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On zucchini

August 15, 2014
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We recently returned from an 8-day vacation.  When we got home, I wandered into the vegetable garden and found seven obscenely large zucchini / “pool ball” (ha!  basketball!) squash laughing heartily.  They were growing so fast I swear they were bigger 30 seconds after I spied them, when I returned with a knife to hack them free.

Child for scale.  The squash are 60% of his body weight.

Child for scale. The squash are literally 60% of his body weight.

This is a challenge for me, although not an unwelcome one.  They are too large to stick in a neighbor’s mailbox under cover of darkness, and gifting them to friends seems nearly like an act of aggression, although one friend did bravely cart one home to make bread.  In retrospect, I should have lent her the wheelbarrow… The largest zucchini is nearly 5 inches in diameter.  The largest pool ball squash would make an excellent jack-o-lantern.  Combined, I harvested 25.7 pounds of squash from one week’s neglect.  Twenty-five-point-seven-pounds.  From three unfertilized plants.

It is astounding to me that three plants can produce so much vegetable matter in one week.  It’s alchemy.

Some people would be dismayed at a counterfull of zucchini, but we love to gobble it up when it’s crashing through the kitchen door for free.  In our five years of vegetable gardening, we have amassed a collection of awesome zucchini recipes, and while I don’t get excited about eating it raw, I’m perfectly happy if it’s cooked up right.

Some of the meals we are currently really enjoying (repeatedly) include:

Roasted zucchini torta with tomato and mozarella, Jack Bishop’s Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook.  This was unexpectedly, profoundly delicious.  It far surpassed what I imagined.  Roasting the squash before layering it with cheese and tomato sauce made it unbelievably sweet and tasty.  We use cherry tomatoes from the garden instead of the canned crushed tomatoes listed when we’ve got them.

Zucchini and ricotta fritters with lemon, Jack Bishop’s Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen.  One of my favorites.  I can eat a lot of these.  A lot.

Spaghetti with zucchini and lemon, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.  Pea’s favorite, and fast and simple to prepare.

Zucchini frittata with parmesan, Jack Bishop’s Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen.  Fast and simple for a weeknight, this is awesome with a green salad and some roasted fingerling potatoes.

Bountiful garden zucchini enchiladas (add a can of black beans).  This has been a summer staple in our house for years.  It’s a bit slow to assemble, but can be made in advance.  Cool, fresh tomatoes from the garden are added after it’s removed, piping hot from the oven.  Late summer perfection.

Happily, other bloggers have typed all of these out so I can easily share them with you.  If you see a trend with Jack Bishop, it is because he is my god of vegetarian cooking.  Nom nom nom nom, so delicious.  Don’t ask me about his potato arugula pizza unless you have an hour.  Pure genius.

Now there are only 2 squash left on the counter.  The rest has been consumed, given away, or shredded and frozen.  I have 20 cups in the freezer so far and will probably add to that stash before the season is over.  Given our love of the above recipes, that won’t last as long as one might think.

My favorite quick bread recipe for zucchini is one with lemon.  I add 1t vanilla extract and up the lemon zest to an entire lemon.  There are two loaves cooling on the counter as I type, ready to go to a garden party across town tomorrow.  A blogger I follow is having a pot-luck brunch followed by a tour of hers and three other vegetable gardens on the east side.  I geek out seeing vegetable gardens and can’t wait.  I hope for lots of inspiration for the garden for next year – like other varieties of zucchini I should try.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nancy permalink
    August 16, 2014 12:43 am

    And I have the opposite this year – the least ever. 1 dwarf growing the last month & finally harvested only fit to shred. If only I wasn’t going on vacation for 9 days, I would happily take a few off your hands. Instead, I spoke loudly at the farmer’s market a few weeks back, while taking away a club-sized specimen, “It’s a sin in Wisconsin to have to buy a zucchini!”

    • August 18, 2014 4:49 pm

      Well, Nancy, the squash boom is over. Powdery mildew has arrived, and I, too, will be buying my zucchini at the market for the rest of the summer. Hope you’re having a great vacation!

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