It is an idyllic summer morning. The sun has barely beamed above the eastern horizon, some honeybees are making an early start for the cutting garden, and the air is soft and sweet. You peek your head out the door to make sure the coast is clear, that the quiet and privacy of the moment allow you to pad quickly across the dewy grass to your little patch of nirvana, your vegetable garden. Barefoot and still in your robe, you feel as carefree and lithe as a child, clutching your trug by its handle and zeroing in on the harvest to come. Considering your breakfast options, you feel around for a nice, robust squash and travel your fingers up its smooth length to snap it off at the blossom end. You meet with resistance, a lot of resistance, and begin twisting and tugging until a victorious last pull throws you off balance and onto your backside. You look at the monster clutched in your hand. It is not so robust as you had thought; it is beyond robust. It is a baseball bat.
What are you going to do with a one-pound zucchini? This bears contemplating, but not so fast. When you reach under again, you pull off another, and another, and another. OK, then. What are you going to do with four pounds of zucchini? The cliché of the prolific squash vine cannot be overstated. You can’t go sneaking into the night and lay baskets of them on unsuspecting neighbors’ porches, like newborns left on church steps. You’ve done too much of that; they are on to you. No, you are just going to have to stew, bake and broil these cudgels even though the skin is tough and the seeds are innumerable. You’re going to have to suck it up, but you are going to have to get smart, too.
Conquering a massive squash harvest takes the commitment of Madame Curie and the ruthlessness of Robespierre. It means off with their heads, their blossom heads, to prevent the formation of fruit, as well as collecting the fruit when it is very young, no more than four inches long. You must go out and inspect your vines two, even three times a day, but your extra effort will pay off with tender, virtually seedless specimens that you can eat raw, as well as blossoms to stuff or fry. This bounty is no longer a nuisance crop, but gourmet-coveted produce which commands a premium price in the marketplace.
Once in the kitchen, you marvel at your baby zucchini’s skin, fragile enough to nick with a fingernail, and consider recipes worthy of their delicacy. You have just enough to slice and sauté for a frittata or save for crunchy oven fries later in the day. You are feeling pretty good about yourself now. You should. You only have one more night run to go.
Cheese Zucchini Crisps - Adapted from the Food Down Under recipe
1/3 cup cornflake crumbs
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese or other hard cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt or dried herb/s or both
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
4 very young (4-inches long) zucchini or other summer squash,
cut in 1/2" strips
1/4 cup olive oil (or olive oil spray to further reduce calories)
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Either dip squash strips in olive oil or spray both sides with oil spray. Press each strip with crumb mixture on both sides. Arranged coated strips on cookie sheet and bake approximately 10 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 as a starter, side dish or snack. --
This post is being submitted to Joanna of Joanna's Food, host of the June addition of The Heart of the Matter. This month's theme is vegetables.