I was looking back at old Facebook posts today and found a post from this time last year when the mercury was set to hit 38 degrees + (100F). I had erected a couple of beach umbrellas in the front yard and, if I recall correctly, managed to save most of my precious crop of tomatoes. Sadly, things were not to be with that crop, I just wasn’t committed enough to the watering regime they needed to survive and the extensive heatwaves we experienced in January were just too much for the bed to handle. This year I have learnt many lessons and we’ve installed a dripper system that runs on a timer. I have everything crossed for better outcomes this year, but I’m not holding my breath. Perhaps I’m just not meant to be a tomato grower?
One thing that always does well is zucchini, we’ve got a mix of yellow and green plants in this year and they are just fab. They go with everything and are one of the most versatile crops I’ve ever grown. I tend to become a bit obsessive with my zucchini, heading out each morning to rub male flowers onto females to ensure a good yield. This year I’ve planted borage around the plants which will hopefully help to attract bees to the bed for an added boost on those days when I’m running late (or can’t be bothered!).
One thing I’ve been making is this really simple zucchini pasta, substituting the usual wheat-based pasta with grated zucchini. I bought a nifty little spiraliser gadget in a moment of kitchen-related impulse buying, but it seems to be more trouble than it is worth. Despite being very good at its only function, it is hard to clean and I can already see it taking up space in the mess that is my big drawer full of crap that seemed like a good idea at the time. Still, it is a nice change from heavy pasta dishes in the warmer months so if you happen to come across one of these gadgets in the sales then why not give one a try. I imagine you’d get similar results from a mandolin or one of those nifty graters.
To prepare, simply fry some onions, garlic and pine nuts and dress with a little orange juice and freshly grated parmesan. It is lovely and light on its own, but would pair equally well with some chicken, fish or tofu and can of course be bulked out with some pasta or soba noodles if you prefer.
- 1 large (or 2 average size) zucchini
- 1 tspn oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 spring onions (green and white parts), finely diced
- 1 tbspn pine nuts
- Juice of 1 orange
- 1 sliced tomato (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parmesan and basil leaves to serve
- Prepare zucchini 'noodles' using a spiraliser, mandolin or grater (or just chop using a knife!).
- In a small pan add the oil and heat, add the garlic, onion and pine nuts and fry for a couple of minutes until the nuts have started to brown.
- Add the zucchini and orange juice to the pan and heat through for a minute or two.
- Remove from the heat and mix through the sliced tomato using your hands.
- Season to taste and serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan and shredded basil leaves.