“I’ve got some zucchini in the kitchen that need cutting.”
“Oh! I’ll do it!” Mingus chimes in.
Anytime zucchini is involved in dinner, Mingus chomps at the bit to get involved. If he’s bored, “Here’s a zucchini”. It can be shaved, sliced, chopped, grated… And zucchini dishes are usually flexible enough to take any sized piece of the vegetable. He marvels, “My knife easily cuts through the skin,” then examines the inside of the squash, remarking, “I can see the seeds!”
After just a few short minutes, Mingus laments, “Is that all the cutting we need to do?” He tosses his work into our cast iron skillet. Before I can say “Enough!” he has upended a bottle of olive oil and is pouring it over the zucchini. I’m charmed by his explanation: “It doesn’t have a child-proof cap – you see? I can open it.” So, the squash will be fried, instead of just sauteed.
We switch around the usual ordering of heating oil in the pan before adding the veg because I like Mingus to be able to do most of the work himself. He shakes on a little salt and I lift the overweight pan to the stove. It cooks and sizzles and the cardboard texture of raw zucchini turns pliant and juicy. As it cooks, Mingus and I scheme what to add to the pan.
“What do you think – pine nuts or walnuts?”
“Hmmm. I want to taste them.” [crunch, munch] “Pine nuts.”
“Raisins or dried cherries”
“We have dried cherries? I thought we were out. May I have some cherries right now, please?” [bat bat go those batty lashes]
I turn off the heat and toss in the pine nuts and dried cherries. The lingering heat will toast them. Beluga awakes from his afternoon snooze, saunters into the kitchen and snags a bite.
Soon, he’s enlisted his older brother to reach up for him. Crafty, he is. Mingus asks permission, “Mom, is it okay?”
The zucchini sits happily with a plate of simply steamed quinoa. It’s a light meal for early summer, delicious with all it’s components. But, beware: if you look the other way, cherry elves will steal the tartness right off your plate.
- 4 Zucchinis
- 4 Tbs Olive Oil
- A Handful of Dried Cherries
- A Handful of Pine Nuts
- Salt to Taste
- Cut up the zucchinis into pieces smaller than a ping pong ball – a good task for children, using either a plastic lettuce knife or something sturdier.
- Drop the pieces into a large cold skillet.
- Pour the olive oil into the pan – no need to measure, Little hands enjoy swishing the olive oil around to cover the zucchini.
- Sprinkle salt over top of it.
- Then an adult should place the skillet on the stove and turn on the heat.
- Cook on medium high heat for about 12 minutes. Make sure the zucchinis are succulent on the inside, and browned on the outside. A little burning isn’t a problem.
- Turn off the heat, and toss in the pine nuts and dried cherries. A few minutes in the pan will leave them nicely toasted and tender.