Why meatless on Mondays? Not only is eating less animal protein a healthy diet choice, but curbing your meat consumption can have a significant environmental impact too. In 2006 the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that animal agriculture accounted for a full 19 percent of greenhouse gases—more than the transportation sector. Best of all, with recipes like these, going meatless can be a delicious weekly habit.
I was pulling weeds in the garden when I saw it, shaded beneath the prickly leaf cover of summer’s most generous giver. It was the first of the year and certainly not the last. By this time next month I’ll be cursing the zucchini gods, but this week, I’m excited for my first green squash. It’s a special one, and I want to give it a pedestal and let it shine.
In a week from now, I’ll be blending zucchinis into soups and baking them into breads and sautéing and roasting and shaving and trying my best to stay upbeat about the deluge of squash that will take over my kitchen and my life. But this week, I bask in the serenity of my lone squash and the challenge it brings me as I try to stretch it into a meal to serve six.
I’ve been baking a lot of pies this month, so I have a fair amount of pastry dough sitting in the fridge, which is just the kind of pedestal I need for my zucchini. One of the doughs I’ve been making is a rough puff pastry dough. It is basically an all-butter pie crust with extra butter folded in. It does not go through the six folds and chills that a regular puff pastry dough goes through—just a few. But the result produces a super-flaky crust that a thinly shaved zucchini can simply melt into.
Serves 6 to 8
Rough Puff Pastry:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, divided
4 to 6 tablespoons cold water
1 double rough puff pastry dough
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 medium zucchini, very thinly sliced into rounds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 hot green chile, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
Rough Puff Pastry:
Whisk together the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut 1 1/2 sticks of butter into cubes and the remaining 1/2 stick into thin slices. Blend the 1 1/2 sticks butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips, leaving some lumps of the butter the size of small lima beans. Stir in 4 tablespoons of water with a fork. Squeeze a small handful of dough with your hand. If it is crumbly, stir in more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. Gather the dough into a ball, and then place it on a floured surface.
Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 13-by-11-inch rectangle. With a short end of the rectangle toward you, place the sliced butter on the top two-thirds of the dough. Fold the bottom third of the dough up over the butter layer, as if folding a letter. Fold the top third of the pastry over, as with a letter.
Roll the pastry into a 13-by-11-inch rectangle once more, and then fold in the same manner. Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 450° F.
Roll the pastry into a 16-by-11-inch rectangle, and fit into a jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the bottom of the dough along with half the cheddar cheese. Place zucchini slices in a single layer, slightly overlapping them. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Scatter the remaining cheddar cheese along with the chile. Drizzle with the oil. Fold the edge of the pastry dough over the edge of the pie, then brush the pastry with the beaten egg.
Bake the zucchini-cheddar pie until the pastry is golden and the zucchini is tender, about 25 minutes. Let the pie cool to warm, and then serve.