I’m deep into Gabrielle Hamiltons’s book Blood, Bones and Butter.
I fell asleep last night to her words describing the first time she encounters the simple cooking of Alda, an eighty year old woman from the Italian boot heel; in Puglia. She is the mother of her then-new husband.
How this woman soulfully – and deliciously – connects with the food that literally grows like some kind of Garden of Eden in her backyard, stuff “like none” what you’d find here, outside that hot Southern Italian climate.
Produce like lemons, oranges, figs, olives, apricots, tomatoes…pine nuts that fall off the tree into the courtyard. Can you imagine?
Not to mention the zucchini, that is “less porous, less watery and has smaller seeds than ours”.
Which brings me to the subject of this post. I’ve been trying, despite my seeming lack of chemistry with squash, to learn to like them, even to show some affection. Little baby zucchini I can do. I usually eat them raw or barely cooked, dressed with lemon juice, garlic and sea salt.
But most squash, and especially summer squash, I just don’t get along with. In fact, I avoid them like a 10-year-old boy would a bathtub on a Saturday night.
Here’s a brilliant, very simple idea a chef friend shared with me — shave summer squash on a mandoline, and toss with great olive oil, toasted walnuts and Parmesan. I can totally see myself hooking up with a summer squash based on that flavor profile.
And so I did. Slicing an otherwise bland squash into noodle-like ribbons and dressing with luscious olive oil, sparkling lemon juice, crisp, toasty walnuts and Parmigiano Reggiano might be the best thing you can do with a summer squash. Maybe for me the ONLY thing to do with a summer squash and still be rated PG.