Brain-Style Zucchini

Zion Barnes

30 minutes

4-6 servings

Photo by Sivan Roshianu

In the years shortly before and after the founding of Israel, food was in short supply. Zionists, particularly women, were encouraged to grow their own vegetables both as a way to feed their families and to make themselves self-sufficient. WIZO, the Women’s International Zionist Organization, published a series of cookbooks to help women find ways to use the vegetables from their gradens. This recipe is inspired by one of those books, “This Is How We Cook,” which WIZO published in 1948. 

Easy to grow, zucchinis were abundant during those summers and had to be used quickly before they spoiled. Like many other old recipes, this one uses vegetables and eggs to stand in for meat that wasn’t readily available, mimicking brains with its soft texture. Serve it alongside rice, beans, or pasta. Eggplant can also be swapped in for zucchini.

This dish is part of a collection of vegetarian and vegan recipes inspired by early Israeli cookbooks from just after the founding of the state. Check out the full collection here and read more about one of the cookbooks, “Sefer Bishul,” here

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 zucchinis, cut into large cubes
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs
  • To serve:
  • Chopped chives
  • Matzo (or sliced challah)

Preparation

  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and fry slowly, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. This will take time, so be patient.
  2. Add the diced zucchini, season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until the zucchinis are very soft.
  3. Transfer the zucchini mixture to a bowl, add the hard-boiled eggs and coarsely mash with a fork. For a smoother texture, you can also pulse the mixture in a food processor. Taste and adjust the seasoning to taste. Sprinkle the chopped chives on top and serve with matzo (or a slice of challah).

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