Issue 26

Basil vs. Zucchini

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
 

PLANTING

 

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.

 

GROWING

 

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.

 

USES

 

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.

 

FLAVOR

 

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.

 

NUTRITION

 

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.

 

PRESERVING

 

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.

 

FAVORITE RECIPE

 

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 regular humor columnist for Food & Spirits Magazine, where his “Dumpster” essays close every issue. His first book, Are You Going To Eat That, is a collection of 60 essays released in 2009. His off-beat observations have appeared in Reader’s Digest, and he was recently named Humor Writer of The Month by the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. Campbell is also a singer-songwriter known for purposeful melody and evocative storytelling in the likes of Marshall Crenshaw, Paul Simon and James Taylor. His newest album is due for release in fall 2014. michaelcampbellsongwriter.com His mom is still waiting for him to get a real job.


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