EGARTEYENOSUR

It’s be­ing served up to kids across the coun­try ev­ery day. Doesn’t mean they’re happy about it. So how can we trick the lit­tle blighters into eat­ing the ver­sa­tile zuc­chini?

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - On Sunday -

I HAVE learnt from hav­ing chil­dren that how you cut a veg­etable ren­ders it ei­ther de­li­cious or some­thing so dis­gust­ing that they’re di­alling Child Ser­vices.

Noth­ing is more prone to this than the zuc­chini. Ba­tons might be eaten one day but rounds flicked off the plate the next. It’s enough to make you scream, “It’s the same veg­etable no mat­ter how I cut it, you tiny tyrant!” – and I have.

So here are some ways to cook the na­tion’s most pop­u­lar sum­mer veg­etable.

DICED

Fry a dice of zuc­chini un­til just brown­ing at the edges. Add crushed gar­lic and cool a lit­tle. Stir into Greek yoghurt with le­mon, dill and salt. Serve as a dip or on the side with grilled fish or lamb chops.

Throw a cou­ple of hand­fuls of diced zuc­chini into a risotto as you fin­ish it by stirring through a dol­lop of mas­car­pone rather than but­ter and parme­san. Serve topped with grilled scal­lops or prawns, a hand­ful of chopped pars­ley, le­mon zest and a gen­er­ous squeeze of le­mon juice.

BA­TONS

Toss ba­tons of raw zuc­chini in beaten egg then crumb in a mix of po­lenta, parme­san and le­mon zest. Deep fry and serve hot and crunchy with dip­ping sauces like tara­masalata loos­ened with a lit­tle le­mon juice, melted gor­gonzola or a Turk­ish muham­mara, (roast red cap­sicums pureed with wal­nuts, cumin, olive oil, le­mon and bread­crumbs).

Or steam ba­tons and serve with basil pesto on hot penne. Gar­nish with a few grains of ground cloves – an old Ital­ian trick to in­ten­sify the basil’s flavour.

GRATED

Once you’ve squeezed ex­cess mois­ture from grated zuc­chini, the ob­vi­ous use is to make frit­ters with eggs, haloumi and dill, or a frit­tata with eggs, feta and mint.

But stirring grated zuc­chini into mac ’n’ cheese be­fore bak­ing, or us­ing it in other bak­ing like savoury muffins with goat’s cheese and ham or a zuc­chini cake, is also great.

ROUNDS

If I’m not us­ing rounds of zuc­chini in a rata­touille loaded with egg­plant and cap­sicum (both in sea­son), then I’ll fry them gen­tly in olive oil and but­ter with some finely diced onion to make a sum­mer zuc­chini soup.

Add a cup of warm chicken stock for ev­ery cup of cooked onion/zuc­chini mix and blitz with a gen­er­ous hand­ful of basil and about the same amount of parme­san. Serve driz­zled with a ring of olive oil and a few drops of bal­samic.

RIB­BONS

Toss raw rib­bons – cut with a peeler – with le­mon and a lit­tle salt. Al­low th­ese to slightly “cook” the zuc­chini. Drain and toss with cooked baby peas, snow peas sliced length­wise, lumps of ri­cotta and loads of mint. Serve with baked white fish or a bar­be­cued but­ter­flied lamb leg.

THREADS

Whether us­ing a spi­ral­izer or sexy knife work, th­ese strands cook su­per-quick, mak­ing them ideal, barely poached, in a dashi broth or pan-wilted with gar­lic in a lit­tle olive oil to serve un­der steamed snap­per fil­lets for the clean­est din­ners of sum­mer. Did some­one say, “bikini body”?

STRIPS

Cut into 1cm-thick strips, toss in oil, and cook on the bar­be­cue. Leave them alone so they get lovely char lines while the flesh in­side be­comes soft. When one side is cooked, flip and lay pro­sciutto and moz­zarella on top. The pro­sciutto will warm and leach out some of its porky good­ness and the moz­zarella will soften.

Tear over pars­ley, a gen­er­ous squeeze of le­mon and olive oil. Eat with toasted cia­batta and a mound of mor­tadella warmed in the oven or mi­crowave.

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