Creamy Yummy Zucchini

First a pal stopped by to say hi and offer me some garden goodness – zucchini just picked.  Then my neighbor Zia Vittoria walked in with an apron full of – you guessed it – zucchini just picked.  Not wanting to be ungrateful for the bounty, I hugged each zucchini carrier and said “I can’t wait to cook this.”  Then I walked into my kitchen and added the zucchini to the growing pile on the counter.  “Jack,” I bellowed, “tonight all we are eating is zucchini.”

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Like an early explorer, I searched high and low for yet another way to use this abundance of zucchini.  Nope, no more batter fried zucchini.  Nah, not interested in zucchini bread.  Yuck, I have done the turn it into spaghetti strands and pretend it is full of carbs.  Boing!  Then I remembered I had read a super easy and great looking recipe on FaceBook.

You know how people like recipe pages on FaceBook, you read them for a nano second and then can never find them again?  That really, hasn’t happened to you?  I had remembered seeing this recipe liked by a couple of foodie friends. It required tossing the zucchini with eggs.  Not a scrambled egg dish or a frittata or an omelet but a creamy yummy looking zucchini dish.  Could I find the recipe again?  Did I remember the name?  Did I remember the names of the foodies who liked the page?  NO!

I did remember the pictures!  Paper thin slices of zucchini in a frying pan and a hand pouring some melted butter and olive oil on them. A pot of broth on the stove and a scoop. Egg scrambled with parsley. A half a lemon being squeezed.  Parmesan cheese.  Now, what order were those pictures in???

Off I went to try to recreate the creamy yummy zucchini recipe. Yup, I made some mistakes, but that made the evening interesting.  I would have taken pictures but my hands were busy.

  1. Cut thin slices of the zucchini – leaving the skin on for the cool green color.
  2. Dump the slices in a frying pan.
  3. Melt a wee bit of butter and add a wee bit of olive oil. Then toss this over the top of the zucchini and mix it up. My first mistake was too much oil and butter.  When the zucchini cooked down there was too much liquid .  A little amount is plenty.
  4. Sauté the zucchini for a wee bit and had about 1/2 cup of vegetable broth. Again, I screwed up with my “more is always better” mindset.  I used about 1 cup and had to drain the soggy things.
  5. When the zucchini is almost cooked, toss on some fresh ground pepper and salt.
  6. Squeeze 1/2 a lemon and strain out the pits and pulp.
  7. Beat 2 eggs with thinly chopped parsley.  For sure only 2 eggs – the picture showed two yolks. When it is frothy, toss in the lemon. I thought that the lemon would make it curdle or do something weird.  But it didn’t.
  8. Think spaghetti carbonara!  Stir the beaten egg, parsley and lemon mixture into the cooked zucchini. Make sure there is not a lot of extra liquid! Remember my over liquid mistakes.  How did I rectify it?  I made a second batch with hardly any liquid. Two days later I made a third batch – yes I am binging on this dish.  Thinking outside the box, I got out the colander, tossed the cooked zucchini in it and let it totally drain. Then I put it back in the frying pan and added the egg mixture.  Voila!  It was magic.
  9. Now, toss a healthy handful of Parmesan cheese into the mixture and serve.

I don’t have a picture.  I know it sounds strange – but I was in comfort food heaven.  It was the Mac and Cheese of vegetables and didn’t have hardly any bad stuff in it.  Why am I writing this?  So that I remember what I did and can make it again tonight, next week and whenever I want Creamy Yummy Zucchini.

Ci Vediamo!

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How Many Bags of Fava Beans Are There?

Fava beans are sprouting in everyone’s gardens!  Yea, these protein filled little fellows make a yummy dinner.  Last year, when the fava beans kept gracing my doorway, it was the first time that I had ever seen a fresh one.  Well, maybe I did when nonna was alive and had the garden the size of a campo di calcio (soccer field) – but I don’t remember.

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Pods are really green giants!

