I'm not fond of zucchini. I never have been. And yet, this spring, I ambitiously planted a couple of zucchini plants in my garden with the intention of harvesting their golden flowers, stuffing them with herbs and goat cheese and frying them in a batter I make by simply mixing salt, pepper, tempura flour and bubbly water. Delicious!
The only problem is that I neglected to grab the flowers before the swollen ovaries morphed into miniature zucchinis. In hindsight, I should have harvested the tiny finger-length squashes at that point. I hesitated.
A week later, I had a dozen, enormous zucchinis. When you've grown something yourself and have seen it grow from tiny seedling to monstrous food item, you feel like you need to find a way to eat them. Or I do at least. Zucchini is full of potassium and vitamin A. It's healthy. I was sure I could find a way to not only consume the zucchini, but to feed it to my children as well.
If I had thought about the fact that some people might actually like zucchini, I could have shared my bounty with friends and neighbors. But from my bias, it seemed like a rather poor gift. I'll be happy to share the tomatoes in August!
Last week, I found a recipe for making papperdelle out of zucchini by shaving off thin layers with a vegetable peeler. I blanched the zucchini strips for a couple of minutes and served it with a spicy tomato sauce. It was surprisingly good. A couple of days later, a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond alerted me to a device called the Vegetti. It cuts vegetables (including zucchini) into thin spiral slices imitating spaghetti. After pronouncing the word, "Vegetti," with a soft "g" as in "vegetable" delightedly for several hours, my irritated teenage daughter insisted that it must be vegetti with a hard "g" like "spaghetti." She proved her assertion by sharing a YouTube video of the Vegetti in action. This was the device for us! The following afternoon, a Sunday just a tick before 6 p.m., I arrived at Bed Bath and Beyond with the intention of purchasing this as-seen-on-TV kitchen gadget but arrived just in time to find the doors locked and the last few customers checking out. A stack of Vegettis was neatly displayed near the register out of my reach. That night we had steamed zucchini.
I roasted some zucchini cubes with chopped onion until they were carmelized and almost palatable. I then asked on Facebook if any of my friends had any Vegetti experience. Two had sliced their fingers. I emailed a nutritionist and asked her which spiral slicer she used for the gorgeous zucchini swirls she posted on Instagram. She informed me that she has and loves the Spirooli.
It took two days for my new Spirooli to arrive. It has three interchangeable blades and a handle like a miniature plastic lathe. The zucchini is impaled and swirled around the blade and spaghetti-like vegetable spirals did emerge from the other side. Again, I boiled them quickly and served them. It's best not to think of this dish as pasta. If you consider it simply as an alternate way of slicing zucchini, you won't be disappointed.
I roasted two zucchinis and mashed them with garlic and turned it into a spreadable gray goop, which, was well received when garnished with chopped parsley and smeared onto pita bread. I grilled another. I grated some into my salads. And finally used the last in zucchini bread this morning. Honestly, I'm afraid to go check on the garden this afternoon.
Clearly, life is going pretty smoothly when a surplus of vegetable is angst producing. There have been summers when the last thing I could think of was what to do with too much food. I realized that I am blessed to have this problem. And that makes it all the more fun to try to solve.
Krista Richards Mann is a Westport writer, and her "Well Intended" column appears every other Friday. She can be reached at: email@example.com.