What a coincidence, the vegetable delivery people brought me zucchini just as we got into zucchini week. Okay, not a coincidence — once this stuff starts ripening anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, we’re in for a long summer of it.
Not that I don’t like zucchini. It tastes a lot better to me than winter squash, and it’s almost as good for baking. But it gets so cheap and plentiful, it’s hard not to buy it, and we’d get tired of it if I didn’t come up with a new zucchini dish once in a while.
After making pistou (French quasi-pesto) out of spinach last time, I was ready to find a bold new way to use zucchini. Well, maybe not so bold, as almost any ingredients today seem to be fair game for what I made — salsa. Anyway, we were having quesadillas for dinner, so it fit.
This is a very mild salsa which would be good for little kids, especially those who don’t like to eat their vegetables. If it’s not spicy enough for you, add a dash of chili or a little diced hot pepper.
Of course, it doesn’t use up much zucchini. As for that, apart from the obvious steaming, you can serve it raw in a salad, grate it into tomato sauce, or broil it. Just tonight I cut what I didn’t use in the salsa into thin lengthwise slices and fried them quickly in a little hot oil, then served with Parmesan cheese and black pepper. After that — to go a little off topic — I heated up the oil again and made home fries with a grated Jerusalem artichoke. You can do that with radishes, too, even if you don’t like them raw — they taste much milder when cooked even slightly.
Right, back to zucchini. “The best size for zucchini is six to 8 inches long and 2 inches or less in diameter,” says the University of Illinois Extension. After that — very soon after that, as they grow so quickly — they get tough and bitter. If you do end up with one of those monster zucchini, try baking it until tender.
- ½ cup zucchini, diced fine
- 1 medium ripe tomato, diced
- 1 tsp (or more) red onion diced fine
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Combine everything in a food processor.
- Process 10-15 seconds to a uniform mixture of very small pieces.