One benefit of not traveling when summer is well on its way to fall is that you might be asked to look after a garden and told to help yourself to whatever is ripe. That is the position TC and I have found ourselves in this week. Our friends have a plethora of summer and winter squash and apples, apples, apples, so the kitchen has been the site of much action. The apples have been cooked down to compote or applesauce (depending on where you draw the line). The butternut squash has been made into Squash Pockets filling and paired with buckwheat groats. The strawberry leaves will add an accent to future cups of tea. And the yellow and green zucchini and pattypan squash have gone into two batches of the recipe below. This new addition to my summer culinary repertoire makes for a fast, easy, tasty meal.
Indian-style Summer Squash
1 tbsp olive oil
1 kg / 2.2 lbs summer squash (green and yellow zucchini, pattypan), cut into fat matchsticks
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp diced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground chili pepper, paprika, or (for those not up to hot) coriander
1 heaping tbsp almond butter, tahini, or peanut butter
Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they darken. Add the ginger, turmeric, and chili pepper and sauté a minute or two. Add the squash, stirring to cover it with the spice mixture. Add some salt and a few tablespoons of water if it starts to stick to the pan. Cover and stew until cooked (at least 10 minutes). Grind some black pepper to taste. Stir in the nut butter of your choice. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve with rice or buckwheat groats.
The recipe mine evolved from calls for a mix of zucchini and bulb fennel. Carrots would also make a nice variation. The past few months have seen me preoccupied or obsessed (once again depending on where you draw the line) with nutrition, and what’s interesting is that you never hear much about the health benefits of zucchini – not like nutrient-dense veggies like kale (vitamins K, A, and C – AND fights cancer!), carrots (vitamin A!), Swiss chard (vitamin K!), or sweet potatoes (vitamins A and C!). Why do we hear so little about this ubiquitous favorite of gardeners? Well, there isn’t much of a case to make for zucchini as a superfood. Zucchini provides modest amounts of vitamin C, manganese, copper, and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are both good for your eyesight. It is low calorie and a source of fiber. I’m afraid that’s all I could dig up. Summer squash will not be the next superfood, yet there is ample place in your diet for Cucurbito pepo. Think of it as the extra vegetable serving we all need to eat after getting a balanced mix of leafy green, cruciferous, and orange carotene-rich veggies – a filler vegetable. Zucchini and the summer squashes take on the flavor of what they are cooked with, and there are so many ways to prepare them.
Here are some ideas for how you can eat up the fruits of these prolific plants: fried zucchini blossoms, ratatouille, broiled zucchini and herbs (with or without a lemon marinade), zucchini tart, zucchini frittata, zucchini with pasta, zucchini soup, zucchini pancakes, zucchini fritters, zucchini bread. Zucchini pairs well with mint, thyme, marjoram, basil, savory, chives, and garlic. What are your favorite ways of preparing zucchini?
Mahlzeit and happy cooking!