Zucchini: Pump Up The Volume
I have a love/hate relationship with zucchini. Sometimes it’s the perfect zippy, spring meal; and other times it just tastes like a bucket of blah (with the latter case, a bit of lemon zest can help brighten the flavor). And, of course, stuffing it with veal meatballs (recipe below) doesn’t hurt either!
Season: May to August
Avoid oversize zucchini—the seeds will be larger than the baby versions and the flavor is often diluted. Also, avoid zucchini that’s too “bendy” like an old piece of celery. It should be firm and free of scuffs.
First off, make sure to soak the zucchini in cold water for 20 minutes, giving it a couple rubs to release a lot of the grit. If you don’t have time, just give it a good scrub under running water (it surprisingly holds a lot of grit). Like eggplant, the seeds give zucchini a bitter flavor. If there are a good deal of seeds when you slice them in half lengthwise, scrape them out in a downward motion with a spoon (plus, it makes a nice half-moon shape when you slice it).
There is a way to keep zucchini from turning mushy when you cook it—grate it. Use the grating blade on a food processor or just grate it on the wide tooth of a manual grater. Next, put it in a colander, salt it, and let the excess water drip into the sink or a bowl beneath it. Then (and here’s where you’re really going the extra mile), put it in a hand towel and, in portions, squeeze any excess water into a sink. Then sauté it with garlic and butter, or make it the star in a frittata.