Scorpacciata is a term that means consuming large amounts of a particular local ingredient while it's in season. It's a good way to eat.
Zucchini, summer squash, courgette, green, yellow, round or oblong, whatever you call it, whichever shape you choose it’s delicious right now. You think squash, you think savory, but this story ends up sweet. Stay tuned for that.
Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of summers, my favorite season, in my father’s backyard garden. Every year, he tilled the soil and tended to the plants with great care. He planted rows and rows of tomatoes, beans and squash: a lot of squash, specifically the green zucchini.
There was always great, green squash in vast amounts filling our fridge. The squash piled up on tables and poured out the door into the hands of willing neighbors.
When dropping me off at a friend’s house, my parents would thrust a big, brown paper bag full of zucchini into the arms of the waiting parent. "Have some zucchini," they would say, "It’s from our garden."
The squash was so plentiful that my mother was constantly coming up with new ways to use it. I remember zipping in and out of the kitchen while she made loaf after loaf of zucchini bread, chocolate zucchini bread and chocolate zucchini Bundt cake.
Zucchini is a fruit, botanically speaking, but zucchini cake, can you dig it? You don’t see that around much! It's especially true when you're living in the concrete jungle, where precious little is grown in personal gardens. But, after seeing rows of it at the Greenmarket, I was inspired to try the cake again for myself. My mother dug up the recipe. It follows below.
What do you think: savory or sweet for squash?
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
All ingredients should be at room temp. Preheat oven to 350°
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
Butter or spray a Bundt or tube pan. In small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
Beat butter and sugar until smooth (4 or 5 minutes).
Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. With a spoon, stir in the vanilla, orange peel, zucchini and walnuts.
Alternately stir dry ingredients and milk into zucchini mixture. Pour into pan.
Bake 1 hour or until that trusty toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack completely
Dust with confectioner’s sugar OR drizzle with chocolate glaze … it is a Bundt after all.
Glaze: Melt 8 ounces semisweet chocolate with 1/2 cup water in double boiler until well-blended and shiny.
Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla, cool to room temperature and chill in fridge until thick enough to apply with spatula.
Got a favorite way to eat zucchini? Won't you please be so kind as to share in the comments below?
Thanks to local foodist Nina Planck for bringing the term "scorpacciata" into my lexicon. I've never met her, but I shall always be grateful.