Zucchini, green pea, feta, & mint paté and zucchini with tarragon and hazelnuts

Zucchini green pea feta paté

It can be hard to stay cheerful when you’re a waitress. Many restaurant patrons are as needy and particular as toddlers, and they’re not always nice about making their needs known. I slip into horribly bitchy crankiness sometimes, as a mom and as a waitress, and it feels awful. On a good day, however, there’s a real joy in feeding people – even if it’s just the humble job of carrying their food to the table. People can be so endearing when they eat – the way they arrange their food before they put it in their mouth, the gestures they use to share with others at their table, even the particular care they use to get their order exactly correct can be as sweet as it is irksome. I like to see people eating together: some have so much to say they forget to eat, and others are either so comfortable together or so awkward they may not say one word through the meal. This weekend I worked with a very young woman, very quiet, very nice. An older couple came in and sat in her section. The man asked his wife what he wanted to drink – he’d forgotten. His wife knew (we all know! He gets the same thing every time.) The waitress came back to write up the order, and she said, “I love them!” Every little thing they said, the way that they knew each other so well they could finish each others’ sentences, all of it was making her so happy. I know what she means! I’d been feeling cranky about humans, that morning, but her love for this couple made humanity seem pretty wonderful. It reminded me of Alyosha, (still reading The Bros. K! Still reading) who says we should “…care for most people exactly as one would for children…” He’s trying, though he he doesn’t feel he’s altogether ready in himself. Sometimes he’s very impatient, and other times he doesn’t see things. I know what he means, too!

Well! We’re still getting tons of zucchini, and I’m trying to love that, too. Here are two ways to prepare it that both use herbs from our garden. One is simple, one a little more complicated. The paté being the latter, though it’s really not difficult to make. I’m calling it a paté because it’s nice on toast or crackers, but we ate it one night as a side dish, and it was good that way too. Feta, mint and peas seem like such a natural combination – so fresh and sweet and salty, all at the same time. This paté has some almonds in, which gives it a sort of country-paté texture. In the simpler dish, the zucchini is sautéed briskly in butter till it’s nicely browned but still has a bit of crunch. It’s mixed with garlic, tarragon and some toasted hazelnuts. A nice side dish!

Zucchini with tarragon and hazelnuts

Here’s King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band with Workingman’s Blues

PATE
1 T olive oil
1 large zucchini, diced in 1/3 inch chunks
1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
1 big scallion, minced – mostly the white part
1 plump clove garlic – minced
1 t oregano
big handful basil- chopped
small handful fresh mint – chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup almonds, ground finely
2 eggs
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 and butter and flour a small casserole or baking dish.

In a large frying pan over medium heat warm the olive oil. Add the scallion and garlic, and fry till the garlic starts to brown. Add the zucchini, stir and fry till it’s translucent and soft, but not mushy. Add the peas and oregano. Cook till the peas are warm and soft, and the zucchini is cooked through and quite soft, but still not mushy!

Transfer the mixture to a food processor, once it’s a bit cooled. Add everything else, and process till quite smooth. Pour/scrape into the baking dish.

Bake till it’s puffed and golden brown on top. 25-30 minutes.

Let it cool a bit, and then serve with toast or crackers, or as a side dish.

SAUTEE

2 T butter
2 medium-sized zucchini cut into 1/4″ coins
small handful of fresh tarragon, washed and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper

Warm the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over moderately high heat. When it’s melted and just starting to brown, add the zucchini, trying to leave it in a single layer. When it starts to brown, turn the pieces over. When the zucchini is nicely browned on both sides, add the tarragon and garlic, and cook just till the garlic is soft and golden. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over and serve.

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