For those of you who have been wondering where I have been or what happened to me, well, summer happened. Though my least favourite of seasons, it does bring a lot of goodies for us foodies keeping us extremely busy throughout the summer. In fact, some summers, it’s hard to keep up with the rotation of seasonal vegetables.
Visited Toronto last weekend and came home with 7.5 lbs of my mother’s Italian flat string beans, 10 lbs of her san marzano tomatoes, an extra large bag of zucchini blossoms, and 2-8 lb Italian zucchini! It took me all night, but I used all of the tomatoes to make a pomodoro sauce, which was destined for an Italian string bean and pasta dish. With this round of zucchini blossoms, I made a risotto. With the first oversized zucchini, I made: zucchini pizza, zucchini soup (which I froze for a quick weeknight meal), zucchini loaf, and this week’s recipe, zucchini stew.
This dish brings me back to my childhood. My mother loves this dish and the ample supply of zucchini in her vegetable garden ensured this dish was on the menu often throughout the summer, especially during tomato season. I know I talk about the simplicity of Italian cooking often, but I don’t think there’s a dish that exemplifies this more than my mother’s Summer Italian Zucchini Stew.
I know what you’re thinking. Who eats stews in the summer? This is not your typical, heavy, winter stew. In fact, it’s light, sweet, and aromatic. With only a handful of ingredients, all available at this time of year, it’s a sweet celebration of seasonal and local cooking. Though the zucchini are the star attraction, they are stewed in an equally important backdrop of sweet summer tomatoes that are enveloped in olive oil and aromatized with sweet basil. The potatoes provide substance as do the sweet fava beans. Sweet zucchini, sweet tomatoes, sweet basil, sweet fava beans… How can you resist? All that’s missing is a crusty, Italian loaf to scoop up all that summer goodness.
Not quite sure how I’ll use the other monstrous zucchini. I’m thinking zucchini fritters, another zucchini loaf (for the freezer), and maybe some zucchini sticks. Ideas anyone?
All zucchini-ed out? Not a chance. If you haven’t tried Italian zucchini, this is your chance – tender and oh so sweet, especially at this time of year.
|Olive oil||3/4 cup + more for drizzling|
|Zucchini, Italian, seeds removed, cut into 1.5-2-inch pieces||3.5 lbs|
|Potatoes, peeled, quartered||2 lbs|
|Fava beans, shells removed||2 cups|
|Tomatoes, ripe, cut into quarters, seeds removed||4.5 lbs|
|Basil, leaves, fresh||8|
- Remove fava beans from pods and blanch for 1 minute. Remove casing and set aside.
- In a large pot, heat olive oil.
- Add tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes until tomatoes begin to break down.
- Add potatoes and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add zucchini and salt and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add fava beans and simmer for 10 more minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in basil.
- Plate and drizzle with a little olive oil.