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A Solution For All That Zucchini

If you’re growing it in your backyard, chances are you’ve got your arms full of the tender, green summer squash that tends to multiply more than a Tweeted celebrity rumor run amok.

In fact, just the other week, a friend gifted me a zucchini that was as big as my head.

OK, maybe I exaggerate. But only a little, because it surely was as big as my forearm.

What to do with this Everest of squash?

You can only make so much zucchini bread, right? And sauteing it and roasting it as a side dish gets pretty ho-hum after awhile.

Cookbook author Monica Bhide comes to the rescue. In her newest book, “Modern Spice” (Simon & Schuster), the New Delhi-born food writer spotlights Indian dishes that are easily accessible for the home cook.

Her recipe for “Pan-Fried Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Cumin” is a vibrant answer for what to do with all that zucchini and summer squash. Cumin seeds, ground turmeric, lemon juice, and cilantro combine to create a super easy dish full of warming flavors.

Bhide writes in the book that it is one of her favorite Monday night recipes because it is so simple and quick. That it definitely is. Moreover, the dish calls for ingredients that you probably already have handy in your pantry and fridge.

It makes for a nice light side dish that would be fabulous alongside fish, shrimp or scallops. The spices lend earthy, slightly bitter notes that really warm your body.

The dish comes together in all of 15 minutes.

With a dish this easy and satisfying, there’s no excuse to be intimidated by Indian cooking any more.

Pan-Fried Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Cumin

(Serves 4)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 large zucchini, dice

1 small yellow squash, diced

1/2 organic red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes


1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish1/2 organic red bell pepper, seeded and diced

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to sizzle, add the zucchini, squash, and bell pepper.

Fry the vegetables over high heat until they soften and begin to brown, 8 to 9 minutes.

Add the turmeric and chile flakes and cook for another minute, until the spices are well mixed with the vegetables. Stir in salt to taste.

Serve hot, sprinkled with lemon juice and garnished with cilantro.

From “Modern Spice” by Monica Bhide