Dealing with the Plenty of Summer Zucchini

Zucchinis are easy and fun to grow. In fact, our family was always offering these vegetables to friends and neighbors. But it wasn’t always easy to give them away in late August since everyone had a surplus of the ever present summer squash available to them. And this is why cookbooks like the 50 year old Italian cookbook, the Silver Spoon, recently translated into English in the United States, includes 37 Zucchini recipes and 6 for Zucchini flowers.

I have always been attracted to Zucchinis in part because of their plentifulness, but also because of the almost magical way in which they can grow. It seemed they could double in size over night. And while I never grew a zucchini 3 meters long, they say it is possible and likely if the conditions are just right. I remember dreaming as a child that our crop was going to grow up to our home and invade us. My mother told me if this happened we would just make more soup for family, friends and neighbors. My scary dreams disappeared.

This year the local farmer’s markets are again filled with zucchini. I love to stuff them, bake them, fry them, steam them and roast them. Here are a few of my favorite zucchini recipes which will give you many cooking options to consider for your garden of plenty.

Baking Zucchini Bread has always been a popular and delicious way to prepare and to eat Zucchini. The recipes are fairly uniform and predictable. However a recent issue of the magazine “Cook’s Illustrated” suggests an easier way to “lighten the loaf ” by doubling the usual amount of squash, and wringing it in a towel which extracts over a cup of green liquid. This recipe also achieves a wonderful flavor by switching from granulated sugar to brown sugar, adding nutmeg and vanilla and increasing the typical amount of cinnamon.

1. Zucchini Bread Recipe 325 degree oven; Grease 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan
(Adapted from the August 2014 Issue of Cook’s Illustrated)

1 1/2 pounds zucchini;
1 1/2 pound brown sugar;
1/4 cup vegetable oil;
2 large eggs;
1 tsp vanilla extract;
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour;
1/2 cup whole wheat flour;
1 tbsp cinnamon;
1 1/2 tsp salt;
1 tsp baking powder;
1 tsp baking soda;
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg;
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped;
1 tbsp. granulated sugar.

Place zucchini in center of dish towel and squeeze ends tightly. Discard 1/2 to 2/3 cup liquid. Whisk together the brown sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla together in a medium bowl. Fold in zucchini.

Whisk together the flours— all purpose and wheat flours, the cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda and nutmeg in large bowl. Fold in zucchini mixture until just incorporated. Fold in walnuts.

Pour butter into prepared pan and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake until top bounces back when gently pressed and toothpick inserted in center comes out with few moist crumbs attached— 65 to 75 minutes. Let bread cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove bread from pan and let cool completely on rack. Serve and enjoy.

2) Parmesan Zucchini Crisps
Serves 4
• Preheat oven to 425 F
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
• ¼ cup seasoned bread crumbs
• 1/8 tsp black pepper
• ¼ tsp garlic powder
• 3 egg whites
• 3 cups zucchini rounds, sliced about 1/2 inch thick — about 3 medium size zucchini

- Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and place a wire baking rack on top. Lightly coat the racks with cooking spray.
- Combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, pepper and garlic powder in a shallow dish and mix together.
- In a small bowl, beat the three egg whites. Dip each zucchini round in the egg whites to coat both sides and then press each side of the round into the bread crumb/Parmesan mixture. Place the coated round on the wire rack on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining zucchini rounds.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until the Parmesan and bread crumb coating is browned and crisp. Serve immediately.

3) Poached Vegetables with Caper Mayonnaise

Serves 4 (Adapted from the cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.)

Poaching protein or vegetables is an easy, delicious way of cooking. It can be as flavorful as you wish— as spicy or bland as you prefer. This recipe is half way between the two— a little spicy but not too mild. Remarkably, the caper mayonnaise has no more than 1/2 tsp salt while the poaching liquid has only 1 tsp salt. I mention this now because most of us are watching our sodium intake and this dish qualifies as a healthy snack.

a) Caper Mayonnaise Ingredients
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard;
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp capers, drained well and finely chopped
To make the mayonnaise, place the garlic, egg yolk, vinegar, mustard, salt, chile flakes and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Start blending and then very slowly drizzle in the oil until you get a thick mayonnaise. Fold in the capers, and lemon zest and set aside.

b) Preparing Vegetables
1 bunch baby carrots, peeled but not cut
4 baby fennel or regular size cut in 1/2 inch slices from top to bottom of fennel
12 spears asparagus, 6-7 inches long. Don’t need to be cut
8 slices of zucchini, 6 inches long and 2 inches wide
10 slices of leeks, 6 inches long and 2 inches wide
2 tbsp. chopped dill to serve

c) Vegetable Procedure
Wash the vegetables but don’t trim them too much so some of the stalks and leaves remain. Try to cut similarly sized pieces.

d) Poaching “liquor” Ingredients
2 1/2 cups white wine
1 cup olive oil
2/3 cup lemon juice
2 bay leaves
1/2 onion
2 celery stalks
1 tsp salt

e) Poaching Procedure
Place the wine in a wide pan (12-14 inches) and boil for 2-3 minutes. Add all the other poaching liquor ingredients and bring to a simmer. Start the poaching by adding the vegetables to the simmering pot one at a time waiting a minute between each one. All should be cooked but crunchy at the end. Using tongs remove the vegetables from the poaching liquor and place in deep plates. Add some liquor to the serving bowl and spoon each portion with a dollop of Caper mayonnaise; sprinkle with dill. Enjoy.

4) Zucchini Mexican Soup

Yields: 4 servings
• 1 1/2 tsp butter
• 1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
• 2 cups unpeeled, medium diced zucchini
• 1 1/2 cups corn kernels
• 2 Tbsp minced jalapeno or other green chilies
• 2 cups vegetable broth
• 1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
• 1 cup coconut milk
• 2 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, diced
• salt to taste,
• minced fresh parsley
• nutmeg

1. In a medium size soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and saute until it begins to soften.
2. Add the vegetable broth and heat.
3. Add the zucchini, corn, jalapeno, broth, and pepper to the broth. Bring to a boil and simmer until zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes.
4. Stir in coconut milk. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Salt to taste
5. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and a pinch of nutmeg. Mangia! welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on