Friday, July 10, 2009
One of the signs is a tender-skinned squashes. Yes, it is the start of the languid days when we walk a tad slower, seek the over-slip of an oscillating sprinkler, and tend to be more conscientious about applying sun-block daily. In attendance are zucchinis and summer squashes that currently are dense, newborn cousins to autumn’s pumpkins, and all its hard-skinned progeny. It is believed that zucchini is a spontaneous mutation of the hard skins after its introduction into Europe. Zucchini itself was not well known in North America until early in the 20th century with all probability due to the Italian immigration wave during that time.
The green, long, tapered zucchini is the most common though there are yellow; green variegated; bi-colored; crooked-necked; round, and sun burst in shape to be applied all summer long. Most varieties are best small to medium in size when they are not so watery and the seed development has not over-whelmed the meat. They all should have a smooth, firm feel and are absolutely edible raw. Given how naturally water jam-packed these vegetables are I am not a fan of freezing them. However, they do pickle nicely – a brine made with red wine vinegar and scented with mint. When using them as a grilled vegetable I prefer to make sure the grill surface is HOT and I cook the zucchini without any oil put on them. I’ll drizzle oil and herbs after they come off the grill. This is to avoid that sooty residue of brunt oil. Regardless, if you are grilling, baking, sautéing these squashes it is fast which it is welcoming on a sweltering summer day.
Stuffed Zucchini - serves 6
6 medium sized patty pan Squash or 3 small zucchini
4 ounces goat cheese
1/4 cup Niçoise olives - pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons blanched almonds - chopped
1/4-cup chives - chopped
1 tablespoon oregano - leaves only, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8-cup olive oil
Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the patty pan squash in half through its circumference. If using zucchini cut lengthwise in half. Scoop out 2/3’s of the pulp being careful not to make a hole in the bottom of the squash. Set the squash halves aside.
Chopped the pulp and mix with the goat cheese, olives, almonds, chives, oregano, salt and pepper. Divide the mixture among the squash halves and drizzle with oil. Place on a baking tray, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately hot.