Issue 30

Basil vs. Zucchini

Every year at this time we make a few notes regarding the hits and misses of our backyard garden so we can do better next year. Basil and zucchini were big producers this year, but what if you don’t have room for both? Let this chart help you decide which to plant next year.

                      Basil Zucchini



Small basil plants fare better than seedlings, which dry too quickly or get eaten by rabbits.


Save money by planting zucchini from seed. It grows easily. Too easily—don’t even bother planting it. It will show up in your garden anyway.




Keep basil watered. It wilts under direct hot sun, but thrives in partial sun to light shade.


Zucchini is maintenance-free and spreads effortlessly, like Ebola. Avoid planting too close to trees—zucchini vines may grow up the trunk and pull it over.




Pesto, of course. Julienned leaves of fresh basil are a dreamy addition to caprese, bruschetta, pizza and pasta sauces.


It’s edible when crusted with panko and sautéed in garlic and butter. But then, so is anything.




Basil has an intense flavor somewhere between licorice and heaven. It is best fresh, so add it near the end  of sauce recipes.


Zucchini can be substituted any time a recipe calls for fresh cardboard.




Basil is a fat-free vitamin powerhouse: a good source of Vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, trapezoid and xylophone.


95% of the nutritional elements in zucchini are in the dark green skin, which you cut off and throw away. A single zucchini has as much fiber as 2 cups of cardboard.




Basil is always best fresh. Any unused leaves will keep for up to a week in the fridge if you wrap them in a damp paper towel. Pesto can be frozen and used through the winter.


Wrap 5lbs of zucchini in a paper bag, with “A gift of our bounty!” written on the outside, and give to friends. And neighbors. And strangers. Any leftover zucchini can be stored in a dumpster.




Finely chop basil leaves, garlic, tomato and black olives. Set aside. Stir a little balsamic vinegar, anchovy paste, oregano and a dash of cayenne into 1/4 cup of virgin olive oil, and toss in the chopped basil mixture. Spread over toasted baguette.


Peel 3 zucchini and dice into half-inch cubes. Set aside. Finely chop basil leaves, garlic, tomato and black olives, then stir in a little balsamic vinegar, anchovy paste, oregano, a dash of cayenne and 1/4 cup of virgin olive oil. Spread mixture over toasted baguette. Discard zucchini.

Michael Campbell

Michael Campbell

Michael Campbell is a songwriter and humor essayist. His “Dumpster” column closes every issue of Food & Spirits magazine. He has authored two books, including Are You Going To Eat That? (2009), and Of Mice and Me (2017). He also has four albums of original songs. The latest, My Turn Now, was released in 2015. Learn more at

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