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Mar 28 / suzanne

Zucchini Marmalade

Jennie Cook's divine Zucchini Marmalade, photographed by Emily Ho

So as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I’ve gone vegan for March — well, at least that was my intention. For three weeks I was a relatively content vegan, enjoying my share of quinoa-bean salads, lentil soups and soy lattes, but at the start of week 4 I rather suddenly and spectacularly fell apart. (More on this in my upcoming final report.) Last Friday, day 25, I found myself ransacking the kitchen at 2 a.m. in search of . . . well, I wasn’t sure. The tangerine and avocado I settled on didn’t quite do the trick. By morning I knew there was only one cure for the extreme grouchiness that had led my 3-year-old twins to scold me for using potty language: animal protein. In large, creamy quantities.

I binged for a day. We’re talking mega-binge (I guess that’s redundant): a cheese-and-chive omelet for breakfast with a glass of milk, a Mandarin chicken salad for lunch, an afternoon latte, an apple-and-yogurt snack and creamy lamb korma at an Indian restaurant for dinner, followed by a heavenly bowl of tiramisu and crème brulee gelato. None of it even organic.

I considered throwing in the towel — I’d already blown it, so what the heck? But that wasn’t in keeping with the spirit of this challenge. So I forged ahead and actually had an easy time as a vegan over the weekend. I made made FatFree Vegan Kitchen’s Enchilada Casserole and served it with a hefty helping of guacamole. I polished off leftovers from the savory Quinoa, White Bean and Kale Stew I’d found at Post Punk Kitchen. The biggest hit with my family was the Roasted Beet Salad with Oranges and Beet Greens, plucked from Epicurious. When I put Toby to bed at naptime on Sunday he said, “Mom, I like beet salad. I like orange beets and purple beets. Can I have beet salad in my lunch?” Fairly adorable from a 3-year-old, no?

My own favorite dish from the weekend, however, was Zucchini Marmalade, a recipe developed by nearly-vegan Los Angeles caterer Jennie Cook, whose latest venture is Plant Based Parties. The recipe, featured here at The Kitchn and photographed beautifully by Emily Ho, is so simple: You sauté shallots and garlic in olive oil and then stir in a pile of grated zucchini, cooking until you have a gorgeous, bright green, spreadable, buttery vegan side dish. I served it warm on a hunk of crusty French bread.

Zucchini Marmalade is so delicious that I plan to make it the next time I host book club. Certainly it would make a wonderful gift for a new mom or recuperating friend, vegan or not.

This is one dish I will absolutely keep in my repertoire after my vegan challenge ends, which is only four days from now, not that I’m counting.

Zucchini Marmalade

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

2 pounds zucchini
1/4 cup olive oil
2 minced shallots, garlic, or combination of both
Salt and pepper

Coarsely grate the zucchini. Let it drain in a colander for 3 to 4 minutes or until you are ready to begin cooking. To hasten cooking time, squeeze the water out of the zucchini by wringing it in a clean cloth towel.

In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Sauté the shallots briefly. Add the zucchini and toss. Cook and stir over medium to medium-high heat until the zucchini reaches a spreadable consistency, about 30 minutes. If you scorch the bottom, turn the flame down! (And scrape those delicious bits into the marmalade for added flavor.) The zucchini will hold its bright green color and slowly caramelize into a nice vegetable jam.

Enjoy on toast, or as a side dish.

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