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Zucchini dish makes good light dinner

June 26, 2012

The key to my sunny disposition is that I save up all my complaining in a small dark place, maybe my gall bladder. It’s like a black hole, increasing in density and plaintive whining until some threshold is crossed and it begins to suck in the nearby stars. Which is to say that every few months I will snap and go on jags of listing my petty grievances to innocent bystanders.

Like you! 
Here goes:
It’s hot. 
The sunlight is too bright. 
The boyfriend’s dog won’t stop panting in my face. 
That Gotye song has played 11 times today on the radio. 
The signage in Chattanooga is stupid. 
My right leg is tired of pressing the gas pedal. 
The boyfriend’s dog is still panting in my face. 
The problem with emailing is that people write you back. 
The problem with LeBron is that he is cocky. 
The problem with YOU is that you are STILL PANTING IN MY FACE! 
Why doesn’t Delta use planes that have insulation? 
Why does Delta now include only eight pretzels in their pretzel snack?
Why didn’t I just get the cookies like I usually do?
If you can’t lift your enormous bag over your head to put in the bin then check it.

If you can’t make tasteful choices about the appropriateness of wearing clogs with nylons then don’t be a flight attendant.
The signage in the Newark Liberty International Airport is stupid.
Toll roads feel way too much like going through airport security except in this case I’m the clueless one that is holding everyone up. 
It’s raining.

End scene.

Sometimes, because I’m hyper organized, I’ll even anticipate things to complain about (glares at boyfriend’s dog here). The heat (both locally and in Miami), for instance. Should plan on that one. The cold too. It will eventually be cold again. And right now, everyone’s all happy to be moving on from leafy greens to the first of their summer crops but those will get tiresome too. Doesn’t everyone get tired of zucchini? Are frogs waterproof? 

I have long been suspicious of zucchini. During my formative years, it was only served to me steamed, which, while acknowledging that my parents are otherwise both excellent cooks, has to be just about the worst way to prepare zucchini, all limp and watery like green, flavorless, lukewarm oysters. My brother and I told them this often.
As the garden starts to brim with summer squash, I take stock of all forms of zucchini preparation I know — stir fried with Sichuan sauce, sautéed with pesto and tossed with pasta and tomatoes, fried as fritters, stuffed and roasted, layered on pizza with rosemary, grilled with peppers and eggplant, and baked into bread. I’m sure we’ll work our way through all of them in the coming weeks. And I’m sure we’ll reach some sort of saturation point where we can’t possibly eat more zucchini. 
In a fit of laziness last week between driving back from Virginia and taking off for New Jersey, I combined all the orphan produce in the fridge into a decent midsummer zucchini dish: a raw zucchini salad. Fresh and new.  Crunchy and lemony. With a slice of bread or two, this would make a nice light dinner. Or add a cup of a cooked grain (rice or wheat berries or barley maybe) to make it more substantial.  Double it for a potluck and look at you.  You’ve managed to pawn off four zucchini onto others.

So here it is, the last zucchini dish.  No complaining.

Last Hurrah Zucchini Salad

2 normal-sized zucchinis, either shredded or cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 avocado on the firm side, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 shallot or the white parts of a bunch of green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pine nuts, pistachios, or sliced almonds
~ 2 teaspoon lemon juice
~1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or, if you have it 3 T olive oil and 1 T walnut or
pistachio oil)
~4 oz crumbled feta or chevre cheese
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme or cilantro leaves, chopped
Fresh ground black pepper
Maybe a dash of salt

Shred or dice your zucchinis, salt them and set aside in a colander to drain. In a small pan heat the nuts over a medium-high heat, shaking the pan continuously. 
When they just start to color pull them off the heat (they’ll burn quickly). Rinse the zucchini and drain again as well as you can. Toss the zucchini with the avocado, shallot, nuts, lemon juice, and olive oil. 
Sprinkle the cheese and fresh herbs on top, add a couple grinds of black pepper, taste for salt, and you are as done with zucchini as you’re going to get.

Alix Hui is an Assistant Professor of History at Mississippi State University.  She can be contacted at alixhui@gmail.com.

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