This time of year zucchini is unstoppable. Fortunately, zucchini recipes are just as abundant.
Don’t you hate when you think of a really great idea, only to discover someone beat you to the punch?
It happens to me a lot.
Like a few years back when I envisioned cooking my way through an entire Julia Child cookbook, making a recipe each day until I made them all.
Well, guess what. I never got around to it, but an amateur chef named Julie did and chronicled her culinary adventure in a blog. Then her story got made into a movie starring Meryl Streep, which comes out next week. I’ll be kicking myself through the entire viewing of “Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen.”
Here’s another one. Two weeks ago, I headed out to my garden, swept aside the leaves of my zucchini plant, and gasped. There sat a 16-incher that was so comically huge, I had a vision.
That night I swaddled the veggie in a powder-blue baby blanket and propped it in a wicker basket. Under the cover of darkness, my 8-year-old daughter and I crept over to the neighbor’s front porch and did a ding-dong-ditch.
Lying on our stomachs behind trees, we watched a shirtless Randy peek out the door, then warily approach the basket and read our note about “Zukey” needing a good home. The look on his face was priceless.
It was one of my better pranks. So good in fact, I thought about turning it into something bigger. Then a few days later, I read about “National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day.”
I kid you not. It takes place Aug. 8.
Burned, once again.
Truth be told, the upcoming zucchini holiday isn’t exactly about disguising doorstoppers for disposal. It’s more about gardeners sharing their glut of this prolific veggie.
Either way, I’m for it. After all, this time of year zucchini is unstoppable. Fortunately, zucchini recipes are just as abundant.
Here are several, including a simple sauté from Julia Child, and a zucchini bake with a surprise crust made from club crackers. I loved its buttery base, as well as the dish’s cheesy topping.
Hey, I just had another “Ah-Ha!” moment! Let’s designate today as “Sneak A Homemade Zucchini Dish Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day.” Brilliant.
By the way, if this idea goes big, maybe even gets made into a movie, remember you heard it here first.
4 small zucchini, diced (about 3 cups)
2 cups (about 5 1⁄2 ounces) club crackers
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, grated
1⁄2 cup 2 percent reduced fat milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
1⁄4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch deep dish pie pan or a 9-inch square baking dish. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add zucchini, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well in a colander.
Press cracker crumbs on bottom of prepared pat to form a crust. Dot with butter. Spoon zucchini on top.
Whisk eggs in medium bowl until fluffy. Stir in onion, milk, 2⁄3 cup Cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. Pour over zucchini and sprinkle with remaining 1⁄3 cup Cheddar and Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes, or until golden on edges. Serves 6 to 8.
ZUCCHINI AND MINT FRITTERS
11⁄4 pounds zucchini
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Oil, for cooking
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Lemon wedges, to serve
2 eggs separated
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup lager-style beer
1 cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make batter, place egg yolks in bowl, beat well, then slowly beat in oil, followed by beer, then the flour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and rest for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, grate zucchini coarsely, toss lightly with salt, put in a strainer and let drain for 10 minutes. Rinse well, then pat dry with paper towels. Place in bowl and add lemon zest and mint. Stir well.
Just before cooking, place egg whites and salt and pepper in bowl and beat until firm. Gently fold into batter. Heat oil to 375 degrees in deep-fryer or saucepan with frying basket. Mix grated zucchini with enough batter to bind together.
Working in batches, slide about 6 small spoonfuls at a time into the hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes until golden and crisp. Drain the fritters on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and serve hot with lemon wedges.
— Maxine Clark. “Italian Vegetables.”
GRILLED ZUCCHINI ROLL-UPS
3 medium zucchini (about 11⁄2 pounds), ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise 1⁄8-inch thick
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces feta cheese
Pinch of dried oregano (or 1⁄4 teaspoon fresh chopped)
1⁄2 teaspoon dry, crushed red chilies
You should be able to get 10 slices out of each zucchini. A mandolin slicer is perfect for this. Otherwise, use a sharp knife to thinly slice the vegetable.
Place slices in a large bowl and toss with one tablespoon of the olive oil, then sprinkle with a big pinch of salt and a few grindings of black pepper. Grill the zucchini over medium high heat until they're well browned, 4-6 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
In a small bowl, crumble feta cheese. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, oregano, and crushed red chilies. Mix with a fork until well blended. Spread a scant teaspoon of the feta cheese mixture on each slice, covering only about half of the slice.
Starting with the end where you have spread the cheese, roll up the slice. Stand on end on a plate and serve. Can be made early in the day.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Bring to room temperature before serving. Makes 25 to 30 servings.
JULIA CHILD’S GRATED ZUCCHINI SAUTÉED IN BUTTER AND SHALLOTS
2 pounds zucchini
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons minced shallots or scallions
Salt and pepper to taste
Grate zucchini and measure. For each two cups of zucchini toss with 1 teaspoon salt. Let squash drain in a colander for 3 to 4 minutes or until you are ready to begin cooking. If it is too salty rinse and drain again. Squeeze in a clean kitchen towel until most liquid is pressed out.
In a skillet, heat butter and oil. Sauté the shallots/scallions briefly. Add zucchini and toss, cooking about 4 minutes or until tender. Serve warm, yields 4 to 6.