What To Do With A Zillion Zucchini

Ah, mid-summer and the garden is really going strong. We’ve had plenty of rain this year and the veggies are looking great. One of the most prolific and versatile of all crops is that gorgeous squash called zucchini in the US and other countries or courgette in the UK, France and others. We treat the zucchini as a vegetable in the kitchen but botanists know it is really a fruit. These beauties come in numerous shapes, sizes and colors as well. They are normally green or yellow, long cylindrical fruits; but they can be round balls and both shapes come in white as well.

As varied and prolific as these squash are, thank goodness they are just as versatile in the kitchen. To even begin to list the possible uses for zucchini sounds something like the scene in Forest Gump listing all the ways to serve shrimp.  Just substitute “zucchini” for “shrimp”. Zucchini is a key ingredient in ratatouille, a vegetable stew. You can steam them, fry them, grill them, sauté them, stuff them and bake them as casseroles, breads, cakes and muffins. They’re good in soups, quiche, primavera, minestrone and pesto. You get the idea. Even the flowers on these huge vines are edible and are often used as edible garnish. As easy and popular as they are to grow, we’re lucky there are so many good uses for them.

You can store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to four days. But if your crop has become just a little to large to handle don’t forget to share the wealth. August 8, is national “Sneak Some Zucchini OntoYour Neighbor’s Porch Day”! They’ll thank you for it. Yippee!

Italian Sausage and Zucchini Casserole
1/2 pound mild Italian Sausage
1 cup zucchini, sliced
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
2 cups cooked noodles
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
Brown sausage. Add onion and zucchini and cook until tender. Drain, set aside.
In a seperate pan, melt butter. Add flour and stir constantly until bubbly and smooth. Be careful not to burn the butter. Slowly stir in milk and cook until medium thickness. Add salt and 1/4 cup cheese, stirring until cheese is melted.
Add cheese sauce, cooked noodles and tomatoes to the sausage mixture. Blend to incorporate.
Pour into a 1 1/2 quart casserole. Sprinke with remaining cheese
Bake at 350F for 20 minutes

Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 3 medium)
1 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease (crisco is best) bottoms only of two 9×5 pans.
In a big bowl, beat eggs until a wire whip until foamy. Stir in sugar, zucchini, oil and vanilla. Add remaining ingredients and blend well by hand. Do not use a mixer.
Divide batter equally between 2 pans. Bake at 325F for 50 or 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pans. Cool on wire rack.

Zucchini Salsa
2 medium zucchini
1/4 cup green pepper, minced
1/2 cup fresh tomato (firm)
3 Tablespoons red onion, minced
3 Tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3 Tablespoons cilantro, minced
Finely mince zucchini or use a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground.
In a bowl mix zucchini with all remaining ingredients. Season with salt to taste.

I hope you enjoy the Zucchini  recipes – Liz Barna