The Wedding Singer’s Guide to Zucchini

Please welcome guest author SingerAimNYC of “The Wedding Singer’s Guide to Life”, an honest, encouraging and at times anecdotal look at event planning, the art of the party and more (that’s where the “life” comes in) from an unusual and humorous perspective inside the industry.

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Two summers ago I planted my first garden. It was at my father-in-law’s house in the country, at which I was spending half of every week. The space had been dormant for a few years, so my husband and I decided to revive it. We planted the usual suspects, as we had been instructed by my husband’s dad. It was a great summer for growing that year and yields were high. (I still have jars of canned peppers). Perhaps the most prolific of the garden plants was the zucchini. Before I grew my own veggies, I liked zucchini. Occasionally… in a stir fry or as an accompaniment to grilled salmon, but since that summer the thought of going without homegrown sweet delicious zucchini is horrifying.

The first giant zucchini was really an accident. One day I looked in the garden and saw some lovely little babies sprouting from the plant. I decided to let them get a little bit bigger, and a day or two later… I had raised behemoth squash.

I couldn’t have been more proud of my accomplishment, although I think the cat had some issues with it! Then came the advice, and inevitably the criticism. Some people said my giant zucchini wouldn’t taste as sweet as it’s normal sized counterparts. They said the skin would be too tough, they said I had gone too far! I wouldn’t listen.

Keep reading …

Pistachio Pesto

Purists make pesto by hand using a mortar and pestle. Pesto is derived from the Latin word “pesta, which means “to pound, to crush.” They say that hand-pounding pesto keeps the flavors distinct and it releases more of the oil from the basil, so the pesto is more flavorful.

My husband and I have raced to see who could make pesto faster- me, with a mortar and pestle; he with a food processor. The rule was it had to include cleaning and putting away the food processor. I’m pretty sure I won, but he may remember it differently.

Either way, you can whip up a batch in less time than it takes to walk the dog around the block.

I like to make my pesto with pistachios. It gives it a great color. My husband likes to make his with toasted pecans and jalapenos. Yu-uum. You can follow the basic recipe and experiment with different ingredients.

Here’s what you need:
2-3 cups loosely packed fresh basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/4- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pistachio nuts
2-3 garlic cloves
a dash or two of cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

When hand pounding, start off pounding the garlic and coarse salt, then add about 1/3 of the nuts and 1/3 of the basil. I keep one hand sort of cupped around the top of the mortar to keep the nuts from flying out. Keep adding the nuts and basil. Once those are pounded to a very course paste, stir in the oil and cheese last.

With a food processor, just put everything in and give it a whirl.

Chopped basil will oxidize and turn brown. To prevent this, cover the top with a thin layer of olive oil before you store it in the fridge (it will keep, covered with plastic wrap, for about a week).

Pesto is great, of course, tossed in pasta, but is equally as good on chicken, pork, fish or pizza.

I like to make a big batch and freeze it. You can freeze pesto in ice cube trays. Then store the frozen cubes in a bag so you can grab a few when you need them. I usually make small pesto balls (like drop cookies), freeze them on a cookie sheet, then throw them in a freezer bag.

Once winter comes around, you’ll be happy you froze a little bit of summer.