Zucchini with Sausage, Pesto, and Buffalo Mozzarella
Most people find getting vegetables to be rather boring simply because they see vegetables as a necessary evil instead of something to be cherished, but having a diet based on fruits and vegetables rather than meat can make a significant improvement in your overall health because of vitamin K, carotenes, glucose, and minerals which meat does not have. Zucchini is a great vegetable which can be equally bland or satisfying, but pesto also has hidden vegetables due to lots of vitamin K rich basil disguised by oily, garlic-y, olive-y goodness, and getting vitamin K foods is a necessity for sustaining healthy populations of gut microbes. As I’ve mentioned in my book, olive oil is one of the most counterfeited products you can buy, and even reputable stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes are willfully ignorant to adulterated products on their store shelves. Real olive oil should be expensive, smell unmistakably fruity, and not have a bitter, acrid flavor and should be more green than yellow in color. To save money, don’t use olive oil to cook with. Use cheaper coconut oil, butter, or high oleic acid sunflower oil for sautéing and cooking and get good olive oil and reserve it for special dishes like this pesto. Making pesto can be a laborious task, if you are tense and resent cooking, but it can also be made easily in a food processor. Making pesto with a pestle and mortar is optional but makes a much richer tasting pesto. Lastly, as I discuss at length in my book, most dairy in Western countries comes from the A1 variety of cattle, the protein of which carries an extra histidine amino acid which can contribute to gastrointestinal, neurological, and metabolic problems, and so it’s helpful for anyone with metabolic issues to only use non A1 cheese and dairy, although the smaller amounts in pesto and or the occasional dish aren’t going to be a problem. If you have dairy regularly and also suffer from hair loss, weight gain, or insomnia please read the chapters about milk and gut health to familiarize yourself with the problems in A1 dairy. Sausage also used to be a way to get more parts of an animal in a tasty product, such as intestinal lining, liver, kidneys, blood, etc., which is a healthier way to eat meats as it provides a more balanced delivery of amino acids and other nutrients. Most sausage nowadays is not made well and only from muscle meats due to consumer misunderstanding about animal products, but which also come from pork fed horrible diets in unhygienic living conditions and this type of animal product will only contribute to your ill health. Buy organic, well-made sausages like bratwurst or chorizo from socially and environmentally conscious brands. It might cost a few dollars more but tastes better and is more nutritionally supportive of your health, and you will save money on medical bills in the long run. Lastly, buffalo mozzarella is made from water buffalo milk and is by definition non A1. If you can’t find buffalo mozzarella, it’s fine to use regular. Serve this over heirloom grain pasta or with a big slice of crusty homemade heirloom grain sourdough bread. This is equally delicious without sausage if you’re eating vegetarian.
ZUCCHINI WITH SAUSAGE, PESTO, and BUFFALO MOZZARELLA
6-8 Zucchinis, sliced
1 Red Onion, Diced
1 lb good Sausages
1 package (8oz) Buffalo Mozzarella
1.5 oz or 1 large bunch fresh Basil Leaves, minced
5 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1/4 cup Pine Nuts
3 oz or 1/2 cup good Parmesan, shredded finely
1/2 cup Olive Oil
Rock Sea Salt
First make the Pesto. Pesto can be easy or labor intensive, the latter is the best tasting and texture and I recommend doing it this way with a mortar and pestle if you are a foodie. If you’re not, you may place all the pesto ingredients except for the oil into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth almost like but not quite baby food, then slowly add all the olive oil. Most people stop short of blending pesto well and it comes out chunky and the oil separates. This is badly made pesto and it most definitely tastes different than well-made pesto.
If you have a mortar and pestle start the pesto process by chopping the garlic and placing in the mortar, immediately cover with about 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil as the longer garlic is exposed to air the more bitter it becomes. Add a few grains of coarse salt—coarse is not necessary but it helps to break down the ingredients more easily. If you only have normal salt just add a little pinch. The trick with using a pestle is to not grip it too tight. This will make your arm fatigued. Use gravity to pound the garlic into a paste, when it starts to become mushy switch to a circular motion. Make sure not to get oil on the pestle grip or else it will become slippery and difficult to manage. If you only have a small mortar and pestle like me, pulverize each ingredient separately and mix later in a larger bowl, there’s no need to do it all in one mortar unless yours is big enough to do that. When finished with the garlic use a scraper to remove all of it into a larger bowl. Next, measure out pine nuts and mash in a similar manner using a little rock salt, oil for lubrication, and mostly gravity-powered pounding. When finished scrape out into bowl and move on to basil, adding minced leaves in stages and using a mostly circular action to reduce basil almost to baby food—there will come a point where it looks like creamed spinach, add parmesan in stages. Once the basil and parmesan are smooth and resemble baby food add it to the bowl as well. Using a whisk mix all ingredients as you pour in the 1/2 cup olive oil until smooth. If you want more pesto volume you can add more olive oil as you see fit, up to another 1/4 cup. Set pesto aside.
In a large pot or pan fry sausages, turning occasionally to brown all sides. When browned remove from heat and reserve. Salt and sauté zucchini and red onion uncovered in sausage juices until soft but not translucent. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 35 minutes or until it reaches room temperature (you can refrigerate to hasten this), otherwise the heat will melt the pesto. Once cooled drain juices then add enough pesto to cover everything and save leftover for another dish, slice and add sausage, then break up buffalo mozzarella into smaller pieces, add and toss gently. This can be served as is or tossed with an heirloom-grain pasta such as fusilli or served with big slice of crusty homemade heirloom grain sourdough bread. Garnish with some raw red onion, chopped.