Right now the farmers’ markets feel like summer—colorful and vibrant and with that heady smell of almost-too-ripe tomatoes. For most of you living in the colder parts of the Northern Hemisphere—you might not want to read on (but I hope you do, and flag this post for warmer days). There are juicy, red tomatoes picked fresh off the vine, an abundance of peas, favas, and green beans, and just about every single type of summer squash you can imagine.
I picked up about five kilos of zucchini at the farmer’s market this weekend, so I’ve been cooking with them pretty much every day. I bought green and yellow squash (and some butternut too), but I’ve been enamored with 8-ball squash, those fat, round, zucchini that are perfect for stuffing and making all sorts of interesting, colorful things with. Because we had a little get-together with friends a few days ago, I made this bruschetta—an old favorite that makes an appearance whenever there’s zucchini and good bread around. I hope you like it as much as I do.
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 7 spring onions, finely sliced (1 cup/75 g)
- 4 8-ball (round) summer squash, or medium zucchini, chopped into 1-cm cubes (this amounts to about 6 cups/ 850 g)
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 ½ tsp fine sea salt
- zest of one lemon, finely chopped
- 1 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 small handful (about ½ cup) chopped herbs; I like a mix of parsley, coriander, dill, and mint.
- 8 slices of country bread, 1-2 cm thick
- 250 g ricotta cheese
- salt and pepper to taste, and olive oil to finish
- Preheat your oven to 200°C (395°F).
- Place the olive oil and spring onions in a large saucepan on medium heat. Stir until the onions soften and turn a vibrant green, about two minutes.
- Add the zucchini (squash) and cook for an additional two minutes, stirring so the zucchini don’t stick to the pan. Add the thyme leaves and salt, and stir. Lower the heat to medium, and cook the zucchini for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until tender (you want them to be soft, but not falling apart).
- Take the saucepan off the heat and add the lemon zest, chili, and herbs and stir. Cover with a lid and allow to cool slightly.
- While the zucchini mix is cooling, slice your bread and place the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Place the baking sheet in the center rack of your oven for 5 minutes, or until lightly crisp and golden.
- Remove the bread from the oven and top with a dollop of ricotta cheese, a spoonful of the zucchini mixture, and a light drizzle of olive oil.
- You don’t really need the ricotta cheese—I like to have it as an option to make it feel like more of a meal. Feta works well, as does mozzarella. A little slice of parma ham is also lovely, if you’re after something meatier. I tend to use whatever herbs I have on hand, my favorites being fresh fennel fronds, thyme, and parsley, but use what you like and have on hand.