What's in the Box? Zucchini and Corn, a Before and After Story

This week in my CSA box, I received, among a few other things: Z ucchini and corn. The zucchini was expected yet eagerly anticipated, but the corn was a big surprise. An amazing, delicious surprise. I didn't receive any in my share last year, but this year, I think my farmer planted some just for me.

The story of my zucchini begins with 6 large pieces, surely just the beginning of the bounty I'll be receiving this summer. I know people who start to dread the stuff by August, fearing doorstep deliveries from neighbors who've over-planted, but not me. I'm hoping to get lots more from my CSA and from family members' gardens in upstate NY, and even then I'll pick up some more at the farmers' market. I will admit it though,  zucchini does get boring if you keep cooking it the same way. So for this batch, I no-cooked 3 of them, and saved 3 to make a batch of curried zucchini bread that I've been dying to make for a whole year.

I used to fear the raw zucchini that sometimes often hides itself among the friendlier vegetables on a tray of crudites. Zucchini spears don't crunch like cucumbers, in fact they're almost wiggly -- I just don't like them. But I discovered recently and to my delight that I do like them raw in salads, either grated or sliced very thin, like in Tyler's Zucchini Carpaccio or Gaida's Asparagus and Zucchini and Crudi. I didn't use a recipe this week, I just grated some zucchini and dressed it with lemon juice, chopped, fresh mint and dill, scallions, salt and pepper -- all to taste, and threw a handful of feta on top. The result was a fresh and delicious salad full of bold flavors that was not at all wiggly.

Moving on to the corn . . . my favorite way to eat corn is on the cob and my favorite way to cook corn on the cob is on the grill. But alas, I live in a tiny apartment in the city so that precludes me from grilling anything. I could certainly boil it, and would have loved it, but I was determined not to miss out a favorite,  so I decided to roast my corn in the oven. This is basically another non-recipe. You just preheat the oven, stick the corn in, husks and all, and roast for about 30 minutes. Two great things will happen: You'll get to eat roasted corn which manages to taste like a picnic in your kitchen, and your house will smell like popcorn (but not the fake-butter microwave stuff) for the rest of the night.

Be careful handling the corn when it's done, it will be really hot. I used pot-holder gloves to remove the husks and they came right off, even the corn silk. I rubbed mine with the lemons I had leftover from the zucchini salad and sprinkled them with some basil that I got in my CSA share, but you can top corn any way you please, as you may well know. It's great with a sprinkle of Parmesan or Cojita cheese, or drizzled with a bit of olive oil and garlic plus your favorite fresh herbs,  topped with cilantro and lime or coated the old fashioned way with a teeny bit of unsalted butter. You'll need plenty of napkins and some dental floss when you eat it, but corn on the cob is one of the best parts of summer. Wouldn't you agree?

Michelle Buffardi is the web editor for Food Network Magazine, a long-time vegetarian and part-time vegan who indulges in her weakness for pizza only on the weekends. She’s  proud to prepare healthy, home-cooked meals nightly in the world’s tiniest kitchen. Learn more about all our contributors »

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