September is the time when your garden, and the gardens of everyone you know, is overflowing with zucchini. It’s the season when bags of zucchini show up on your door step and litter the counter of your break room at work as everyone goes into zucchini overload and is desperately trying to find someone to take their excess crop. Chef Sue’s urban garden did not include zucchini, but we have not been at a loss for these beautiful green garden missiles. With this in mind, I thought to put together a couple recipes you might try to help with your zucchini inundation. My intent was to stray outside the lines of the normal zucchini fate and create something new and interesting. My good friends Richter and Meredith joined me last night to sample these creations. When the night ended with not a morsel left, we concluded the experiment was a success.
As has been my recent trend in recipe creation and pairing, my intent with these dishes was to not stray far afield of the principle flavor of the main ingredient. In this case, I wanted the essence of the zucchini to remain at center stage. The zucchini bruschetta and the puree were true to my intent. However, the zucchini ring filled with an egg and topped with garlic sautéed shrimp was not as clear an interpretation. Don’t get me wrong, it was rich and delicious, but the zucchini offered little more than a pleasant textural contrast while the egg yolk (perfectly cooked to form another layer of sauce), and the garlic shrimp overpowered the mild flavor of zucchini.
The bold flavors of the garlic shrimp were also a challenge for the wine pairing. I had intended this pairing to feature a wine recommended by Golf Buddy Steve – a 2009 Silvergum Australia Chardonnay. This wine has a pleasant floral nose and features flavors of citrus, peach, mellon and subtle hints of butterscotch supported by healthy acidity. Unfortunately, for a Chardonnay the 2009 Silvergum Australia Chardonnay is light bodied and did not match the heft of the garlic shrimp. This is not to say a light bodied wine would not work – something like a Sauvignon Blanc with bright citrus flavors and strong acidity would have gone toe to toe with the shrimp.
Fortunately, I was prepared for this and had a bottle of my standby favorite within arms reach. The body of the 2009 Sebastiani Sonoma County Chardonnay was up to the task with welcome structure and minerality coupled with flavors of ripe pear, apple, vanilla and a wonderful buttery feel. At $11 this wine is an exceptional value and is a staple on my wine rack.
- 4 slices French bread
- olive oil
- 3 cups zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/2 finely diced red onion
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Arrange the bread slices on a sheet pan and brush with olive oil
- Bake until crisp, about 8 minutes.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the zucchini and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently just to soften.
- Season with the salt and pepper.
- Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Combine red onion, feta cheese, capers and basil in a large bowl.
- Add the zucchini and any olive oil left in the skillet.
- Stir well and season if needed.
- Top each bread slice with the zucchini mixture and serve.
Garlic Shrimp and Egg Stuffed Zucchini Rings
- 4 large 3/4 inch thick zucchini rings with center cut out. Find a large zucchini - 4 to 6 inches in diameter.
- 1 lb shrimp
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup finely chopped basil leaves
- Cut zucchini into 3/4 inch rings and hollow out the middle
- Sautee one side of the zucchini then flip
- Add an egg to the hollowed zucchini
- Cover and continue until egg is cooked leaving the yolk uncooked
- In a separate skillet, melt butter, add garlic and shrimp.
- One minute before done, add basil leaves and season to taste.
Saffron Eggplant Puree
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped basil leaves
- 2 cups coarsely chopped zucchini
- 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
- 1 cup water
- Pinch saffron
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Heat oil in a medium sauté pan over medium high heat.
- Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft.
- Add the zucchini, vinegar, basil , water and saffron and bring to a simmer.
- Cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Place in a blender and blend until smooth, season with salt and pepper to taste.
In vino veritas, buen provecho.