Monday, August 22, 2011


As I mentioned before, I've been getting a steady supply of zucchini from a community garden that I'm participating in, as well as my one prolific plant growing in my flower bed. But not everyone in the family is as excited about sauteed zucchini as I am.  So I'm finding some more creative ways to work them into some of our better-liked dishes, such as my Easy Low-Fat Scalloped Potatoes.  

What makes these  easy is that I use a hand-held mandolin that cuts both the potatoes and zucchini into super-thin slices in a few minutes. My son Lonn has become pretty good at this. 

What makes them low-fat is that instead of butter and cream, I use reduced-fat margarine (I Can't Believe It's Not Butter is my favorite), and either 2% milk or fat-free half-and-half. 

Once you've got the zucchini and potatoes in those nice thin slices, pile them in layers, sprinkling them with salt, pepper, dried onion flakes and a few dots of butter before adding another layer. It's probably best to end up with the potatoes at the top, if you don;t want to broadcast their presence.  Then  pour 2 cups of milk, or fat-free half-and-half over it all. Don't be dismayed if it seems like there's a huge pile of potatoes and zucchini; they do "cook down," and the zucchini will shed a lot of moisture. Don't leave out the onions; they add a lot of flavor.  If you have fresh onions, use them instead of the dried flakes.  

Most scalloped potato recipes call for an hour of baking, but I'm usually short on time. So I pop the dish in the microwave for 10-12 minutes to get things started. Then I stir them around to make sure all the slices get evenly covered with the milk; sprinkle on grated cheddar cheese and bread crumbs, and place it in the oven at 350 degrees. The thinly sliced vegetables are fork-tender in about 20 minutes.  If you turn the heat up higher, they may get done faster, but the sauce is also likely to boil over and leave a mess in the oven.

I mentioned something about the zucchini to my husband, Kim, as we were eating this dish last week.  "There's really zucchini in this?" he asked.  Mission accomplished.

3 medium potatoes
2 medium or small zucchini
1/4 to 1/3 cup reduced-fat margarine
2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 pint fat-free half-and-half
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (reduced-fat if desired)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Peel and slice potatoes into thin slices. Layer about 1/3 of them in an 8-inch square, or 2-quart round casserole dish. Sprinkle salt, pepper and 1/3 of the onion flakes. Dot with a third of the margarine. Repeat layers. Pour the half-and-half over the potatoes. Microwave on high for 10-12 minutes, stopping to stir potatoes once or twice to make sure they are immersed. Sprinkle with cheese and bread crumbs, then bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and topping is crunchy.

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