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Another Way to Use Zucchini

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June 29, 2014 / Italian / By

When is a pizza not a pizza? I got this recipe from an elderly Italian woman. When pressed she called it a pizza, but as you will see, it is not really a pizza at all.

It was a cool morning in the hills above the Vale of Spoleto and I was visiting an Italian farming family. It is always a treat to escape to these hills when the valley heat gets too much in the middle of July.

The family runs a sheep farm and they milk 500 sheep twice a day most of the year. From this milk they make pecorino and ricotta cheeses. There is a little respite when they have made the transumanza, which is when they walk the sheep across the valley floor, starting at 3.00am, and up into the hills where they have traditional grazing rights for the whole summer. In this part of Italy, they may well be the only family still doing this.

Once the sheep are in the hills they are kept inside stonewalled pens patrolled by the giant, white sheep dogs called Maramani. These dogs are bred to protect the sheep against wolves which they do instinctively, requiring no training. Each day the sheep are taken out to graze under the watchful eye of a shepherd and the dogs.

There are usually a lot of people for lunch. They come for the company but also for the delicious food, much of which is grown on the farm. Giuseppina doesn’t really like cooking. She prefers to be outside doing something on the farm or watching the grandchildren playing. She has been making fresh pasta since she was eight years old, so it no surprise that now in her seventies, she enjoys a break from cooking. However, she knows a lot about traditional Italian home cooking. For example, she explained that handmade pasta is preferable to bought pasta because the rough texture means the sauce sticks to it very well. Just common sense really, but I had never thought of it.

This is Guiseppina’s zucchini omelet, which I enjoyed on cool day in the hills. I cannot call it a pizza, but it is also not really an omelet; it is worth trying.

Guiseppina’s Zucchini Omelet

6 eggs

4-5 grated zucchini

A clove of crushed garlic

Two tablespoons flour

250-500 grams ricotta, preferably sheep ricotta

Salt and pepper to taste

Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the garlic and grated zucchini in olive oil until soft. Cool then stir in the flour.

Beat the eggs with about a tablespoon of water. Add salt and pepper.

Add the ricotta and zucchini mix to the eggs and stir.

Place half into a baking dish, sprinkle with parmesan, add the rest of the mix. Top with more Parmesan if wanted.

Bake in an oven at 200 degrees until set.

The amount of ricotta is vague as I prefer not to add a lot but Giuseppina uses it liberally. Of course it is fresh each day as a by-product of making the pecorino.

Alternative approaches:

I have a cheese-intolerant family member; sadly even sheep cheese is off the menu. So when I make this, I add the ricotta in spoonfuls to the portion of the omelet others will eat and leave one section cheese free. It is still delicious.

Also, because I am reluctant to turn on the oven in the heat of summer, I cook the omelet on the stovetop in a Le Crueset pan with a lid.

Either approach is good and uses some of those excess zucchini.


Country: Italy

Province/State: Umbria

City: N/A

Address: N/A

Zip/Post Code: N/A

Location Tips: N/A

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Price Guide:N/A (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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