Ever notice how cheap and plentiful zucchini is during the summer? I have. But short of adding a few raw spears to the occasional crudités platter I've generally shied away from zucchini because I thought I didn't like it.
My mother made something she called zucchini casserole which I remember as being soupy, squishy, over cooked and littered with canned stewed tomatoes. Now I don't want to slander my mother's good name or her skill in the kitchen, but this stuff was G-R-O-S-S.
I should admit that I was a very picky eater as a child, but vegetables were the one thing I always loved and gobbled up. It was meat and potatoes that I usually turned my nose up at. And my mother's skills in the kitchen were actually pretty amazing. So either my memory is wrong or zucchini was the one ingredient she just missed the mark on.
My father had a big ol' garden every summer where he grew loads of stuff. Peas, beans, radishes, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, asparagus and a whole host of other veggies. But never zucchini. I know for a fact they are easy to grow. I didn't use the words "cheap and plentiful" above lightly. So why didn't he grow them? And why didn't she have more ways to prepare them? Either he didn't like zucchini or she didn't. It shall remain forever a mystery. And in the meantime - I thought I didn't like zucchini. Pity.
Fast forward a thousand years and I am all grown up and moving to Vienna. Waiting for me here was one husband, an apartment full of Seventies-tastic furnishings and the largest zucchini I'd ever laid eyes on. Turns out it came compliments of lacrosse player Georg, from his Dad's garden. And what a sweet and welcoming gesture it was. Fresh home grown veggies are the way to my heart.
But a zucchini?
What was I going to do with it? Exactly how much raw zucchini dipped in salad dressing can one girl eat? And that's when I asked Georg how his family liked to eat all the zucchini their garden produced. What follows is the basic gist of a recipe related to me verbally, nearly a year ago. I've made it several times since, it changes a bit each time, feel free to tinker. It's cheap and cheerful, flexible and filling. And nutritious enough not to spark a guilt storm.
We call it Pasta Georg.
-a few mid sized zucchini, cut into hunks
-a couple of onions, cut into hunks
-a bowl of pasta, cooked
-two or three pints of creme fraiche (this is the guilt ingredient, use at your own risk)
-a few cloves of garlic, minced, smashed, sliced - however you like it
-a few tablespoons of olive oil
-generous portions of a variety of basic herbs and spices, fresh or dried, whatever you have laying around. I usually use lots of basil and oregano, a bit of rosemary and thyme.
-salt, pepper to taste
-fresh grated parmesan cheese
Heat olive oil in pan. Add onion hunks, sauté till transparent (about 5 mins)
Add zucchini hunks, garlic, salt, pepper and herbs. Toss the whole lot around.
Sauté about 5 mins. I like the zucchini cooked but not mushy.
Combine zucchini mixture, the cooked pasta and creme fraiche.
Stir it up good.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve.
Delish. Delish. Delish.
Easy, fast, economical, tasty and healthy(ish)
You can add chicken, or asparagus, more onions, less garlic, different herbs, a handful of capers. I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong with this one.
And so I leave you with this flexible recipe, a few fun facts and a wish that someone in your neighborhood has zucchini planted in their garden.
- The world's largest zucchini was recorded as 6 foot 4 inches long, grown in Niagara Falls, NY, 2003.
- August 8th is "Sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor's porch day"
- Zucchini helps to cure asthma as it contains Vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Zucchini helps to prevent diseases, like scurvy, bruising etc, caused by the deficiency of Vitamin C.
- Zucchini also prevents the risk of having multiple sclerosis
- Zucchinis have high water content (over 95%), so they make perfect food for people on diet.
- Zucchini contains useful amounts of folate, potassium, and vitamin A, necessary for a human body.