peppers, mushrooms, olives and any other toppings you like, sprinkle with cheese and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.
My version of mom's recipe
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
Mix above ingredients together and press into greased pie plate of similar baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes at 400F/205C.
Reserve 1 cup ranchero beans (or you could use 1 can of refried beans)
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce (or tomato sauce)
1 tablespoon chili power
1 tablespoon cilantro
Mix above four ingredients together and set aside
1 medium onion, chopped
Any other veggies, chopped, about 1/2 cup each
1/2 cup of thinly sliced cheddar (or shredded)
Once the crust is out of the oven, spread the ranchero beans over the crust. Arrange any veggies on top of the beans and spread the tomato mixture over the veggies. Last cover with a thin layer of cheese and bake for 30 minutes.
I served our "pizza" with chunky swedes (parsnips) fried into chips. A nice light alternative to the usual potato version we enjoy.
All in all, the dinner was a hit! We would have had enough for lunches today; however, Patrick and I polished that baby off! And I would certainly make the dish again. Heck, the zucchini is so versatile you could make a light, healthy pizza with any twist - Indian, Thai, whatever you fancy.
Happy creating and eating!