Garden: The Carbophobe’s Answer to Zucchini Overload
At this point in the growing season, an overabundance of zucchini is practically a universal joke. In our household, we don’t complain about the ridiculously prolific cucurbita pepo overcrowding the chard and cherry tomatoes in our vegetable garden. Instead, we make zucchini pasta. Not pasta with zucchini – pasta made from zucchini.
Zucchini pasta addresses two problems: those overzealous zucchini plants; and the craving for carb-laden pasta that hits just as you’ve managed to get through a few days without eating any wheat. It’s easy to make; we borrowed a page from raw foods cookbooks and bought a vegetable spiralizer, which is something like a sideways mandoline that twirls the zucchini through a vertical blade, creating long, thin, pasta-like strands. (You can also buy a julienne peeler, though the strands it produces are not as long or thin, and the process is much less fun.)
When we’ve got a critical mass of zucchini strands, we diverge from the raw foodists and sauté the zucchini in olive oil, usually throwing in a bunch of cherry tomatoes, which are also growing out of control in our garden right now, and a few leaves of slivered basil, also fresh from our garden. Top with a pinch of sea salt, crushed red pepper, and some toasted pine nuts, and we’ve got one fast, delicious, nutritious meal, with all the satisfaction of a plate of pasta minus the carbs.
Those zucchini that escape surveillance and get harvested a bit too late – you know, the giant zucchini – also get the pasta treatment. But instead of spaghetti-like strands, we slice these thin, lengthwise, and use them in place of lasagna noodles. If you want to be particular, go ahead and use your mandoline, but we find that we can slice them thin enough by hand, given a sharp knife. You can layer your ingredients on thin, raw slices of zucchini, though we prefer to slightly sauté or grill them first.
So, before you leave your extra zucchini on your neighbor’s porch, try using them in place of pasta. You may find that your days of complaining about too much zucchini are over. — Bess Hochstein