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Bert Greene's Kitchen

Making Best of a Zucchini Harvest

October 01, 1987|Bert Greene | Greene is a New-York based food writer

By and large 1987 was a fruitful summer. Tomatoes ripened and reddened on schedule. Eggplant and peppers were glossy as Christmas ornaments in July. However, I never managed to coax one zucchini out of the garden.

Everybody else and their uncles grew zucchini. Just not me. A neighbor called on the phone not long ago, to inquire if I had overdosed on zucchini yet. Because I had not and she'd produced a windfall, I accepted a squash donation over the fence. And instantly went into a green funk. For her zucchini was so vast and long it might easily have been mistaken for an undetonated torpedo.

I have been saving zucchini recipes to pass along all summer. Now that the season is over at last, let's all trot down to the supermarket and put them to good use.

This chicken and zucchini is a meal in itself. Serve it with merely a loaf of bread and butter and some dessert.

CHICKEN-ZUCCHINI SOUP

1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken

2 onions, unpeeled and halved

2 cloves garlic

2 whole cloves

2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 large stalks celery, chopped

1 medium white turnip, peeled and chopped

1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped

3 sprigs parsley, plus 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 slice lemon

10 peppercorns

Salt

3 cups chicken broth

1 pound sweet Italian sausages, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup pasta shells

2 medium zucchini, trimmed and grated

Freshly ground pepper

Place chicken in 6-quart pot. Add onions, garlic, cloves, carrots, celery, turnip, parsnip, parsley sprigs, lemon slice, peppercorns and 1 teaspoon salt. Add chicken broth and enough water to cover chicken by 2 inches. Heat to boiling, skimming any residue as it gathers. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, 1 hour.

Remove chicken from stock and set stock aside. Allow chicken to cool enough to handle, then carefully remove meat from bones and cut into bite-size pieces. Cover and reserve.

Return bones and skin to stock. Return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 45 minutes. Strain stock into another pot, pressing vegetables gently with back of spoon to release juices.

Meanwhile, saute sausage pieces in lightly greased heavy skillet until well browned, about 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Add sausages to stock. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, skimming any fat that rises to surface, 20 minutes. Add pasta shells. Cook 10 minutes longer. Add zucchini and reserved chicken. Cook 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

This classic zucchini recipe is one that is simple to whip together.

ZUCCHINI FROMAGE

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 shallots, minced

3 (1-pound) zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

1/4 cup grated Doux de Montagne or Gruyere cheese

Melt butter in 9- or 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add shallots and cook 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add zucchini. Cook, tossing constantly, until just barely tender, about 3 minutes. Toss in basil. Add salt and pepper.

Stir Parmesan and Romano cheeses into zucchini mixture. Sprinkle Doux de Montagne over top. Place skillet under broiler to lightly brown top. Makes 4 servings.

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