Nipping the zucchini bounty in the bud

Nipping the zucchini bounty in the bud

By Michael Natkin, Jewish Sound Columnist

Every gardener loves to lament that they get overrun with zucchini and have to resort to baking too much zucchini bread or, worse, ringing the doorbell, dashing and leaving them on people’s doorsteps. Well, let me tell you: You’re doing it wrong.

The way to avoid being overrun with zucchini is pick them when they are tiny and delicious. This recipe can easily use a dozen of them, along with most of the blossoms! Using up a dozen woody, pithy, flavorless giant zucchini is an unpleasant chore indeed. So get out there, grab a bunch of baby zukes and cook them up into this delicious side dish, flavored with with “cheater sofrito” that uses tomato paste to reduce the cooking time.

If you happen to have leftovers, turn them into an impromptu brunch. Fill a bowl with pinto beans and top with the zucchini and sauce. Microwave, then top with smoked cheddar, a fried egg, and lots of cilantro and hot sauce.

Baby Zucchini and Blossoms with Sofrito

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 white onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 big pinch chili flakes

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 Tbs. tomato paste

2 Tbs. red wine

1/2 lb. baby zucchini, trimmed; halve only if they are more than 1/2″ in diameter

Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

6 squash blossoms, petals separated

Place the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When it is shimmering, add the onion, garlic, chili flakes and kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and reduce the heat to medium low. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the sofrito is a rust-colored paste, about 5 more minutes.

Stir in the red wine to loosen the sauce. Add the zucchini and partially cover the pot.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is fully tender, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. It may need more salt or wine.

Stir in the parsley, reserving a bit for garnish. Stir in the squash blossom petals, reserving a few petals for garnish.

To serve, transfer to a bowl and garnish with the reserved parsley and squash blossoms.


Local food writer and chef Michael Natkin’s cookbook “Herbivoracious, A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes,” was a finalist in 2013 for a James Beard award. The recipes are based on his food blog,