Ahh, the tell-tale signs of summer’s end: a chill in the morning, a bit of smoke in the air, and copious amounts of zucchini.
I recently heard an interview with Stanley Tucci wherein he sings the praises of a simple dish of zucchini and pasta. It sounded like a dish my mom made — minus the pasta, basil and parmesan. Basically, my mom fried up zucchini with a bit of butter and olive oil until the squash had toasty brown bits on either side, and it was delicious.
In an NPR Fresh Air interview with Stanley Tucci, he says to add a splash of pasta water and a dash of salt to the cooked zucchini and mash the zucchini until it becomes saucy. Toss in some torn basil and transfer your cooked spaghetti right into the sauce. Top with shredded pecorino Romano and parmigiano-reggiano cheeses.
This pasta dish could be kicked up a notch with zucchini meatballs and fresh tomatoes. Too much, you say? I disagree. It’s zucchini season. There should be entire meals dedicated to this abundant seasonal fruit. Did you know zucchini is botanically classified as fruit?
My mom served up dry turkey meatballs alongside her fried zucchini. I’ve added a few more ingredients to create a juicy meatball with herbs, lemon juice and a spicy kick.
Combine two cups shredded zucchini, one grated shallot, a half-cup of bread crumbs, one pound ground turkey, cumin and red pepper flakes to taste, and a mixture of chopped fresh herbs. I use mint, basil, oregano, parsley and dill. Squeeze a lemon over the mixture and stir in crumbled feta cheese. Using oiled hands, roll mixture into small balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.
End the meal on a high note with zucchini brownies. I made a batch of these chocolatey treats last week, loosely based on an online recipe. Lacking most of the ingredients in the recipe, I substituted with what was in the pantry and the result was a fudgy delight. Combine two cups shredded zucchini, one egg, half-a-cup of melted coconut oil, half-a-cup of honey, one teaspoon of garam masala, half-a-cup of cocoa powder, half-a-teaspoon of baking soda, a quarter teaspoon salt, and two cups of almond flour. Mix well. Rub a 9×9 baking pan with coconut oil and fill with brownie mixture. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes. Top with chopped pecans.
How did zucchini become a summer garden staple? Perhaps because of the ease of growth and numerous health benefits. I was a bit surprised to find zucchini was classified as a fruit, and even more surprised to find zucchini boasts the additional accolade of being a superfood: the skin is high in antioxidants, the flesh has both insoluble and soluble fiber, and if I were to list all of the vitamins found in zucchini, I’d go over my allotted word count.