Monday, July 21, 2014

zucchini butter.

We are finally at that glorious time of year where the markets are brimming and overflowing with the ingredients that make me weak in the knees. Tomatoes! (I had my first heirloom of the season last night and I practically wept.)  Corn! (Slathered in butter with lots of salt and pepper please.) Peppers! (Slow roasted until they collapse and then stuffed into a foccacia sandwich with mozzarella.)

But I am not here to talk about those beautiful foods today (come back in a week or two).  I am here to discuss zucchini.  (If we were in a room together and I was making that statement, I'm imagining a long awkward silence to occur right

Zucchini.  Zucchini is a vegetable that somehow manages to give and give and then give some more.  If you have a garden and are growing zucchini $100 bucks says that by the end of the summer you are begging for the zucchini to stop because you can't bring yourself to eat another bite.  There is a reason why zucchini has ended up in so many baked goods (zucchini bread! zucchini whoppie pies! zucchini pancakes!), someone needed to find a way to consume all of it without going mad.  If that person knew about zucchini butter, I imagine they would have been encouraged their zucchini plants to keep on giving. 

Zucchini butter is basically shredded zucchini cooked down with a (little bit) of butter until it gets soft and tender and jammy.  At that point its spreadable vegetable wonderfulness that begs to be slathered on well toasted bread and served with goat cheese.  

Here's to the summer of zucchini.  

Zucchini Butter
Recipe via Food 52

There is an endless number of changes you could make to this dish. Spices! (Crushed red pepper flakes! Smoked parika! Aleppo pepper!) Herbs! (Basil! Mint!).  I am dreaming about endless varieties though I must admit, the original version is utterly addicting.

Makes about 2 cups

2 pounds zucchini or assorted summer squash (feel free to use less or add extra -- cooking times will vary)
¼ cup olive oil or butter (I strongly recommend the butter)
2 minced cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Coarsely grate the zucchini. Let it drain in a colander for 3 to 4 minutes or until you are ready to begin cooking. To hasten cooking time, squeeze the water out of the zucchini by wringing it in a clean cloth towel.

In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil/butter until warmed/melted. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté briefly. Add the zucchini and toss. Cook and stir over medium to medium-high heat until the zucchini reaches a spreadable consistency, about 15 minutes. If you scorch the bottom, turn the flame down! (And scrape those delicious bits into the butter for added flavor -- you can splash in a little water to help deglaze the pan.) The zucchini will hold its bright green color and slowly caramelize into a nice vegetable jam.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Enjoy on toast.  Or by the spoonful.  

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