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Friday, August 5, 2011

Zucchinis Take Over the World

Is this what's going on in your garden at the moment?

Actually I don't have a vegetable garden, just flowers and herbs, but I do have a share in a CSA  - Community Supported Agriculture  -  and so I  have weekly mountains of produce (see photo!).

Among other veg, the zucchinis have been arriving on a regular basis at our CSA farm and on my table.  My go-to prep is grilled zucchini:  cut zukes lengthwise into 1/4 inch planks, mix with olive oil, kosher salt, freshly ground pepper; then grill 2-3 minutes per side till just tender and stripe-y grill marks appear.   Throw on some shreds of torn herbs - basil, tarragon, thyme or what have you.

Great hot as a side dish, also wonderful cold the next day in a wrap with hummus, Jersey tomatoes, lettuce.  Add in a few bits of crumbled feta and some caramelized onions - heaven in a wrap.

So about that produce mountain.  I gathered some promising cookbooks from the Library:

Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing
Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis
Cooking from the Farmer's Market from Williams Sonoma
and just for good measure
Just Married and Cooking.

Sure enough, my go-to grilled zucchini recipe was there in Cooking in the Moment: Broiled Baby Zucchini with Parmesan.  Here they roast the zucchini in the oven (90 degree temps and up all last week? - no way I'm putting the oven on!) and then top with a bit of shaved Parm.  Hmm, nothing new.

Decided to try the Grilled Zucchini with Mint, Chili Oil, and Toasted Pine Nuts. Toasted the pine nuts in my trusty 12" cast iron pan, sauteed the zucchini (nixed the grill) with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Topped with the chili oil (cheated and used sriracha instead), the pine nuts, mint from my garden, and some Parmesan shavings.  Result:  delicious, but the zucchini from the farm was so fresh and wonderful, I kind of liked it better just sauteed?  This would be a good recipe  to jazz up a plain grilled chicken or shrimp dish.

Inspiration struck - I scrambled up some eggs and served them with the Grilled Zucchini to my sons, along with some Spicy Melon Salad with Peanuts and Mint from the day before. A great combination - creamy eggs, many-flavored zucchini, sweet/savory melon. Score!

Cleaned up and then saw I still had two zucchini left - made the Zucchini "Noodles"  with Ricotta recipe.  This was the all around winner - a new technique I never tried and amazing results.  Thinly slice the zucchini with a vegetable peeler into strips - sounds tedious, but 2 zucchini only took me  4 minutes (I timed it).  Saute olive oil, sliced garlic and a hot pepper a few minutes, add the strips and toss until wilted.   Add a tomato, diced small.  Cook another 2 minutes and:   Magic!  the zucchini looks exactly like wide egg noodles!  How did that happen?   Then added the 1/2 cup of mascarpone cheese (didn't have any ricotta on hand) and a cup of chopped basil.  SO GOOD!  My foodie friend Barb stopped by and she loved it too.  Bonus - it's gluten free for her daughter, and it really does taste like fresh pasta.

Will definitely make this again.

Spicy Melon Salad - The recipe says to use a melon baller - too wasteful and time consuming; cubed up the yellow farm watermelon.  This melon was so different - really sweet, and the rind was so tender, it tasted like a cucumber - I ate a slice skin and all. (Just one.)  Cubed up some red watermelon, a cantaloupe from the farm.

Dressed it with a Thai marinade that included a jalapeno pepper (where do you get a fresh red Thai chili?), fresh lime juice, fish sauce, - for the salty component - sugar, and mint.  Sounds strange, tastes bright, bold and fantastic. 

So I only got as far as the melons and zucchini in tackling my produce mountain, and only tried recipes from Cooking in the Moment.  But I can already tell that I love this cookbook, and the recipes are innovative and easy to execute.

Next, what to do with 10 pounds of (not plum) tomatoes...I have my eye on a recipe from Heart of the Artichoke for a gazpacho, and will report back soon.

What cookbook(s) do you use for your summer bounty of produce?  Let me know!

1 comment:

Katie said...

Can't WAIT to try the zucchini 'pasta'. Picking up the ingredients at the farmer's market after work!