Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Zucchini and the Toy Farm...

The ‘toy farm’ as it is now affectionately known, is kicking into high gear…we are finally getting some warmer summer days, although for Sacramento it is still pretty mild, only hitting high 80’s or low 90’s.  From a human’s perspective this makes for a wonderful summer season, if you are a tomato or an eggplant, not so much.  The land of HOT weather fruits and vegetables is off to a very slow start.  And believe me you can hear the whining from the farmers, to the backyard gardeners, to the chefs in the kitchens… ‘I can’t believe the heirloom tomatoes are just getting ripe and has anyone seen any eggplant?’ or ‘I have tons of fruit on my plants but it’s still all green!’  But despite all the complaints

there are vegetables making their presence known.  There are beets galore, zucchini by the boat load, a good assortment of crookneck squash, and string beans a plenty.  Actually we have had some form of zucchini for dinner for four nights in a row.  It is now a game to see if we can create a dish that is enough different from the one last night that we can pass it by our taste buds without them producing a giant groan…there has been classic grilled zucchini - as a side dish; zucchini casserole - a lasagna sort of affair layering zucchini, some left over bruschetta , mozzarella and onions; pizza - which consisted of pizza sauce, mozzarella, zucchini layered on like pepperoni, mushrooms and a little bit of my pancetta and then last night my niece found a recipe in the new Nigel Slater cookbook, Tender ,which was over the top!  She fixed the whole thing and served it with quinoa, which was absolutely perfect.  This one could be a repeater and we all agreed that our taste buds would not have complained in the least! 

A Supper of Zucchini, Tomatoes and Basil

From the book Tender by Nigel Slater

Enough for 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main dish

5 Medium Zucchini            

3 TBS Olive Oil

4 Medium to Large Tomatoes

A handful of Basil, torn


Cut the zucchini into thick fingers.  They work best about the size of thick, homemade French fries.  Warm the oil in a deep pan and let the zucchini cook over medium heat for six to eight minutes or so, ‘til they start to soften.

Chop the tomatoes roughly and add to the zucchini with the torn-up basil leaves, salt, pepper, and a good squeeze of lemon.  Stir, cover with a loose fitting lid, and let simmer for ten to twelve minutes, until the zucchini are totally tender and the tomatoes have cooked down to a basil-scented saucy slush.  The colors should be bright, the zucchini softly yielding but not browned.  Sponge up the sunny-tasting juices with bread.

I love the way he writes…even if you don’t cook his descriptions are wonderful.  But this is such a simple one that even the non-cooks among us could muster this one up!

Tomorrow we are going to try cold zucchini soup…I’ll let you know how it goes…