Valley Bounty: Zucchini

Like all squash, zucchini has its ancestral roots in the Americas, likely beginning in Central America and southern Mexico and slowly spreading north and south. Among the many things colonists brought back with them to Europe was Cucurbita pepo, from which several squash cultivars are derived—like acorn squash, yellow summer squash, pumpkins, and, of course, zucchini (hence the name, which in Italian translates to something like “little pumpkins”). The zucchini we are familiar with today was developed by Italian farmers near Milan in the 19th century, and eventually returned to America with Italian immigrants in the early 20th century. This history of the zucchini offers an interesting microcosm of some of the trans-Atlantic forces and tensions that have shaped much of the American diet.

If you find yourself inundated with zucchini this summer, as many home gardeners and CSA members do, try whipping up some zucchini fritters. Shred your zucchini with a cheese grater, then sprinkle with salt and let sit in a colander in the sink for 10-15 minutes (this will pull out some of the moisture). Then toss it together with flour, grated parmesan (about a ¼ cup each for 1-1½lbs zucchini), and an egg. Form the mixture into patties, and fry in olive oil. Try them with hummus or for breakfast with fried eggs.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)