Tiny baby zucchini have arrived at the farmers' market. Soon, they'll overwhelm backyard gardeners, who'll be unloading bags of summer squash and tomatoes to anyone within reach.
My favorite way to enjoy zucchini is to halve it lengthwise, toss with olive oil, salt and black pepper, and broil or grill it. A slightly fancier appetizer, this bruschetta combines the rich sweetness of broiled zucchini with salty black olives. In my book, a dash of hot red pepper flakes improves the flavor of almost anything, but feel free to leave it out if it's not to your taste.
Zucchini Olive Bruschetta
3 medium zucchini
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup oil-cured black olives with pits, or ½ cup pitted
½ teaspoon chopped garlic (one small clove)
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
Crusty Italian bread or baguette, sliced ¼-½ inch thick
Move oven rack approximately 6 inches below broiler. Preheat broiler.
Slice zucchini lengthwise to ¼ inch thickness and place in a shallow bowl. Toss with enough olive oil to coat and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil 5-8 minutes, until most slices have begun to brown. Flip zucchini slices and roast another 3-5 minutes. You want them browned but pliable, not blackened and crispy. Remove slices from oven and let cool on baking sheet.
While zucchini cools, remove olive pits if necessary and roughly chop olives. Place in a medium bowl. When zucchini is cool enough to handle, stack slices and roughly chop. Place in bowl with olives. Add garlic, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust lemon juice, garlic, salt, or pepper if desired.
Makes 1 cup, but can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd. To serve, grill or toast bread and top with zucchini mixture.
Mary Lake is a writer, teacher, columnist for MF&L, and vegetarian blogger: Mitten Machen