Saturday, June 23, 2007


I drove home from work Thursday in a zucchini state of mind.
Our garden is not always consistent in what it yields each year. But it always gives us more than enough zucchini. And, although by summer's end, I've grown less than thrilled with the, by then, enormous, green, seedy monsters it produces--the first crop of the season is always looked forward to with renewed excitement.
It was this anticipation of our tender, young squash, and our "famous" Zucchini Spaghetti, that I dreamed of, driving down our lane.
From the front yard, I glanced upward toward the porch--just stealing a quick peek at whoever might be feeding at the hanging platform feeder, before walking into the house to start dinner. It wasn't there. Upon closer inspection, I found it perfectly intact, but lying in the garden below. The cord we'd used to suspend it had seemed sturdy enough--a bright white nylon from the hardware store. But the friction of the branch it hung over, apparently had worn it to the point of snapping--I'd have to deal with that after dinner.
No sense in setting up a feeding station, waiting for birds to discover it, and then giving up quite so easily. There was plenty of cord left, and plenty of porch-sitting weather to still enjoy. But, first things first--and that meant zucchini!
This meal is so quick and easy, healthy and satisfying--I wish I could take credit for it. I can't really remember how the recipe evolved--but over the years, my family has adopted it as a favorite--something we eat often throughout the summer, and no other time of the year. It is summer garden on a plate.
Twenty minutes later, I climbed the stairs to the porch, dinner in hand, and settled comfortably into my seat, ready to feast.

That morning, I'd watched a steady stream of birds drawn there, to the now fallen feeder. Babies squawking and fussing at mothers--wings quivering, begging for attention. Insatiable shadows of the parent. And I knew, as I headed off to work, their day's sole responsibility would be feeding the insistent youngsters. I felt relieved that my day would be, in comparison, easy.

In no time at all, the branch beyond the porch now filled with birds. As if on cue, the titmice communicated their displeasure in grating calls, looking at me from the spot where their dinner had been. "Have you no idea how much my child eats? And you're going to watch their fussiness now, while you eat zucchini spaghetti?"
The guilt was too much. The noise was too much.
Setting my plate aside, I retrieved the feeder, and fresh cord. In a minute, it was again suspended from the branch, still full of food.
Bon appetite!

Zucchini Spaghetti
several small zucchini (lg. zucchini must be peeled or is bitter)
extra virgin olive oil, liberal amount (will contribute to “sauce”)
sliced onion, to taste
garlic, crushed, to taste
celery seed
basil/oregano, if desired
fresh diced tomatoes or canned w/ juice

Cut zucchini into 3/4” cubes. Slice onion in thin strips. Over med heat, cook zucchini and onion in generous amount of olive oil (I use almost 1/3 cup) until onion is nicely browned and zucchini is beginning to brown, and still somewhat al dente.
Add garlic, celery seed, and herbs-- covering it with lid and steaming it for about 5 minutes to just tenderize it, but keep it green, and soften herbs.
Just before ready to serve, add tomatoes to top of pan, replacing lid to heat through. I do not stir much after this point, in order to keep things from “mushing” up.

When all is warm, gently stir contents of pan in order to blend juices and oil into sauce. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Serve over pasta (we love angel hair for this!), top with parmesan cheese.

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Susan Gets Native said...

*planning next trip to Kroger so I can buy all those ingredients and make this for my DH and rugrats*

cestoady said...

We like a similiar zucchini dish at our place too. To save time, I add either a can of diced tomotos,"Italian style" or one with onions and roast garlic to cover the tomatoes and spices. Along with the olive oil, I may add some shake on Italian seasoning. When served over whole grain pasta or brown or jasimine rice ,one has a scrumptious meal. Three cheers for zucchini !!

Do you suppose garlic mustard,if still around, could be used to spice up the dish ??

Body Soul Spirit said...

Looks delicious! My kind of dinner. I do love bowtie pasta the best. I have given up on my feeders for the summer because of the pesty grackles and squirrels.

Dorothy said...

The squirrels ate right through the twine I used for my thistle sox. They managed to eat through 4 sox in the space of an hour -- right after I hung them.
The zucchini recipe sounds wonderful! Can't wait to try it!

RuthieJ said...

Oooh, Nina, I was hoping you'd give us the recipe. I got my zucchini planted late and I have one that's about as big as my index finger. Maybe by next week it will be big enough for me to try this recipe.

Do you have a Wild Birds Unlimited or other backyard bird store near you? I got a nice 4-chain hanger with screw-in eye bolts that I use on my hanging tray feeder once the string finally broke.

Mary said...

It's 11:49 a.m. and I'm starving. I just printed this recipe - it looks and sounds WONDERFUL! Thank you!