It’s not often I laugh out loud when reading a murder mystery, but this passage from Louise Penny’s Still Life made me chortle:
In the twenty-five years she’d lived in Three Pines she’d never, ever heard of a crime. The only reason doors were locked was to prevent neighbors from dropping off baskets of zucchini at harvest time.
So plentiful, and yet so … plain.
If you find yourself in possession of a basket of zucchini, here are a couple of suggestions for how to eat them up with zingy flavour: blue cheese zucchini rounds, and cilantro and zucchini soup. I had the soup at our local Mexican restaurant, Dos Amigos, and it is divine! The recipe below is my attempt at approximation.
Blue Cheese and Zucchini Rounds
This is a dead simple hors d’oeuvre.
3 zucchini, the thinner ones work best for this recipe
small wedge of blue cheese or any strong (more kid-friendly?) cheese
If you use your kids’ favourite cheese, this might be a way to get the zucchini into them one cheesy bite at a time….
Preheat oven to 350.
Slice tops and bottoms off of the zucchini and discard. Slice zucchini into 3cm-long pieces. Using a melon-baller, scoop out the inside of each piece of zucchini, making sure to keep the bottom in tact so it can work as a bowl. (Keep the insides for soup or to add to Carol’s vegetable stock.) Line up hollowed out zucchini “bowls” on a cookie sheet. Fill each piece of zucchini with cheese. Put into oven for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and bubbles. Serve immediately.
Zucchini and Cilantro Soup
So, I made this again last night, as per instructions below, and it was not the bright green it was the first time I made it. I must have dreamed the smoky chipotle bit. Eliminate the chipotle pepper from the recipe, add a clove or two of garlic with the onion, and use a dash or three of hot sauce for heat. Enjoy.
I love making soup. It’s so easy, so easy (in fact, better) to make ahead, and it’s the perfect fast fall food. This one is perfect with corn bread, with cubed crispy tofu, or as a starter for a Mexican meal. It’s a very bright green, and with a dollop of lime sour cream as contrast, makes a striking presentation in any bowl.
1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of ground chipotle pepper or of chipotle pepper paste (or more, to taste)
3 zucchini, diced (plus filling from recipe above!)
1 or 2 cubes vegetable stock dissolved in 4 cups of water
1-2 cups of well-washed cilantro leaves, depending how much you like cilantro. I can’t get enough of it, so the more the better for me.
1/2 cup of sour cream
juice of one lime, a bit of lime zest for colour
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a heavy pot and add onion and chipotle pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes until onions are translucent. Add diced zucchini, vegetable stock cubes and water. Add more water if needed to just cover zucchini. Bring to a boil then simmer until zucchini is tender (about 5 minutes). Allow the soup to cool. Transfer in batches into a blender and whiz with cilantro leaves until pureed. Return to pot and heat and serve, or chill until ready to heat and serve.
To make the sour cream topping, which is a divine cold and citrusy contrast to the hot and spicy soup, zest then juice one lime. Add juice and 1/4 teaspoon of finely chopped zest to 1/4 cup of sour cream. Mix well until smooth. Serve each bowl of soup with a dollop of cold, limey goodness.