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Ronnie Paul: Serve up a winner

Soon summer will be only a has-been. That makes me consider all my own has-beens which include young mom, salsa dancer, and archaeologist, and although the biggest sports field I can presently cover is a ping pong table, one of my past lives is that of a tennis star.

Almost every day from the age of five, I was packed into the back seat of my mother’s pink Hillman Minx along with her visor and cans of balls, and driven to the tennis club. While my mother volleyed and served, I sat on the sidelines coloring and playing with my Ginny doll. My mother had no fantasies that I might become the next Billie Jean King, nor did I want to become one.

One day when I was six, I pushed my Crayolas aside, wandered onto the court, and began to hit line drives with my mother.

I’d been a benchwarmer, and suddenly I was not.

Over the next two decades, silver trophies and scrapbooks with newspaper clippings headlining my wins crammed our shelves. Apparently my mother tossed out reviews of my losses.

An injured knee and an interest in travel eventually relegated tennis playing to a back burner. Although my competitive side still occasionally emerges — my kids accuse me of cheating at Candy Land when they were little — I generally play fairly in the kitchen. Please put aside your racket and try these recipes.

Kalezanella

Serve 4

Here’s my version of the traditional bread salad.

6 ounces of crusty baguette, sliced in ¼-inch cubes

5 ounces kale

¼ cup chopped basil

1 cup chopped seeded tomatoes (leave the juice aside)

½ cup chopped peeled and seeded cucumbers

½ cup whole medium black olives

¼ chopped red onion

½ teaspoon chopped fresh garlic

Dressing:

9 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Spread the bread cubes on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for ten minutes at 350 degrees until just firm. They’ll harden up more when they’re out of the oven.

Chop the kale and scrunch it up in your hands for a few minutes — think of a good massage — until it’s soft.

Combine all the ingredients, cover tightly, and chill for at least three hours before serving. The longer it sits, the more the bread soaks up the dressing.

Ramekin Zukes

4 Ramekins

This is the perfect recipe for baseball bat-size zucchini.

1 pound zucchini, grated

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pressed garlic clove

4 beaten eggs

1 tablespoon crumbled feta

¼ cup grated Parmesan

¼ cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon breadcrumbs

Salt and pepper

Put the zucchini in a colander, salt it well, and let sit for ten minutes. Then rinse it off and squeeze out all the liquid.

Combine the zucchini with the other ingredients and pour into four well-greased ramekins.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees until set and slightly brown on top.

Tomato Topper

1½ cups

Spoon this over each ramekin.

1 cup chopped seeded tomatoes

1 packed tablespoon chopped basil

1 pressed garlic clove

½ teaspoon olive oil

½ teaspoon lemon juice

Salt

Mix, chill and devour.

Ronnie Paul is a Nevada County freelance writer.


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