Wednesday, August 11, 2010
During this time of year, when zucchinis grow like baseball bats under the August sun, I feel I must broach the delicate issue of vegetable contraception.
With no intent to offend, I must ask my gentle readers if they have considered the possibility of contraception for their garden friends, and in particular those friends known formally as cucurbita pepo, and informally as marrow, courgette, summer squash, or zucchini.
Of course, if you think about it, you're already assisting many of the little green people with their contraception needs. I mean, you eat peas, right? And neither do you let the seeds of the tomato fall upon the ground. At least, in my house we don't. We snatch them tomatoes right up and scarf 'em down. Sometimes with salt, sometimes without.
But zucchini, prolific and insistent in their belief that Size Matters, require a special approach, and a little more effort to restrain.
What we do at my house, dear readers, is eat the flowers.
Now don't give me that shocked look. Lots of flowers are good to eat - nasturtium, violets, little lemon gem marigolds. Ignoring their pitiful cries for mercy, we toss them into salads indiscriminately and say yum. Or Miam. (cf. 'strawberries, wild and tame).
Zucchini flowers, plucked early and often, cut down on the overarching tendency of the fruit to loom large and threatening to your children - or your neighbors, who'll have to eat all that zucchini bread. And if you don't want to waste what you pick, there's lots of ways to prepare them for the palate.
In fact, the bloom of the marrow are a particular summer treat for me, bringing back memories of Grandma Campilli and Netty Fabiano's kitchens. What they did, and what I do is make a sweet batter - there's a good one in Joy of Cooking, dipped them in it and fry them, then serve sprinkled with confectioners sugar.
Others stuff them with Ricotta and herbs, use a savory batter and fry and serve. And you can also chop the flowers to be added to risotto, or made into a gnudi. I'll also serve them in crepes.
The long and the short of it - so to speak - is that an ounce of flower consumption will save you pounds of zucchini, so start snipping those flowers, and enjoy.