Dressing up Zucchini

There comes a time in late summer, early fall, when harvesting the zucchini slows down. Maybe it is because we have eaten lots of squash all summer, in frittatas, casseroles, and grilled with pasta. Sometimes I forget to check on the zucchini for three or four days. Then this happens…

IMG_0556

It is no better with the patty pan, they can double in size in a matter of days too. Just look at this…

IMG_0559

We usually just chop these giant veggies up and give them to the chickens. They are very happy to eat the seeds, and nibble on the tough flesh.

IMG_0513

Thanks girls. Ok, back to having rather large zucchini, and what to do with them. I tried a new recipe the other night, and it was very tasty. It took zucchini to a new level.

First, I picked two medium zucchini, and washed them.

IMG_0529

Next, I cut them into thumb-sized pieces. You can cut the zucchini in thirds, then quarter. The seedy middle part I cut off. Next, put in a bowl, and sprinkle with one Tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of black pepper and garlic powder. Then for the star ingredient:

IMG_0528

Very carefully, wrap each zucchini thumb with a piece of prosciutto. This part is tricky, because the pieces are so thin. Just work slowly. After you have rolled them all up, heat a pan on the stove over medium heat. Saute the zucchini thumbs until each side is crisp and golden, about 3-5 min. on each side.

IMG_0507

IMG_0508

Take that you big nasty squash! Look at you now, all dressed up. I served this with roasted tomato basil soup ( will share recipe when I remember what is in this. It was delicious).

IMG_0574

One of the best things to do with surplus produce is to barter or trade with your friends. My friend Kay has too many figs and lemons, and I have too many eggs and squash. So we trade, and everyone is happy. I also end up giving a lot of squash away. Not because I don’t love them, it’s just that we produce a lot from only a few plants. It’s fun to share our produce with family and friends. And it is fun to get fresh produce that we don’t grow ourselves.

My favorite dessert to make with figs is a rustic crostata. Here is the recipe:

IMG_0599

1/2 pound fresh ripe mission figs, washed and quartered

1 cup ricotta cheese

2 Tablespoons milk

2 Tablespoons sugar

dash of cinnamon

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup ruby Port+ 1/4 cup

1 Tablespoon apricot jam

zest and juice from 1/2 a lemon

1 frozen ready-made pie crust, thawed and at room temperature

1 egg, for brushing the pie crust

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the stems off figs, and quarter. Put in a bowl with 1/2 cup of Port. The longer the figs can macerate in the Port, the better. I would say several hours at least. The fruit soaks up the Port, and becomes wonderful.

IMG_0601

Meanwhile, combine ricotta cheese, sugar and milk in a bowl. Mix to combine. Put aside. On the stove, over medium heat, combine honey, apricot jam, 1/4 cup Port, lemon zest + juice, and cinnamon in a small pot. Heat until everything is melted together and thicken up a bit. Remove from heat.

IMG_0600

Grab sheet pan with a silicon baking mat. Roll out pie crust carefully. Spoon ricotta mixture into the center of pie crust, leaving a two inch boarder around the outside. Next, arrange the fig slices on top of the ricotta mixture. Next, pour the honey Port mixture over the figs. Then crimp up the edges around the crostata, to make a circle. Brush the edges of the crust with an egg wash. This will help the crust to get a nice golden brown. You could also use milk or butter.

IMG_0602

IMG_0603

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. The kitchen will smell amazing! Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Very carefully, using a spatula, go around the edges and loosen the crostata from the mat. Make sure it is loose, then slide it on to a plate. Enjoy.

IMG_0609

Is it wrong to eat fig crostata for lunch? It is just too good to resist. The smell is driving me crazy.

IMG_0610

Enjoy life, and let nature rejuvenate your soul.