It sat there on the kitchen table. It must have been three feet long, but it had taken a detour two thirds in. The short end was fatter than the barrel. It looked like an oversized pirate’s pistol. It weighed 2.5 kilograms. It was a monster.
We’d been trading vegetables with our neighbour. This one, a white zucchini known sometimes as Lebanese white squash, trumped the lot. I’d imagined the struggle my next door neighbour had suffered in landing it. Wrestling it from the vine. Lashing it to the wheelbarrow. Fighting off garden predators on the barrow run back down the garden path to kitchen’s safe harbour. The old man and the zucchini.
It was edible. Usually at that size they are only good for show. But the constant rain and heat in the last two weeks meant it was still tender inside. We dined off it for a week.
Zucchini curry, Goanese-style
This curry combines spices often associated with the Goa region of India, but I don’t know if regionality matters any more. In any case, the heat and fragrance of this dish makes it a firm favourite, whether you use meat or vegetables.
Fry three chopped onions in ghee or oil or a combination. When done, remove onions. In same pan, fry about one kilogram of chopped zucchini, adding more oil/ghee as necessary. When lightly fried, remove zucchini and return onions to pan, reserving one third. Add a can of diced tomatoes to the onions and cook.
Meanwhile, blend to a paste six garlic cloves, a two-inch knob of ginger, 10 cardomom pods, a teaspoon each of chilli powder and cumin seeds, a dessertspoon of coriander powder, a two-inch stick of cinnamon, 5 cloves, 20 black peppercorns, and half a cup of malt vinegar.
Add the paste to the tomato onion mixture with one teaspoon of sugar and salt to taste. Stir. Add the zucchini. Cubes are better than rounds. Add fluid to almost cover zucchini. Cook until zucchini is done.
Top with reserved fried onion, yogurt and sweet lime pickle. Serve with steamed rice or roti. (Mother's Recipe brand lime pickle is very good; imported from Pune, India and available from many Sydney Road spice shops.)
Marinate quarter-inch thick rounds or strips for a few hours with olive oil, plenty of chopped garlic, cracked black pepper and some dried oregano. Add salt just before barbecuing. Flip after a few minutes depending on heat intensity of your grill or grate. Serve with lemon and yogurt.
Zucchini in vapore (steamed zucchini)
This was the last of it. In the normal recipe, you would use two large (eight inch) zucchini. No-one would normally take notice of a dish entitled steamed zucchini but this combination produces one of the most aromatic cooking experiences you could imagine.
Slice zucchini into thin rounds, and cook about five minutes in a pot with 2 sliced onions, a pinch each of dried basil and cayenne pepper, a tablespoon of unsalted butter and a tablespoon or two of water. Serve in the juice and flutter chopped parsley over. A great side dish with baked fish.
Listen! I can hear the pumpkins growing. The ground is creaking under them. Have to get out my pumpkin gnocchi with fresh tomato sauce recipe. We'll be eating pumpkin for the next month, kids! What's the matter? Aren't you tired of zucchini?