Zucchini zeal

Credit: Carol Pope

Zucchini’s beautiful blossoms make for an ornamental display

Zucchini’s beautiful blossoms make for an ornamental display

When I considered how to fast fill an empty bed facing our patio area, I quickly gave up on the idea of annual flowers and opted for some seed-grown thyme to spill over the rocks and a crop of ‘Black Beauty’ and ‘Gold Rush’ zucchini plants. Their lovely (edible) flowers and an ongoing harvest of zucchini made them a much better choice than an annual flower requiring constant deadheading.

My enthusiasm for zucchini may have been a little zealous, I admit, as there are a good dozen of them in our garden, but with a family of five, it’s easy to use this plant’s eager offerings up in a hurry. Two or three good-sized zucchini can be quartered and barbecued with just a little olive oil and sea salt for a delicious and easy accompaniment to any meal, and for the next night, this delicious super-easy dish (adapted from The Book of Pasta by Lesley Mackley) uses up six more zucchini simply by doubling the recipe and putting the extra casserole into the freezer for a instant dinner when you need it.

A day’s harvest – these plants feed us with a fervour!

Baked Tomato and Zucchini Pasta

3 medium-size zucchini, sliced
4 cups penne or rigatoni
2 cups Tomato Sauce (homemade or store-bought)
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
Fresh basil if you have it

Bring a little water to boil and add the sliced zucchini and cook for a few minutes until crisp-tender. Drain immediately (I always re-use this water to boil the pasta). Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cook pasta in boiling salted water until almost tender. Drain and rinse in cold water. Place 1/2 of the pasta in a 3-quart baking dish (brushed with a little olive oil), then 1/2 of the tomato sauce, then 1/2 the zucchini and some basil, then 1/2 the cheese, then repeat. Cook for about 20 minutes until the cheese is nicely melted. Serve with a touch of olive oil and a sprinkling of fresh basil. Makes 6 servings.