My extraordinary friend Michael — a painter, sculptor, and all-around enlightened being who has made Kyoto his home for the past 35 years — visited us this weekend. He came with a big smile on his face, bearing a zucchini the size of rolled-up yoga mat (I exaggerate just barely). I thought about all the usual suspects — zucchini bread is the classic answer to that problem, since it typically takes five cups or more of shredded zukes for a loaf. I like some zucchini breads, but I find most of them to be very heavy, with the exception of one special loaf that I call “Spicy Floaty Zucchini Bread” (I will make this soon, and post about it) that’s made in the cast iron pan along with mustard powder, ancho powder, ground ginger, and ground cardamom. It’s so light it almost floats!
I thought I would start the inspiration process by slicing the beast in half and spooning out the guts/seeds. A liberal salting came next, in the belief that it’s the excessive water content of summer squash that makes it, I dunno, unwieldy. While salt began to pull out water from the robosquash, it occurred to me that filling the cavity with savory goodness and baking the entire thing might be a good idea. So I hunted around the fridge and pantry, and came up with two versions for the two halves:
- Vegetarian/Mediterranean: wokked up plenty of onion, finely diced carrots, eggplant, and green beans until the entire mass shrank considerably, and then dressed it with a pesto comprised of several roma tomatoes, good quantities of four or five herbs, olive oil, lavender salt, and parm. Spooned it into boat #1.
- Carnivorian/Middle Eastern: onions, carrots, ground lamb, pomegranate molasses, walnuts, plenty of ground coriander seed, cumin, almonds, and pecans for boat #2.
Baked at 400 for about 45 minutes. It was fragrant and just right for the small gathering of (mostly) vegetarian friends who later came over. The nonvegetarians were happy too. The only thing I would do differently: squash of this size have rather tough skins, I’ve discovered, so I would peel the skins first. But it was still fun to scoop up the flesh with spoon, leaving the skin behind….
Anyone have any good ideas for LARGE quantities of summer squash?
(and just for reference: the photo above is the uncooked version, just before it went into the oven; the roasted finished version looked much tastier!)