zucchini fritti, lemon and parmesan salad

zucchini fritti salad with lemon, italian parsley,parmesan and pine nuts

This past week in the month of March has been eventful; what with the Ides of March, Saint Patrick’s Day and the Feast of San Giuseppe going on, you can’t help but notice there’s transition in the air. One foot in front of the other, steadfastly marching toward — Spring.

It’s going to be a few more weeks (at least where I live) before true, seasonal produce will start to influence the next half year of my cooking; garden seeds are starting to sprout and trees are budding somewhere with the promise of summer fruit.

Although I think of them as a full-blown summer kind of thing, at this time of year I’m not ashamed to take advantage of cute little zucchini grown in far more southern climates than the one I live in, to help bridge the gap between darkness and light; brown root vegetables and green, leafy plants.

I’ve been getting itty-bitty zucchini at my local Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods markets over the past few months and this salad has become a major craving. It’s a personal preference, but I like small zucchini best, for this recipe and in general; I find as they mature and swell to a diameter larger than about an inch and a half, the flesh will likely have more seeds and become waterlogged and soggy when cooked.

zucchini fritti salad with lemon and parmesan

It could be the inclusion of lemon that gives this combination of ingredients a spirit of freshness, making me think of impromptu, warm weather eating, something I’m looking forward to.

My appetite was sparked a while back by a recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, a blog I am both inspired by and admire from afar. I appreciate Gwyneth’s obvious passion for  food. And while I can relate to her clean, modern, yet down-to-earth style aesthetic I have to leave the $150 sweat pants in a neatly folded pile at her web store. Food I will indulge in; my fashion budget is far less opulent.

Shopping aside, Gwyneth has great taste – zucchini fritti are delicious and dare I say healthy (…yes, I did). I took her idea and ran with it. A light coating of rice flour and a little hot olive oil transforms the neutral nature of zucchini and makes me think of tempura.  You could easily eat fritti all on their own as a crunchy snack, but making a salad with the hot, crisp zucchini turns this into a simple meal.

zucchini fritti salad with lemon, parsley and parmesan

zucchini fritti salad with lemon, parsley and parmesan

Serving Size: serves 2 - 4


  1. ¾ pound baby or small zucchini, between ½ - 1 inch in diameter
  2. ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  3. 2 – 3 tablespoons brown or white rice flour
  4. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  5. ½ lemon, cut into wedges
  6. Salt
  7. ¼ cup pine nuts, roughly chopped
  8. ½ cup picked Italian parsley leaves
  9. Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese, for shaving


  1. Slice the zucchini into coins about 1/2-inch wide; put them in a bowl with the onion and toss with enough rice flour to coat evenly.
  2. Heat a 12-inch (preferably non-stick) skillet over medium high heat until hot. Pour in the olive oil and heat until it just begins to shimmer.
  3. Put the zucchini-onion mixture and lemon slices into the pan, cut side down. Season with a generous pinch of salt and cook undisturbed for 2 or 3 minutes, until the zucchini turns dark golden brown on one side.
  4. Flip the zucchini over, either by shaking the pan or with a wooden spatula, to cook the other side. Add the pine nuts to the pan and sprinkle with a little more salt.
  5. Remove from the heat; stir in the parsley. Squeeze the juice from the fried lemons over the salad and serve right away topped with shaved cheese.

cream of roasted tomato soup


My resolution to make more soup slacked a little; I haven’t made soup since the egg drop soup I posted last month.

Well, I take that back; I did add some Chinese noodles to a bowl of hot chicken broth last week when my kids had a sore throat, but that’s about it. For a few seconds there I felt my own self heading toward the flu, and joined them on the couch, wrapped up in a blanket.

That down time felt good, and it worked too. I finally added Downton Abbey to my Netflix queue and got all caught up with the first season during a marathon session – something I hardly ever let myself do.

I’m not a great television person. It’s hard to sit passively for what seems to me like time wasted; I find myself thinking of lists to write, books I need to read and some random details of daily life I think I forgot to do.

Letting all that stuff go once in a while is obviously good for the soul. And how lucky for me that since I’ve missed the first 2 seasons of a show that every person I know seems to be talking about, I now have LOTS to catch up on.

Don’t tell me what happened during last week’s episode – I know there was enough drama to cause sobbing in front of the television, but I’m not there yet!


I made a batch of this creamy tomato soup and my kids and I finished it off when they came home from school. When I make it again, I will double the portions to have a little leftover for lunch the next day.

