The backyard harvest of our vegetable garden has been steady all of August. Labor Day was awash with tomatoes. There is nothing more satisfying to the home gardener than an abundance of produce. There is no better way to start a conversation than to comment on the weather and how it effects the garden. Having “too many” is a badge of honor. Early on our cucumbers and zucchini tested our powers of culinary creativity. We’ve made a lot of refrigerator pickles and oodles of zoodles!
Drought became our nemesis and we collected rain water to supplement our bucket watering regimen. The tomatoes became sweeter in all the sunshine, but a blight zapped the zucchini plants in mid-peak production. And that’s when things got interesting.
The lone remaining zucchini looked about ready to follow suit. We held our breath when we gently harvested the last squash on the plant. Within a week the plant had re-rooted itself and was covered in flowers. It’s a miracle! The demonstration of resilience in adversity lifted our spirits. We see it as an encouraging example of perseverance and a passion for life.
The story of a vegetable – what an inspiration! And how satisfying to bring food to the table right from your own backyard! Of course there is a kind urgency about the arrival of the harvest and so much to cook, share and save. The promise of a winter meal colored with memories of the growing season spurs us on. If you are having a love affair with zucchini this year, make it the highlight of your table. Roast your awkward larger zucchini cut side down for 20 minutes at 400 (or until you can pierce the flesh with a fork), then stuff in any style you can imagine —
Quinoa-Preserved Lemon Stuffed Zucchini with pine nuts, onion and parsley
When Chris gave me some of her preserved lemons I made this twist on a couscous dish, using my favorite blend of quinoa. Scoop out the zucchini and mix with cooked quinoa. Add chopped, sauteed onions, preserved lemon, green olives, parsley and toasted pine nuts. You could also use brown rice or ancini de pepe pasta.
Stuffed Zucchini Marinara with garden peppers, red onion, tomatoes and calamata olives
Bind the sauteed vegetables with egg, parmesan cheese and seasoned breadcrumbs. Return it to the oven to bake until firm, another 20 mins. If you prefer, substitute leftover risotto and tiny shrimp for egg and parmesan, and top with breadcrumbs.
To enhance your passion for squash growing take a look at these gems I sought out at my local public library.
Sophie’s Squash and Sophie’s Squash Goes to School (ages 3-7) tells a love story of a girl and a squash with overtones of attachment, acceptance and growth. Pat Zietlow Miller & Anne Wilsdorf will charm you with their story of Sophie and Bernice, a friendship born at the farmer’s market. In the sequel, Sophie’s Squash Goes to School, the story provides a gentle approach to talking with children about their concerns in the new school year.
As harvest time continues bring home a butternut squash, delicious sautéed with fall apples.
For the YA set Newberry Honor author Joan Bauer serves up Squashed, a tale of a giant pumpkin who saves the day for teen grower Ellie Morgan. (12 & up) A different kind of pumpkin story, in this re-imagined Cinderella tale Ellie battles her demons and evil classmates to win the big prize. You’ll be cheering for her.
Afterwards make pumpkin soup!
And if you still have too many zucchini :
One of my favorite food writers Clotide Dusoulier recently updated her blog and added more videos. Chocolate&Zucchini always provides fresh ideas with a touch of flair. Her chocolate zucchini cake is merely the introduction to Clotide’s Paris kitchen of the earthly delights.
What is that famous song, “You Can Grow your Own Way” ?
All the best to you – Bon Appetit 🙂
All Photos Claire Mauro