Thursday, September 1, 2011

Our summer weather continues to be cooler than normal, with few days in the 80’s much less over 100. Many of our heat loving vegetables are slow to mature, but cool weather crops like lettuce and peas are flourishing. We have been enjoying the chance to work the farm throughout the day, no need to break during the hottest hours. But, I am still nervous that our temperate summer will turn into a firestorm of searing heat come September and October.

Late summer rows of beets, radishes, and carrots are in the ground. There’ll be big salads well into fall. Onions and garlic will find a home in the newly built beds, later in September. But — the two zucchini plants, started late, are doing well.

When it comes to zucchini nothing compares to a squash picked minutes before eating; not store bought nor farmer’s market. The zucchini along with the single Patty Pan are providing enough squash for this farm of two. It is a delight to fill the house with the smell of zucchini bread baking or the heavenly aroma when we sauté zucchini in lemon juice and garlic.

If I am tempted to pick some up out-of-season it’s usually because we have a craving for this rich and moist quick bread with the warm spicy kick; it’s perfect on a cool fall day or a cold winter night, toasted and slathered with fresh churned butter or a bit of sweet honey.

Since I know I’m not the only one over-run by these prolific little green sticks or golden saucers I’m including our two favorite recipes. Enjoy!

Zucchini Oatmeal Bread

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grate 2 cups of zucchini. Mix in 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 cup oatmeal. Let the bowl stand for about 30 minutes. The oats will draw out and absorb some of the squashes moisture, softening it up a bit.

In a separate bowl, mix together:
3-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice

To the zucchini and oats bowl, add:
3/4 cup dark molasses
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, until well combined. Divide evenly between 2 greased 5 x 8 bread pans. Bake for about 45 to 55 minutes, rotating pans half way through baking. Insert a toothpick in the center to check for doneness. It should come out clean. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.

I’m sure this will become a new family favorite, warming even the coldest fall morning.

Zucchini Sautéed with Garlic and Lemon

For a zucchini side dish that is flexible enough to feed one person or a hungry crowd try this lemon garlic recipe. Use a zucchini variety that stays slender, like the “Portofino” rather than “Black Beauty” which can get larger around as it grows. For two people I use 2 to 3 small zukes, about 6 to 7 inches long. Wash and cut into 1-inch thick slices. That may sound large, but bear with me.

Place zuke slices, cut side up and season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Juice ½ a lemon and mince several cloves of garlic. Set aside.

Use a heavy sauté pan over high heat and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Place zucchini, seasoned sides down, in the hot pan. Season the top side with more salt and pepper.

Leave the heat on high to get a nice, dark caramelization on the squash. You want the slices nicely browned before you turn them.

Cook them on the second side until they are nicely browned again.

Remove the squash to a serving dish and cover to keep warm. Reduce heat to medium and discard any oil left in the pan. Put in a couple teaspoons of butter, along with the garlic. Cook garlic for about a minute, taking care not to let it brown, which can make it bitter.

Add lemon juice and stir for about 30 seconds. Pour garlic lemon sauce evenly over squash slices and serve.

This recipe can be used on a variety of squash. Just make sure you season and brown all the edges. When using round squash, like the Patty Pan, cut the squash like a pie rather than chunks, to give your self fewer sides to brown.

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