Instead of milk, I used fresh bread as a thickener; thinking of the creamy version of Campbell’s soup my mom would make for me.

cream of roasted tomato soup

Serving Size: makes 2 - 4 servings


  1. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  2. ½ large white or yellow onion, sliced
  3. 2 pounds small vine-ripened tomatoes, such as Campari, sliced in half
  4. 1 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
  5. ½ teaspoon sugar
  6. 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  7. Freshly ground black pepper
  8. 2 or 3 thick slices peasant-style bread, crusts trimmed
  9. 3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Parmesan
  10. 1 – 2 cups cup vegetable broth or water
  11. Crostini, soft goat cheese or ricotta and chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, thyme or basil)


  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Pour the olive oil into a baking dish or pan that will hold the tomatoes snugly (I used a 14-inch cast iron skillet); scatter the onion evenly over the bottom.
  3. Arrange the tomatoes cut side up over the onion and sprinkle with the salt and sugar.
  4. Roast 20 minutes; then scatter the garlic over the tomatoes and roast for about 10 more minutes – the tomatoes and onion should be soft and golden and their juices bubbling. Season the tomatoes with the black pepper to taste and cool 10 or 15 minutes.
  5. Transfer the tomatoes to a blender or food processor. Tear the bread slices into small chunks and add to the tomatoes (one half at a time if blending in 2 batches) along with the cheese. Add enough broth or water to barely cover the tomatoes – it will depend on how juicy the tomatoes are after roasting.
  6. Puree until smooth, in batches if necessary, adding more bread and/or liquid to achieve a consistency you like. I prefer the soup with a little body rather than very brothy. Taste for seasoning. Spread the crostini with some goat cheese and sprinkle with herbs to and place one in each bowl of soup.

egg drop soup with kale and potato

Egg drop soup with kale and potato

Soup is in these days (yes, you might rightfully ask: when was it ever out?) If cool cities like Portland are an indication, soup is having a moment. I’ve seen hardy entrepreneurs load homemade soup into specially crafted thermal boxes fitted on the racks of their bicycles for delivery to hungry people around downtown Portland, sometimes with freshly baked bread on the side. I know there are lots of other cool cities with soup carts and bicycles but I’m just speaking from my personal experience in that particular one.

My sister-in-law lives in Portland, which is arguably the food truck capital of the world. And also maybe the rainy day capital of the world, so it makes a lot of sense that the demand for warm, comforting bowls of soup would be higher given the situation. When she was visiting recently, we talked about how we don’t seem to treat soup as a full meal. Or rather, I realized that I don’t. She goes out to the soup cart for lunch, after all.

It’s something I mean to change. I might even call it a New Year’s resolution – to make more soup! My son loves nothing more than eating soup, with the very strong exception of soup containing any form of seafood; so I know I have at least one taker.

egg drop soup egg drop soup with kale

This homey egg drop soup – stracciatella – is as Italian-grandma as it gets. Except for I don’t remember either of my Italian grandmothers making it –  a loss I can easily get over now that I’m a big girl.

You might know what happens to eggs when mixed with hot liquids, but the magic of this soup is that combined with fine semolina, they turn a basic broth into a creamy soup filled with “tiny shreds” of egg, the stracciatelle. I added some potato and kale to my soup to make it even more of a nourishing meal. It must be the Italian mama in me or something.

Egg drop soup with kale and potato

Egg drop soup with kale and potato

Serving Size: Serves 4

The semolina flour swells as it cooks, giving the soup a creamy consistency. I like Asiago here; it's like a combination of Parmesan and Pecorino Romano, but Parmesan will be delicious that's all you have.


  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  2. 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
  3. Salt
  4. 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  5. 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 2 tablespoons semolina flour
  8. 2 tablespoons freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
  9. 1 1/2 cups finely shredded kale


  1. Heat the oil or butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the potato and cook for 2 minutes; stir in the onion with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for a few more minutes.
  2. Pour in 1 cup of the broth, lower the heat, cover the pan and cook until the potato is soft.
  3. Whisk together 1 cup broth in a bowl with the eggs, flour and cheese.
  4. Add the remaining 2 cups broth to the pan and bring to a boil.
  5. Slowly add the egg mixture to pan, whisking constantly; turn the heat down to low and continue whisking for 2 minutes, until the soup thickens.
  6. Stir in the kale. Serve in bowls with additional cheese, if you like.


inspired by Mario Batali