Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Zuccha & Mint
by SuSu

Zucchini is a summer squash which are considered luxurious wonders when they are small and firm. They are good even raw, dipped in s creamy dressing. But at some point in the summer, one will inevitably stumble upon monstrously proportioned specimens, and a lot of them! It's the way of gardening — the gardener will get a bumper crop, all at once, just when people are sick of the vegetable.

And mint is an herb which can't keep to itself. It will spread all over the herb garden, even shoving out other less agressive plants and it will give out it's aroma and the refreshing bitter leaves all at once! Surely this isn't a coincidence?

That's what Jobal Naberrie thought when she was trying to cook up bushels of this vegetable in the summer. She could freeze the vegetable for consumption in the dead of winter when zucchini would be welcomed again on the plate, but it was better to process it somehow first. Since grilling imparted the most summery of flavorings, the mother of Sola and Padmé had her daughters help her split and grill the squashes in bulk whenever they had the outdoor grill going anyway.

She'd chop up mint and toss them with the cut up grilled zucchinis and was surprised how much people loved the salad, no matter when it was served, in any season — even in the height of summer when the summer crops were huge.

But in winter when the stored zucchini and mint salad was thawed, it was frankly unappetizing — the texture was flabby and a great deal of the intracellular water had drained out of the vegetable. Jobal didn't like the idea of losing all those juices, and wracked her brains for a way to use them, but all she could really think of was soup or a sauce, which required liquids anyway. Delicious, but not exactly inspired.

The answer finally came from her granddaughter, Pooja, who had grown to follow in her aunt Padmé's footsteps: she had been elected at a very young age as a Senator, representing the systems of Naboo. She'd been invited to dine at the Imperial City quarters of another young (and acerbic and daring) Senator, Leia Organa. The cook of the Alderaanian embassy had made a layered pasta dish containing mint and some other vegetable. Pooja knew the pasta was dried and usually boiled to soften before layering with the vegetables, but she suddenly wondered, why not NOT boil the pasta and instead layer them with the too-wet thawed zucchini salad? The thawing juices would be absorbed by the dried pasta, and wouldn't that also flavor the pasta better than plain water?

Jobal tried it a few times and discovered that Pooja's idea worked like a charm! Ironically, in Jobal's local home dialect, "zuccha" was a term of endearment for a granddaughter. And Pooja liked it so much that she begged her grandmother come to Imperial City and cook many pans of this dish so that her granddaughter could host a party to invite Princess Leia. For some reason, Jobal thought it was important that she provide the food in person for her granddaughter's first diplomatic dinner party. Of course, there was no way Jobal could have known that Leia was her granddaughter, too ...

Zuccha and Mint — we wonder if Jobal knew that this could have described her legitimate descendants: the sweet, plump Pooja and the fresh, edgey Leia!

    Grilled Zucchini & Mint Salad
  • zucchini
  • olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • fresh mint leaves
Trim off a very thin slice off the top end of the zucchini, then cut in half lengthwise. If the zucchini are very large, you can cut them into quarters lengthwise. If you are grilling them, lay them cut-side down on a hot grill and cook till the zucchini has char marks and are slightly softened. Turn them over and cook on the back side.

If you prefer to use an oven, lay on a foil-lined baking sheet, cut side up. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place in a 400°F / 175°C oven and bake till the top surface is charred and the zucchini is softened.

Allow the zucchini to cool for 10 minutes off the heat. In the meantime, pick leaves off a mint sprigs, and chop coarsely.

Cut the zucchini into 1 inch / 2½ cm chunks. Toss in a large bowl with the chopped mint. Cover and refrigerate, or serve warm.

    Zucchini & Mint Lasagne
  • Grilled Zucchini & Mint Salad, including any exuded juices
  • 9 dried lasagne noodles, curly edged is best
  • 1 large jar pasta sauce
  • 4 oz / 115 g grated or thinly sliced cheese
Heat the oven to 350°F / 165°F. Use a 11" x 13" / 23 cm x 33 cm deep-sided baking dish. Pour a bit of sauce onto the bottom of the dish to thinly coat it. Place three uncooked lasagne noodles side by side onto the sauce. Spread a third of the zucchini salad evenly over the noodles, then cover with a third of the sauce. Cover casually with the cheese slices. Layer over with lasage and repeat. Finish with the cheese layer.

Add enough water into the jar to fill to about 1/3. Cap tightly and shake to dissolve the tomatoey sauce into the water and pour down the edge of the dish. Cover with foil and place into the oven. Cook for an hour, then remove the foil and cook till the top is browned.

Serves 6 to 8.

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