Italian, Mexican dishes give new taste to zucchini

August 31, 1994|By Waltrina Stovall | Waltrina Stovall,Dallas Morning News

Have you ever tried to raise just enough zucchini for your family needs?

You probably soon had more than enough to share with friends, neighbors and casual acquaintances.

Zucchini (known in France and Great Britain as courgettes) is not native to the New World, but was brought over by Italians in the 1920s according to John Mariani's Dictionary of American Food & Drink.

The book doesn't say how many seeds, or plants, were shipped over, but a handful was likely ample. The green vegetable is popular not only in the United States but also in Mexico, where it is called calabacitas.

For those who have a bumper crop of zucchini and are looking for new recipes, try the following Mexican pork entree. The second recipe, adapted from "The Great Italian Cookbook," compiled by the Italian Academy of Cookery, is a sweet-and-sour classic from Sicily. Try it alone with good bread or serve it as a side dish with meats.

Calabacitas Con Carne de Puerco

Serves 4 to 6

3 zucchini

salt

1 1/2 pounds cubed pork loin

4 teaspoons olive oil (divided use)

8 bay leaves

1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced

10 cloves garlic, chopped (divided use)

cumin

thyme

black pepper

salt to taste

2 poblano peppers, seeded and thinly sliced

2 cups corn, well-drained if using canned

2 tomatoes, peeled and cut into wedges

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Cut unpeeled zucchini into cubes. Place in a colander, salt well and let them sit for 15 minutes to draw off excess moisture. Rinse and pat dry.

Heat a heavy skillet and add the pork and 2 teaspoons of the oil. Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat, then add bay leaves, half of the onion, half of the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon each cumin, thyme and black pepper, and salt to taste. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

While pork is cooking, heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in another skillet. Add the zucchini, poblano peppers, corn, remaining onion and garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon each cumin and thyme. Cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes. Do not overcook; zucchini should still be crisp.

When done, drain any liquid from the skillet and add tomato wedges and cilantro. Mix for 30 seconds, just to heat tomatoes, then remove from fire and mix with cooked pork.

Zucchini in Agrodolce

Serves 4 to 6

4 or 5 medium zucchini

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons wine vinegar

2 salted anchovies

1 tablespoon pine nuts

2 tablespoons white raisins

salt and pepper to taste

Trim ends of zucchini and cut into 2- to 3-inch strips, removing seeds. Rinse well and pat dry.

Fry the garlic clove in the olive oil until it begins to brown; remove and discard clove. Add zucchini and vinegar; cover and cook over moderate heat for 10 minutes, moistening with a little water, if necessary.

Rinse and coarsely chop the anchovies. Add to the saucepan with the pine nuts and raisins. Season with salt, if needed, and pepper. Cook for a few more minutes.

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