When Life Gives You Garlic-Scapes and Zucchini...
Loading up on colorful organic produce at the community center near my apartment feels sort of like Christmas every single week. Plus I'm eating tons more vegetables, and I seem to have inadvertently lost a couple of pounds (or so my friends have pointed out). The CSA Diet doesn't sound quite as sexy as the South Beach Diet, but maybe there's something to it: trimming down while saving small farms into the bargain. (Hollywood screenwriters and super-agents, you know where to find me....)
But just like the holidays, I'd be lying if I didn't admit there's some anxiety involved. I find myself planning my life around my CSA's Tuesday night vegetable-pickup hours. Two nights ago, I sped from midtown Manhattan to downtown, picked up my vegetables, walked home in 98-degree weather to put them in the fridge, then cleaned up and went back uptown for a party.
But the challenge of finding ways to use every single vegetable every week has been more exhilarating than stressful. For one thing, I love having so many crunchy raw vegetables around to munch on—though even in my laziest cooking-avoidance mode, I stop short at eating certain things raw, like beets and squash. And having all those vegetables in my fridge is forcing me to cook more too, just as I was hoping it would. It's inspired me to invent off-the-cuff recipes (some a surprising success, others not so much)—and to hit up friends, relatives, coworkers, cookbooks, and of course F&W for the best (and easiest) vegetable recipes.
I've discovered new ingredients too. Last week, I saw my first garlic scape, which sounds like the title of a bad '70s movie about a vegetable heist—but turns out to be nothing a little Googling couldn't illuminate. It's a flowering garlic stem that's softer and slightly milder-tasting than a garlic clove. With the zucchini, basil and garlic scapes I'd gotten from the CSA, I decided to make zucchini omelettes (ejjet koosa), a Lebanese comfort-food dish I grew up with. The omelettes are super-easy, delicious when eaten hot or cold—and, for those who keep crazy, non-CSA-friendly hours, they make a great late-night snack or on-the-road meal.
Zucchini pulp is the key ingredient for the omelettes; after coring the zucchini to get the pulp out, I filled the hollowed shells with a rice-and-vegetable stuffing to make another easy, homestyle dish from my childhood, koosa mehsheh. The recipe for the stuffed zucchini can be found in most good Lebanese cookbooks, including Anissa Helou's and Aida Karaoglan's; the zucchini omelette recipe—adapted from Helou's—follows here, after the jump.