Eating zucchini or, how to eat in season without chomping on sunflower sprouts
Not there’s anything bad about sprouts. But sometimes an eater wants to skip over the raw kale salad and vinegar slaw and eat some comfort food, even if IS summer and the bounty is plentiful!
Here’s how to do it:
Take a non ginormous zucchini or two, plop in a bowl of water to soak (Marcella’s technique for loosening ground sitting vegetable from its soil), boil some pasta, chop a bit of onion and sauté it in butter, add zucchini which you have cut into julienne, pour in some pasta water to reduce, add cream and saffron and reduce again. That’s it!
When your pasta — I recommend fettucine — is done, serve under cream sauce and add grated parmesan. I think I can skip the ice cream on this night. I had my cream in savory form, thanks!
1/4 # fettucini
4 T chopped onion
1-2 small zucchinis, cut into julienne strips, 1-1/2” by 1/4”
1 c heavy cream
Spring variation: substitute asparagus for zucchini; steam it ahead before cutting into 1-1/2” lengths before sautéing as above.
Sometimes it’s nice to have summer corn OFF the cob. My favorite way to do this is to sauté corn with olive oil, peppers and red onion, and then let a bit of garlic join the party near the end. Takes about 10-15 minutes tops to cook. Or you can pop in a hot oven on a sheet pan if it’s not 90 degrees.
That’s it. The technique comes from White Dog Café cookbook, which has long been a favorite cookbook. Judy Wickes has you make a salsa with lime after the corn cooks, which is a very good idea, but I haven’t gone to that stage yet and have been happily mired in the eat after the first step stage. It’s good. Here’s her recipe: https://tinyurl.com/y8up78sl
Here’s a rough guide:
Remove kernels from corn cobs with a big sharp knife. Dice some nice peppers — a medium hot/sweet and a serrano or other hot pepper makes a nice balance. Or you can use also a red sweet pepper. Rough chop red onion. Mince a garlic clover.
Heat a pan, add olive oil, and corn, peppers and onion and cook at high temp for up to 10 minutes, stirring often. Altnernatively, heat the oven to 450 degrees, mix your corn, onion and peppers together with S&P in a bowl, and toss with a bit of olive oil, glob on some olive oil, dump in your corn, and roast for 10-15 minutes, adding in garlic a minute before it’s all cooked — or you can add the garlic when it comes out of the oven. All good. Let sit until the rest of your dinner cooks, and enjoy! Corn may only marginally be considered a vegetable, but peppers, onion and garlic are high in the healthy scorecard, and hey, it’s all better than potato chips! Enjoy!
Okay, kids, boil away! “No way!” I hear hordes shouting. Yes, indeed, I’m here to tell you that those staple roots available at very reasonable prices at farmers markets in early summer and fall to winter are actually an enjoyable vegetable to eat at dinner. They’re a low carb alternative to potatoes on your dinner plate. And if you cook them promptly the greens are delicious with ’em, so you get a double dose of veggies — roots and greens — for one effort. And everything is better with roasted garlic, which this has.
Here’s what you do, per the very excellent and wacky Power Vegetables by the Lucky Peach folks. Boil them and toss them with a snazzy anchovy, caper vinaigrette and eat your low-carb veggies happily. You boil the peeled, cut turnips for 15 minutes or less, throw in their greens at the end (or arugula or spinach, as I did), then toss with a Riviera/Italian wacky vinaigrette and … wow! A great side to chicken or I’m told roast pork.
5 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 anchovy filets
1 t capers, rinsed and chopped
2 T chopped parsley
1/2 T red wine vinegar
1 T olive oil
4 turnips, peeled and cut into large bite-size pieces
Turnip greens, arugula or spinach (all optional)
- Heat oven to 300 degrees (or can go to 350 if need be)
- Put garlic cloves on pan and bake for 30 minutes until soft. Peel when cool enough to handle. Mash if you want.
- Put up large pot of water to boil.
- Make (low-volume liquid) vinaigrette: Put anchovies, capers, parsley, oil, vinegar & S&P in a jar and shake. Add garlic if cool, or else just hold on side to add with turnips later.
- When water boils and you’re ready to eat in 15 minutes, salt water and add turnips and boil for 15 minutes or until no resistance when poked with a knife, but before turning mushy. Add greens at end and drain, returning all to pot. Add dressing and garlic and stir well. Serve hot.
Hello August! Hello beautiful, succulent, bursting eggplant! Eggplant is in fact my most beloved vegetable. I love it roasted, sauteed, pureed, and recently boiled(!), and always, always with garlic.
One of my favorite ways to prepare eggplant is the white pizza equivalent of eggplant parmesan. You get the eggplant slices, plenty of mozzarella and parmesan, garlic, but no red sauce. Easier and quicker and, to my palate, tastier. Here’s the procedure: Slice one or two eggplants thickly the long way about 1/2-3/4″ thick, put on sheet pan that has olive oil on it, layer on some pureed parsley, garlic and oil, and roast for less than half an hour. Then throw on some mozzarella and parmesan, bake a little more, and you get meltingly soft eggplant with garlic flavor plus the parsley and that gooey warm cheese. Yum! I just made it two nights in a row. I think I could have eggplant almost every day. Yay August! Yay eggplant!
