Indomitable Zucchini

Gadzukes plant still producing as of 14 October
I can’t believe it’s mid-October and I’m still picking zucchini, especially considering the fact that the plants look pretty much like they’ve been run over several times by a small truck. I thought they’d give up the ghost weeks ago.  The spaghetti squash, which produced beautifully this year, looked the same –mildewed and borer-ridden – and turned up their toes in early September (though I still have several awaiting cooking and quick-made sauces on the porch) and the Black Knight zucchini, likewise bit the dust in about the first week in September.  But the zukes, at least the Gadzukes variety, takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’. Astonishing.
Last week’s Gadzukes zucchini
This is what most of the plant looks like, and yet…
Collapsed in the middle where they originally sprang from the ground, the vines continued to send out puny looking stems to sprawl along the paths. Each time I figured they were done for, I’d go out, thinking: It’s time to rid the garden of these unsightly diseased things and discover that they’d sent out some new little green shoot, some newly flouncing green leaves and beneath the leaves, healthy-looking blossoms followed in a week or so, by healthy, pickable fruits. So, while we haven’t had the proverbial deluge of zukes that people make such fun of (and which I don’t get – who would wanted lotsa shredded zucchini in the freezer for winter soups and latke?), we have had a sufficiency, which is good enough.
Yesterday, I picked a surprisingly healthy zuke about 14 inches long and brought it in to make zucchini latkes for supper. With the Gadzukes zukes I’d picked last week I made the fabulous summer squash gratin with salas verde, whose recipe I got from Food 52 (link below) – and of course, forgot to photo it when it came beautifully bubbling out of the oven. Instead we dug in. I remembered to photo it the second day when I had it for supper again. (How I loved leftovers!). The latkes, yes, you guessed it, no photos there either, but the recipe follows, a great way to end the summer produce and tender herb season since we’re about to lose all that great basil. But I’m a believer in making hay while the sun shines – or zuke latkes while the herbs hold out. Whichever.
That’s one of the great things about gardening – just when you think you know something, can predict what’s going to happen, you’re brought up short and reminded that we’re dealing with living things, and living things can always surprise you. The perfect metaphor for life among human beings as well.
Simply sautéed zukes and onions

They make a nice side dish with grilled shrimp and avocado

Zucchini Latkes with Chipotle Sauce
2 medium zucchini, grated
¼ cup grated onion
2 serrano peppers, finely chopped (seeds removed if you like less heat)
¼ cup finely chopped sweet pepper
1 cup fresh chopped herbs, any you fancy- I usually use lots of lime basil, lemon basil, cilantro, oregano, parsley, a little dill and a single sage leaf
1 tblsp Adobo seasoning
freshly ground pepper
1-2 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
1-2 tsp paprika (Spanish, sweet, or smoked paprika are all nice in this)
1/3 cup flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 large or 2 small eggs
For sauce:
Mix ½ cup mayonnaise with 2-3 finely chopped tinned chipotles in adobo sauce (along with some of the adobo sauce), a squeeze of tomato paste from the tube or a teaspoon of tomato paste from a tin, and the juice of half a lime.
3 tblsp canola or other frying oil.
Chop herbs and peppers and grate the onion then grate the zucchini last to keep it from getting watery. Mix the vegetables, herbs, and seasonings together. Add the flour and baking powder with a fork to mix it well, but quickly so you don’t build up the gluten in the flour. Beat eggs a little (like for scrambled) then add and mix in so you have something like a thick, veg-filled batter. Heat oil until shimmering hot in a frying pan. (I use my grandmother’s old iron skillet). With a dessert spoon or tablespoon, carefully add a big mound of zucchini batter to the pan, and gently pat it down into a pancake. Repeat. Fry on medium-high heat until golden brown on one side and starting to puff, flip over and cook until puffed and golden brown on the second side. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Serve with a dollop of sauce on top.

Leftover Squash gratin with salsa verde -SO much better than it looks here!

One Comment on “Indomitable Zucchini

  1. Wow. I am seriously, seriously impressed. It seems like my squash plants bit the dusts months ago. In fact, I planted them in such a way that they should have been bearing fruit right after we came back from vacation (early August). Wouldn't you know it that they went gangbusters the last two weeks of July, while we were gone. They kind of limped along in August, but they never amounted to anything at all. So seriously impressed!!!

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