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Everyday Gourmet: Talking about zucchini

Zucchini is equal parts ubiquitous and astonishing in its volume and versatility. The question is not how to use zucchini, but how many ways can it be used to showcase its muscular goodness. Sliced raw and doused simply with olive oil and shaved Asiago, it is the kind of dish that makes me swoon summer. Ditto a cold mint-infused soup pulsing green and goodness. Zucchini morfs into another kind of heaven altogether fried in tempura batter, with sprinkles of truffle salt and a side of garlicky aioli. Swimming in baked Parmesan discs, it’s a stupefying snack that may require an intervention. I made a huge batch of these the other day, then headed out to girl’s night. When I returned, I asked my husband how he liked the new treat. He said, “They were really good, but a little rich.”  A glance at the empty platter – there had been enough for six people– told me all I needed to know about my favorite new recipe.

 

Zucchini Parmesan Discs

 

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Combine 1-cup hand-shredded Parmesan with 2-T shredded zucchini. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place quarter-sized mounds of the mixture onto the sheet, spacing 3” apart. Bake 8-10 minutes until edges are golden. Cool and eat like mini-pizzas.

 

Fried Zucchini

 

I tried these two ways, in a heavy cast-iron pan, with pleasantly different results. Canola oil on the stove: lower smoke point, zucchini tastes like French fries. Grapeseed oil on the grill: higher smoke point, cooks a little slower, zucchini tastes like tempura.

 

Layer a cookie sheet with paper towel. Heat oven to 200 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together one and one-fourth cup flour and white wine each. In another medium bowl mix one-half cup flour with large pinches of salt and pepper. Slice zucchini into 3” lengths, medium thickness (one medium feeds two.) Heat 2-cups of oil; when it sizzles, toss 4-6 pieces into the seasoned flour, then into the batter. Fry, turning once, until golden. Keep adding batches. Sprinkle with truffle or sea salt, keep warm in oven.

 

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters. Archived Everyday Gourmet columns are at kimdannies.com. Kim@kimdannies.com.