What’s in the box – 4/5 May

by Amanda McInerney on 07/05/2011

For a peek at what was in all the boxes this week tiptoe over here.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but it is getting trickier and trickier to sell the zucchini to my affected teens and so, once again, I will attempt to put some spin on this humble squash.  My son used to hide them in his pockets, now he just rolls his eyes at the sight of them in the box, mutters expletives and tries to slip them into the swap box when I’m not looking.   This week  I thought I’d have a hunt around for some slightly different ways to encourage the family to eat them.  I turned to dear old Nigel Slater and his delightful book “Tender | Volume 1″  where even he acknowledges that they are, at best, bland – presumably because they are 90% water.  However, he points out that the very small, tender young zucchinis need little more than some good olive oil, lemon and salt to shine and that the larger ones can be transformed by the judicious addition of other ingredients on, in or around them.

Zucchini should always be baked, grilled or fried – no good will come of boiling them and it will only serve to alienate your family.  I like to slice them quite thinly with a vegetable peeler, salt them and leave them in a colander for 15 minutes or so to drain, dry them and then char grill them on the bbq.  I usually add them to a salad in this manner, but if you were to serve them as a side then a toss in some very good extra virgin olive oil (South Australian, of course), with a good squeeze of lemon, salt, pepper, some torn fresh herbs and  some creamy feta will lift them up a notch – or three.

Nigel advocates stuffing them and then baking for maximum enjoyment and this is how they are often served  in Middle Eastern cuisine.  This can be as simple or as complex as you like, but I think any combination from the following list of ingredients will put quite a zing into your zucchini.

Cooked rice
Couscous
Quinoa
Lentils
Onions or spring onions
Garlic
Mint
Thyme
Oregano
sumac
Lemon – either the zest or chopped, preserved lemon
Cinnamon
Ras el hanout
Sultanas or currants
Tomato – either chopped fresh, chopped dried or semi-dried
Bacon – chopped & crisp fried
Chorizo – chopped and fried
Feta
Grated parmesan

There – that should give you some inspiration to tart up a boring vegetable!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna Johnston May 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I like that ‘no good will come of boiling them….’ – I suspect somewhere in my past someone boiled my first tastes of zucchini because it took me years to warm to them, but now I love ‘em. Thanks for this wicked new take on dressing up the humble zucchini – I do believe I’m off to get some chorizo now :) Thanks for sharing :)

Sue Averay May 9, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I love zucchini and have never thougth of them as boring. I even have a cookbook called 1001 ways with zucchini! Stephanie Alexander’s zucchini chips work a treat with kids ( I made mine with chickpea pakoras batter for gluten-free tummies). Personally, two of my favourite treats are fresh-picked baby zucchini dipped in home-made pesto and zucchini and prosciutto bruschetta a la River Cafe: summer on a plate!

Amanda May 9, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Anna, I’m afraid I’ve been damaged by boiled zukes in my formative years, but I’ve come to appreciate them now. Many thanks for sharing your favourites, Sue.

Ian Goss May 9, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Best zucchs I ever cooked were fried in EVOO with finely-diced garlic until the garlic began to brown, then a tiny amount of tomato paste was stirred in to warm at the last moment. Nowadays I would add a touch of balsamic vinegar or lemon, together with a tiny amount of chilli. Must try it again! And dredge the zucchini in blue cornflour …

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