Zucchini is available at Southern California farmers market year round, thanks to our temperate climate. But anyone with a backyard garden knows that August is the peak season for zucchini and other summer squash varieties. Shoppers at the Culver City farmers market can find round “8-ball” zucchini, a variety developed in the 1990’s, and pattypan (scallop) squash. Yellow zucchini retains the familiar zucchini taste, but yellow crooked neck squash has a slightly sweeter taste.
If you know anyone with a home garden, you know how prolific a single squash plant can be. My cousin Geoff arrived at a recent family get-together with homegrown beefsteak tomatoes, 12-inch long zucchini culled from his garden, and fresh Italian and Thai basil. By itself, boiled zucchini can be a bit pedestrian. But tossing in some chopped tomatoes and basil along with sliced zucchini simmered briefly until just tender made for a memorable side dish.
Summer squash is a boon to the calorie-conscious. About ninety-five percent water, a cup of zucchini weighs in at a mere 19 calories. If you’re looking for optimal nutrition, don’t peel your squash. Most of the nutrients are in or close to the skin. It is a good source of manganese and vitamin C, and vitamin C, and contains folacin, vitamin A, dietary fiber, potassium and copper.
Here are two make-ahead zucchini recipes suitable for summer entertaining.
Truth be told, I am not a big fan of raw zucchini, but a recent recipe from the New York Times‘ Recipes for Health changed my mind. Marinating the thinly sliced squash in olive oil and lemon juice for several hours does the trick.
Sliced Zucchini Salad
1 lb small to medium zucchini
3 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice (I prefer the sweetness of Meyer lemons in this dish)
1 clove garlic, crushed but intact
3 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 T finally chopped parsley, mint, chives, dill or a combination
Slice the squash as thinly as possible. A mandolin, if you have one, is very helpful. Place squash slices in bowl. Sprinkle with salt, and toss to make sure salt is evenly distributed. Let sit 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Drain on paper towels, patting to remove excess moisture. In a medium-large bowl, mix the lemon juice and olive oil. Add the crushed garlic clove. Add zucchini and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for four to six hours. Remove from refrigerator and remove the garlic clove. Just before serving, add the minced herbs. Toss together. Adjust seasoning as needed.
The following recipe was passed on to me from an Internet-savvy foodie. It’s a perfect – and tasty – example of thinking outside the box during peak zucchini season.
Gold and Green Zucchini Bruschetta
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow zucchini or summer squash
4 T. garlic chives, minced (or green part of scallions)
1 Tb. olive oil
salt & pepper
Parmesan cheese to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dice the zucchini into 1/2 – 1/4 inch dice. Place on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle garlic chives over the squash. Drizzle the olive oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 10-15 minutes (smaller dice will cook faster than larger dice). Remove baking sheet, toss zucchini, and return to oven for another 10-15 minutes. Grate Parmesan cheese over squash. Transfer to serving bowl. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar. This dish can be served warm or cold. Refrigerate it for at least an hour if serving cold. Serve with bruschetta, fresh bagguette rounds, or flatbread.
The Downtown Culver City Farmers Market is held on Tuesdays from 2 to 7 pm on Main Street between Venice and Culver Blvds. The Culver South Farmers Market is held on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 1 pm in the northeast corner of the Westfield Culver City parking lot at the corner of Hannum and Slauson Blvd.
Katie Malich looks forward to stuffed oversized zucchini at least once a summer.