Monday, August 11, 2014

A Plethora, a Sufficiency, an Abundance, a Plentitude - Just Plain Oodles and Scads of Zucchini!

You know all those stories and jokes about people who grow zucchini and end up with enough to feed half the world with their one or two plants? Well, I don’t believe them. I’ve tried to grow zucchini for three or four years and I get maybe one or two zucchinis per plant. And it’s not just me, either. Some friends are growing zucchini plants in my garden this summer, and they’re having the same luck. Which, actually, makes me feel a lot better. I thought there must be something wrong with me and instead there must be something wrong with my garden.

Anyway, just in case you happen to be one of the lucky people who have zucchini coming out your ears, or you’re picking it up at the Hub or the Farmers Market, here are some ways to fix it that you might not have thought of.

The first recipe, ZUCCHINI PIE, must be something dreamed up by a gardener one year when the apple crop was bad. Who else would think to make an apple pie out of zucchini? Or something similar, anyway. According to the headnote on the recipe, this is “A scrumptious dessert that will please even the most avid apple-pie lovers.”

OK, so that one’s pretty far out. Let’s try something a little bit more familiar. Have you ever had fried zucchini? You know, the kind that’s breaded and then deep-fried and served with ketchup-y type dipping sauces? Good, isn’t it? Or maybe you tried my OVEN FRIED ZUCCHINI at the Hub last Tuesday. It’s a lot easier to bake it than to fry it. And while I don’t think it’s quite as good as the deep fat fried kind, it turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself, and I do.

Speaking of being at the Hub on Tuesday, several people asked me about some big white round "flying saucer shaped" scalloped things on the produce table. They were patty pan squash. Similar to zucchini, just a very different shape. You can use them in most any zucchini recipe, though you’ll have to cut them into the right size pieces. The shape usually doesn’t matter, but some of those things were huge! The way I usually cook patty pans is to cut them in half so I have two “rounds,” and then cut each half into wedges, and then proceed from there more or less like zucchini. As big as the ones at the Hub were, I’d probably have to cut them into three or four “rounds.” Or you can scoop out the middle and stuff them like you would zucchini or green peppers. Or cook them up with some onions and tomatoes. Again, pretty much however you would cook zucchini.

But back to recipes. Another unlikely sounding but actually very good dish is ZUCCHINI WITH PINENUTS. I’m not positive, but it may have been the first zucchini dish that I tried that I actually liked. And probably the first one where the zucchini wasn't mushy and watery, too! It calls for a simple buttermilk dressing, and you may be tempted to make your own BUTTERMILK SUBSTITUTE to use, instead. Don’t. It won’t be the same. The Buttermilk Substitute works great in things like chocolate cake or pancakes, where its purpose is just to add a bit of acidity and make the end product light and fluffy. The buttermilk in this recipe is too important, and you’ll want to get “real” buttermilk instead. Not that it comes from making butter anymore (that’s what buttermilk used to be, you know – the milk that was left after churning cream into butter), but the cultured kind that they sell in the stores is fine.

And finally, here’s an alternative to salsa for something to scoop up with chips the next time you’re having a barbecue. Or a picnic. Or watching TV. Or anytime you feel like noshing. ZUCCHINI WITH CORN AND CILANTRO calls for frozen corn, and I almost changed it to fresh corn, in keeping with the Hub’s emphasis on fresh veggies. But then I thought, “Why waste perfectly good corn on the cob in a recipe when it’s so good as and frozen works just as well?” and I decided to just say corn. Feel free to use fresh corn, if you happen to have more fresh corn on the cob than you know what to do with, or use frozen. Or canned, if that’s what you have.

Enjoy your zucchini while you can! As crazy as the weather has been this year, there’s no telling how much longer it will last.

---Mary Anne---

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