I love it when mother nature cooperates ...

Yesterday I got home from work and, as usual, immediately de-bloused and headed out to the garden to weed and water and talk smack with my babies. For my troubles, I was rewarded with a few handfuls of yellow beans, about 2 kilos of gorgeous zucchini, bunch upon bunch of fresh basil and oregano and parsley, a couple pints worth of beautiful cherry tomatoes, and some lovely mixed greens and chicory.

My brain started churning over possibilities for the zucchini. I’ve been eating kawaj koosa (Lebanese stewed zucchini and tomatoes) pretty much weekly since the Great Zucchini Flood of ’08 first got underway, as well as raw zucchini spirals with home made marinara, zucchini salads, and zucchini stiryfrys. What I was really in the mood for was some roasted zucchini. But in this weather?

I decided to chance it.

After puttering around in my kitchen for a bit, I realized I had about 200 g. of purple shallots hanging out in my onion crock that wouldn’t be so happy in a couple days, and the deal was sealed. I threw veggies and herbs and seasonings in a massive Tupperware, sealed her up and threw her in the fridge to get all friendly-like over night. Then I crossed my fingers and hoped to hell it would be cool enough to turn on the oven when I got home the next night.

Well hot damn if mother nature didn’t decide to smile on me for once. That’s not to say I didn’t earn it – I spent all of today sitting in the university library scrolling through newspapers on microfiche for a work project, while the young woman at the machine next to me hummed along with her ipod and picked her nose. So, I like to think I took one for the team and the team noticed.

All that to present you with an entirely unattractive meal. Bet you’re happy you checked in today, aren’t you? The fact of cooking, as I’m sure you’re all well aware, is that even the tastiest stuff isn’t always all that photogenic. Hell, it doesn’t even necessarily look good in person. This is one of those dishes that looks good through tequila-goggles and quickly runs for the exit when the bartender screams last call and turns on the ugly lights. It’s the baby whose mother thinks she’s just the sweetest thing, but everyone else can only muster a she’s got character. I promise my next baby will be more of a looker.

I feel silly even giving a recipe for this, but really – it’s tasty and simple, and if you’ve got a ridiculous amount of zucchini at your back door it’s one of a million great ways to use it up…

white balsamic, agave, and fresh herb roasted garden veggies

what you need …

200 g. (ish) shallots, peeled, larger bulbs halved, small left whole
20 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
2 c. yellow beans, chopped
4 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thickly sliced
a couple handfuls large cherry tomatoes
1 c. fresh basil, en chiffonade (loosely packed)
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano
2 tsp. agave nectar (I like amber agave)
3 – 4 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar *
½ tsp. sea salt
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
lightly toasted pine nuts, flax oil (optional)

what you do …

Combine veggies in a large Tupperware container, mix with herbs, then toss with agave, balsamic, salt, and pepper. Seal and stick in the fridge to marinate over night (shake it a couple times if you think of it).

The next day, turn your broiler on at 400°F, throw the veggies in a large roasting pan, and set them on a rack in the upper-third of your oven. That’s it. Check ’em and mix ’em up occasionally while they’re roasting.

Serve tossed with lightly toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of flax oil (for those healthy, tasty omegas).

* you can of course use regular balsamic vinegar, but (caveat lector) it will colour the veggies.

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