Oregon was the first state to celebrate Labor Day, in 1887, to honor the laborers and workers who are the foundation of our economy. For many of us Labor Day resonates as a personal holiday marking the end of the relaxed days of summer and the commencement of the labors of the new school year. In our household it means rousing bleary eyed children in time for the first school bell, scrambling to pack peanut and nut-free lunches, and juggling all of their school activities and homework with our own busier work schedules. In September, it also means laboring to cook piles of prolific vegetables that burst from our garden and CSA box. For many of us, zucchini is the chief offender.
On this national holiday of workers, I would like to suggest that rather than trying to shoe horn summer squash into soggy quick breads, we should let this workhorse vegetable shine in its own right. Here is one great approach that brings out the zucchininess of zucchini: shred it, salt it, squeeze it, and then saute it with a mild allium (here I use shallots) and toss in some fresh herbs (here parsley). This makes a delicious side dish and can be the basis for gratins or used as taco fillings. By removing the zucchini's excess moisture, this method eliminates the sogginess and concentrates the summer flavors of this delightful squash just when we need to savor them most.
Shredded Zucchini with Shallots and Parsley
this recipe is easily scalable to the number of zucchini you want to process
2 medium zucchini
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large handful of flat parsley leaves
1. Clean the zucchini and trim off the ends. Using the grater insert of a food processor or a box grater, shred the zucchini. Place the shredded zucchini in a fine mesh strainer positioned over a bowl, toss with the salt, and let it drain for about 10 minutes. Then take handfuls of the salted zucchini, squeeze out the excess moisture, and transfer to another bowl.
2. While the zucchini is draining, chop the shallot finely. Wash and chop the parsley leaves.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and when it shimmers, add the shallots. Saute, stirring frequently, until translucent but not brown. Add the zucchini and saute, stirring occasionally, until it is cooked through, about five minutes. Taste and add more salt if desired. Stir in the parsley and serve warm.