It’s bounty time in the garden, when I sign every email with “and how many zucchini do you want?”
Gardens are different every year, and the warm, mostly dry weather this summer has sped some plants up and slowed others down. Our broccoli formed huge heads early on, but I planted beans when it was so dry they barely sprouted and had to replant – and water.
Most of the time it went well, with something new every week – cabbages and potatoes this week, okra next, maybe tomatoes the next week? Winter squash lay down well; corn is slow.
And then there are the zucchini. Our firstfruits came a little late, but they’re making up for lost time, they’re coming fast and furious now. Pale yellow summer squash and shiny golden zucchini are also coming in strong, but in a more dignified way than green zukes, which fill my picking basket every day and our plates every night.
I like to pick zucchini when they are small, young and tender. But I went to Vermont last weekend and missed two days of picking, one of which received an inch of rain. When I went out Monday morning with my basket, I had a dozen fairly large zucchini, in addition to the basket full of tasty little dinner-sized varieties. No baseball bat or canoe sized zukes, at least, but it was time to unload – before everyone was inundated with the overflow of zucchini from all the other gardeners.
A friend I was meeting for lunch said she would like a couple, but by the time we met someone else had dropped three off at her house. Ditto for another visiting friend, who had just received a shipment from a cousin.
I had better luck bringing a bag to work for the zucchini bakers, who also shared their family recipes: fried zucchini rings, with holes where the seeds were removed; and mini pizzas made with zucchini slices topped with marinara and mozzarella.
There are many ways to enjoy these delicious gems. When they first arrive, we simply sauté them with a little butter, salt and pepper, and marvel at their fresh summer flavor. Then we start switching things up – adding different herbs, adding onions and broccoli, mixing them into our omelettes.
One of my favorites is roasted zucchini. Slice thin rounds of zukes and toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper and your favorite herbs, then spread them on a baking sheet and garnish with a little parmesan (or tomme if you have an overabundance of goats like me). Roast at 450 for five minutes or until starting to brown. Serve hot or enjoy cold the next day.
Lately I’ve been using zucchini to help with that other bounty we have right now: goat cheese. I invented a donut made from goat cheese and eggs and grated zucchini, held together with a little ground flaxseed, although you could use any flour. I made a sort of lasagna, using long, thin slices of zucchini instead of noodles, and using lots of goat cheese and tomme ricotta. (If you’re going to try this, salt and squeeze your zucchini first to squeeze out some of the water, or reduce other liquids in your lasagna.)
I had a gardener friend who had never planted zucchini, even though it was one of his favorite vegetables. His reasoning: it was taking up too much space in his little garden, and he was actually helping all the other gardeners by accepting their overflow of zucchini.
I hope you share some of the bounty of the season.
Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it on August 14th. Contact Margaret Hartley at [email protected] or on Twitter @Hartley_Maggie. Opinions expressed in Greenpoint are not necessarily those of the newspaper.
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Categories: Life and Arts