Zucchini: Some creative ways to use the abundance

August 12, 2013 

By Suzanne Boyle News-Democrat

Every year I write this story. If people would just stop growing so much zucchini and yellow squash, I wouldn't have to go searching for new ways to tell you how to use it!

Luckily, it seems there are many enterprising cooks out there who continue to experiment with its use.

Plus, it's a vegetable that can be used in dessert. That's not often the case, so at least we should be grateful for its adaptability and versatility. You can't say the same for tomatoes.

This year, I came across by far the most unusual (and simplest) way to use zucchini: Turn it into butter. A sort of vegetable jam, says creator Jennie Cook online at Food52.

"It turns out zucchini wants to be butter. Grated fine, it cooks down quickly, pooling into a soft, freckly green pile. Spread it on toast in place of actual butter," waxed Jennie.

Other ideas for the butter: Cake a thick layer in a sandwich with salted tomatoes or soft cheese. Sauce a grilled pizza. Consider it a side dish. Or just eat a big heap of it, right out of the pan.

Russ Parsons of the Los Angeles Times suggests making a ratatouille that includes eggplant, tomatoes, onions, olive oil and red wine vinegar. He's got a couple other suggestions, too, including Zucchini Fritters. Yum.

Jennie Cook's Zucchini Butter

2 pounds zucchini or assorted summer squash (feel free to use less or add extra; cooking times will vary)

1/4 cup olive oil or butter

2 minced shallots, garlic, or combination of both

Salt and pepper

1. Coarsely grate the zucchini. Let it drain in a colander for 3 to 4 minutes or until you are ready to begin cooking. To hasten cooking time, squeeze the water out of the zucchini by wringing it in a clean cloth towel.

2. In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil/butter. saute the shallots or garlic briefly. Add the zucchini and toss. Cook and stir over medium to medium-high heat until the zucchini reaches a spreadable consistency, about 15 minutes. If you scorch the bottom, turn the flame down! (And scrape those delicious bits into the butter for added flavor -- you can splash in a little water or white wine to help deglaze the pan.) The zucchini will hold its bright green color and slowly caramelize into a nice vegetable jam. Freezes well. Makes about 2 cups.

Jennie Cook at Food52.com

Some quick ideas

Ratatouille: Saute onions in olive oil until they're tender and transfer them to a big pot. Saute zucchini until tender and add that to the pot. Saute eggplant until tender and add that to the pot. Add peeled, seeded, diced tomatoes and red wine vinegar and cook until they thicken. Add them to the pot and heat everything through to combine flavors.

Garlic and herb-stuffed zucchini: Make a flavorful tomato sauce. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and use a melon baller to carefully remove enough of the flesh from the center to make a boat. Season lightly with salt and steam until tender. Grind fresh bread to crumbs in a food processor with basil and garlic. Pour into a bowl and stir in toasted pine nuts. Pour the tomato sauce into a lightly oiled gratin dish and spoon the bread crumb mixture into the zucchini, mounding it slightly on top. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until the tops of the bread crumbs are browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

ZUCCHINI FRITTERS

1 pound zucchini

Salt

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 green onion, chopped, green part only

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon minced jalapeno

2 tablespoons flour

1 egg, beaten

Olive oil

Greek-style yogurt

1. Shred the zucchini and put it in a colander. Sprinkle generously with salt, mix well and set aside for at least 30 minutes to drain. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat until they begin to pop and smell fragrant. Grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.

2. Rinse the shredded zucchini under cold running water. Pick up a small handful, squeeze it dry and put it in the center of a linen dish towel. When you 'have squeezed all the zucchini by hand, gather the dish towel around the zucchini and twist, wringing out as much liquid as you can. The more liquid you remove, the lighter the fritter will be.

3. Put the zucchini in a bowl and add the green onion, jalapeno, cumin and coriander and stir to mix well. Stir in the flour and then the beaten egg. The mixture should be sticky, but there shouldn't be any free liquid. If there is, stir in a little more flour.

4. Pour olive oil into a nonstick skillet to a depth of about one-fourth inch (it'll take about one-fourth cup) and heat it over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough that a little bit of zucchini sizzles immediately, drop 4 (2 to 3 tablespoon) mounds of the batter into the pan, flattening them slightly with the back of a spoon.

5. Fry until golden brown on one side, 3 to 4 minutes, then gently flip and fry until golden brown on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and gently pat away any excess oil.

6. Serve immediately, with a dollop of thick Greek yogurt.

Servings: Makes 8 fritters, each with 147 calories, 2 grams protein, 4 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 14 grams fat, 23 mg cholesterol, 1 gram sugar, 87 mg sodium.

Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times

Basil-Zucchini Soup With Cheese Toast

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

3 cloves minced garlic, plus 1 cut clove for rubbing toast

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 pounds zucchini, cut into large dice

Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

3 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water

1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves plus more for garnish

3 tablespoons sour cream

Lemon juice, to taste

4 slices (1/2-inch thick) long Italian bread, cut on the bias and toasted

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons ricotta or farmer's cheese

Warm the olive oil in a small soup pot over medium heat.

Add the onion and minced garlic, and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant and the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the lemon zest and zucchini and saute for about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then cover with broth or water and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook about 10 minutes, until the zucchini is softened.

Stir in the basil until wilted, and remove the pot from the heat.

In batches, pour the soup into a blender and puree until smooth.

Return all the pureed soup to the pot, and place over low heat. Stir in the sour cream, and season to taste with plenty of salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice, if desired.

Meanwhile, rub each piece of toast with the cut clove of garlic. Discard the garlic and spread each toast with about 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese; sprinkle with a little salt.

Ladle the soup into bowls; top each with a cheese toast and a sprinkling of chopped basil. Serve hot.

Serves 4, each with 259 calories, 10 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams fat, 7 mg cholesterol, 241 mg sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Amanda Gold, The San Francisco Chronicle

SHRIMP AND ZUCCHINI FETTUCCINI

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic or 4 crushed cloves

1 cup thinly sliced zucchini

1 cup sliced red bell pepper

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 cup dry white wine

3/4 pound peeled shrimp

1/4 pound fresh or dry fettuccini

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Place a large pot with 3 to 4 quarts of water on to boil for the pasta.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the garlic, zucchini and red bell pepper. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften. Add the pepper flakes and wine and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and remove from the heat.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package instructions, 3 minutes for fresh and about 9 minutes for dried. Drain and add pasta to the skillet with shrimp. Place over medium-high heat and simmer about 1 minute or until the shrimp are cooked through. Toss well and add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Makes 2 servings, each with 610 calories, 12 grams fat, 262 mg cholesterol, 46 grams protein, 56 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 348 mg sodium.

Linda Gassenheimer, The Miami Herald

FLORINA'S ZUCCHINI PARMESAN

1 cup flour

Salt and pepper to taste

3 eggs, lightly beaten

4 large zucchini, quartered lengthwise

1/4 cup canola oil

1 jar marinara sauce

16 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix salt, pepper and flour in a shallow dish.

Salt and pepper the eggs in a separate shallow dish.

Dredge each slice of zucchini in the eggs, then coat in the flour, then dredge again in the eggs and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. In batches, cook the zucchini on each side until golden brown, adding more oil as needed.

Heat the marinara in a saucepan.

Spread a ladle-full of heated marinara in the bottom of the baking dish. Place one layer of zucchini on top and cover with more marinara and about one-third of the Parmesan. Repeat this layering twice more with the remaining zucchini, marinara and Parmesan.

Cover with foil and bake about 35 minutes, or until the zucchini is fork-tender. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes until the cheese is golden brown. Serves 6 to 8 as entree.

Pat Clark, Modesto Bee

SHAVED ZUCCHINI SALAD WITH PARMESAN AND PINE NUTS

1/3 cup good quality olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

2 pounds medium zucchini, trimmed

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup pine nuts or blanched almonds, toasted

Small wedge of Parmesan cheese

In a small bowl, whisk oil, lemon juice, salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper. Set dressing aside.

Using vegetable peeler or V-slicer and working from top to bottom of each zucchini, slice zucchini into ribbons (about 1/16-inch thick). Place ribbons in large bowl. Add basil and nuts, then dressing; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Plate salad on individual plates. Using vegetable peeler, shave strips from Parmesan wedge over salad.

Serves: 6 187 calories (84 percent from fat), 18 grams fat, 6 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 247 mg sodium, 2 mg cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.

bonappetit.com

GREEN CHILE, CORN AND ZUCCHINI FRITTATA

2 tablespoons butter

1 zucchini

1/4 cup chopped green onions (about 2 onions, green parts only)

1/3 to 1/2 cup roasted, peeled, chopped green chile

1 cup corn kernels (about 1 ear)

6 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup grated Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar, divided

1. Heat the broiler. Melt the butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cut the zucchini in lengthwise quarters, then in crosswise pieces, about one-third to one-half-inch thick.

2. When the butter sizzles, add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally. After 2 to 3 minutes, add the green onions and green chile and cook until the zucchini is tender, about 8 minutes. There should be no liquid in the bottom of the pan. Add the corn and remove from the heat.

3. While the zucchini is cooking, beat the eggs with a fork in a mixing bowl just until the yolks and the white are thoroughly mixed, but don't overbeat, which can make the frittata dry. Stir in the salt, the zucchini mixture and half of the cheese and stir to mix well.

