Zucchini with Barley

In a few short weeks, Glenn and I are quitting our jobs and moving up to Kansas City. I imagine that we’ll eat this inexpensive zucchini dish often throughout the hot Midwestern summer.

When zucchini is plentiful, your pantry is stocked with odds and ends, and it’s too hot to turn the oven on, this is what you should do:

Slice and sweat one zucchini for each person

Prepare a grain as you normally would (try barley or bulgar)

Saute the zucchini in olive oil with a pinch of crushed red pepper

Serve with a generous amount of parmesan and lemon wedges

Summer Baked Pasta

I used to have a pretty good meal-planning routine. I would spend all weekend reading food blogs and magazines, bookmarking and dogearing pages. I’d pick about three dishes to make for the week and, on Sunday morning, I’d make my grocery list and go to the store before everyone got out of church. Then I started getting a little too social on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings turned into afternoons and grocery lists turned into restaurant menus.

Without any food in the house, the meal-planning turns from weekly to daily. So one evening after work, I was frantically surfing the internet looking for something that looked edible and easy. I came across this baked pasta on The Pioneer Woman and decided that would do the trick.

It did. With twice as much vegetables as pasta, I felt like I was eating something healthy, but it sure didn’t taste like health food. I made a few adjustments to the recipe that night and next time (and there will be a next time) I’ll make a few more.

I used whole wheat pasta and, due to a lack of selection, I used penne instead of shells. I like the taste of the whole wheat pasta — especially in contrast to all the green vegetables — but some of the pasta on top got a little tough. Next time I’ll make sure all those pieces are tucked under some cheese and veggies.

I had to substitute some vegetables because my store was sold out of asparagus and I forgot to buy peas. I used spinach instead of asparagus and increased the weight of all the vegetables to make up for the peas. I think that worked out just fine.

I think that the cheese mixture could be more flavorful and the assembly could be a little easier. This recipe is definitely worth perfecting, so I’ll let you know how it goes next time I make it.