Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Que Rico!

Last Sunday, I led yet another bilingual cooking demo, this time at the Bloomingdale Farmers Market – one of my other favorite markets around town. And this time, it was an interactive cooking demonstration. It was all part of the group visit with some of the families involved with the exciting Fruit and Vegetable Prescription pilot program. Well, I hadn't intended for it to be quite as interactive as it was, but when the opportunity presented itself, I went with it. I am a go-with-the-flow kind of girl.

As the moms shopped, and after I picked up ingredients from Truck Patch and Mountain View Farm, I found myself entertaining the kiddos while I set up to make cold zucchini noodles, chatting and joking with them in Spanish and English. First one precocious young man asked if he could help. Then another. Then suddenly there were five of them. "Okay, okay," I conceded, "but everyone who is going to touch food here has to wash their hands. Ah! And with soap!" I shouted as they scampered into Big Bear Cafe one after the other, coming back with reports of each other's hygienic diligence. "Todos listos? Okay, let's get started...."

With assistants to peel the squash and zucchini, juice the lemons, measure out the olive oil (oh, if only they knew how I generally neglect measuring, they'd maybe reconsider their precision), remove the basil and parsley leaves from the stems, we made the first batch of Fideos de Calabacin in less than 15 minutes.

 fvrx kiddos at bfm - 26 aug 2012

“Que rico!” I heard from the mothers who stopped by to taste the fruit of our collaborative labors. “Vamos a cocinar esto a casa?” was answered with nodded assent from the 7- to 10-year-olds. I also heard a number of mothers chat about a return trip to this pleasant, friendly Sunday market, where nutrition assistance benefits are not only accepted but matched up to $10 each weekend. Healthy food, happy families. Sweet.

What's that? Oh. You want to know how to make this most simple and delicious of cold zucchini dishes... possibly with your kiddo(s)? Here's how:

Zucchini Noodles (aka Fideos de Calabacin)
Using a vegetable peeler, carefully slice the zucchini lengthwise, starting at one end and ending on the other end. As you peel closer to the center of the zucchini, turn the zucchini over and start peeling again from the opposite side. You can use a sharp knife to cut slices into thinner strips if you like, though a julienne peeler makes for the most consistent, skinny strips. These “noodles” are great COLD as a salad or HOT as a low-calorie substitute for pasta.

Make a dressing of juice from 1 lemon (about 3 Tablespoons), 4 Tablespoons olive oil, and 1/2 cup sliced or chopped fresh herbs (basil, mint, and/or parsley). Toss raw “noodles” with dressing and let marinate for 15-30 minutes. Variations: toss with 3-4 handfuls of lettuce or arugula. Sprinkle on 1/4 cup crumbled feta.


Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add zucchini/squash “noodles” to the boiling water and cook very quickly, just 1-2 minutes until tender, but not mushy. Drain then toss with a little butter or olive oil, fresh herbs, and fresh peas or cherry tomatoes. You can also simply top with your favorite pasta sauce (or make some fresh pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes, the chopped up remains of your zucchini, herbs, and lots of garlic).

[Photo courtesy of Kealy Rudersdorf]

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