Picked up our CSA this weekend, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, lettuce, and SURPRISE! More Zucchini!
Actually, I'm starting to like the zucchini challenge. Too hot for what I want to do for it—mix it with cheese and gratin it. I'll wait till cooler fall to go that route. I've had a nostalgic urge to make zucchini bread, which I haven't had since my mom made it when I was a kid and the notion of a sweet cake made with a vegetable was bizarre and fascinating.
But I opted for a fallback here, and still one of the best and easiest ways to make zucchini: saute it. I think its texture is best when you julienne it. With my handy Benriner mandoline (left), it takes about 30 seconds per zucchini. The result is a size and shape that cooks quickly (so that you don't have overdone mush on the outside and raw on the inside), looks good, and is easy to eat. Also, using the mandolin allows you to take the zucchini and yellow squash just down to the seeds, then discard this central tasteless shaft (please don't anyone tell me to pickle these).
As we were sitting down to eat this for a midday meal, Donna and I noticed a bowl of cherry tomatoes (which also came with our CSA). The color they'd add would be excellent, as would the acidity—perfect. And as you can eat the zucchini as you do spaghetti, the dish could fill in for a vegetarian spaghetti and meatballs dish. Loved it.
This cooks in about 2 or 3 minutes so have the rest of your meal done if you're serving this as a side (though it holds well, too). You can flavor this any way you want. I think garlic and shallot, sweated in butter without color, is a must. But you can add flavors as you wish. You could finish this with a chiffonade of basil, or chopped dill. The feta works great in the fritters—no reason it wouldn't work here. I had some toasted slivered almonds which I added for crunch and flavor. Next time I might increase the garlic even more and add teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
What I love best about this is not that it's easy, and not that it makes good use of an over-abundant vegetable. What I love about it is that it's so satisfying to eat, a blessing for someone who all but baths in animal protein and pork fat. This is practically vegan, for godsake (swap olive oil for the butter and it is)—how uncharacteristic of me.
All the more reason for my increasing respect for the zucchini. Now I've got to figure out what to do with those green bell peppers—truly an unfortunate vegetable.
3 tablespoons butter
1 finely chopped shallot
salt to taste
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 zucchini, jullienned
1 yellow squash, jullienned
1 large carrot, peeled, jullienned (optional; I love the color and crunch they add)
plenty of freshly ground pepper
squeeze of lemon to taste
optional: red pepper flakes, more garlic, more shallot, fresh herbs, cheese, toasted nuts
Melt half the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the shallot and garlic till they're translucent, about a minute (give them a good pinch of salt as you do. Add the zucchini, squash and carrot and saute until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Give them a couple three fingered pinches of salt, to taste. Grind plenty of black pepper over them. Just before they're done, add the rest of the butter and toss till the butter is melted. Give the pan a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with additional garnish if using.