I recently tried to give my babysitter a big old honkin’ zucchini.
“Oh, no you don’t,” she said. “Too much zucchini these days. This is New England. I lock my trunk in summer, or people deposit bags of the stuff.”
You laugh, but tomorrow is actually National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night. Yes, that’s an official holiday.
Barbara Kingsolver knows all about that. In her book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (it’s great, folks! You should get a copy), she describes zucchini season in her small farming town. After weeks of cooking with zucchini, handing bags of zucchini to every visitor, and even wondering if someone could make a car that runs on zucchini, she says:
One day we came home from some errands to find a grocery sack of them hanging on our mailbox. The perpetrator, of course, was nowhere in sight.“Wow,” we all said—“what a good idea!”Garrison Keillor says July is the only time of year when country people lock our cars in the church parking lot, so people won’t put squash on the front seat. I used to think that was a joke.I don’t want to advertise the presence or absence of security measures in our neighborhood, except to say that in rural areas, generally speaking, people don’t lock their doors all that much….So the family was a bit surprised when I started double-checking the security of doors and gates any time we all were about to leave the premises.“Do I have to explain the obvious?” I asked impatiently. “Somebody might break in and put zucchini in our house.”
Kingsolver has a few disappearing zucchini recipes up her sleeve, including Disappearing Zucchini Orzo and Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies (which her daughter swears is indistinguishable from the non-zucchini type)
I also tried some zucchini recipes recently:
1. Tomatillo Zuke-a-mole
(looks like a soup here – picture it surrounded by chips or veggies for dipping).This is adapted from a recipe in Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini: the Essential Reference by Elizabeth Schneider. You can find the original recipe here. I made some variations, as I had some added ingredients (tomatillos from our CSA), and didn’t have any lemons.
2 medium-sized zucchini
8 tomatillos of various sizes, outer shell peeled, and sticky stuff washed off
12 cloves garlic (various sizes, separated, still in skins)
1 large onion (sweet varieties preferred, i.e. Vidalia, Walla Walla)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
A big handful of herbs – basil plus flat-leaf parsley
Juice of a lime
salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Preheat oven to 375. Slice zucchini in half, lengthwise. Dehusk tomatillos and wash. Separate garlic cloves but keep skins on. Quarter onion. Place vegetables in roasting pan and slather with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the teaspoon of salt. Roast until extremely tender, at least 1 hour and up to 90 minutes.
While vegetables are roasting, prepare herbs; pull leaves off stems and tear or chop coarsely. Let vegetables cool slightly and squeeze garlic from skins. Place all vegetables into blender and pulse. Add herbs. Puree until smooth and combined. Add lime juice and salt. Drizzle in remaining olive oil. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly.
Chill and serve with crackers, pita crisps, crudite or make as part of a sandwich. Makes about 1 quart.
Let it be said that Blair does NOT LIKE zucchini. But he does like chips, and is grateful for any excuse to dip into a bag of tortilla chips. “It’s not quite a regular guacamole,” he said, munching down. “But it’s pretty good.”
Merrie, in typical Merrie fashion, liked it on Day 1 (“Mmm. Mommy, that’s delicious!”), but by Day 2 was shugging it off (“I don’t like it, Mommy. Can I have a cookie?”).
Me? I liked it. I also felt virtuous to be able to do something different with my stacks of zucchini.
2. Vegetarian Summer Pasta (or, what to serve to a vegetarian family that just had a baby, are Omnivore’s Dilemma types, and have very politely let you know that they’ve grown weary of salads).
Nothing fancy here — you’ve probably made plenty of similar recipes in your own kitchen — but it was pretty tasty, if I do say so myself.
2-3 garlic cloves
1-2 zucchini or yellow squash
2 large ripe tomatoes, skins peeled, and chopped
Handful of fresh basil
A few pinches fresh oregano
Half a can of garbanzo beans, drained
Salt and pepper to taste
Box o’ pasta
A big ol’ thing of shredded hard cheese, like parmesan.
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Add fresh oregano. Then add chopped zucchini and sautee another couple of minutes. Add tomatoes (peeling is easy — just dunk briefly in boiling water, and the skins will come right off). Add beans. Sautee for another minute or so. At this point, it seemed sort of watery, so I mixed up a Tablespoon of flour with water, added, and sauteed again (more on thickening sauces here). Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste, add heaps of fresh basil and shredded cheese, and serve over cooked pasta.
It was pretty good, with enough for plenty of leftovers.
Now go rev up your getaway car, so you can sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor’s porch tomorrow.