Celebrating the Summer Harvest and Too many Zucchini

It is the peak of summer. For gardeners and those of us who had the foresight to sign up for a farm share or CSA (Community Presupposed Agriculture), this means bounty. Veggies galore. Corn is ready, green beans, and don’t even get us started about the tomatoes! It’s all good. But for some of us, especially in New England, the bounty of the late summer harvest presents serious cooking challenges. Especially when it comes to zucchini.

Easy to grow in many zones, zucchini is a hardy, leafy plant whose fruit can grow to be longer than three feet. This unassuming green summer squash, the Brits call it courgette, is ubiquitous and can be daunting to new gardeners. Thousands of friends on Facebook are sharing a Photoshopped image of a giant zucchini taking over the entire porch of a house. A Google search for “Why so Many Zucchini?” produces more than 7 million results. Articles such as “What To Do When You Have WAY Too Much Zucchini”  (http://www.huffingtonpost.com) and “10 Things to Do with Zucchini When You’ve Lost All Hope” (http://www.thekitchn.com) are all over the Internet.

Don’t panic. The zucchini is “low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Thiamin, Niacin and Pantothenic Acid, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese.” And given the right spices, herbs, and preparation, can taste amazing either sweet or savory.

Added to sweet cakes and breads, zucchini is moist and delicious. Add chocolate, and it’s over the top. Just imagine chocolate zucchini cake, chocolate zucchini brownies, chocolate zucchini donuts, double chocolate espresso zucchini anything…Or savory recipes might hit the spot for you: zucchini pancakes, zucchini fritters, zucchini frittata, stuffed zucchini, zucchini boats with mozzarella and tomato…Or slice it super thin and use it in place of nori for sushi or veggies. Slice it in ribbons and use in place of linguini. Add it to a Vietnamese Pho…

There are almost as many things you can do with a zucchini as there are zucchini at the farm stands right now. Among the thousands of great zucchini recipes, we found this one to be just about the greatest: Zucchini Carpaccio. It’s elegant, it’s tasty, it lightning fast to make, and no cooking!

This recipe is from Chow (http://www.chow.com/recipes/10981-zucchini-carpaccio-with-feta-and-pine-nuts)

  • 2 medium zucchini or other summer squash, ends trimmed and sliced into paper-thin rounds
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 teaspoons high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons loosely packed fresh mint or chervil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts

Combine zucchini rounds and lemon zest in a medium bowl and toss to coat zucchini. Arrange zucchini on a platter, slightly overlapping the slices. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle remaining ingredients over zucchini and serve.

This one is from Kcet.org (http://www.kcet.org/living/food/the-public-kitchen/recipe-zucchini-carpaccio.html)

  • 2 medium-sized zucchini
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
  • Shaved Parmesan

Slice zucchini as thinly as possible and arrange on a plate. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Top with pine nuts and shavings of Parmesan.

Bon Appétit.