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  • stacy

When Life Gives you Zucchini

Summer is here, and we are enjoying beautiful rainbow harvests and garden fresh meals. It's been good eating except for one thing - the lack of tomatoes! We have had an unusually mild summer this year, and of course this was the year I decided to be extra vigilant about pinching back my tomatoes to remove the suckers and early blossoms which turns out to have been a big mistake! I kid you not - I've only harvested a couple of small handfuls of tomatoes this summer. The tomatoes do usually make us wait until late August until they start ripening in earnest, but I have a feeling that will be pushed back into September this year. Even with that disappointment, most of the garden has been doing really well, and we've been enjoying bumper crops of fresh raspberries and blueberries, plenty of greens and summer squash, the basil is producing well, and I have several promising large winter squash varieties and pumpkins that I'm really excited about. It's just a fact of gardening that not everything you try to grow does well every year, and funny enough it was my zucchini that did not do well at all last year. So rather than complaining, I've been doing my best to get creative and enjoy some new zucchini recipes this year, and I wanted to share a few new favorites as well as a couple of old favorites with you to help you get the most enjoyment out of your zucchini too!

In addition to the recipes below, there are a couple of new things that I tried that I didn't write down formal recipes for, but that I liked and I will be experimenting more with. We've all heard of zucchini noodles, but here's a twist on that idea which makes a more hearty meal that I really liked. Boil pasta as usual, and during the last couple of minutes of cooking add zucchini shreds (I used my cuisinart to shred the zucchini). Boil the zucchini with the pasta for a couple of minutes - the cooking time will depend upon the thickness of your shreds. After draining the pasta and zucchini mixture, I topped it with pesto that I made with a combination of garden fresh basil and my kale-chive pesto recipe here. The addition of zucchini and kale makes for a healthier version of our typical pesto pasta dinner, and the addition of the zucchini added a nice moistness to the dish as well.

I had so many zucchini blossoms this year that I finally decided to experiment with frying a few up. Unfortunately I didn't have any ricotta or other soft cheese to stuff them with so I just lightly battered them and fried them unstuffed, but even with this simple preparation and topped with salt and pepper they were really good. Just be sure to gently open them up and remove the stamen or pistils at the base of the flower before stuffing and frying them because if you don't, that will make for a bitter last bite (ask me how I know!) You can do an internet search and find lots of simple stuffed squash blossom recipes to try, and I definitely recommend it. But in the meantime, go get out your cuisinart and get ready to be impressed by the humble zucchini!

Zucchini Fritters

Approx. 1&1/2 lbs zucchini, grated finely

5-6 scallions, finely chopped (can also substitute onion)

6 oz. crumbled feta cheese

1 cup (scant) flour

1 egg

Salt & pepper

Vegetable oil for frying

Mix grated zucchini with scallions or onion and feta. Season well with salt and pepper. Add flour and mix well. Stir in one beaten egg and mix well. Heat a frying pan to medium heat, and add vegetable oil to prevent batter from sticking. Scoop between 1/4 and 1/3 cup batter into pan and flatten into a fairly thin fritter. If you leave the batter too thick it will be hard to cook it through before the fritter browns. Cook approx. 4-5 minutes per side until lightly brown and cooked through. This recipe is fairly flexible and can easily be scaled up or down. Herbs such as parsley, mint and cilantro can be added, as well as seasonings such as paprika.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

4 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

3 cups grated zucchini

3 cups flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Beat eggs well, then add vegetable oil, sugar and vanilla and mix well. Add cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix well. Stir in grated zucchini, then add flour and mix well. Add cocoa and chocolate chips last. Pour into two greased bread pans. Bake in preheated 325 degree oven approximately 70 minutes.

Zucchini Boats

4 medium zucchini

1 lb. Italian sausage

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

1 tsp. minced garlic

2 cups marinara sauce

Parmesan cheese

Trim off the stem ends of the zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Cut a thin piece off the back of each zucchini half so they lay flat in the cooking pan. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh out of the zucchini. Arrange the zucchini halves in a greased baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Cook sausage, onion and garlic in skillet, breaking up the sausage into smaller pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Add marinara sauce to the pan and bring to a simmer until heated through. Spoon the meat mixture evenly into the halved zucchini shells and top with the parmesan cheese. Bake for 25 minutes in preheated 400 degree oven, or until zucchini is tender and cheese is melted and golden brown.

Curried Zucchini Soup

Approx. 3 lbs. zucchini, sliced or diced (you can use either fresh zucchini or I also like to freeze inch thick slices for making this all winter long)

2 large onions, finely chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 -2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced

1-2 tsp. tumeric

1-2 tsp. ground cumin

1-2 tsp. ground coriander

Cayenne pepper to taste

5 cups vegetable broth or stock

Salt & pepper

Heat vegetable oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté 10 minutes, add garlic and ginger toward end of sautéing. Add spices and cook 1-2 more minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add zucchini and cook 30 minutes until zucchini is very tender. Use an immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup. Add salt and pepper and adjust spices if needed - I recommend starting with 1 tsp. of each of the spices and add more toward the end of cooking if you like based on your preference.



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