Southern Food

I love this time of year in the South.  Even if it does feel like someone’s ironing my face every time I step outside.  I love that Husband came home with two grocery sacks full of fresh zucchini that a coworker sent for me (God knows Mr. Meat & Potatoes isn’t eating it, but at least word’s gotten out that I will!).  I love that one of our neighbors hands fistfuls of tomatoes over the fence when we’re heading out the door.  The sheer generosity and sense of sharing that come with the bounty of a summer garden is pretty awesome.

So, while basking in my amazing Southernness is lovely and all, the question still remains: what the crap am I going to do with 3 tons of zucchini?  I’m going to fry it, grill it and sauté it.

I have a theory about zucchini.  The notion was first presented to me by my friend, Laurie, when we were all shacked up for the week on one of our annual treks to Edisto Beach, South Carolina (a.k.a. my favorite place on the planet).  Laurie told me that fried zucchini tastes better when you cut it into spears.  It made no sense to me but the zucchini she served that night was wicked awesome so I decided that she must be a culinary genius and left it at that.

Over the years, I noticed that I preferred my grilled zucchini cut into ribbons.  I experimented with this some and decided that I, too, must be a culinary genius.

Feeling all smug in my geniusness, I presented these two theories to my mom.  She then informed me that while those two theories may be true, you always want to cut the zucchini into slices for sautéing.  She said she didn’t know why, but that it just tasted better that way.  I tested this theory out, agreed and decided that she must also be a culinary genius.

Fried Zucchini: Laurie also introduced me to using chicken or seafood breader on the zucchini (we use House of Autry or Adluh).  Cut the zucchini into 3″-long spears, dip in an egg wash, roll in the breader and deep fry at 350 degrees until golden brown.

Grilled Zucchini: Cut the zucchini into ¼” thick ribbons.  Drizzle with olive oil then season with salt, pepper and garlic.  Grill over medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side.

Sautéd Zucchini: Cut zucchini into ¼” thick slices.  Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and a diced onion; sauté 5 minutes.  Add some fresh minced garlic, salt and pepper and continue to sauté for about 3 additional minutes.

Mandy Richburg Rivers

Mandy Richburg Rivers

Mandy lives in Lexington, South Carolina, is a contributing writer for the Food & Drink section and is currently working on her first cookbook. Mandy is an award winning recipe writer and judges regional cook-offs and other culinary contests.

“I'm just a gal that likes food. Of course I like to eat, but what I've discovered about myself over the years is that there are more ways for me to enjoy food than just eating it. I like to shop for it, read about it, cook it, entertain with it and write about it. And when it's really good, sometimes I'm tempted to throw it on the floor and roll in it."