Seriously, this is a question that merits exploration.  How many bags of fava beans are there in Pontelandolfo?  When people pop in after pranza for caffè they usually bring something to share – like what ever is growing in the garden or was baked that morning.  Now me, I like the “what was baked” this morning – no fuss, no muss, just yummy delight.  My neighbor, Zia Vittoria, has an incredible garden.  It is chock full of every vegetable you could possibly imagine – including fava beans.

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Bursting with protein the pods just wait to be picked, gifted and gifted again.

Yet, as other women pop in to visit Zia Vittoria, so do giant bags of fava beans.  H’mm when women visited these women they too brought fava beans.  One day it hit me.  What if there was really only a finite number of bags of fava beans and in any given span of two days the same 15 bags got re-gifted from house to house.

The bags stop here!  Well, when a bag appears on my door step I don’t re-gift it.  I say “guess whose coming to dinner.”  Last year Mr. Fava came often. The top picture is of my first bag of this season.  I pulled out the colander, a knife and a bag for the compost pile.  The sky was blue and I cheerily began popping beans out of the pod.

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Eat local and touch your food first.

So there I am shelling beans and wondering how I was going to cook them when my nipote (Italian for any kid in your family that you are related to and older than) popped by, reached into the bag, ripped open the pod and tossed the beans in his mouth.  RAW!  Who knew!  I was forced to try it – I mean I’ll taste just about anything.  The bean was sweetly good and obviously picked this morning.  I discovered that the day they are picked they are deleeeeesh as a salad – tossed with tuna or just a few slices of onion or whatever you can imagine.  That is also an abundantly easy lunch or dinner.

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If you can find the “zipper” these are pretty easy to open. Or stick the tip of the knife in the top and give it a slice. Then pop the beans into a bucket – just like a carnival.

I kept at the de-podding for a while.  My brain taking journeys back to the early seventies when with my long hair braided, I shelled beans, baked bread, grew sprouts and didn’t inhale.  It seems to me that it used to be fun.  This ain’t fun but it is worthwhile.

How many more are there?  And why do so many giant beans yield one little bean dish?
How many more are there? And why do so many giant beans yield one little bean dish?

One of the things I remembered while I was mindlessly popping beans, was an article in the New York Times that I read last year. A snotty assed food writer had gone to Rome. ordered fava beans in a restaurant and was appalled that they weren’t peeled!  I had no idea what the hell Miss little anal retentive was talking about.  In all the homes I’ve visited for pranza, all the fava bean stew, soup, frittata I’ve eaten, no one peeled off the outer shell.  I was taught to par- boil the beans before creating the dish.  Apparently, after this par-boiling part you can take off the outer shell.  Hell lady, I just spent an hour popping pods and now you want me to spend two hours popping par-boiled beans?

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It looks like a nursery of wee ones nestled on a flannel bed.

I caved and decided to try it.  After boiling the beans and dumping them in the ever faithful colander, I burnt my fingers trying to pop them out of their little shells.  What?  Wait till they cool?  What a thought!  Ten minutes is the maximum of waiting time I give anything.  I popped a few and tasted them.  Damn, it did make a taste difference.  They tasted sweeter and less meaty than they do with the shells on. I looked at the bowl of about a pazillion beans and I looked at Jack.  He gave me the “are you crazy” look – no one here takes the shells off.  When in Rome……

Without skinning the par-boiled beans, I made a simple recipe.   First I sautéd a couple of large onions in local olive oil, toss in cubes of pancetta and let that all get caramelized and crispy.  I always buy un etto of cubed pancetta – 100 grams – so that is probably what I used.  H’mm, from all the veggie tops and pieces I had languishing around, I made vegetable broth yesterday.   I tossed some broth in the pan, added the beans, a dollop of red wine – this is Italy – and let it simmer.  That and crusty bread made a perfect “cena.”

What’s that outside my door?  FAVA!

Thank you Rachel for my present!
Thank you Rachel for my present!