Health, Wellness, and My "Multi-Life"

Zucchini–the Fruitcake of Summer

on September 11, 2013

Last week’s CSA share featured zucchini, perhaps the summer’s most maligned vegetable. If you don’t live in a town filled with home gardeners and farmers markets then you might not be familiar with zucchini overkill; but simply put, zucchini is the fruitcake of summer. Despite its tendency to overstay its welcome, some of us are still enjoying that lovely summer squash (as we will fruitcake for that matter)

Sign announcing "Leave zucchini on your neighbor's porch month"

A complex computer algorithm must be driving Highland Orchard’s CSA, because we’ve only received zucchini twice all summer. For this reason, I was practically ecstatic to find two beautiful zucchini in last week’s share. Also included were two ripe tomatoes, three beets with greens, corn, basil, and more. As soon as I saw the zucchini thoughts of an herby roasted ratatouille entered my mind. Luckily we just happened to have a few purple and white striped eggplants and an onion waiting at home. Is it just me, or does the universe sometime seem to be run by an empathetic cook with a taste for global cuisine?

Cartoon image from Pixar's Ratatouille

Because my boyfriend and I have slightly different eating habits, if he’s planning to make, say, pork chops for himself, I will prepare something that will work as a side for him and a main dish for myself. At some point last week he bought fresh chicken sausages. You know those math puzzles where they give you a string of numbers and you have to guess what comes next? They baffle me. Seriously, unless the sequence is 5, 10, 15 … the answer might as well be “antelope,” because I can never see the pattern. But present me with a random collection of ingredients, and–while I might not be able to use every single item (radishes, the eternal conundrum)–I’ll immediately start planning single dishes or even whole meals. The minute I saw those sausages I knew the time had come to break out the zucchini: grilled or pan-seared sausages, roasted ratatouille, and polenta with pesto. What a perfect meal! In fact, I was so enthusiastic about roasting vegetables that I filled two trays and planned on leftovers.

photo close-up of the ratatouille

Ratatouille Redux (better the next day)

Roasted Summer Vegetables:

  • two medium to large zucchini, cut into half moon slices
  • two small (not baby) eggplants, half-inch dice
  • one medium sweet onion, diced
  • grape or cherry tomatoes, pricked with a fork
  • olive oil
  • oregano (herbs de provence works well too)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Toss the the zucchini with a light sprinkling of oregano in small amount of olive oil and place in an even layer on a lightly greased non-stick cookie sheet. Toss the eggplant and onion in a bit more olive oil and spread into a greased baking pan. Place both in the oven. After 10-15 minutes, check your zucchini. When they are brown on the bottom, flip them and add the tomatoes to the cookie sheet. Stir the eggplant mixture. The vegetables should be done in 25-30 min. Toss everything together, season with salt.

Note: once the zucchini were done, I placed the eggplant mixture under the broiler for a few minutes for additional browning.

Basil Pistachio Pesto (vegan)

  • bunch of basil (about a cup, chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons of pistachios
  • 1 clove of garlic – peeled, smashed, and minced
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast (more to taste)
  • olive oil
  • salt (I use Maldon salt for almost everything)

Place the basil, pistachios, garlic, and nutritional yeast in a blender. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Pulse-mix for about 30 seconds. Mash everything down with a spatula, add more olive oil, and mix again. Repeat until desired consistency. Season to taste with salt, pepper (if desired), and additional nutritional yeast.

As my boyfriend cooked his sausages, I pan fried slices of ready-made polenta. I dolloped the pesto on the polenta and garnished his vegetables with a parmesan-romano blend. The meal looked beautiful, but it it left me a little disappointed. Although I love roasted vegetables, the classic “stewier” form of ratatouille would probably have better complemented the polenta. We were also running low on tomatoes, so the dish didn’t feel balanced.

Another reason to love leftovers? a shot at redemption, a fix for a flawed meal.

The next day I smeared fish fillets (cape capensis) with the leftover pesto and baked them at 350 degrees. While they cooked, I reheated the vegetables in a skillet along with a diced fresh tomato. Served alongside local sweet corn, this turned out to be a real winner (despite the ratty photo of a warmed-over plate taken with a Blackberry)!

photo of dinner plate

Dinner, Version 2


2 responses to “Zucchini–the Fruitcake of Summer

  1. kris says:

    Looks sooo good. No grains? Some brown rice is always nice (vegan poetry?).

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