I’ll shock you. To me, the most delicious food in the world is not chocolate. Not caviar. Not lobster. All those are wonderful, but the most delicious food in the world is the homegrown tomato. A really good farmer’s market tomato ranks right up there, too. I’m not talking about the pink plastic orbs they sell at the supermarket. They’re bred to withstand the rigors of mechanical picking and are plucked from the vine while still green. They’re utterly worthless, and you won’t find one in my cart. The cherry tomatoes are edible but nothing compared to the ones you pick in your back yard. (Actually, I stopped growing cherry tomatoes because none of them ever made it into the house. I’d stand at the plant and eat them.)
You may have gathered I’m incredibly opinionated about tomatoes and a lot of other produce.
So, I’m watching my plants closely enough to make the poor darlings paranoid. They’re in bloom, and I’ll probably bet my first fruit around the Fourth of July. Then, my favorite food time of the year will begin—the months I harvest tomatoes, squashes, peppers, and basil from my garden.
Because I live in the fog from San Francisco bay, I grow Early Girl tomatoes. They don’t get very big, but they have astonishing flavor. I’m incredibly jealous of anyone who can grow Brandywines, and I’d love to try something called Mortgage Lifter, but my Early Girls make me happy.
I also love my zucchinis. This year, I’ll have five regular green plants and three Golden Eggs. All that for one person? I love zucchini.
(A note about water. I’m sure you’re all aware that we’re in the middle of a horrible multi-year drought in California. I grow all my produce in Earthboxes, which have a water reservoir at the bottom. After the initial set-up, very little watering is required.)
I’ll tell you how I cook it below, but let me also make some suggestions for handling all that bounty. Someone has declared August 8 National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day, although I suspect you’ll be most successful if you do it at night. Any zucchini I can’t eat all by myself, I take to my church to share. We have a food pantry two Sundays a month, and it can always use good produce. You don’t have to belong to a church to do this. You can simply take your squashes to your local food bank.
So, to cook zucchini. The easiest way is to grate it, either with the grating attachment in your food processor or the large holes on a box grater. If you want, put in a strainer, salt it, and let it stand to draw out the moisture. Then squeeze it by the fistful to get out the rest. I don’t bother with this, but if you do, don’t add salt while cooking. Then heat some butter in a non-stick pan and cook the zucchini in that until it’s done. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a few tablespoons of freshly grated parmigiano or romano.
Or slice lengthwise, fairly thick. Salt on both sides and let stand on paper towels to draw out moisture. Press between more paper towels to dry. Heat a heavy skillet (I love cast iron) until hot but not insane. Add butter and heat. Add zucchini and cook until browned on one side. Turn and cook on the other side.
Or you can do the slicing, salting, etc. and then coat in flour, beaten egg, and then panko bread crumbs. Heat a half inch of oil in skillet until a bread crumb sizzles when you drop it in the pan. Add zucchini and cook until browned. Turn and continue cooking. Don’t over crowd the pan but cook in batches, if necessary.
Next month: I have a new release due out at the end of May from Changeling Press. Garden of Delights. To celebrate, I’ll be raffling off this hand crocheted stole to someone on my mailing list. If you’d like to join, e-mail me at email@example.com