A brief respite

Dear darling readers (if indeed, there are any of you),

This small city girl has hit the big city and, quite to my surprise, I love it! It helps when there's a steady drizzle of fragrant, fresh rain outside the window all night, when there's sweet, cool air in the morning, leaves blushing, dropping, crisping to the ground. It's easy when there's such unimaginable wealth to discover - stores stocked with everything from mastic gum to tahini, sawtooth herb to guava, cold-smoked mackerel to liver-stuffed perogies, sausages, noodles, pastes, and spices representing every nation. There's people - motley and one-toothed, accented and old-worldly, skinny and hipstered. There's restaurants - pho, falafel, sushi, staunchly local. It sets my heart a-flutter.

But, right now, for the first time in my academic career I actually need to focus on what I'm doing. I'm jumping into this with all I've got, which means sometimes there isn't time for other things. So, best beloved blog, I must take a brief respite. I'll be back, don't worry, but later, and maybe not even until a new year is upon us.

Until then, enjoy Fall and food, yourselves and each other.



Just the ticket

Look, I know how it goes. Right now, if you're any kind of gardener, you've got behemoths lurking under the leaves and spindly little suckers proliferating faster than you can nip 'em in the bud. If you frequent farmer's markets, receive a weekly veggie box or, heck, just occasionally talk to your neighbours, you have more zucchini than you know what to do with it. Hey, it's September, we're all in the same boat.

You need a couple tricks up your sleeve this time of year. On the sweet side, besides the ubiquitous zucchini breads/muffins/cakes, of which there are countless variations, there are scrumptious cookies to be made. If your tastes tend toward the tart, try some pickles. But if you really want to be swept off your feet, then I've got a treat for you.

It's a smooth, suave salad that glides across your tongue and tantalizes with tang. You could easily eat this by the spoonful, as a salad, or use it more like a condiment, piled high into a pita with falafel or grilled lamb. It's just the ticket for the taking charge of those crazy courgettes.

Zucchini-Yogurt Salad with Fresh Dill

Anne Mendelson prefaces her recipe by saying that "Yogurt lends agreeable depth and verve to a vegetable that can be pretty one-dimensional. I usually prefers this without the garlic, but both versions are good. A combination of green and golden zucchini makes an especially attractive dish."

4 medium-small zucchini or similar tender summer squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tsp kosher salt
10 to 12 scallions, cleaned and trimmed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup well-drained mild, creamy plain yogurt or Yogurt-Garlic Sauce (2 cloves of garlic pounded to a paste with 1/2  tsp kosher salt and mixed with 1 cup plain, whole-milk yogurt)
freshly ground black or white pepper
plenty of fresh dill, snipped

Trim the ends of the zucchini and grate them on the coarse side of a box grater. Put the grated squash in a colander set over a bowl; add the salt and mix well with your hands. Let stand for 20 minutes to drain off some of the moisture.

Meanwhile, cut off the scallion tops where the green begins. Slice the white part into rounds and set aside; chop the tenderer part of the greens and reserve separately.

Firmly wring out as much liquid as you can from the salted zucchini. Heat the oil to rippling in a large lidded skillet over pretty brisk heat, add the scallion whites and saute for a few minutes until translucent. Add the drained zucchini and cook, stirring and tossing to coat them well with the oil, for 3 to 5 minutes. Adjust the heat to medium-low. Add the reserved scallion greens, cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the squash is slightly wilted. (Check occasionally for scorching).

Remove the pan from the heat and let cool slightly, uncovered. (Too much heat will curdle the yogurt, though it won't harm the flavour.) Add the yogurt, pepper, and most of the dill. Toss to combine everything well and serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with the remaining dill.

Makes about 6 servings