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.
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 Provéncal 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.
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
- ¾ cup besan/chick pea flour
- ¼ cup rice flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teas salt
- ½ teas garam masala
- ½ teas chilli powder
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- ½ 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.