Monday, June 27, 2011

Now here's a part of a zucchini plant worth tasting

Zucchini plant with roots bitten off

That would be the young growth in the center of the bush: buds, tiny zukes, stems and even leaves. By chance I discovered that in southern Italy, the edible part of a zucchini plant can be more than what you buy at the market.

One of the 8 zucchini plants was looking stressed and on closer inspection the whole thing lifted right out of the ground with zero root system attached. An empty hole with a tunnel leading downwards marked the spot where the zucchini had once flourished. Field mice, arm yourselves (for I am certain that it isn't the work of moles), you're about to engage in battle.

I was more than a little peeved upon finding this but when I saw that a little frugality never hurts if you don't mind a little work, the first thing I wanted to do was to salvage enough of the plant for dinner. Apparently nothing goes to waste for southern italian farmers, and the blog Sud Italia in Cucina proves this point in a very interesting demonstration on what to do with an excess of plants. The young tender leaves, stalks, unopened buds and young unfertilized female fruit go straight into a vegetable dish fragrant with onions and tomatoes. The stalks are cut into segments and the fibrous outer strings pulled off, like de-stringing beans.

Zuke sauce of buds, stems and leaves

I sauteed thinly sliced onions, some minced garlic and a finely chopped hot chile pepper in a small amount of olive oil. Add a spoonful or two of chunky tomato sauce and the prepped zucchini bits and pieces. Cook on medium flame until the stems and leaves have softened (add a bit of water or white wine if the mixture dries out too much). Season to taste with salt and pepper. I added this to egg tagliatelle, sprinkled some grated pecorino on top and it was delicious!

Zuke pasta with buds, stems and leaves

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thank Garden It's Friday

Lavender corner, originally uploaded by Rubber Slippers In Italy.

When I look at our lavender bushes I pretend that I'm in Provence. A little bit of goat cheese, white wine, some olives, easy it is to create an entirely different world in your head with a few key ingredients!

The month of June has yielded a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but as soon as July's heat kicks in, I expect to have more photos for TGIF. The first few weeks of the month were cloudy with steady bouts of rain, averaging 55-60°F temps at midday. Not good for the buzzing pollination team so if I am certain that a female flower hasn't been pollinated (there were only females at one point), I cut off the young zukes and use them in a saute. I haven't even harvested a kilo of zucchini yet although the markets have been flooded with them.

Green, green, green, green
Striped zucchini, snowpeas, shiso and peppermint.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I will probably regret having put in 8 zukes

Zucchini patch

But they came in cell-packs of four and I couldn't decide between the usual dark green or white-striped variety. So I got both. I know all the horror stories about zukes...too many of them, so many of them, zukes gone wild, zukes in every possible recipe imaginable, monster zukes! This year I will also add zucchini to the dogs' meals. The doxie loves his vegs.


I don't regret putting in only one rhubarb as this plant is behaving as if it's on steroids. Two weeks ago the peppermint appeared to be ready to take over but look at it now...sitting in the shade of rhubarb's big leaves. I am looking forward to when the stalks turn a nice red color.

Rhubarb stalks

Last year the only fruit to come off the nashi were two palm-sized pears. Great flavor and sweet scent, but oh so small! The amount of fruit right now is much more although I can't imagine the tree being able to support all of them at that diminutive height.

Nashi pear fruits

Nashi pear | 2011