By Barbie Aknin, Owner of Community Cuisine
... the vegetable that people grow and give away. If you have friends with too much zucchini on their hands, accept the offer and try my favorite preparations.
Summer squash (along with most summer fruits and veggies) is loaded with water unlike their denser, sweeter, winter cousins. Makes sense as summer is the time that we need that extra hydration. They are also detoxifying and they conveniently match our summer mood; who wants to stand over the stove in 100 degree heat?
My favorite things to do with zucchini:
1. Simply slice large wedges that won’t fall through the grill. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh herbs; I love fresh oregano on zucchini. Grill and serve sprinkled with feta cheese. Grilled zucchini on a salad with grilled chicken or fish is nice too.
2. Salting is a wonderful way to remove the spongy texture of summer veggies giving them a crisp cooked texture while remaining raw.
- -Grate small green, yellow, or both zucchini using a box grater or food processor. You need a lot; eight small to medium zucchini yield about 4 servings.
- -Place in a colander and sprinkle heavily with sea salt. Toss and leave to drain (with a bowl underneath) for 30 minutes.
- -In the mean time, heat 1/4 cup of good quality olive oil in a small pan. Add 1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds, pine nuts or coarsely chopped hazelnuts and sauté until golden. Remove from the heat and cool.
- -Rinse the shredded zucchini well, tasting to make sure the salty taste is mild.
- -Squeeze mounds of the zucchini over the sink, removing as much liquid as possible.
- -Place in a serving dish loosening up the clumps. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and spoon the nut-oil mixture over the zucchini. Olive oil adds flavor and unctuousness so add more if needed. Serve with crostini.
- Note: you can also slice zucchini thinly and use the same treatment for a salad version adding cherry tomatoes, etc. with a touch of olive oil and fresh lemon.
3. The preparation above is delicious tossed with hot spaghetti. You can also add lemon zest, chili flakes, Parmesan, fresh basil or oregano, cherry tomatoes, more olive oil....
4. Lastly, using a good non-stick pan, heat to medium and sprinkle generously with dill, fennel or caraway seeds, which ever you enjoy. Warm the seeds until you begin to smell the fragrance. Lay 1/4-inch slices of squash on the seeds covering the pan. Allow the squash to turn a golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and turn the pieces over to finish cooking. They are delicious with a bit of crunch.
I hope you are having a fabulous summer and I hope to see you in the kitchen soon!