Apparently in the summer zucchini becomes a threat. Gardening friends get a wild look in their eyes and tell you that you won't be able to leave their houses unless you take some squash with you. Oh, sure, it sounds friendly enough. Until the fasten seat belt sound won't stop beeping due to the weight of all those zucchini in your passenger seat.
Of course I can't be threatened. I couldn't pass up free food if it spit in my face. And I love zucchini season because (confession) I'm a bit of a zucchini failure myself. I've had a garden for seven years now and have never grown a successful zucchini plant. I know. I know. The shame. Zucchini is oozing out of everyone else's ears and my plants are infested with bugs or only have male flowers or the forces of the universe have lined up to otherwise spoil my zucchini. I keep planting it every year. Hoping that this--this will be the year. So far it hasn't been. But who wants to go to the store and pay for zucchini in the summer time. I always take what I get.
Recently, I was not allowed to pick my child up from a birthday party without taking some squash. I was happy to oblige. I got a tiny sweet one, a baseball bat-sized one, and two regular-sized yellow crooknecks.
Now the great thing about summer squash and zucchini in particular is that it's very inoffensive--it tends to soften up and to take the flavors of whatever it's with. Thus you can use it in bread, pancakes, fritters, muffins, even chocolate cakes. And no one will be the wiser.
Tip: If you do have a super enormous one, don't be afraid to discard the "core" of seed that is in there and just use the edges of that fat old zucchini.
Here's are my very very favorite recipes for zucchini. To be honest, I love every single squash recipe on this blog (I love them), but these are the best of the best:
1. My favorite zucchini bread.
2. Since I was shredding for the bread anyway, I froze several 1-cup serving sized bags of zucchini for later use.
3. This soup. It's summer in a pot. Super quick, fairly nutritious. Divine.
4. Latkes. Fritters. Whatever you want to call them. Even my kids will eat these. They don't know there's zucchini in them. Delicious.
5. And my favorite summer lunch--Not Really Ratatoille. I haven't posted it before because it's just so easy. And also because it's ugly. In fact, every summer when I make it again for the first time, I always see it and think, "Is this going to be any good? It sure looks ug-ly. Maybe I did some special step that I'm forgetting." Nope. It's always great. Seriously, like, plop a bowl-full in front of a friend/spouse and watch his/her face. But then it just tastes so so good. I love it plain, or on rice, or wrapped in a tortilla.
Here's what you do:
-Heat olive oil in a skillet.
-Dice zucchini and throw it in the oil with some salt. Cook until tender and browning on the sides.
-Dice some fresh tomatoes (or used canned if you don't have any from the garden). Throw those in and cook.
-Slice some black olives. Now I know this sounds weird, but just do it okay. It's actually a really fabulous compliment to the tomatoes. Throw the olives in.
-Top with cheese. Cheddar is my favorite, but Monterey Jack or Parmesan would probably be good too.
-Eat alone or over rice or in a tortilla shell.