Harvesting produce from my garden makes me a happy girl! I marvel at how you can take a little seed or a tiny plant and watch it grow into beautiful food. I have been gardening for years and it never ceases to amaze me. Granted, some years are more challenging than others; drought, wildlife, insects, but frustration aside, we must keep our eye on the prize. Yesterday we gathered plump eggplant (globe and Asian), sweet sungold tomatoes (aka, garden candy), the first of many zucchini and herbs aplenty. We now have the task of making something with these treasures, the part I enjoy the most except for eating them of course.
One of the vegetables that is so prolific and therefore generates much discussion for creative uses, is zucchini. A rather bland veggie on its own, it can be easily dressed up and made as delectable as any of its cousins. With that in mind and since I have been promising some pesto recipes in recent posts, today we are showcasing zucchini with lemon pesto. Easy to make, scrumptious to eat and a perfect pairing with meat, fish or pasta.
Juice and zest of 1 or 2 lemons, depending on the size and how lemony you like it. Start light and add more if desired
1 generous bunch of fresh basil leaves, torn
4-6 cloves (peeled and crushed) of garlic, according to taste
1/4 c hazelnuts, toasted
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c (one ounce) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- In a mortar or food processor, combine the lemon juice and zest, basil, garlic, hazelnuts, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Blend well until the consistency of regular pesto (smooth paste), adding more olive oil if needed.
- Taste, adjusting lemon and garlic to taste. The paste should have a prominent lemon flavor.
- Transfer to a bowl and mix in the cheese. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
Zucchini Serves 4 as a side
2-3 small slender zucchini’s
Flaked sea salt (such as Maldon)
- Remove the ends of each zucchini.
- Using a Japanese mandolin or a sharp knife, thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt liberally.
- Place the slices in the boiling water and blanch for about 30 seconds or so. Remove and pat dry.
- Place blanched zucchini on a platter, dress with lemon pesto, using as much or little as you want.
- Sprinkle with flaked sea salt.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
The pesto recipe makes more than you need for the zucchini so you can either freeze the remainder for future use or be creative for the next few days using it on a variety of dishes. I used it the following day on a pan roasted lake trout and then made orzo salad using it as the dressing. Seriously, anything that pairs well with lemon will be enhanced with this sauce.
There are many simple, delectable and economical preparations for these summer delights. As the season progresses, I will feature more ideas for both pesto and zucchini, I promise. Remember, zucchini’s rather neutral flavor makes it a most compliant vegetable. Simple preparations such as a light steam (overcooking makes it mushy, so beware), drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of fresh mint can make it the star of your summer table. As mentioned earlier, pesto can be made from a wide variety of ingredients which also makes for a great way to preserve the tastes of summer for the winter months since it freezes so well.
We all learn from sharing so my readers and I want to hear your favorite summer recipes. Hurry while are gardens are in mass production and the farmers markets are thriving.