July 03, 2010
Using Up the Bits: Zucchini Balls
I do like zucchini, and I admire its versatility. My mother had an astonishing number of places to hide it when it overran the garden (and the neighbourhood), including a magnificent chocolate zucchini bundt cake and, more surprisingly, a sort of lemon curd whose bulk came from the skin-free pulp of the zucchini (not that you could tell).
As for me, I use zucchini in pasta sauces, in salads, as crudites, and of course the much-beloved Zucchini Fritters. Occasionally I stuff them, and that was what I was doing here...using a melon baller to remove scoops of zucchini flesh from the outer shell that would eventually house some meat-y rice-y affair. No photos of that dish, sorry; I got distracted by the fun possibilities of finding a way to use up the little zucchini balls that I had carved out. Half-balls, actually, as you can clearly see, since my goal was really just to empty out the shell of the zucchini, and I wasn't exactly heeding the form of the squash divots while carving.
I thought about tossing them into the freezer to be thrown in the next batch of curry or an upcoming pasta dish, but they were just so cute, and I couldn't resist doing something more immediate with them. So, I got out a wide skillet, heated a little olive oil until quite hot, and then threw in some cumin seeds. Once the seeds started to pop, I tossed in the little balls, and sauteed them briskly until they just picked up a little colour. A pinch of kosher salt, and voila! Tasty little side dish (or snack) that handily used up all the leftover bits, leaving me feeling virtuously waste-free and rather content at having a little extra something in the fridge.
Turns out, they were good both hot and cold, although a little slippery once chilled. This is definitely going to be the fate of the innards of the next summer squash that I feel the need to eviscerate. I'm betting that a few cherry tomatoes, and maybe some oil-cured black olives and some garlic would round this out into a perfectly wonderful dish all on its own.