It's time to celebrate the zucchini. Bring on the noise makers, the fireworks and the party hats. Hurray! Summer squash season has arrived. We have 5 varieties planted this year and they are producing faster then a popsicle melting on a hot day. It is amazing how fast they grow and how many zucchinis one plant will have. And they keep on growing. The more you pick, the more they seem to grow. Is this the plant that will feed the world? It could at least help to feed your neighborhood and community. Seriously, if you have too many zucchinis, consider donating a few to your local food bank and soup kitchens. You should also sneak a few onto your neighbors doorstep at 2am, or wrap them up in pretty paper and give them out as gifts to random people, and my personal favourite (after I have exhausted all other means and ways of eating them and I just can't take anymore) is to walk around a parking lot, or down a busy street and casually toss them into cars that have their windows down. It's open season friends! Let the fun begin.
Growing zucchinis is pretty easy. They need space (plant a good 2-4 feet apart) to grow. They want compost rich soil. You can even plant them right in your compost pile. They need full sun and warmth. You can direct seed when there is no danger of frost or buy some seedlings (also wait till there is no danger of frost...we lost a good 20 plants this year from planting a little early). Give them water if the skies are not providing. As long as you have bees around to pollinate them, you should have no problems. No bees? Well...you'll need to help the female flowers out by picking off the male flower (google it) and introducing them. Once they start producing, try to keep on top of them by picking everyday or two. As everybody knows...there will always be that one elusive zucchini that grows to the size of a small truck, overnight. That's the one you want to leave in a strangers car...ha ha.
80% of the zucchinis we eat have hit the bbq grill. I like to halve and quarter them, toss them in some olive oil and fresh herbs, a splash of tamari, Clever Crow Sea Salt, and fresh ground pepper. Line them up on a hot grill, let them sit for 5 minutes, turn them and grill the other side. Bonus points for dark grill marks and a bit of charring. Simple and delicious. Great side dish with dinner or chill them and use them in a rustic pasta salad or as a pizza topping.
Other ideas for cooking with zucchinis? There are endless recipes online you can check out for zucchini loaves, breads, muffins, lasagnes, chutneys, relishes, pickles, salads, and my second favourite way; Zucchini fritters. Fairly easy but takes more time then the grilled ones.
You'll need about 1lb (2 medium) zucchinis, 1 egg, 1/2 cup of cheese (asiago, cheddar, feta, etc.) 1/2 cup of bread crumbs or plain flour, 1/4 cup of green onions, 1/4 cup of mixed fresh herbs all minced up is great too (thyme, oregano, sage) ,1 TB Clever Crow Sea Salt (rosemary is nice in this one) and freshly ground pepper. Double or triple this recipe if you are feeding a crowd.
Grate the zucchinis into a bowl and then using your hands, squeeze as much of the liquid out as you can. You must do this step or your fritters will never crisp up. They will be sad and soggy. Squeeze them and you will be happy. Then add all the other ingredients and gently mix together. Heat up a frying pan or griddle (medium heat) with a little oil (this depends on what you like; deep fry or light fry). The fritters can be what ever size you want. Mine usually have about 2 Tbs worth of batter in each one. I just plop them into the pan and press them a bit flat with my spoon and let them sizzle away. They will take about 5 minutes per side for a nice crunchy exterior. But keep your eye on them...don't let them burn. Cook them in batches. Don't crowd the pan. Put them on paper towels after they come off the pan to absorb any extra oil. Serve them with a dollop of of thick plain yogurt (we love Tree Island's natural greek style and McClintock's water buffalo yogurt)
Don't like zucchinis? Gone are the days of the plain jane dark green skinned variety that could sometimes have a bitter skin. Try them again! I'm partial to the romanescos, which come in stripes of green or yellow and have ridged edges. Patty pans are shaped like space ships and come in different colours too. There are just too many to mention. But seriously..if we can't convert you, then keep your car windows rolled up and set a motion detector light on your doorstep...it's the only way to keep yourself safe during zucchini season.