The bounty of zucchini hanging out in local gardens can be overwhelming, so here are some ideas for what to do with them.
• 1 pound zucchini
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
• 1 green onion, chopped, green part only
• 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon minced jalapeño
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 1 egg, beaten
• Olive oil
• Greek-style yogurt
Shred the zucchini and put it in a colander. Sprinkle generously with salt, mix well and set aside for at least 30 minutes to drain. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat until they begin to pop and smell fragrant. Grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
Rinse the shredded zucchini under cold running water. Pick up a small handful, squeeze it dry and put it in the center of a linen dish towel. When you’ve squeezed all the zucchini by hand, gather the dish towel around the zucchini and twist, wringing out as much liquid as you can. The more liquid you remove, the lighter the fritter will be.
Put the zucchini in a bowl and add the green onion, jalapeño, cumin and coriander and stir to mix well. Stir in the flour and then the beaten egg. The mixture should be sticky, but there shouldn’t be any free liquid. If there is, stir in a little more flour.
Pour olive oil into a nonstick skillet to a depth of about one-fourth inch (it’ll take about 1/4 cup) and heat it over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough that a little bit of zucchini sizzles immediately, drop four (2 to 3 tablespoon) mounds of the batter into the pan, flattening them slightly with the back of a spoon.
Fry until golden brown on one side, three to four minutes, then gently flip and fry until golden brown on the other side, two to three minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and gently pat away any excess oil.
Serve immediately, with a dollop of thick Greek yogurt.
Makes eight fritters.
Woven Zucchini with Goat Cheese
• 3 to 4 (6- to 7-inch) zucchini
• Olive oil
• 1/2 clove garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 10 to 12 cherry tomatoes
• 8 ounces fresh goat cheese
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Sicilian)
• 6 leaves fresh basil
Trim the ends of the zucchini to make them a uniform length. Slice them lengthwise as thin as you can, about one-eighth inch (this is most easily done with a mandoline, but if you’re careful, a very sharp knife will also work). You should have at least 24 thin strips of zucchini.
Place the zucchini in a bowl, salt generously and toss to coat, then transfer to a colander and set aside until the zucchini have softened, at least 30 minutes.
While the zucchini are sitting, whisk together 3 tablespoons olive oil, the minced garlic and lemon juice and season with a pinch of salt. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and season lightly with salt.
Rinse the zucchini slices under cold running water, then pat dry with a paper towel. Return to the bowl and season with just enough of the olive oil-lemon mixture to moisten lightly.
Weaving the zucchini may sound complicated (as with weaving a lattice-top pie), but it is not difficult at all. You’ll need six strips of squash for each plate. Arrange three strips of zucchini side-by-side on the first plate. Lift the middle strip and place one strip of zucchini perpendicular to the other strips and over the two outer strips, making an “H.” Unfold the middle strip over the perpendicular strip. Fold back the two end pieces on one side and lay another perpendicular strip, then unfold the end pieces. Repeat at the other end, then use your fingers to gently push the pieces together to make a tightly woven mat of zucchini. Repeat for the three remaining plates.
Place the fresh goat cheese in a bowl and stir in the dried oregano and the remainder of the olive oil-lemon mixture to make a smooth, creamy mixture. If necessary, add a little more olive oil.
Divide the goat cheese mixture evenly among the four plates, spooning it in the center of the zucchini mat. Scatter the cherry tomato halves around the outside. Drizzle lightly with a little more good olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces and scatter over top. Serve at room temperature.
Makes four servings.
• 1 large onion
• Olive oil
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons slivered basil leaves
• 2 zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
• 16 to 20 cherry tomatoes, quartered
• 3 tablespoons slivered, pitted black olives
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the onion in quarters lengthwise and then in one-fourth-inch crosswise strips. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is softened and translucent, six to eight minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, two to three minutes.
Generously oil an earthenware, glass or enameled cast-iron baking pan approximately 10 by 8 inches. Scatter the onions across the bottom, season lightly with salt and scatter the basil leaves over the top.
Arrange the zucchini on top of the onions in a single tight-fitting crosswise row. Arrange the remaining zucchini following the same pattern, overlapping each successive row by about one-half. Scatter the cherry tomatoes and black olives evenly over the top and again season lightly with salt (remember, the goat cheese will be slightly salty) and more generously with black pepper.
Crumble the goat cheese evenly over the top of the mixture, drizzle with olive oil and bake until the zucchini is very soft, the goat cheese is lightly browned, and most of the liquid from the vegetables has disappeared, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Makes six servings.