Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I'm a member of a CSA and I have way more zucchini than I know what to do with. Any suggestions?

At this time of year one ingredient comes up time and again: summer squash such as zucchini, yellow squash, patty pans, etc. and the abundance associated with them.. If you’re a member of a CSA (community supported agriculture) or you tend a sizable garden you might have a similar issue on your hands.

“What else can I do with it?”
“Sometimes it’s mushy.”
“I’m out of ideas”
“I hate zucchini!”

Well, I can’t make you like zucchini, but I do want to start out by saying that the one trait that turns most people off about summer squash are their seeds. They contain a lot of water and not much flavor. This part of the fruit (it’s a fruit by botanical definition since it has seeds) is the first part to get slimy and soft, especially in yellow squash. For this reason I almost always remove them before cooking; the exception being very small squash.

At the risk of introducing a cooking rut I almost always process summer squash the same way:

1. Nip off the ends

2. half then quarter lengthwise.

3. Cutting on roughly a 45 degree angle, I cut along the seed line, removing them.

What you’re left with is a long seedless strip of squash good for most applications. You can grill it easily without loosing it through the cracks. It can be cut up further for any pan/wok technique or . . . you could turn it into zucchini relish.

Curried Zucchini Relish
2 lbs. zucchini, seeds removed and roughly chopped
2 shallots, roughly chopped, (or a small red onion)
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp curry powder ← You could omit this if you want a regular relish
2 tsps sugar
1 tsp salt
Optional: fresh chili pepper

1. In a food processor, pulse the zucchini and shallots until it resembles a relish-like size. Put this mixture in your storage vessel. (Ideally a glass one)
2. In a pot heat the remaining ingredients just enough to dissolve the sugar and salt. Pour this hot brine over the zucchini. Allow it to cool, put a lid on it and stow it in the back of the fridge.

This is great anywhere you'd put regular pickle relish. Try it on your next hot dog! It’s also great in egg or chicken salad.

Other semi-unconventional summer squash ideas-
  • Stir-fry (link) or maybe a thai curry
  • Zucchini noodles- Julinned on a mandolin. Salt them and allow them to sit for a minute or two. Toss with cherry tomatoes and grated cheese.
  • Zucchini chips- sliced thinly, oiled, seasoned, and dried in a 250 degree oven for an hour or until crispy at the edges.

FYI- For you New Yorkers out there I used Race Farm's cider vinegar. They make it using leftover cider. It's a great product!
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