Zucchini Pasta: Two Ways with Green Acres Farm

Green Acres is a third generation farm out of North Judson, Indiana. With grandparents that descended from Japan, owner and farmer Beth Eccles and her husband Brent, started their farm by selling mainly Asian produce in 1996. Since then, they have expanded their plethora of products to include more traditional American produce. Ten years ago, when Beth met Abby Mandel, founder of the Green City Market, she was inspired to bring their food to the market. True veterans! 

As their farm has grown over the years, they are now producing on 30 acres of land on their 155 acre property. With only 9 people working long hours during the spring and summer months, it's amazing that almost everything is done by hand (besides the tilling). These guys work exclusively with the GCM, and started up a CSA this year. Distributing to over 80 restaurants in the Chicago area, it's pretty safe to say that most of you out there have probably dined on some of their fantastic produce. 

Being that is it prime zucchini season, and Green Acres had more than half a dozen varieties of zucchini at the market, it was an obvious choice for the week. A summertime favorite of Beth and Brent's two little girls, Beth offered up some great cooking suggestions. I went with a pasta approach this week. Hope y'all enjoy!

Grilled Zucchini Orzo
1 cup orzo pasta
3 zucchinis (any variety, halved)
1 vine ripened tomato (quartered)
1 spring onion (quartered)
5 cloves garlic (whole, in peel)
1 cup goat cheese with cracked pepper
olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
salt and pepper

For the vinaigrette:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 lemon (juice and zest)
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup cilantro (chopped)
salt and pepper

Heat grill or grill pan over medium high heat. In a large mixing bowl, combine zucchini, tomatoes, onions and garlic cloves in olive oil with salt and pepper. Add veggies to grill (I used my grill pan but if you use a grill you may want to use some foil for the garlic). Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until the veggies have a nice brown crust and the garlic is soft. Remove from the grill and cut everything into bite size pieces. Remove garlic from the peel and mince. Grilled garlic might be one of my favorite things in the world. The spicy bite is tamed from grilling, and it becomes almost sweet.

As the veggies are grilling, whisk together your vinaigrette. In a small bowl, combine olive and sesame oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and zest, honey, Dijon mustard, cilantro and salt and pepper.

Cook the orzo as the package says. Drain in a colander and return to pan. Add the veggies, garlic, butter and vinaigrette to the orzo. Mix to combine until the butter is melted. Serve with a hefty portion of goat cheese on top. This dish is delicious both warm and cold. 

Baked Fusilli with Roasted Zucchini

1 box fusilli pasta (or something similar)
3 zucchini (sliced into 1 inch cubes, any variety)
1/2 large eggplant (peeled and cubed)
2 spring onions (1 inch pieces)
8-10 brussels sprouts (trimmed and halved)
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms (cleaned and halved)
1 large can whole san marzano tomatoes
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 shallot (diced)
2 tbsp herb de Provence
2 tbsp dry Italian herbs
2 bay leaves
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups fresh mozzarella cheese (grated)
1 cup fontina cheese (grated)
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl toss together zucchini, eggplant, brussels sprouts, onion and mushrooms with lots of olive oil, salt and pepper and herb de Provence. (Choose any combination of vegetables you like or have at home.) Transfer to a foil covered baking sheet and bake for15 minutes, turning the vegetables once.

While the vegetables are roasting, make the marinara sauce. Heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and shallots and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes. Add the san marzano tomatoes, dried Italian spices, salt and pepper and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes. 

Cook the fusilli in super salty water for about 1/2 the cooking time recommended on the package (it will cook the rest of the way in the oven). Drain in a colander.

When roasted veggies come out of the oven, transfer to a large mixing bowl. Combine with marinara sauce, fusilli pasta, all the fontina cheese and half the mozzarella cheese.

Transfer to a greased baking pan (13x9 in) and top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Pop into the oven for 25 minutes. The cheese will be oozy and melty and delicious!

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