4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, leaves removed from stems
mozzarella — fresh, or supermarket, cut into pieces
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cover sheet pan with aluminum foil and put on a couple T olive oil.
- Put into mini food processor: parsley, garlic, S&P, olive oil. Whir around.
- Cut eggplant into thick slices, first cutting off skin to discard. Lay on pan and cross-hatch with knife. Smear on parsley mixture.
- Roast 20-30 mins until tender when poked with fork.
- Layer on mozzarella, then grate parmesan on top. Use lots!
- Roast another 5-7 mins until cheese is melting. Try not to eat it all!
Here’s a plethora of eggplant recipes to explore.
Inspiration: Bittman’s Roasted Eggplant with Garlic and Parsley, How to Cook Everything, p. 570
When you tire of summer salads, try soup! Now that seems like an odd notion in mid-summer. But…. High-summer season vegetables are coming in now: zucchini, green beans, sweet, sweet carrots. So toss them all in a soup pot and after you make some vegetable stock, make some vegetable soup. Nutritious, delicious and naturally low-calorie/carb.
1 onion (or 2 spring onions, with greens cut up and added later)
2 large carrots, diced medium
4 garlic cloves, minced medium
thyme – fresh or dried
1 zucchini – soaked, then cut into quarters and sliced
1 bay leaf
¼ to ½ # green beans, tipped and tailed, cut into 1-1/2 to 2” pieces OR bunch of swiss chard, stems removed, leaves torn and washed
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed
optional: corn cut from 2-3 ears; leftover rice; parmesan cheese rind; scallions if no fresh onion greens
- Put zucchini in sink or bowl to soak whole. (Removes any soil that settled into skin.) Dice onion, then carrots.
- Heat soup pot and add 2-3 T oil over medium-high heat. Cook onions with salt until soft. Add carrots, zucchini, thyme, S&P (hearty pinch of salt!), and cook until softened. Stir in garlic and bay leaf and cook for a minute until fragrant.
- Pour in vegetable stock – about 4-5 cups total (can include some water), and bring to rapid simmer. Throw in green beans and cook about 10+ minutes until just tender. Add rinsed beans, and corn and/or rice, if using.
If you have leftovers, refrigerate for up to one week.
Sugar snap peas are one of the delights of early summer. Fresh, green and vibrant. Cooking them in a gentle manner will preserve the bright flavor. I like this steam/sauté technique. Works well with other vegetables such as carrots.
Tip and peel strings on sides of sugar snaps. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat, add a nub of butter, sugar snaps, a few splashes of water and salt. Or throw them all in at one time. Cover and steam a couple minutes. Partially remove cover to let water evaporate. Takes about 5 minutes. Do not overcook! If you want to hold them for other dinner items to be done, undercook them a bit.
For carrots, slice and do the initial steaming part for longer. They’re heartier than sugar snaps, so remove the cover and let the heat boil off the water, and let the butter glaze the carrots beautifully. One of the nicest things you can do to farmers markets carrots in July into the fall.
If you’re like me (or like I used to be), you may be thinking broccoli is a fall/winter vegetable. Time to dispel that notion: If you plant a spring garden, or you have a good farmer nearby to purchase from at the farmers market you can have some very delicious broccoli in early summer.
There are at least two things to do with early summer broccoli. One is to not cook it and make a broccoli salad with mayo, red wine vinegar, a little honey, raisins and/or bacon. I’ll research that and get back to you on that score.
The second thing to do with early summer broccoli is to chop it up, sauté and eat with some pasta shells or little things like ziti. Not overcooked, it is nutty, delicious, bright green. Fabulous. In all good ways.
Ingredients: (per person)
1 stalk broccoli
2 (hefty!) cloves garlic
1-1/2 pieces of anchovy (I prefer in jars. Do not use anchovy paste, which is vile.)
dried red pepper flakes (or fresh Serrano, diced)
Romano cheese, grated
2 oz pasta shells
- Put up a big pot of water to boil with lots of (kosher) salt.
- Put your organic broccoli in a sink or pot of salted water for ½ hour or as long as you have to soak. This rehydrates the broccoli (which you probably don’t need if it’s local and freshly harvested, but I do it anyway) and makes any green worms sink from the salt and away from your broccoli.
- When the water has come to a boil and your broccoli has soaked long enough, throw in the pasta, and cook for a good 10+ minutes or until al dente.
- Chop your broccoli: Cut the flower tips up and cut in larger pieces. Chop the stems and stalk finely, cutting off tough outside of lower stalk. (Believe me: with fresh broccoli even the stalk is delicious.)
- Chop your garlic and anchovy.
- Heat a sauté pan, add a big glug of olive oil, and throw in garlic, red pepper flakes, anchovies, broccoli, S&P. Stir and cook at a robust temp. Ladle in some pasta water to stew gently, covered. DO NOT OVERCOOK. You want the broccoli crisp-tender, not mushy or it will lose all of its early summer fresh charm.
- Grate your cheese and set aside. Put a bowl on the stove to warm up.
- When pasta is done, drain and put into bowl. Throw your broccoli mixture on top and add cheese. Mangia!
Note: you can make this vegetarian by omitting anchovies and perhaps substituting capers, drained, rinsed and chopped.
Source: Sundays at Moosewood (very good Italian section)