STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — With the deluge of rain these past several days, gardens are bursting — literally. In a single day, veggies like zucchini and yellow squash might have exploded as a result of so much natural watering. Little gourds are one thing — but the giant ones? How can a cook manage such a beast?
The mammoth squash are jam-packed with seeds, for better or worse, and if left uncut too long can become spongy or crack open. Take hope — the zucchini can be a succulent ingredient that adds a pleasant moisture to baked goods. If you have a good banana bread recipe left over from the pandemic, keep in mind that banana can be swapped out for equal amounts of zucchini.
Whether green or yellow or both, squash can be the centerpiece of a dish as in, say, floured and fried strips or in ratatouille. It can be floured, egged then breaded in crumb or panko, then deep-fried and served with a horseradish or chipotle mayo. Or it can be shaved or diced for a raw presentation over greens with other summer veggies.
A Tottenville resident and avid gardener said, “Zuc’s, when grown, can be uber-abundant. There are places where, if you visit a zuc gardener and you’re a relative, you leave with a bag of zucs. If a friend, you leave with two bags.”
He added jokingly, “And if you don’t visit at all, but park on the block and leave your car windows open …” — then hopefully an enterprising cook will do the favor of stealing them. In the meantime, here are two recipes with which to tinker.
SHAVED ZUCCHINI AND PECORINO CHEESE SALAD WITH CORN AND PEPPERS
For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
For the salad:
3 zucchini or yellow squash
1 bunch baby arugula
Kernels from 1 ear fresh shucked corn, either cooked or raw
3 tablespoons red or yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup shaved pamesan, Manchego, Asiago cheeses or smoked Gouda
1/4 cup Marcona almonds, chopped, or a few squash blossoms (optional)
For the vinaigrette: Whisk the lemon juice and mustard together in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil and the salt and pepper. Set aside.Using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, cut the zucchini into thin lengthwise strips. Place in a large bowl with the arugula, corn, bell pepper and cheese. Lightly toss the vegetables with the dressing and place in a serving bowl or individual plates. Garnish with the almonds or squash blossoms and serve.
— Adapted from a recipe in the Advance archives from Marché aux Fleurs cookbook, “Organic Marin,” authored by Tim Porter and Farina Wong Kingsley by Andrews McMeel Publishing.
MINI SUMMER SQUASH CUPCAKES WITH LEMON GLAZE
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons almond flour (almond meal)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
6 tablespoons buttermilk
3/4 cup shredded yellow zucchini or summer squash
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest cut into fine slivers, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 18 mini-muffin cups. Knock out the excess flour.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a whisk to blend.
In a large bowl, combine the butter and granulated sugar using an electric beater on medium-low speed. Add the egg, vanilla, and lemon zest and beat until blended. Add half of the flour mixture, then half of the buttermilk, adding each after the last is completely incorporated.
Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and buttermilk. Place the shredded zucchini or squash in a tea towel, roll up, and squeeze firmly to wring out the excess moisture. Stir into the batter. Spoon into the prepared muffin cups, leaving 1/4 inch of space at the top of each cup. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
Unmold onto a wire rack set over a sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Let cool completely. In a small bowl, stir together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice. Spoon the glaze over the cupcakes and garnish with the lemon zest slivers. Let stand until set, 1 to 2 hours. Arrange on a platter or place 3 cupcakes on each of 6 small plates and serve.
— Recipe from the Advance archives adapted from Lori Lyn Narlock’s “Small Plates, Perfect Wines” by Andrews McMeel Publishing.
Pamela Silvestri is Advance Food Editor. She can be reached at [email protected] Recipes and garden photos are most welcome!