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MARTHA SEZ: ‘Just in case you encounter a zucchini behemoth ... here is Laura’s recipe’

August 1, 2019
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

After complaining vociferously about overgrown zucchini squashes, I found one hidden under the foliage in my own garden. I was telling everyone that zucchini should be eaten when it is young and tender, not left on the vine getting fibrous and tough.

I would have buried it in the compost pile before anyone saw it, thereby saving face, but my friend Laura happened by just then on her way home from the post office and caught me with the squash in my hands.

"Making zucchini bread?" she inquired, casually batting a few hundred midges, gnats, mosquitoes and no-see-ems away from her face as she spoke.

"A little hot for that, don't you think?" I said. I have a personal theory that the best way to improve zucchini bread is to leave out the zucchini.

Laura informed me that zucchini bread is not the only way to use over-sized, fibrous, seedy squash. At August garden parties, she said, she used to serve a dish called zucchini crusted pizza adapted from the 1977 "Moosewood Cookbook" by Molly Katzen. This pizza was so good, Laura said, that it was always gone by the time she sat down at the table; she may never have actually tasted it herself. Still, from her wistful smile I could tell that she remembers it with fond nostalgia. Or perhaps the nostalgia is for those long-ago summer evenings, and the zucchini has little to do with it.

Just in case you encounter a zucchini behemoth - and this time of year it is more than likely you will - here is Laura's recipe.

3 1/2 cups grated zucchini

3 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup flour

1/2 cup grated mozzarella

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves

salt and pepper

Salt the grated zucchini and set it aside for about 15 minutes, then squeeze out the excess moisture. Combine the ingredients and pat the mixture into an oiled 10-inch pie pan. Bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees, then broil until golden. Add the sauce and toppings and bake as for a regular pizza.

Laura went home to her swimming pool and another friend, Tammy, cruised up on her bike. Tammy loves to cook, so I told her about the Moosewood pizza. Looking thoughtful, she remarked that the zucchini crust is basically a frittata, an Italian omelet. She parked her bicycle and we went inside to the kitchen, which was even hotter, if possible, than the garden, but less buggy.

According to "Ciro & Sal's Cookbook: Recipes, Tips and Lore from the Acclaimed Chef of Provincetown's Famous Italian Restuarant, Ciro & Sal's," by Ciro and Alethea Cozzi, a frittata may be eaten as a hot or cold antipasto. It is flat, not folded. and may be cut into wedges to serve. The frittata filling is often mixed into the eggs. Two of the fillings Ciro suggests are plain salted zucchini and sauteed zucchini with fresh tomatoes and basil.

"So you see," said Tammy, "there is more than one way to cook a cucurbit."

She got back on her bike and pedaled off to her job waiting table, and I called my old friend Biff to see how he was doing. I think he was afraid I'd mention that he tripped over a bag of zucchini on his back porch and sprained his ankle, but I would never put something embarrassing like that in the paper.

"I didn't trip," he told me. "Set the record straight. I was loading a logging truck and some imbecile dropped a tree trunk on my foot."

"All right, I'll let people know," I promised. "Want some zucchini crusted pizza?"

"I hate zucchini," Biff said.

"What about a frittata?"

I am pretty sure that Biff doesn't know what a frittata is, but to him the word probably sounds suspiciously foreign.

"I have to keep my foot up. And besides, it's too hot."

Warm weather makes some people so cranky! Biff keeps his A.C. cranked full tilt.

I think it was Tammy who left the bag of zucchini on his back porch, but she was just trying to be nice. People should look where they're going. One time Biff walked out his back door and fell over his cat, Killer, and they were both laid up for weeks.

I found my bathing suit and went over to see Laura.

If you need any zucchini, let me know. And don't tell Biff I said anything about his cat.

Have a good week.



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