Note: If you're a CSA member or gardener, you're probably all too familiar with the phenomenon of having too much X, Y, or Z (zucchini seems to be the culprit right now). This post marks the debut of Carolyn Cope's Crisper Whisperer column in which the author helps us cook through the surplus with ease. Please join us in giving Carolyn a warm welcome! --AK
Look, I love my CSA as much as the next girl. In fact, I run my CSA--so you might say I love it even a smidge more than most. Unadulterated local veg holds a special place in my heart for all the same reasons it probably does in yours. But have you noticed what your seemingly innocent produce has been up to recently? It's become an overnight success, that's what. And like any other fledgling celebrity, it's wreaking some havoc along the way.
For the most part, your farm share has kept its knickers on and refrained from driving under the influence (although of course you do see the odd story of brandy-soaked peach flambés from time to time, and there's more after the break on why that zucchini is having babies with everyone in sight). No, your local veg's unbranded brand of mayhem is subtler than all that, but it's ultimately more destructive. Those plants have wrapped their sly little tendrils around the collective consciousness and brainwashed us all into near-total submission.
Think about it. When was the last time you heard a friend--intelligent, opinionated individuals though your friends undoubtedly are--dare utter a word against The Veg? It's become so altogether unhip to do so, you simply haven't heard it at all. Even when farmers' markets and CSA shares runneth over with fuzzy squash, New Zealand spinach, and salad burnet, everyone just smiles, nods and acts like they're about to go home and whip up the loveliest stir-fry you've ever tasted in five minutes flat. That's not normal, people--and more important, it's just not true.
The truth looks more like this.
A guiltily discarded turnip, left to decompose in the fridge through too many late nights at work, beats like a tell-tale heart under the floorboards of Apartment 6B's dreams. Three flights up, an otherwise reasonable 9E will look you straight in the eyes and say she used last week's share of horseradish in homemade cocktail sauce. Only after a few glasses of wine will she admit to having thrown it away. In your trash.
Over time, the stress of keeping up appearances will become too much for even the hardiest of souls. And that's when vegetable world domination will be complete.
Dolphins showed us years ago that you don't need opposable thumbs to rule the world, but I think the human race could be forgiven for assuming you needed a brain. Turns out, not so much. (Although I guess we could've learned that lesson from watching some prior stories of overnight celebrity as well.)
So. We've got to act now to regain control over our vegetables and ourselves. And act we will, one vegetable at a time. Right here, every Tuesday--typically a little lighter on the conspiracy theory and heavier on the easy recipes and helpful tips for enjoying your CSA and other seasonal bounty.
Although you've seen a lot of zucchini on this site in the past couple of weeks, no honest story of wresting control from the arms of summer abundance could start anywhere else and face itself in the morning. Zucchini is the Brangelina of seasonal produce. It reproduces like mad and is inherently and unabashedly plural.
When they borrowed the word from the Italian, English speakers wisely dispensed with the singular "zucchino," realizing they would never use it. There's no such thing as just one zucchini, see? Not anywhere. Not ever.
Luckily there is such a dinner (or a lunch, or, made small, a passed hors d'oeuvre) as Zucchini and Corn Fritters, which feel indulgent while pumping you full of nothing but summer goodness. They absorb a truly helpful amount of zucchini with minimal effort and time at the stove, especially if you have a food processor. All of which comes in handy when you're trying to save the world from death by fruiting.
Zucchini and Corn Fritters
- 4 cups shredded zucchini
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 2 ears corn
- 1 small onion, diced small
- 3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
- 3/4 cup flour
- A few good grinds of black pepper
- Canola, grapeseed or other neutral oil, for pan-frying
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt, for serving
Shred the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater or with the shredding disc of a food processor. Place the shredded zucchini in a colander in the sink or over a bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Toss to combine. Let drain while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Crack the eggs into a large bowl and scramble lightly. Cut the kernels from the corn cobs and add the kernels to the bowl along with the diced onion, sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, flour and pepper.
Pick up the shredded zucchini in small handfuls and squeeze out and discard as much liquid as you can. Add the zucchini to the bowl. Mix well to combine.
Pour the oil into a large frying pan to a depth of about 1/4-inch. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Drop large, heaping spoonfuls of the zucchini mixture into the pan to form disc-shaped fritters. Cook in batches without crowding (about 3 or 4 at a time, depending on the size of your pan) until golden brown on the underside (about 2 minutes) and then flip and cook until golden brown on the second side. Remove to paper towels to drain. Add a bit more oil between batches if necessary.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt. The fritters should be crisp on the outside and slightly custardy on the inside.