Valley Bounty: Zucchini and Summer Squash
On this last Saturday in September, it seems fitting to herald a sometimes-unsung summer vegetable. Sure, zucchini can be prolific and overlarge, but young and fresh from the farm it’s a different creature altogether than the tired winter specimens from far away. I often fry it with onions at high heat until brown, then use it in a veggie burrito or on top of white pizza, with goat cheese and fresh herbs. Zucchini and summer squash can be used interchangeably, and offer a pleasing variety of colors and shapes.
Valley Bounty is written by Margaret Christie
Sources: This time of year, zucchini and summer squash are available from just about any farmstand, farmers’ market, or retailer that prioritizes local sourcing.
The Gazette ran a recipe last week for fried zucchini pasta (see below) that was a big hit in my house.
Find more recipes for summer squash from Pioneer Valley farmers and cooks here.
As its name suggests, summer squash isn’t made to be eaten in the winter. There isn’t a good way to preserve it that leaves its most valuable qualities intact. It does tend to grow in abundance in season, however, so if you find yourself with more than you can eat—or with those overgrown specimens the size of a baseball bat—grate it and throw it in the freezer. In the winter, use it to thicken soups, or bake it into zucchini bread or muffins.
Fried Zucchini Pasta:
- 1 pound small zucchini, sliced into thin 1-inch batons
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 pound egg pappardelle or spaghetti
- 1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
- ½ cup torn basil leaves
- Freshly ground pepper
- Pinch or two hot red pepper flakes
- Lemon wedges, for serving
In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the flour and a pinch of salt. In a very large skillet, heat half of the oil until shimmering. Add half of the zucchini and fry over high heat, turning once or twice, until browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the zucchini to a paper towel-lined wire rack and season with salt. Repeat with the remaining oil and zucchini.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the pot and toss with the 1 cup of cheese, the basil and a generous pinch of pepper. Add the reserved pasta water a little at a time, tossing well to coat. Transfer the pasta to a bowl and top with the crispy zucchini. Season to taste with red pepper flakes and a couple of squeezes of lemon. Serve right away with additional lemon wedges and cheese.
– Adapted from Food & Wine