My souvenir from the State Fair of Texas this year wasn't a giant stuffed teddy bear or a monkey on a stick. It was a dynamite recipe I picked up while I visited the Food and Fiber Pavillion, where you literally can make a meal out of the food samples that exhibitors prepare on the spot and dole out to boothgoers.
The Southwest Dairy Farmers, who have the museum in Sulphur Springs, TX, sponsored an exhibit bragging on the merits of dairy products. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw their freebie recipe handout for Zucchini with Cheese Macaroni. I'm a mac-and-cheese girl from the word "go", but adding zucchini to it? I had never tried it but was determined to do so.
The dairy farmers' recipe called for provolone and mozzarella, but I subbed Swiss for the provolone because Swiss was what I had on hand. The red peppers from our garden, along with the featured zucchini, gave it lots of color and added a delightful flavor. The whole-grain macaroni added health to the project. I loved serving this in the individual gratin dishes--the portions were just right.
Thank you, State Fair of Texas! Your gates are closed now for another year, but Zucchini with Cheese Macaroni was a big success and will cause us to sing the Rogers & Hammerstein tune, "Our State Fair is a Great State Fair", for a long time in the future.
(By the way, check out my new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, to read about the mega-souvenir I brought home from the fair several years back. It's in the chapter entitled "Peach Trees and the Wedding Plywood.")
Zucchini with Cheese Macaroni
2 tablespoons butter
4 cups thinly-sliced zucchini
1/2 cup chopped sweet red peppers
1/2 teaspoon each salt and oregano
dash of pepper
8 ounces whole-grain shell macaroni, uncooked
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons skim milk
1 cup shredded Provolone cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
Melt butter. Saute zucchini and red pepper until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add salt, oregano, and pepper. Meanwhile, cook macaroni according to package directions; drain. Stir butter, cream, and Provolone cheese into macaroni. Divide macaroni mixture into six gratin dishes or individual shallow baking dishes. Divide zucchini mixture over macaroni; top with Mozzarella cheese. Broil 3 to 4 inches from source of heat until lightly browned. Makes 4 servings.