No one ever has to tell me to eat more vegetables. And you would probably be wise not to vote for me for President, because instead of doing something idiotic and subversive like Bush The First did when he famously exclaimed “I’m the President of the United States and I don’t have to eat broccoli,” I’d be more likely to use my executive powers to make everyone join a CSA and eat vegetables three times a day. Ok, maybe only twice a day, because even though I often do eat leftover veggies for breakfast myself, decreeing that others follow my example would definitely put me on the fast track to impeachment.
But last night, as occasionally happens even to me, I wasn’t much in the mood for cooking. If we’d been in France I’d have ordered pizza, which would have been delivered by motor scooter, crisp and delicious, in under 20 minutes flat. Here on the island, however, there’s no pizza worth eating, and although Shel kindly offered to make a call for me (“hello Air France, could we get a pizza delivered anytime today?”) I thought it would be prudent to have a look around the kitchen, in case inspiration should strike. And thus was born…drum roll…thunder…lightning…one of the best and easiest things ever to do with a zucchini. Va va voom and hey presto, kitchen magic. I love it when that happens. And so will you, if you happen to live in a place where furtive farmers are prone to leaving surplus zucchini in the unlocked cars of the unsuspecting public.
It turned out that in my kitchen I had a grey-striped zucchini, some organic ground pork, some Yukon Golds, some shiitakes, a bowl of leftover parsley pesto, a bag of gorgeous sugar snap peas from my CSA, and a heap of thyme and sage that I’d culled from my overflowing herb box on the deck. So, ignoring the whispers of the pizza demon, I boiled and mashed the potatoes with the parsley pesto, which is really nothing more than a giant bunch of parsley pureed with a clove of garlic, olive oil, and a little water. A splash of walnut oil mellowed out the assertive greenness of the flavor in a wonderful way, and voilà, herby green potatoes. I fried some sage leaves until crisp, blanched, shocked, and buttered the sugar snaps, and assembled this vegetable-laden feast. Oh, that tantalizing pork patty, you ask? It too was (almost) all about the vegetables.
Pork and Zucchini Patties with a Madeira Shiitake Sauce
1 lb ground pork, organic if possible
1 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
1 heaping teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
1 heaping Tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup Madeira
3-4 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Mix together the pork, grated zucchini, thyme, and some salt and pepper. Knead well with your hands to get a homogeneous mixture.
Heat some of the olive oil in a large skillet, form the meat into 10-12 small patties, and fry them until golden on both sides and cooked through. You may need to do this in two batches, and how much olive oil you need to add will depend on the fat content of your pork. Mine was very lean, and so I used a good 4 Tablespoons for the whole dish. Remove patties from pan and set aside, on a plate, to collect any juices.
If necessary, add a little more oil to the pan without washing it and saute the mushrooms over high heat, degreasing the pan lightly with a bit of the Madeira. When the mushrooms are cooked, add the tomato paste and stir well, cooking until the paste browns slightly. Slowly add the rest of the Madeira and stir to form a smooth sauce. Put the patties back into the pan, along with any juices from the plate, and warm through to allow the flavors to blend. Adjust seasoning and serve. You’re pretty much guaranteed to forget all about pizza, at least for a day, and this way you’re in no danger of getting run over by a motor scooter.