Usually in July I try to find new zucchini recipes. Not this year. The cucumber family in my garden has taken a terrible beating. Between zucchini, cucumbers and my beloved Charentais melons (no sorbet this year, alas), I lost more than 25 seedlings to the striped cucumber beetle. Not only does it eat the plants, it also transmits bacterial wilt, a disease that makes plants collapse overnight and against which there is no cure.
I thought the worst was over but yesterday I found my only surviving zucchini plant spread out in a sad wilted mass, full of blossoms and baby zucchini. The zucchini are perfectly fine to eat, and since we won’t have zucchini for a while, the pilaf I made with them tasted quite special. The next set of seedlings is just ready for transplanting, and who knows whether they will even make it that far.
I made a promise to myself: never to complain about too many zucchini ever again!
Quinoa Zucchini Pilaf
This can also be made with regular zucchini, in which case the seeds should be removed.
1 cup quinoa
6 to 8 baby zucchini, or 1 medium zucchini
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces crumbled feta
1/2 preserved lemon, rind only, finely chopped
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1. Wash the quinoa thoroughly in cold water at least twice. Drain in a fine sieve.
2. Put the quinoa in a small saucepan with 1.5 cups water. Salt lightly and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the water has been completely absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
3. Dice the zucchini and halve the tomatoes. Heat the olive oil in a wide medium pot or a skillet and cook the garlic for 1 minute, do not let it brown. Add the zucchini and cook until it just starts to brown at the edges, stirring often.
4. Add the to tomatoes and cook for about 7 minutes, until most of their juice has evaporated.
Transfer to a large bowl. Add the quinoa, feta, lemon rind and basil. Toss and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 4 servings