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Together with fresh fava beans, zucchinis are the most prolific vegetables in our garden; their giant leaves, dotted with nasty and hairy thorns, take up half our garden space, pinching the peppers into a corner. Fortunately, although frail-looking, the peppers manage to survive and bloom.
June is zucchini season for us in Kea, but I know that for most of you who live in the north it comes later in the summer. The pale green kolokythakia --"little zucchini" in Greek, as opposed to the larger kolokytha (squash or pumpkin)--are very tender if harvested early. If they are left on the plant, however, they soon grow large, their skin toughens, and their color changes to dark green.
This can happen unbelievably quickly, within a couple of days from the time they take shape, with their blossoms still open at the tip. The zucchini one buys at farmer's markets all over Greece are small and tender; people love simply to boil or steam them, finishing them with a garlicky vinaigrette. As with all seasonal produce, frugal Greek cooks have invented myriad dishes to put the plentiful zucchini from our gardens to good use. They are cooked either by themselves or together with tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, often with staples like ground meat, bulgur, rice, or pasta. Stuffed zucchini, with or without meat, is often combined with dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), which adds an interesting tanginess to an otherwise sweet dish. These days in farmer's markets and supermarkets alike one can get round zucchini, once only available in Provence, which are ideal for stuffing.