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Dinner Tonight! | LEARNING TO COOK

Less Is More, Usually

October 11, 2000|MARION CUNNINGHAM

When I began to cook many years ago, I would often go to the library and borrow cookbooks. I enjoyed reading recipes from different authors from different parts of the world.

I used to think the more ingredients in a recipe, the better the dish would taste. Time and experience has taught me that more often than not, the fewer the ingredients, the better the dish.

Of course there are exceptions to this, but overall, I think it is true. One of the best suppers I make is Spinach and Zucchini Casserole, served with small red new potatoes boiled and rolled in olive oil, finely chopped garlic, salt and coarse black pepper. I like toasted rye bread on the side with homemade applesauce sweetened with brown sugar and a dash of cream for dessert.

This is a supper I never tire of. Try it.


Cunningham's newest book is "Learning to Cook With Marion Cunningham" (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999).

Spinach and Zucchini Casserole

Active Work Time: 15 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 hour

2 pounds spinach

5 zucchini

2 onions

1/3 cup loosely packed fresh basil

Salt, pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 grated Parmesan cheese, optional

* Cut coarse stems off spinach. Place leaves in colander and rinse with cold water, lifting and tossing spinach to wash away grit. Shake spinach to get rid of excess water and put it in a large bowl. Set aside.

* Cut off stem top and root bottom of each zucchini. Slice in 1/4-inch slices and add to spinach.

* Cut stem top and root bottom off onions. Cut onions in half lengthwise from stem top down. Put each half flat side down on a cutting board and cut lengthwise in strips 1/4-inch wide, then holding strips together, cut onion in 1/4-inch strips crosswise. Add onions to bowl.

* Stack basil leaves in a pile, and with sharp paring knife, chop into small pieces. Add to bowl. Using your hands, reach to bottom of bowl and gently toss and turn vegetables until they are well mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste and turn to mix well.

* Place vegetable mixture in 4-quart casserole and drizzle oil evenly over top. Cover and bake at 350 degrees, checking after 30 minutes to see if all greens seem tender and nicely blended. If they are, sprinkle cheese over top, put lid back on and bake another 5 minutes. If they aren't done, bake another 5 to 10 minutes before adding cheese. Serve hot.

6 servings. Each serving: 186 calories; 181 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 10 grams fat; 21 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams protein; 3.39 grams fiber.

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