4. Return the skillet to low heat, cover and cook, without stirring, until the eggs have set, leaving only a top layer uncooked, about 10 minutes. Scatter the remaining cheese over the top and place it under the broiler until the top is browned and puffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

5. To unmold the frittata, let it cool slightly in the pan. Use a spatula to loosen it along the sides, and then bang it firmly on a cutting board to release the underside. Slide it out onto a serving plate. Serve either hot or at room temperature. If you're going to refrigerate the frittata, let it return to room temperature before serving.

Each of 8 servings: 139 calories; 8 grams protein; 5 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 10 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 156 mg cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 258 mg sodium.

Los Angeles Times

Let's not forget dessert.

Pineapple Zucchini Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

FOR THE CAKE:

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cups sweetened, flaked coconut

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg, or more to taste (optional)

1 pinch ginger (optional)

3 tablespoons canola oil

2 whole large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups grated (unpeeled) zucchini (see note below)

1 can (20-ounce) crushed pineapple in juice, drained and reserved

FROSTING:

2 tablespoons butter, softened

8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened (you can use full-fat cream cheese)

2 cups powdered sugar, more or less as needed

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

To prepare cake, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.

Combine flour, sugar, coconut, baking soda, salt and spices in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk.

Combine oil, eggs and vanilla; stir well.

Stir egg mixture, grated zucchini and pineapple into the flour mixture. Batter will be stiff and dry, but keep folding it and it will all come together. If it still seems too dry, just add a little splash of the pineapple juice.

Spoon batter into pan. Bake 33-35 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs and cake is pulling away from sides of pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare frosting: Combine butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.

Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla just until smooth. Add a splash of milk or pineapple juice if necessary. Spread frosting over top of cake. You can garnish with chopped pecans or walnuts, if desired.

Notes: If your zucchini are huge, scrape the seeds out of the center before you shred it so it's not too watery. Also, I spread it all out on layers of paper towel to drain it and dry it off a bit. Then I measure out 2 cups. I'm not sure if this is critical, though. Nuts can also be added to the cake batter if desired.

The frosting recipe makes a very generous amount.

This recipe can be turned into a Carrot Cake just by substituting shredded carrots for the zucchini.

tastykitchen.com

If grating the zucchini by hand, use the fine holes on a box grater. Since you've got the grater out, you may as well add a few swipes of lemon zest to the cake batter because you're using the juice for the glaze.

The best way to invert the cake is to lay the cooling rack over the top of the cake pan, then grasping both the cake pan and the rack simultaneously (if it's too hot, wear oven mitts), flip them both over at once. Lift off the cake pan, then liberally brush the glaze over the warm cake.

Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze

Cake:

1 cup almonds, pecans, or walnuts, toasted

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups finely grated zucchini

For the lemon glaze:

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-cup Bundt or tube cake pan* with nonstick spray or butter, dust with flour, then tap out any excess.

2. Pulse the nuts in a food processor until finely chopped.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, 1 3/4 cup sugar, and olive oil for 3 minutes on medium speed, until light and fluffy. Stop and scrape down the sides of the mixer, then add the vanilla.

5. Mix in the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl to make sure everything is mixed in well, then beat on medium speed for 30 seconds.

6. Stir in the chopped nuts and zucchini.

7. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan, smooth the top, then bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan.

8. During the last few minutes of the cake baking, make the glaze by whisking together the lemon juice, 1/3 cup granulated sugar and powdered sugar.

9. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then carefully invert it onto a cooling rack. Brush the glaze over the cake with a pastry brush and let the cake cool completely. Serves 12-16.

Storage: The cake can be wrapped (or put under a cake dome) and will keep for a few days. You can freeze the unglazed cake. However to apply the glaze, you'll need to defrost the cake, then warm it so the glaze will adhere properly.

If you don't have a Bundt or tube pan, regular round cake pans or two loaf pans work, too, though you may need to reduce the baking time a little to compensate for the smaller pans.

Adapted by David Lebovitz from "Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen" by Gina DePalma

Zucchini Cobbler Bars

4 cups chopped, seeded, peeled zucchini

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup cold butter, cubed

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 7-by-11-inch baking dish.

2. Combine the zucchini and lemon juice in a medium pan and cook over medium-high heat until the zucchini is soft, 10-15 minutes. Stir in the 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg; cook an additional minute then remove from heat.

3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 1 cup sugar and cinnamon. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

4. Mix 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture into the zucchini mixture. Press half of the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour the zucchini mixture on top of the crust, then sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture evenly on top.

5. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let cool before slicing. Yield: 15 bars.

Adapted by tasteandtellblog.com from Taste of Home

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