Zucchini Bhaji, Gluten-Free Vegan Snacks.

Zucchini Bhaji
Zucchini Bhaji

Here they are again, the summer zucchini growing like triffids, their dazzling yellow flowers opening loudly in the sun, enticing insects to enter, then closing snugly with the tramonto or¬†sunset.¬†Their fruitfulness is always a mixed blessing as most zucchini growers will attest : there are always too many for one household. Catching them while they are discreet in size is part of the game- come back from a weekend away and you’re in for a rude surprise. Big ones sap the energy of the plant, reducing flowering and productivity. The larger zucchini are also rather bland in flavour, a case of bigger not being better! Constant harvesting is wise, as it is with all vegetables. Pick¬†often¬†and be rewarded.

Morning bees busy with cross pollination

Many folk  have a swag of favourite recipes for dealing with their annual zucchini glut, I am sure. I have at least 20 standby recipes and am always looking for more. Throughout summer, we use zucchini in:

  • simple soups,
  • fried and tossed through pasta alla carbonara
  • grated and incorporated into fritters, patties and bhajis
  • combined with cheese into old-fashioned¬†baked¬†slices
  • gutted and refilled with ricotta and baked in the oven
  • pickled with mustard seed
  • grilled to lay on a pizza
  • substituting eggplants in a parmigiana bake
  • vinegared with balsamic and garlic
  • sliced vertically into carpaccio salad
  • fried with their friends the tomatoes to make Prov√©ncal tians and tarts
  • grated into breads, muffins and cakes

They are summer’s green gifts. When their day is done, sometime down the track in Autumn, we say Addio for another year.

Zucchini Bhaji with minted yoghurt

Zucchini Bhaji

These little fried morsels are a cross between an onion bhaji and a vegetable pakhora. They don’t last long, and are often eaten as they exit the wok and don’t make it to the table. This recipe would feed two very greedy people or make snacks for four. It can be doubled for a family- kids love them.¬†Different spices may be used, such as cumin or coriander. The batter needs to be thicker than cream but not too stiff.

  • two medium zucchini, grated
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • ¬ĺ¬†cup besan/chick pea flour
  • ¬ľ¬†cup rice flour
  • ¬Ĺ¬†teaspoon baking powder
  • ¬Ĺ¬†teas salt
  • ¬Ĺ¬†teas garam masala
  • ¬Ĺ¬†teas chilli powder
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • ¬Ĺ¬†cup or so water
  • plain oil (not olive oil) for frying

Grate the zucchini and leave in a colander, covered with a weight, for 1/2 hour or so. Slice the onion.

Make the batter by mixing the dry ingredients with the water. Also let the batter sit for 1/2 an hour or more, un refrigerated so that the batter begins to ferment a little.

Add the vegetables to the batter and mix well. Add oil to a wok and heat until a bread piece sizzles. Deep frying is recommended as the fritters stick to the pan with shallow frying and tend to retain too much oil. If the temperature of your oil is hot, the bhaji should fry quickly. Turn once or twice using tongs, and then draining on paper towels.

Serve with Podina Chutney if you have an abundant mint supply, or a mint laced yoghurt dressing.

This snack is gluten and lactose free and vegan. Many zucchini recipes, quite by chance, are.

Crisp zucchini bhaji snacks.

 

 

Pasta for Tired Cooks. Bigoli in Salsa

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASometimes I feel too tired to cook and just want to sit in my garden and be waited on! Sadly there are neither cooking fairies here nor any take away food shops nearby. In times like these, a simple recipe is called for. Bigoli in Salsa, pasta with onions and anchovies, is one of these. Believe me, even if you aren’t fond of anchovies, they vanish in the sauce, imparting a thick saltiness. I happen to be very fond of the little salty fish.

Bigoli in Salsa is traditionally eaten on the evening before the Venetian festival of La Festa del Redentore on July 19th, an event that commemorates the end of the year-long plague that struck Venice in 1575, killing 50,000 people.

Bigoli pasta is very similar to spaghetti, only a little thicker, and available only in and around the Veneto.  Casareccia makes a comforting and redeeming substitute.

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Bigoli in Salsa/Pasta in onion and Anchovy sauce. For two as a main.

  • 2 large brown onions, sliced
  • 2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • salt, pepper,
  • finely chopped parsley
  • 200 g casareccia or other pasta. ( 1oo g¬†per person)

Heat heavy based frying pan and slowly cook the onions in oil for at least 10 minutes. Watch it like a hawk as the onions must soften, not brown or caramelise. Or use a heat mat to slow down the cooking.

Add the anchovies and squash into the sauce. Add the wine, salt and pepper, and continue cooking very slowly for another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in ample salted water until al dente, then drain.  (Never rinse the pasta after cooking, as this destroys the starch which helps the sauce adhere.) Add the pasta to the pan of onion sauce and turn around a little, adding the parsley.  Serve.

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I like mine plain while Signore Tranquillo likes his with shaved parmigiano, reggiano or padano.

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