Thursday, August 9, 2012

Beef-Zucchini Italienne

A family Recipe by Fannie Ruth Sanderson Tenney

Zucchini season in here and there are SO many great recipes out there on the blog-sphere.

I debated what to do with my first harvest of the season. Well, the firsts went onto the grill to accompany some smoked ribs when my sister and her family visited this past weekend.

The next few were dreaming of going into a favorite - zucchini bread - oh yum!

Fannie Ruth Sanderson (circa 1900)

Instead, I remembered an old family recipe and thought it better fitting to use them in my dear, late, great grandmothers' recipe "Beef Zucchini Italienne".

I love the simplicity of this recipe. Using ingredients that most folks have around in the fridge and pantry, it is easy to throw together. I imagine this would be just as great using sauteed eggplant in place of zucchini.

My dear great-grandmother (Gommy) was born in Louisiana in the 1890's and lived 102 beautiful years.
She grew up among 7 older siblings on a farm.

I miss her dearly and am honored to have had the opportunity to know her and to share a little bit of her life with you.

Here is how she wrote down her recipe.

Gommy's Original recipe

3 tbsp butter
5-6 small zucchini (about 2 lbs)
3 tbsp flour
1 lb ground beef
1 (20 oz) can chopped tomatoes
1/2 green pepper chopped
1/2 tsp basil, chopped
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, melt butter and blend in flour to make a rue. Add the rest of the Ingredients except zucchini and cheese. Cook on medium for 8- 10 minutes. Meanwhile, slice zucchini thinly (do not peel) and parboil 2-3 minutes, drain well. Arrange zucchini in 9x9 baking dish and pout the meat mixture over it. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Serves 4

My Modifications.

I forgot how delish fresh parboiled zucchini tasted. I love it!
My recipe is basically the same.
My method was changed to make it easier to make the sauce. (I haven't gotten the hang of making rue.)

2 tbsp butter** (or Smart Balance if you need to cut cholesterol)
2 large zucchini (about 2-3 lbs) Sliced into 1/8 inch thick medallions.
3 tbsp flour
1 lb ground beef
1 14oz can diced tomatoes (that's what I had and it was still good)
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper (optional)
1/3 cup diced onion or green onion (if green onions use the tops and bottoms)
1/2 tsp basil chopped (dry or fresh)
1-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I added more 'cause I love cheese!)
salt and pepper to taste

10 inch skillet
large saucepan
9x9 casserole dish

Place the sliced zucchini in the saucepan and cover with water. Bring zucchini to boil over medium high heat. Cook till just tender (about 3-5 minutes after boil).
Meanwhile, in the large skillet, over medium heat, brown the beef.
Add the onion (and green pepper) and cook till tender about 5 minutes.
Add the butter & flour and mix to coat the beef mixture evenly. Add the diced tomato's and basil. Add about 1/4 cup of water to the beef mixture.Stir for about 5 -10 minutes. It will thicken to make a sauce.
Remove from heat.  Drain zucchini* and layer the medallions evenly in the bottom of the casserole dish.
Spread the beef mixture over the zucchini and top evenly with the cheese.
Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Let cool for 10 minutes and serve. Serves 4-6.

You might want to pat the zucchini, after boiling them, them with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel to get the excess moisture out if you don't want the bottom a bit soupy. Depends on the juiciness of the zucchini. Mine were really juicy but, I don't mind cause in the summer it tastes great!

**I found that the butter is optional if you make it using my method becasue I dont make the traditional rue.
This can really help make the dish less calories and lower in cholesterol especially if you use a very lean meat or vegan meat substitute.

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