Sunday, August 14, 2016

Zucchini Rant

It is a known fact on Denman Island to never leave the windows of your unattended vehicle down during zucchini season; you will have bags of them left on the seat when you return!   *Excerpt from 'Zucchini Madness' in my cookbook, 'For the Love of Food' 

Every year I hear complaints from home gardeners about growing zucchini; 'there is just too much', 'what to do with the monster found lurking', 'they have no flavor' .... 'I can't even give them away!!' And every year I try to educate folks about how to harvest and truly enjoy these delicious, tender gems. 

Sam and Emily of 'Two Roads Farm' harvest zucchini at their gourmet prime. They harvest and sell baskets of tiny, assorted summer squash at the Denman Island Saturday Market. I overheard a woman at their tent exclaim that "all these years she was growing them wrong". In fact, she was probably growing them right... just harvesting them wrong!
The secret... pick them young! The 'big' yellow zucchini above is 4" long!
The very best zucchinis to eat are 3-4 inches long. Being young, tender and crisp, you can do almost anything with them. All gardeners know by the end of the season, or during late summer clean up, inevitably the frighteningly out-sized, monster zucchini will appear. Many simply compost these specimens, others bravely soldier on with zucchini loaf, zucchini pickles, zucchini chocolate cake and heaven knows what other concoctions. My favorite options; cut them in half and place them outside the garden gate for the deer... chickens also love them this way. 

Summer squash cooked fresh from the garden are sweeter and more delicious than those found in grocery stores. They can be quickly rinsed to get rid of soil or dust but must never see water again. Picked in their infancy, they need only be tossed with some butter in a fry pan for several minutes over a medium heat to bring out their best. For the BBQ you will need to pick them a little larger, about 6-8" long, to slice in half or thirds.

This is a favorite of mine; try it at your next cook out. 

6 Tbsp. (1½ -2 lemons) fresh squeezed lemon juice 
6 Tbsp. olive oil 
2 Tbsp. finely minced white onion 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, minced 
½ tsp. sea salt 
½ tsp. black pepper 
Several dashes of Tabasco Sauce 
6 small zucchini (6-8 inches long) halved lengthwise 

Shake the marinade ingredients together in a jar. Let sit 20 minutes. In a shallow pan, arrange the zucchini in a single layer and cover with the marinade. Allow to sit for 2 hours, turn and baste occasionally with the marinade. 
Prior to lighting the barbecue, brush or spray the grill with a light coat of vegetable oil. Preheat the barbecue to medium-high. Grill zucchini cut-side down for 4 minutes. Flip over and baste with remaining marinade. Continue to grill until tender, about 10-12 minutes total.  

Till next time, Happy Gardening and Bon App├ętit!

Photo by Sally Rae ~ Baby Zucchini and Patty Pan from Sally Rae's garden
Recipe from 'For the Love of Food' by Sally Rae

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