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July 23, 2009 - Kathie Evanoff
Okay, they are really summer squash, but they can be lumped with zucchini.
For me, they are zucchini, really, just yellow instead of green-skinned. To me, they look the same, grow the same and taste the same.
This year, I put three plants in my garden, two yellow summer squash and one zucchini. I am the only one in my house who eats the stuff because the husband is a confirmed vegephobic and the dogs think vegetables are for chewing up into shreds and leaving in pulpy, soggy puddles on the floor.
But I am a fan, so I grow as much as I can, eat what I can, and give away the rest. The problem with giving away, especially with zucchini, is that after a while, the givees tend to get wise. It is said that some people, and I’m not naming names, will lock their car doors in the parking lot, not because anyone will walk off with their car stereos or GPS’s, but because they are afraid they will find bags of zucchini inside at the end of the shift.
My first summer squash/zucchini harvest consisted of three small fruits. I was delighted. I picked them in their prime at a perfect length of about six to eight inches. I sliced them into rounds, rolled them in egg and seasoned breadcrumbs and fried them in a bit of olive oil until they were crispy and brown. A few sprinkles of salt and I was in heaven. Better than snacking on potato or corn chips, these crispy squash coins are low in calories as long as you are careful about the amount of oil you use. It doesn’t take much.
The next night, I sliced the squash lengthwise and brushed the olive on sparingly with a pastry brush. I sprinkled the slices with garlic powder, salt and pepper and carefully placed them on a hot grill. I do this often, sometimes using the outdoor grill and at other times an indoor, stovetop grill.
In less than a week, the plants were sending out more zucchini than I could handle on my own. I had no choice but to bring a basketful to work to pass out to my co-workers, who were happy to take them off my hands. I’m not sure how many times I can get away with that. But in the meantime, I have been browsing the books for zucchini recipes.
There are thousands of them. I’ve made zucchini bread for years, which thanks to tip from one of my neighbors many years ago, fools even the most fervent zucchini-hater. The tip was to add a couple cups of mini-chocolate chips to the zucchini bread recipe. One recipe makes two loaves and when eaten while still warm, it brings fond memories of Derby Pie, that timeless recipe that reminds one of a warm, soft, chocolate chip cookie. Not many can resist.
Another friend commented that a great casserole is made from sliced summer squash or zucchini and shredded cheese. You can add onions, sausage, and just about anything else you like to this plethora of goodness in a 9 by 13-inch pan.
Don’t be afraid of zucchini season. Bake bread with chocolate chips and freeze it for holiday gifts. You can slice it into coins and add it to strata dishes, frittata and quiche, or slice it thinly lengthwise, fill it with whatever you like and roll them into appetizers for your next dinner party. Or just for yourself.
What we should fear, however, are those giant, baseball sized zucchini, left unattended for weeks by characters who just want to see how big they will actually get. You have too much time on your hands and you know who you are.
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The harvest began with three small summer squash. By the week's end, the plants were reproducing non-stop.