How to Use (Up) Zucchini

by rivka on September 6, 2011 · 9 comments

in cake, dessert, easy-as-a-1-2-3, how to use...

Friends, the zucchini glut is nearly over. Those plants have practically exhausted themselves these past few months. Before you know it, we’ll be talking apple pie. But we’ve still got a week or two more of zucchini overflow, and I thought I’d share a couple delicious ways to put zucchini excess to good use.

These are recipes I’ve been making all summer, and you should certainly take the opportunity to make them while zucchini plants are still producing. Lest you think we’re only talking about stir fry or gratin, I’ve got you covered for brunch and snacktime, too.

Zucchini Boats

Enter the world’s easiest dinner. You can have it on the table in under half an hour, and coupled with a side salad and maybe a slice of baguette, it’s the perfect summer meal. We’re talking about zucchini halves, hollowed out and filled with a mixture of chopped zucchini innards, ricotta and feta cheese, lemon, and herbs, then broiled till bubbling and brown. While I’ve got a recipe for you here, this is the sort of thing you should feel free – nay, compelled – to improvise. If you only have ricotta, skip the feta. If you have mozzarella, use it in place of the parmesan; just as good. And while I use mint and basil, any other herb would work here. (Thyme would be especially nice.)

Zucchini Boats
serves 4

2 pounds zucchini or summer squash of any size
1 cup ricotta
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup mixed chopped herbs (basil, mint, dill, thyme, marjoram, all great)
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly cracked pepper

Preheat the broiler.

Halve the squash, and use a small spoon to slowly scrape away the flesh of each squash half, leaving about 1/2-inch-squash shell intact. Chop removed flesh into bits, and place chopped squash in a medium mixing bowl.

Add to bowl all remaining ingredients except Parmigiano cheese and stir to combine. Spoon mixture into squash shells, transfer to foil-lined broiler-safe baking dish, and broil about 15 minutes, until zucchini are soft hot, and brown on top. Serve warm.

Zucchini Frittata

One of my favorite discoveries this summer was the fact that squash blossoms are delicious in other forms than fried. Go figure. My health-conscious friends will likely appreciate this post, since squash blossoms are among summer’s treats, and there are ways to cook them that do not involve copious amounts of oil.

The starting point for this recipe came from Food52 founder and all-around awesome lady Amanda Hesser, who created a frittata using squash blossoms and garlic scapes. I added thinly sliced zucchini and halved cherry tomatoes, and finished the whole thing with some lumps of fresh chevre. Amanda’s frittata came out perfectly yellow. Aiming to discredit suspicions of food snobbery at my house, I’ll admit that I like my frittatas slightly overcooked. There, I said it. Mine come out golden brown, and I’m quite happy that way. Feel free to treat your frittata-ed eggs more gently.

Zucchini Frittata
serves 4-6 as one course of several

8 large eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
5 garlic scapes, thinly sliced, or 2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
8 zucchini blossoms, stems trimmed to 1 inch
1/2 a large zucchini, sliced very thinly (on a mandoline, if possible)
a handful of cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved
3 ounces fresh chevre or goat cheese

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Place zucchini in a strainer, sprinkle with salt, and let strain for 20 minutes. The zucchini will start to emit liquid. After 20 minutes, transfer zucchini to a kitchen towel and press to remove excess liquid and salt.

Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Add sliced tomatoes and zucchini to egg mixture. Place a 12-inch non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter and when the butter is foamy, add the garlic scapes, spreading them around the pan. Cook for 1 minute. Lay the zucchini blossoms in an even layer in the base of the pan. Cook for about 1 minute, then turn and wilt the other side, another 30 seconds.
Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pan. Dot the top of the egg mixture with blobs of chevre. Transfer the pan to the oven, and bake until the frittata is just set, 6 to 8 minutes (more if you’re crazy like I am). Remove from the oven. Lay a large plate on top of the pan, and invert the frittata onto it. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges.

Zucchini Bread

Ok, I don’t know how to break this news any other way…I have made 6 loaves of zucchini bread in the past three weeks. I’ll happily blame the apparent fixation on a slew of recent housewarming and condolence gifts I gave. But really, I can’t resist the way my kitchen smells when this zucchini bread is in the oven.

The recipe is from Deb, and having made it three times, I can tell you, there is no way to improve this recipe. It is absolutely perfect. This is the time to make this bread: zucchini is everywhere, but the weather is cool enough to turn on the oven. Don’t waste a moment. You know what? Make a double batch. Freeze a few loaves. Thank me later.

Zucchini Bread
makes 2 loaves

3 eggs
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional – I’m not a nuts-in-bread fan so I skip)
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, beat eggs. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.

Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts (if using), chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using.

Stir dry mixture into the egg mixture. Divide batter into prepared pans.

Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

So there we have it. A few great recipes for the most prolific summer vegetable there is.

Now…a question. What are your favorite zucchini recipes?

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