Zucchini: A Hate Story

August 8th, 2011 · 31 Comments · Dinner, Domestic Affairs, Quick, Sides, Salads, Soup, Vegetarian

Dear Jenny,

This might sound paranoid, but one can never be too safe. I have this feeling that some kind of shadowy, proxy war has broken out in our house lately. It’s small, seemingly innocuous things that, when I add them up, suggest something more ominous might be afoot. It’s coming home every Saturday morning from the farmer’s market, unpacking the loot, and finding two or three large zucchinis staring up at me from the bottom of the bag, zucchinis I was not aware were purchased. (The old Trojan horse strategy.) It’s telling me, again, how popular the “green fries” post continues to be with DALS readers (so weird!), and asking me, all innocent-like, if we should throw a little zucchini on the pizza tonight before it goes bad. (Classic psy-ops technique.) It’s standing in the kitchen, and hearing you say, “Mmmm, this looks delicious, we have to make this sometime, look,” only to realize that the recipe you’re pointing to is for something called “zucchini crudo,” which, upon closer inspection, is really just raw squash, sliced thin, with a little lemon juice drizzled on top. And it’s somehow always managing to say this in front of your little agent provocateurs, who then respond, (as if) on cue, “Daddy hates zucchini!”

No, Daddy does not hate zucchini. Daddy does not have the energy to hate zucchini. Zucchini is not worthy of hate. (Garlic mashed potatoes, on the other hand…) Here’s an attempt to clarify my position, once and for all: I would never willingly choose to eat zucchini. I find zucchini bland. Bland can be okay, but I also find it kind of flaccid and soggy, and it’s that soggy, slightly gelatinous quality, that weird spongy texture, when combined with the blandness, that keeps it from rising even to the level of inoffensiveness. Zucchini, to me, is the Three and a Half Men of vegetables: Can I endure it, if absolutely necessary? Yes, I can. Do I enjoy putting it in my mouth? No, I don’t. Will I swallow it whole in order to get it down because of said mushiness issues? Yes, I will. I mean, have you ever heard anyone take a bite of zucchini, drop the fork, and say, “Holy sh@t, that zucchini is INSANE?” Because I have not. But, honestly, I feel like you know this already. We’ve been married thirteen years, and my position vis a vis zucchini has remained steadfast. (About as steadfast as your position on bell peppers and olives, for the record.) Which makes me wonder: why the renewed guerilla campaign? Why all the subterfuge? When you say you love zucchini, and resent that you hardly ever get to eat it anymore because I don’t really like it: what, exactly, do you love about it? Help me out here. I want to know. Or is this, getting back to the proxy war thing, not about zucchini?

Love,
Andy (more…)

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Green French Fries

July 16th, 2010 · 16 Comments · Picky Eating, Sides, Salads, Soup, Vegetarian

When her daughters were little, my friend Frances somehow convinced them that green beans were related to French fries. She called them Green Fries. I was so jealous — my kids had been to too many restaurants with Kidz menus by that point to be suckered by what seemed like unbelievably JV kitchen trickery to me. If my kids (and most kids I imagine) were going to eat a healthy vegetable disguised as a French fry, the recipe would have to be kicked up to varsity levels. These crispy, golden Zucchini fries fit the bill.

One thing: I advise making them on the weekend or on a weeknight where you’re not up against the clock. (Stop laughing.) I don’t mind the laborious dredging-and-dipping process on a weeknight if it’s for the main part of the meal (like chicken fingers, for instance). But I find it kind of a drag for just a side dish. You might feel differently, in which case ignore.

Zucchini Fries

Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut and slice 3 zucchinis into sticks as shown. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs, a dash of cayenne, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place 1 cup flour in another medium bowl and 2 beaten eggs in a smaller bowl. Dip the zucchini sticks first in the flour until lightly coated, then in the eggs. Roll them in the bread-crumb mixture until well covered. Transfer the zucchini pieces to a baking sheet lined with foil and bake until they look crispy and golden, about 20 minutes. (Sometimes I give them a quick shot of cooking spray at the end if they aren’t browning to my liking) Serve with ketchup.

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