Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fresh Young Zucchini

No doubt my esteemed regular readers will have noticed a sharp drop in my postings for the last ten days. I've been away--far away, in fact, and this, combined with certain events and the company I've kept, has done me a world--nay, a universe--of good. Anyway, I'm back and ready to rock and roll.

Among the most pressing duties upon returning home was perusing the garden for new growth and harvesting the vegetables. It's amazing how fast and ridiculously huge zucchini will grow if left unattended. I never knew this before, and had been--it turns out--unfairly critical of American farmers who leave their zucchini to become grotesquely large, with leathery skins and no flavor. I had presumed this to be a way of increasing profits at the expense of quality, when in fact it takes a watchful eye and swift action to prevent these runaway monsters from manifesting under the cover of a squash plant's enormous leaves. A mere two or three days can swell tender, graceful fingers into coarse bats and cudgels.

We did get some gorgeous babies in the nick of time, some with voluptuous blossoms attached. The example in the picture is no bigger than my pinky, resting in a hand-blown Mexican tequila glass. This is the way I like them--tender but firm, and bursting with concentrated flavor.

I wasted no time preparing them. My wife took charge of the overgrown squashes--which even at their size were remarkably tender and juicy--shredding them for the zucchini and basil omelets she and my son adore. Tonight, she cut thin slices, salted them, and let them drain before dredging them in chick pea flour and frying them.

I made a favorite dish of my own with the young ones, a summer treat with white corn. I began by sautéing quite a bit of diced sweet onion and a little minced garlic in EVOO until very tender. Then I added tiny rounds of the zucchini (a few larger ones I halved or quartered for uniformity of size) and let them cook a while. After a bit, I cut the kernels off a few ears of white corn and then scraped the starch off the cobs into the pot with the back of the knife. Then I stirred in fine grain Celtic salt and freshly ground black pepper. After a few minutes, just as the vegetables were tender but still firm, I added a handful of coarsely chopped zucchini blossoms. Then I cut the heat and stirred in just a few leaves of finely sliced basil.

Corn and young zucchini are truly a peerless match, especially augmented by the surrounding aromatics in this dish. Even the leftovers, reheated the next day for a quick lunch, are like candy to me. I suppose it does help that I don't eat candy, because this dish is sublimely sweet to my palate.

You know that line of clothing with the "Life is good" bit on it? Understatement of the century.


  1. My, my that is one very phallic-looking baby zucchini! Sorry...that's just where my mind goes...

    On another note, I heard you on the Ask a Vegan podcast! :-)