Saturday, July 21, 2007

farm stand

Mid-summer in Vermont is the time of many first harvests: greens, strawberries, sour cherries, broccoli, and now zucchini. We picked beautiful dark green zucchini from Nick and Theresa's garden at Stony Brook Farm Stand. Theresa was outside roasting a pork with rosemary and garlic on her rotisserie, the scent magnificent. Guests were coming for dinner. Theresa not only has a very green thumb, she is also a very good cook. As a young woman she trained in a university hospitality program with a minor in international cooking. In addition to running the big farm when they were younger, she and her husband Nick have travelled all over Europe and owned their own restaurant. Now they garden, and cook for friends and family.

Theresa and I talked of the magic of the rotisserie (we have one in our stove at home) while Caleb cut greens and picked zucchini in the garden before us. We all agreed that a Sunday rotisserie chicken is divine with potatoes cooked in the chicken fat dripping from the rotating meat above. Theresa likes two little game hens side by side and stuffed with lovage on her rotisserie best. What better than roasted zucchini to accompany.

We've been serving a pasta with zucchini at the restaurant to take advantage of our sleek haul, and I've been pairing it with a fresh Falanghina from Campania for a white, or a Sicilian Syrah for a red. Falanghina is a southern Italian varietal that can exhibit Alsatian or more mineral qualities in the nose, but it always has a somewhat tropical profile and bouquet. Things like pineapple, banana peel, citrus, or even lush peach. The finish is usually defined by a pronounced minerality given that Falanghina from Campania is often grown in the shadow of Vesuvius. As for the red, the Sicilian Syrah is lighter and less smoky than many other Syrah. It focuses on a preserved-style red fruit, and a dry, elegant finish. Some revolutionaries say that Syrah is indigenous to Sicily, hailing originally from Syracuse rather than Shiraz in Iran. Only the dna testing will completely tell the tale. In any event, Syrah grown in Sicily has a different personality than Syrah grown anywhere else, and speaks eloquently of place.

Pasta with Zucchini
(For 4 cups of zucchini)

1/3 cup olive oil
grated Parmigiano or Pecorino

This is a simple recipe. Slice the zucchini in 1/4-1/8 rounds. If the zucchini are small, slice down the whole vegetable. If the zucchini are quite large, quarter, then slice. The width of the slices should vary. They are not meant to be uniform. This adds texture. Leave the zucchini slices on cookie sheets or another flat service over night so they give up some of their water. This prevents them from steaming themselves mushy.

When ready to cook the next day, preheat oven to 375. Place the slices in a roasting pan with 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to preference. Roast for at least two hours, or until done, done meaning that some have become golden brown, some crispy, but all very tender.

Toss with a short pasta like penne (we prefer a short pasta with this sauce, but spaghetti will work in a pinch) which has been cooked al dente. Finish with the grated Parmigiano or Pecorino.

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