Did Someone Say Zucchini Glut?
by Ollie Benson
Let’s be honest here. Each year they start out as a grower’s best friend, making you feel like a legitimate market gardener, before quickly becoming a headache as you push back the leaves and find yet another zucchini that’s got away.
Yep, summer is here and if you’re growing vegetables, it’s guaranteed that you’ll soon be enjoying (or moaning about) that zucchini glut!
For Briony Patterson and Stan Robert, who run Fat Carrot Farm, the humble zucchini is much more versatile than people think. And as a couple who grow a wide range of vegetables, from bitter radicchio to tart tomatillos, it may be surprising to hear that zucchini is one of their favourites.
Fat Carrot Farm is a market garden set within three hectares of alluvial soils in putalina/Oyster Cove. Inspired by the farmers’ markets they visited while working as scientists in the US, and upon settling in Tasmania in 1998, Briony and Stan began to grow their own food. Their aim for the farm is to sell, cook, eat, and share, and they now supply some of Hobart’s top restaurants, as well as to local customers via their community supported agriculture (CSA) model.
They farm using organic principles and have a deep interest in soil ecology. They have also converted their market garden to a no-till system where the soil is undisturbed and, in one block, thick layers of compost are placed directly on to the beds.
At Fat Carrot Farm you’ll find several varieties of zucchinis in their patch. Rondo di Nizza is a round Italian heritage variety, while Romanesco a quick growing, heavy cropper of fruit with pale ribs that have a star shape when sliced. Nano Verde is a long, cylindrical dark green zucchini, and Bianca di Trieste is a long, slim almost white variety that’s also very prolific.
Not only are Briony and Stan excellent growers, but they’re also fantastic cooks. The versatility of zucchini means it finds its way into most dinners through the summer. Sliced into ribbons for salads dressed with lemon and olive oil, grilled with broad beans, garlic scapes and served with lamb, or dished up as the ultimate summer BBQ side combined with tomatoes, corn, red onion and lots of herbs.
It’s often wearily said by backyard growers of the humble zucchini, that by autumn they’ve used zucchini in every way imaginable. But let’s celebrate this seasonal wonder for its versatility, its many shapes and sizes, and for its ability to grow bountiful fruit seemingly overnight!
FAT CARROT FARM CRISPY ZUCCHINI SLICE – A.K.A. SCARPACCIA
3 zucchinis (approx. 300g)
1 red onion 1 cup of plain flour
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/4 cups of olive oil
Zucchini flowers (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Method: Line the base of one large baking sheet with well oiled baking paper. Finely slice the zucchini and finely chop the onion. Salt both liberally and leave to drain in a colander for at least 1 hour. After an hour, squeeze, rinse and pat dry the zucchini. Whisk the flour and milk until you have a batter the consistency of thin cream. Add the olive oil, zucchini, onion and zucchini flowers (if using), and gently mix together. Pour batter onto the lined baking sheet to no more than 7mm depth. Season with pepper. Place in an oven preheated to 230 degrees celsius. After 15 mins reduce to 210 degrees and cook for another 15 minutes until golden brown. Slice into squares and serve at room temperature.