Giuliano and I always hoped to grow a home garden. We love the idea of harvesting the bounty of our own yard and placing it on our table, and there is nothing quite as delicious as food you’ve grown yourself. Unfortunately, neither of us were born with a green thumb. We have been able to maintain a small kitchen herb garden, and our fruit trees are lovingly harvested by the critters who live in our tropical yard; however, a full fledged garden with tomatoes, beans and squash still alludes us.
We are nothing if not optimists in our home. Every few years we try to grow our garden again. One of my favorite foods is fried zucchini squash blossoms, and nearby friends and neighbors have so much luck growing the squash that they have overflow. Such is not the case with us, we are lucky to get one or two forlorn flowers. I even brought back seeds from Italy to no avail. Mint too, we’ve been told is incredibly easy to grow. Not so for us, although, it is not for lack of trying. One mint plant was mistakenly “weeded”, another was murdered by a wayward soccer ball; and another drowned during a Florida torrential down-pour. We are trying again, please send your hopeful thoughts to this poor plant. We really don’t want to get the reputation of becoming plant murderers. Happily, we are able to grow basil. It is our pride and joy. Although we don’t get huge plants of it, we often add it to our dishes, and when it is in great form we even have enough to make pesto. When our crop gets bigger, we can look into learning about freezing fresh herbs!
A dish we would love to make with our freshly harvested vegetables would be sautéed zucchini with fresh mint and basil. It is refreshing and satisfying. The flavors balance each other and are a wonderful accompaniment to a hearty meat dish. This easy recipe is so good, that you will find yourself sneaking some before serving, and there are rarely any leftovers.
Of course this dish is fabulous with farmer’s market or store bought items too. We just have dreams of growing our own produce and would welcome any of your suggestions for success.
ZUCCHINI SAUTEED WITH FRESH MINT AND BASIL
From Every Night Italian by Giuliano Hazan
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 1/2 pounds small to medium zucchini
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh mint
1 tablespoon fresh basil
1. Wash the zucchini thoroughly under cold running water. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and in wedges about 1/4 inch thick and about 1 1/2 inches long.
2. Put the olive oil, garlic and parsley in a sauté pan large enough to hold all the zucchini over medium high heat. As soon as the garlic begins to sizzle, add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini are tender, about 8-10 minutes. It is best not to stir too often to allow the zucchini to brown lightly.
3. While the zucchini are cooking, coarsely chop the mint and finely shred the basil. When the vegetables are tender, season with salt and pepper and add the fresh herbs. Stir for about 30 seconds then remove from the heat and serve at once.