Zucchini war ends gloriously

We are, I’m afraid, a divided family. Although I eat vegetables by the pound, I am cool to one particular summer squash. My wife is not. She is Zucchini Woman.

While I’m prowling our farmers markets looking for fresh berries, she will practically squeal spotting the first zukes of the season.

Squealing over zucchini? Trust me, I’ve heard it.

At the Kingfield market, we’ve succumbed to my wife’s view and elevated the controversial and prolific vegetable. Each month, we host an amateur bake-off. June’s centerpiece is rhubarb, the otherwise humble stem that generates excitement because everyone wants to cook something fresh. In July, it’s berries and their burst of summer sweetness. September features apples, and who isn’t ready for crispness when the weather turns crisp. Pumpkins get their turn in October, when folks are primed for Halloween.

But August has proven a problem. We tried corn for a while, but really, grilled sweet corn with butter trumps most anything our chefs could whip up. Given the heat, we considered going unconventional with a salsa challenge, but health laws blocked uncooked anything.

In exasperation, someone suggested zucchini. After all, for many of us, they needed getting rid of. And perhaps some genius could whip up a creation that would change stubborn minds.

It’s turned out to be pretty fun, like raising the degree of difficulty for an Olympic diver. Some bakers treat the zuke like a rhubarb, a fibrous element to be overcome with lots of sugar, while others are more upfront about the central ingredient.

So as not to steal the thunder from our Aug. 14 event (which you can enter by emailing manager@kingfield
farmersmarket.org), I’ll offer up a non-baking recipe likely to please the haters and lovers in your family.

In my experience, nearly every objection can be overcome with caramelization, and you can get all of the ingredients at either Fulton or Kingfield, save the oil, salt and black pepper. This is from Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone,” any you can cook it on the grill if it’s too hot inside.

Slow-cooked zucchini coins with chopped herbs and crumbled feta
2-3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1½ pounds zucchini, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly milled pepper
¼-cup chopped mixed herbs (dill, basil, parsley, cilantro)
½-cup crumbled feta

Heat oil in a wide skillet, then add zucchini and garlic. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook over low heat 20-30 minutes, stirring every so often. The finished squash should have a light golden surface glaze and be caramelized in places. Taste for salt and season with pepper. Toss with the herbs and cheese and serve.

Fulton Farmers Market
49th & Chowen
Saturdays, 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
May 21–Oct. 29
Follow on Twitter @fultonmarketmn facebook.com/fultonfarmersmarket

Kingfield Farmers Market
4310 Nicollet Ave.
Sundays, 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
May 22–Oct. 30
Follow on Twitter @kingfieldmarket