The justly famous writer, Russell Baker, once chronicled this time of year, when zucchini ripened, as a time when local gardeners would sneak up to their neighbors porches after dark to leave anonymous gifts of their over abundant zucchini. The food writer, Elizabeth David, is credited with bringing zucchini to American tables in the 1950s. I suspect that at least part of her success was due to her liberation of the zucchini from its more commonly overcooked, watery uncaring recipes. She celebrated its raw crunch, its sweet light fresh flavor and maintaining its delicate firmness if we choose to cook it at all. Zucchini and its sibling, yellow squash, are both summer squashes and are beginning to be available in our market.
In zucchini, we have yet another fruit masquerading as a vegetable, specifically a berry. Its ancestry is distinctly American, as are all squashes. Only when the Spanish transported them to Europe and then the Italians bred and cultivated them, did this squash take its current form which is occasionally called a “tender” squash due to the thin, edible skin.
Zucchini is as easy going as it is easy to grow. It’s a culinary chameleon able to play a main or a supporting role on the table. This squash is an affable member of any team, plays and works well with many different textures. It can stand up to spice or relax with cream. It can be eaten raw, makes a terrific scoop for dips and adds crunch to a salad. There are probably more recipes for zucchini than any other single vegetable (fruit), including zucchini bread, zucchini pickles and zucchini pudding. It is attractive to other vegetables, a good foil for meats and is happily married to grains and pastas of unlimited shapes. Better yet, zucchini is equally happy to be the pasta itself.
Spiralized vegetables has become quite trendy thing, most especially when the spirals in question are zoodles. Zoodles are produced when a zucchini is spiralized or julienned and used like linguine or spaghetti. For those trying to manage carbohydrates it is a minor miracle. In my first experiments, I tried to parboil the zoodles. It was possible, but extremely difficult, to not overcook them. However, when served with a hot sauce, the sauce alone is able to cook the zoodles perfectly and keeping a toothsome firmness.
The longest zucchini on record was grown by Giovanni Batista Scozzafava in 2014 and measured 8 foot 3 inches long. The heaviest zucchini record holder is Bernard Lavery of the U.K. who captured his title with a 64 pound 8 ounce zucchini in 1990. However, the best ones for eating are harvested young, tender and small to medium in size. There are many recipes on the website that we have previously published such as: Zucchini Fontina Lasagna, Grilled Zucchini, Zucchini Linguine with Creamy Lemon Basil Sauce, Chicken with Asparagus, Zucchini and Basmati Rice and Summer Squash & Onion Gratin. Today’s new recipe is for Zoodle Pad Thai which is a refreshing meal in the early dog days we are experiencing.