My garden is going nuts these days. In the past week alone, I've harvested about 30 pounds of zucchini from my P-Patch and the yard of a place I've been housesitting, and every time I dig through the prickly broad leaves, there's more there, taunting me. Zucchini, like fast-growing winter squash, is a creepy vegetable: One day, the squash is a cute l'il baby topped with a pretty yellow flower, the next, a gargantuan monster the size of an elongated football.

The trick for gardeners is to figure out what the hell to do with all this bounty. Here's what I did last night (including bonus recipes for Swiss chard, which is also out of control right now, and the last English peas of the summer):

1) Preserved zucchini, a way of prolonging the life of zucchini by preserving it in oil and, if you're feeling ambitious, canning it for later in the year, when summer squash will seem like a blessing, not a curse;

2) Summer vegetable gratin, a layered casserole of salt-dehydrated squash, tomatoes, and caremalized onions;

3) Quick-pickled zucchini, a recipe that relies on vinegar instead of the more-traditional fermentation (and can be adapted for nearly any vegetable);

4) Green beans and zucchini with sauce verte, a simple recent recipe from the much improved Bon Appetit;

5) Zucchini ribbons with tarragon, an even simpler recipe that appeared in the now-defunct Gourmet;

plus

6) Spaghetti with Swiss chard and garlic chips, another Gourmet invention that's a great way to use up overgrown, late-season chard;

and

7) Pasta with peas, sage, and bread crumbs, from Deborah Madison's excellent pre-locavore farmers' market cookbook, Local Flavors.

That orgy of cooking was all last night. Tonight, I'm heading out to the garden again, expecting to collect another 10 pounds or so that will have sprung up overnight. Fortunately, there's no end of good things to do with just-off-the-vine summer squash.
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