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Recipe: Grilled Zucchini Banh Mi from ‘Bountiful’

It’s always nice to see power food bloggers put out cookbooks that are a print manifestation of what drew readers to their websites in the first place.

In the case of Todd Porter and Diane Cu, the couple behind, it’s superb photography, seasonal recipes that you’ll find pinned all over the Internet and a vicarious look into what must be one of the most photographed vegetable gardens (and backyard fruit orchards) in all of Los Angeles.

Their debut cookbook, “Bountiful: Recipes Inspired by Our Garden” (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, $35) is a collection of Porter and Cu’s best work, from gorgeous photos of blood orange bars and blueberry tarts to inspired recipes for everyday ingredients, such as heirloom tomato galettes or arugula stacked on pork that has been marinated in Marsala wine and sake.

As gardeners in Southern California, their year-round approach to enjoying food that they’ve grown themselves will delight gardeners in states like Texas. Although our reserves of locally grown zucchini might be dwindling, there are still plenty of weeks left to grill outside, especially now that we’ve had some rain to cut down on the risk of grass fires. You could use any summer squash for this vegetarian spin on the banh mi sandwich, and the carrot daikon pickles are great to have on hand any time of year.

Grilled Zucchini Banh Mi

After classic grilled cheese sandwiches, our second quick go-to sandwiches are Vietnamese banh mi. Though many traditional banh mi have grilled pork and meats, we always enjoy having a vegetarian version. To make use of abundant zucchini, we’ll grill up some slices of it with an Asian-style marinade and assemble a platterful for parties. For the bread, select a light and airy baguette rather than the firmer, dense ones. One of the key elements of a great banh mi is having a bread that is crusty yet not too heavy.

— Todd Porter and Diane Cu

For the pickles:

1 quart warm water (just warm enough to dissolve the salt and sugar)

3 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. kosher or sea salt

6 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1/2 lb. carrots, julienned

1/2 lb. daikon radish, julienned

For the sandwich:

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3 Tbsp. oil

1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce

1/2 tsp. rice vinegar

3 medium zucchini (about 1 lb., ends trimmed)

Freshly cracked black pepper

2 baguettes

Fresh cilantro sprigs

Soy sauce

In large pitcher or large bowl, combine the water, sugar, salt and vinegar. Stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved and the mixture is well-combined.

Place the carrots and daikon in a quart-size sterilized jar. Pour the vinegar mixture into the jar. Cover the jar and refrigerate until ready to use, up to about 3 weeks. (The longer the pickles sit, the more flavorful and sour they become).

To make the zucchini, preheat the grill. In a large bowl, combine the garlic, oil, soy sauce and vinegar and mix well.

Slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Place the zucchini slices in the marinade and allow to marinate for 10 minutes.

Heat the grill and cook the zucchini slices for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Finish with freshly cracked black pepper.

Slice the baguettes in half lengthwise. On the bottom half, layer the pickles, zucchini and cilantro, and sprinkle with soy sauce. Replace the top half of the baguettes. Cut each baguette crosswise into thirds and serve.

— From “Bountiful: Recipes Inspired by Our Garden” (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, $35) by Todd Porter and Diane Cu

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