Zucchini: A manifesto.

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Zucchini + toasted walnut “Junk Salad” with a roasted garlic + lemon drizzle {gluten-free, vegetarian}.

Zucchini is one of those vegetables that, when it comes to be in season, it comes to be very much in season. For this reason (among others), it is our bad luck that it’s not currently July. But, no matter. When I want zucchini, I find a way to eat zucchini. Thank you very much.

Zucchini is also one of those vegetables that people with gardens are always trying to give away. A zucchini plant can produce many, many squash — and considerably enormous ones at that. When I was little, I remember my mother always trying to figure out what to do with it all. Later, she moved on to a smaller townhouse and no longer kept a garden, but in the summers during college, I would still come home to baskets full of the stuff, passed off to her from co-workers and neighbors, sitting in wait on the kitchen counter.

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The rule about zucchini is that, when you have a lot of it, you eat a lot of it. You roast it, you shred and saute it, you cut it thin and eat it raw, you put it on the grill. You may give some away if you wish, but you may not throw it away. One way or another, you do something with it, because zucchini is a vegetable worth doing things with. Abide by this maxim. It has been written.

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I remember baking zucchini bread those summers — so much zucchini bread. With walnuts, with dates, with chocolate chips… And I’ll tell you more about all that when the time is right and the summer skies are once again raining green squash. But, for now, at this particular time of year (during which only the littlest, paltriest of zucchini are sold at the market, sometimes wrapped in cellophane but always at the dizzying costs of one’s “arm and leg”), I will tell you about something else.

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A salad. This salad.

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The much-celebrated zucchini bread is always made even more celebratory when aided by its faithful sidekick, the toasted walnut. (And please do toast the walnuts, because they’re so great that way.) And so I thought, why break these guys up? Walnut can come to the party too. And cheese — cheese, who has a standing invitation, will be there. And they can each bring a friend or two.

Until the time is right, I’ll be enjoying my zucchini in moderation. But, ohboyletmetellyou, come July, all bets are off.

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Zucchini + toasted walnut “Junk Salad” with a roasted garlic + lemon drizzle {gluten-free, vegetarian}.

Yields: 2 big salads

Ingredients:

For the salad:

  • 1 pound zucchini, cut on a bias
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 big bowls kale
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 4 teaspoons Pecorino Romano
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

For the drizzle:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 5 cloves roasted garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • Sea salt + cracked black pepper to taste

Method:

  1. First, roast the zucchini. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the zucchini in a bowl and pour the olive oil on top. Using your hands, distribute the oil, making sure that both sides of each piece are dressed. Sprinkle the salt and crack the pepper on top, then mix again with your hands to ensure equal distribution. Lay the piece flat on a baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minutes, flipping them over half-way through.
  2. While the zucchini roasts, toast the walnuts. Place the walnuts in a very hot and dry saucepan and shake them for just a few minutes. They will start to smell toasty when they are done, but will become burnt very quickly. Take the pan off the heat, transfer the walnuts to a bowl to cool, and sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
  3. Next, prepare the lemon drizzle. Combine all ingredients in an air-tight jar with a lid and shake thoroughly. Let the drizzle sit for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Fill two large bowls with kale. Top each bowl with one chopped hard boiled egg and half of the other components (zucchini, walnuts, cheese, chia seeds, drizzle).
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