Summer is the season for zucchini, or courgettes for my UK readers. I didn’t like it growing up, but I have come to love their fresh flavour in the past few years. And you can find HUGE ones at the farmer’s market about now, as well. I try to avoid the gigantic ones as they don’t have much flavour, but there are also some beautiful, petite zucchinis hanging around, as well. Look for small squash that are dark green (or vibrant yellow), smooth and unblemished. Obviously, avoid ones with mushy brown spots. I don’t know any vegetable that’s good when it’s mushy and brown…
Zucchini are great grilled. I like to cut them into long slices, about a centimetre thick. Don’t cut them too thinly or they will burn. Brush them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until they are tender and have lovely grill marks. You can also sprinkle these with some balsamic vinegar. It makes a great side dish to grilled fish and chicken. If you’re not grilling, it also roasts well. Cut the squash into thick coins, about 2 centimetres or so. I like to cut them on the bias as this gives a larger surface area for browning. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a 400F oven for about 20 minutes or so, tossing once. Again, you can toss them with balsamic.
Zucchini also pairs beautifully with pasta. I like to shave it into ribbons with a vegetable peeler and saute in a little oil with garlic and slivered onions. A little sprinkle of red pepper flakes never hurt anyone, either. Saute until just tender and toss with pasta and a little parmesean cheese and a sprinkle of lemon zest. This is a very easy, fresh, light dinner.
You can also cut the zucchini in half, scoop out the seeds and stuff them and broil in the oven. A good combo is ricotta cheese, pine nuts, green onions and parm. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly. You can then slice them up and serve, or just serve one per plate. Don’t forget the salt and pepper.
If you are lucky enough to get the blossoms, don’t discard them. Clean them well, and if there is a little pod on the inside, remove it. Stuff them with a mixture of ricotta cheese, green onions, herbs, parm, chilli, whatever you want. Dip them in a batter (flour, eggs, water, whatever) and deep fry them. These are heavenly.
Enjoy some zucchini this summer! Just avoid the giant ones that could club a horse!