Monday, February 14, 2011

Zucchini Survival Strategies

Every gardener knows the sipping-from-a-firehose experience of growing zucchini. No matter how little you plant or how assiduously you put it on the table, there's always too much. And when you fall a little behind, they...just...keep...GROWING. There are places where gardeners sneak bags of the stuff onto the neighbors' front porch then tiptoe away.

Just as an aside, one of the few things I've figured out on my own about cooking is what to do with zucchini that have grown to the size of a cricket bat: Oven-Fried Zucchini. That is, cut it in half; scoop out the mealy spongey bit in the middle, if any; cut it lengthwise into pieces as thick as your finger; toss it in olive oil, salt and pepper and maybe some dried oregano; lay it out on peel side down on a baking sheet; and bake at, oh, 375° or so for at least an hour, until it condenses WAY down and takes on a golden hue. If your oven is hermetically sealed, you need to figure out how to let all that moisture out if it's not to basically stew in there. Propping the oven open a tad works for me. So does having a convection fan on.

(By the way, can anyone explain to me why an oven with a fan is called a "convection oven"? Isn't convection what happens when there IS no fan?)

Two people can get through a HUGE amount of vegetable this way. It's not unusual for Krys and me to disappear one of the aforementioned cricket bats on our own. And you can make a lovely pasta, adapted from Marcella Hazan:

Zucchini Sauce with Basil and Beaten Egg Yolk

* enough oven-fried zucchini for two, as above
* 3 T. butter
* 1 t. flour dissolved in 1/3 cup milk
* salt
* 1 egg yolk
* 1/2 cup Parmesan
* 1/4 cup Romano
* 2/3 cup fresh basil leaves, torn by the alabaster hand of a virginal Roman slave boy into delicate, freshly scented shards

(Okay, I made that part up. Do it yourself if you don't have a slave boy or if he's been plucked. If you chop it, I won't tell Marcella if you don't.)

* about a pound of pasta

Get the pasta going.

Melt 2 T of the butter in a pan over medium heat. When the foam subsides, stir in the milk/flour mixture and whisk a minute or so to thicken. Add the zucchini and stir to coat. Swirl in the third
tablespoon of butter and the egg yolk, stir to thicken it a tad, then take off the heat before the egg turns to custard. Toss the pasta with the sauce, the cheese, and the basil, and whisk it to the table.

No comments:

Post a Comment