dc2
Dirt Candy Header Side Image

The Return of the Zucchini

I’ve crossed paths with the mighty zucchini before. It was last summer when the Dirt Candy menu featured the first dessert I came up with after my pastry chef left, Zucchini Ginger Cake with Cream Cheese Ice Cream. This summer, I knew zucchini would return, but a year later I wanted it on the menu as an entree and I wanted it on the menu looking sophisticated and chic. And so, please welcome Zucchini with Mint & Tarragon Pasta, Squash Blossom Relish and Yogurt & Saffron Sauce.

.

Zucchini6_small

.

Why is zucchini back? Because, like the white whale, it is a challenging and elusive beast and I will hunt it again and again until I finally get it exactly right.

.

.

I started Dirt Candy with a lot of big ideas, but over the last year that I’ve been open, three Dirt Candy philosophies have developed:

.

Rule # 1: use every part of a vegetable. The meat-happy majority has tail to snout cooking, Dirt Candy has root to leaf cooking.

Rule #2: deliver the essential taste of a vegetable. Meat eaters are lucky, because with meat, fat conveys flavor. With vegetables, the flavor is a lot harder to find because so much of what we think of as the flavor of a vegetable is actually its texture.

Rule #3: use normal vegetables. Lots of articles about chefs are vehicles for green market porn, with swoon-worthy pictures of heirloom tomatoes, a million varieties of zucchini and rare and exotic lettuces. I believe in trying to use the most bog standard, basic version of a vegetable wherever possible.

.

Zucchini5_small

.

The Zucchini Pasta perfectly embodies these three rules. I knew I wanted to work with zucchini again because it’s summer and zucchini is in season, but it’s so depressing to see what’s usually done to it. I love the sweetness of zucchini, and the softness of its flesh, and the chewiness of its skin, but I’m tired of seeing it stuffed or fried or grilled and then slapped on a sandwich. In the spirit of Rule #1 I knew that if I was using zucchini I would have to use squash blossoms too since they’re just another part of the plant.

.

The problem is that we’re a very small restaurant and zucchini flowers are very delicate, they only last a couple of days, and there was no way we could go through enough in two days to make using them cost effective. So this entire dish came out of the urge to use zucchinis but a need to find a way to make using the squash blossoms cost effective. The solution? Squash blossom relish. First I pickled the blossoms, then I grilled preserved zucchinis and chopped that all up together and suddenly my squash blossoms can last for weeks. It takes me a long time to get a new dish on the menu, and while zucchinis will be in season for a long time squash blossoms have a much shorter season, but since I’m pickling them, they can last as long as I have them pickled. It’s a win-win for lazy people!

.

Zucchini1_small

.

I’ve learned that people like their pasta creamy and in order to make a creamy pasta that’s not rich and buttery I made this sauce out of labneh (a Middle Eastern yogurt spread that’s tangier than yogurt) and added some saffron that sets it off nicely and turns it as yellow as a fluffy baby chick. People want herbs in the summer so I made the pasta out of mint and tarragon, which turns the noodles as bright green as a field of fresh cut grass. Then for some extra color, and a bit of saltiness, I added super pink pickled onions.

.

Zucchini2_small

.

I needed to get more zucchini taste into the dish, though, and using a trick from my raw food days, I made shredded noodles out of raw zucchini that I then mixed into the pasta. When you taste this dish you’ll realize that what we think of as the taste of zucchini (Rule #2) is mostly texture, and the true taste of the vegetable is more subtle – sweetly grassy, with a tart edge.

.

Seeing that the whole dish looked like spaghetti, I decided to have some fun and added meatballs, tossing in some miniature falafel balls to make it look even more Italian American. What good is a dish if it’s not fun?

.

Zucchin3_small

That funky hat it’s wearing is shredded

zucchini that’s been dehydrated.

.

People have been asking what kind of zucchini I use for this dish, expecting me to say, “Old Wive’s Cornerstone Farms Ribbon Zucchini” or “Zebra Head Bashful Creek Heirloom Zucchini” but (Rule #3) this is the exact same zucchini you can get anywhere. This is zucchini for the people! Not some kind of elitist, frou-frou zucchini!

.



menu


Menu

Snack

.

Jalapeno Hush Puppies $6
served with maple butter
.

Appetizers

.

Mushroom $13
portobello mousse, truffled toast
pear & fennel compote

.

Cucumber $12
roasted cucumber hot and sour soup,
black sesame, garlic chili oil, wood ear
mushroom, cucumber jelly

.

Tomato $13
tomato cake with smoked feta,
yellow tomato leather, herb puree

.

Potato $12
warm potato salad, crispy Japanese
yams, grilled sweet potato, olives,
bitter greens, apples

.

.

Entrees

.

Beets $20
salt-roasted beets, thai green curry,
beet gnocchi, whipped coconut galangal cream

.

Pepper $18
fennel & pepper tofu,
parsley spaetzle, grilled
yellow pepper broth,
mustard crumbs

.

Broccoli $21
smoked broccoli dogs,
broccoli kraut, salt &
vinegar broccoli rabe

.

Corn $19
stone ground grits, corn cream,
pickled shiitakes, huitlacoche,
tempura poached egg

.

- everything on the menu can be made vegan on request.

.

.

Dessert

Rosemary Eggplant Tiramisu $12
grilled eggplant, rosemary cotton
candy, mascarpone

.

Ice Cream Nanaimo Bar$11
sweet pea, mint, chocolate

.

Popcorn Pudding$11
salted caramel corn

.

Celery Cheesecake Roll$10
celeriac ice cream, peanut filling,

& candied grapes

.

- vegan dessert selection changes regularly, please ask your server.

.

Our wine list (and other beverages)

.

.

Gift Certificates

.

.

FacebookButton

.

twitterimage