I have been resisting Zucchini Season. Once it begins, it feels like a forced march - zucchinis everywhere, offered free by friends, left like orphaned babies at your doorstep in the dark of the night, on special at the supermarket. All those zucchinis, begging to be made into something. So much need. It's enough to make me retreat to bed with a good book, even when I'm not growing them myself.
This week at the farmer's market, I finally succumbed to Zucchini Season. My Beloved found four absolutely beautiful, medium-sized, dark green and bright yellow summer squashes, plus a nice bright red bell pepper and a couple of tomatoes, so we brought them home to make barbouille, which may or may not be a classic dish. I sort of invented it many years ago in Zucchini Season. I keep coming back to it because neither My Beloved nor I like eggplant, so the other most common Zucchini Season dish, ratatouille, is not in our kitchen vocabulary.
Barbouille is like ratatouille without the eggplant. I cut up onions in spears through the root end, which makes them mysteriously sweeter than chopping, mince a few (or sometimes several) cloves of garlic, sautéing them in olive oil, then add slices of bright summer squashes, coarsely chopped bell pepper and tomato, and a glug of white wine of some kind, plus herbs.
I often use thyme and oregano from the garden but sometimes I'm too lazy to saunter out to the front steps, so I just sprinkle in some dried Herbes de Provence, s & p, cover and let it simmer for at least half an hour. If the squashes and tomatoes are very juicy, you can lift the cover for the last 20 minutes or so to concentrate the pan juices. It's better if you cook this one day and eat it the next day, but even the first day, it's delicious. You can serve it over rice or pasta, or simply scoop it into bowls and eat it plain. You can also grate some cheese over it if you want but I like it just the way it comes from the pan. This time, I added some of the bright yellow flowers from the wild fennel plant that is volunteering outside my front door for a little sweet licorice kick.
When you succumb to Zucchini Season, I can recommend barbouille as an alternative to hiding in your bed.