A Zucchini Summer

I spend my summers in Vermont, where every vegetable garden is overflowing with zucchini. It seems to grow in profusion almost everywhere. But even in my native New York it is a ubiquitous summer staple. But what to do with it? We see it in all kinds of salads, but how to liven it up? Over here they love zucchini. They eat it fresh, fried, steamed, and broiled. In my experimentation I've come across novel ways to prepare it. Following are two dishes that highlight zucchini as a summer salad. One is a simple creamy dill salad with lots of fresh dill; and the other entails fried zucchini slices. Either way, it's a unique way to prepare this summer favorite.

(Note that in this preparation you can have the zucchini, raw as is, for that crunchy texture. Or you can elect to steam the zucchini slices if you like a softer touch. Either way, it's great.)

2 large zucchini
1 cup  thinly sliced red onion
Salt to taste
1/2 cup dill pickles, quartered and sliced into 1/2-slices
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
Ground black pepper to taste

1. Wash zucchini and dry with paper towels. Slice zucchini diagonally into thin rounds, and cut larger rounds in half.
2. In a bowl, combine zucchini, onion, salt, pickle slices and dill. Mix in sour cream or yogurt. Season with pepper.
    Yield: 4 servings.

(some might regard this as a variation on what is called a scapece salad, where a marinade is used for the zucchini. In this simpler version, the marinade is omitted.)

1/4 cup olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
1 teaspoon honey
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 tablespoons toasted fennel seeds
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Vegetable, canola, or olive oil for frying
3 to 4 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 bunch spinach (about 6 cups)
1/4 cup grated goat cheese such as manchego, or crumbled blue cheese

1. In a small bowl, which together the oil, honey, lemon juice, garlic and fennel seeds. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat (I prefer cast iron), heat about 1/4-inch oil until hot but not smoking. Place zucchini in a single layer, and fry, turning the slices once or twice with a fork. You may have to do this in batches since you do not want to crowd the skillet. Fry until the slices are golden (about 5 minutes). Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen towels and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, assemble the spinach. Place zucchini slices on top. Drizzle with the dressing and toss gently. Top with the grated goat cheese or blue cheese.
    Yield: 6 servings. 
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