If you have a garden, you might be wondering right now how to dress up the main ingredient in yet another zucchini-laden dinner. My friend Amy says she brings in her excess to work, but all her colleagues have their own surpluses. I nod sympathetically, but I have to confess: we have no garden.
I know, someone who values fresh, local, pesticide and chemical fertilizer-free veggies ought to have a garden. Here are my excuses: 1) I have a brown thumb. Everything I put in the soil rapidly shrivels. This may be due to attention deficit watering habits or other niceties of growing plants that I can’t seem to grasp. 2) My house is surrounded by beautiful trees which mean that no part of the yard has more than about an hour of sun each day. Except for a one spot that Wayne says is right above our septic leach field. 3) I keep telling Wayne how much I want to start gardening and so far he hasn’t taken the initiative to make it happen.
All this is to say that I understand that readers, like my friend Amy, may be hoping for a zucchini recipe. Even though I myself and not desperately cooking my way out of a bushel of zucchinis, I felt obliged to come up with something to do with my own jumbo zuke from the farmer’s market.
I was going to call this recipe Indian Style Zucchini Curry, but in the end I thought even this nod to my inspiration might offend readers who know anything about authentic Indian cooking techniques. For instance, I should have been toasting whole spices like mustard seeds in the pan and tossing in fresh curry leaves. Not only that, I’m pretty sure there are specific combinations and ratios of seasonings to create the transcendent cuisine I love at my favorite Indian restaurants.
The upshot is, the dish came out pretty darn tasty, but for the sake of accuracy, I’ve decided this curry is really Kitchsplosion style. That is, I used what I had around the house and seasoned to taste. The good news, for those cooking along at home, is that you, too, can use what you’ve got in your cabinets.
Zucchini Kitchsplosion Curry
- 2 TBS cooking oil, such as canola
- 1 huge clove fresh garlic (or two regular-sized), minced
- 1/2 inch disk fresh ginger (if you don’t have any on hand, substitute ground ginger to taste with the ground spices)
- optional: several pinches whole cumin seeds
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- one or more ground Indian spices to taste (are you noticing a pattern, here?): e.g. curry powder, garam masala, ground cardamom, cumin, ground coriander
- optional: pinch or so ground cayenne pepper, if you like your curry spicy
- 1 humongous zucchini (or several small ones), diced into large cubes
- 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes (I use fire roasted)
- 1/2 cup or so kidney beans (or other beans you have around the house, such as chickpeas)
- sweetener (such as agave nectar or brown sugar) to taste
- Heat the oil over medium in a large frying pan. Add garlic, ginger, and cumin seeds and saute until fragrant.
- Toss in your onion and salt and pepper; saute until the onion starts to go translucent.
- Add your spices, starting with a couple pinches of whichever smell most appealing to you. (Don’t sniff the cayenne, though, cough, cough.) From my perspective, you can’t go wrong with the curry powder, garam masala or cumin, but cardamom and coriander have distinct high notes that can be overpowering. Stir frequently as you the spices warm up.
- Add the zucchini cubes and cook until they begin to soften.
- Empty in your can of diced tomatoes and kidney beans and allow the whole shebang to bubble for about 10 minutes, taste testing along the way. Add however much sweetener you need. (I added a couple squirts of agave nectar, just to balance out some of the acidity.)
- Serve over brown rice or (my favorite) quinoa.