Right around this time each year, gardeners are confronted by a massive invasion. The unusually damp summer weather this year has made matters worse. It is not the dreaded Japanese Beetle, nor is it the destructive gypsy moth. No, sir. Gardens across New England (and much of the rest of the country) are threatened to be overrun by an oblong, stippled green vegetable. Yes, friends, zucchini season is upon us.
Some gardeners are trying to eliminate the menace in charitable ways. They sneak “gift” zucchinis into the unlocked cars, mailboxes, and upturned umbrellas of unknowing strangers. (Fortunately this kind of villainous zucchini forcing is only common in some parts of the Northeast, much of the country is still safe.) Other perpetrators pile their zucchini at roadsides and mark them with “free” signs.
But this year, we have found the answer to the annual vegetable plague. Pasta. That’s right. Pasta. The beloved staple of Italian cuisine is here to save the day. Simply replace the pasta in any of your favorite pasta recipes with shaved zucchini. It’s easy, delicious, nutritious, and remarkably painless. Here’s how:
- Slice off the ends of medium-sized zucchinis (one per adult should suffice for dinner or lunch)
- Using long swipes with a vegetable peeler, shave off linguini- and fettuccini-sized pieces, turning the vegetable as you go
- Toss these zucchini ‘noodles’ in a bowl with olive oil, lemon juice, fresh basil, crushed garlic, fresh pepper, salt and grated parmesan
- Top with toasted pine nuts, slivered almonds, or chopped walnuts
Et Voîla! The perfect lunch or light dinner. You can make the meal vegan, by omitting the cheese. Or make the meal extravagant by adding shaved prosciutto. Other add-on possibilities include sun-dried tomatoes, olives, anchovies, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, shaved asparagus, marinated mushrooms…this list goes on and on.
Zucchini is very low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol, and is a good source of Vitamin A, Thiamin, Niacin, Phosphorus and Copper, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium, and Manganese. And of course raw zucchini is a very good source of dietary fiber.
If you are averse to raw veggies, simply blanche the zucchini noodles in boiling slated water for 30 seconds before tossing with other ingredients.
Bon Appétit. Happy gardening