Its September, post-Labor Day. It is firmly black outside and its only a little after eight o’clock pm. Summer fading. Its been a fantastic summer and lately, I’ve been inspired by part of August’s bounty—the zucchini. In the past 2 weeks alone, I have learned that the zuke can become “pasta” and french fries (without frying)! How is that for diverse? Let me muster up some links.
The pasta recipe is from the NY Times. Its a recipe from Martha Rose Shulman (wanted to attribute this correctly). They cut the zucchini into pasta like ribbons and stir fry it quickly in olive oil. They call for it in a tomato sauce but I made mine without, and served with paramesan cheese sprinkled over it. They are most yummy just off the stove. You only have to be careful to not overcook as it quickly can become mush. See the recipe here.
Tonight I am trying a recipe that caught my eye in a magazine at a salon. I don’t remember the name of the magazine (Self?) but it had Jennifer Love Hewitt on the cover. (she’s engaged and happy apparently). Its a recipe that makes zucchini into french fries…that recipe calls for coating in buttermilk then dredging zuchinni sticks in a mixture of cornmeal, parmesan and salt. Then you bake the fries at 400 degrees until brown. This one on recipe bazaar however got great reviews. I would like to see an improvement over the white flour however. I’ll post how they turn out later tonight.
As this is a blog about keeping nutritional meals affordable, I want to briefly say a word about cost. One zuchinni–summer prices are anywhere from sixty nine cents to $1.29 a pound (the latter is pricy; ican get it for $0.99 a pound for mine, locally grown, at least in August or early September anyway)–easily fed double servings for 3 people each with a bit left over. The zuchinni pasta called for oil. I used about a tablespoon of grapeseed oil which comes out to about another ten to fifteen cents per tablespoon for the dish. At most, a tablespoon of fresh fulvi pecorino romano (from Wholefoods) which was roughly twenty two cents per tablespoon. So, at most, $1.85 for a side dish which fed 3 people at dinner, averaging out roughly about $0.31 per serving. so thirty-one cents of summer per serving! Nutritionally, i am sure you can substitute a fragrant herb with lemon juice for the cheese to make it less fatty.
Post-post note: the wonderful smell of baked parmesan lightly fills our home. The zuchinni fries were delicious. I did a hybrid of the recipes, using buttermilk to coat and white flour mixed with parmesan and salt for the crust. The fries really do come out crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. A dash of cayenne pepper would have worked as well. There are many variations you can experiment with to boost the nutritional value. The variation I used did add fat in the form of cheese. But you don’t need to add it. Also, you can use peaked egg whites (like the linked recipe suggests) to coat the veggies and add protein. My mother suggested chickpea flour instead of white flour; this adds more protein. She will need to add spices like garam masala to help with the taste on this variation. Any approach like this removes the fat from the cheese and adds protein to boot. You can vary the spices. Next time, I will use a little less salt, and maybe a micro-grated herb like mint. Great snack!