Recipe: Zucchini And Summer Squash
Twice a month, Berkshire County native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, titled “The Homemade Kitchen,” due out this year.
Here we go. Welcome to zucchini season.
It starts out slowly, like most food seasons do. Your plant in the garden extends itself first into big clumsy flowers, then a few slender fruits that you pick with great anticipation, already imagining them grilled, slivered, fried—but most of all delicious. Maybe there’s a little basket of them at the market, and of all the vegetables that’s the one you choose, knowing that with that purchase, summer is finally here.
But then they come for real, and no matter the weather, it’s always raining summer squash. They might be the subtle yellows, the UFO-like pattypans, or the blink-your-eyes-and-they’ve-doubled-in-size classic green zucchinis. Things turn dire, and neighbors start dropping off paper bags full of overgrown zucchinis under the cover of night. They claim it’s because they were passing by your house on their way back from Tanglewood and they know how much you love zucchini, but you and I both know it’s because they didn’t want to give you the chance to say “No thank you! I’ve got enough zucchini already.”
Oh we’re not there yet. But it will come. It will come soon.
It’s best to get out ahead if it, to remember how you love to prepare it, and keep building up the love affair right now, when it’s easy. Later, you can grumble as you shred zucchini for freezer bags that hopefully someday you’ll dig out of the freezer in January, somehow wildly inspired to turn the zucchini-cicle into chocolate zucchini bread. But now, now! We blacken the skin on the grill and eat each spear with our fingers. We shred it fine and toss it with good olive oil and lots of lemon. But mostly over here, I’m already loving my all-purpose favorite summer squash method. This is how it goes:
I pull out my trusty (although, yes, terrifying) mandolin and I transform as many summer squash as I have into thin coins. I pour several glugs of olive oil into a hot skillet, and I toss those coins with herbs (basil, rosemary, winter savory—you really can’t go wrong) and garlic (or right now, garlic scapes, which go especially well), and I shuffle them until they’ve shrunk and turned golden in places, and I’m moved to eat them out of the pan. Then there’s salt and pepper and a shot of balsamic. And finally there’s a whole lot of grating the Parmesan right over the pan.
From there, you can eat it right there while you decide what to do with it. But the beauty of this method is that it becomes a perfect base for so many different directions. Add beaten egg and milk to cover the vegetables and cook it for an amazing frittata. Spread it on grilled or toasted bread for a crostini. Or boil a pound of pasta, and spread your summer squash gold on top. It’s so good any which way. And because it cooks down, and makes you want to eat it all, it’s the perfect recipe to carry you through zucchini season.