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AP photo/Matthew Mead Cheesy zucchini salsa is one of the creative ways to use up a bounty of zucchini. We’re exploring out-of-the-box ideas for summer’s most notorious love-hate vegetable.
The NewsTribune asked our Facebook readers their favorite way to cook and eat zucchini. Their answers follow.
Deborah Patton, Seneca — I take baby zucchinis and score the outsides, cut them long ways in half, soak them in Italian dressing overnight. Put them on the grill, inside down, for about 6 minutes. Turn over and cook for about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese. Cook for two to three more minutes. Serve.
Mike Brown, La Salle — Sliced long way. Salt, pepper and on the grill
Randy Popurella Jr.,Oglesby — I cook it with coconut oil, very healthy
Brenda Antoine Boyle, Walnut — I make zucchini relish!!
Raymond Locati Jr., Spring Valley — Zucchini bread & fried slices!
Ashley Sylva, Lincoln College — Thinly slice the zucchinis and cook down in some butter and seasonings and parm cheese and then use in place of spaghetti noodles! Delicious with a homemade meat sauce.
Kathryn Nelson-Barnard, Mendota — Breads and zucchini bars.
Connie J Pucharich Eattoni, Rural Florid — Cut them long way, dip in an egg wash, bread lightly with panko bread crumbs which is seasoned with Italian seasonings, salt and pepper and asiago cheese. Fry lightly in olive oil. then layer as if to make lasagna. (use in place of the noodles) Bake. yummm
Julie Tomaszewski Nowakowski, Tonica — Diced or shredded, sautéed with bacon and onion, topped with dill weed and Parmesan cheese. Or season and grilled.
Brenda Alteri Dilling, Peru — Definitely fried.
Aykuang Saepharn, Joliet, formerly of DePue — If you ever tried my mama’s zucchini you would be calling her everyday to make it for you.
Picture Dan Fitzgerald of Oglesby cooking in his backyard kitchen surveying the abundance of his organized, larger-than-usual garden.
Among the pickings? Zucchini — lots of zucchini.
“There’s no shortage of raw material,” Fitzgerald said. “I put in three hills of it. Three hills is a lot. As they grow, they’re about 4 foot around. They take up a lot of space.”
He planted a larger garden this year, but said there were a couple of things he would change, especially with the zucchini.
“I made the mistake of planting them all at once,” he said. “I’m going to try successive plantings next year, so it doesn’t come all at once.
“The thing about zucchini is, one day you think it’s going to be a nice size, and the next day it balloons. You have to watch them carefully, so they don’t overwhelm you in size.”
Fitzgerald spent the weekend trying some of the recipes we are featuring in the outdoor kitchen.
“I am able to practice a lot of stuff outside,” he said. “So I don’t mess up Nancy’s kitchen.”
Nancy contributed the Zucchini Chocolate Cake recipe she recently made, “that was really good,” Dan said. “I also like the Pesto-Topped Grilled Zucchini, because it’s so easy and I like the rustic style of the pesto.”
Zucchini bread is fine and all, but when you’re staring down a mountain of summer abundance, how much of it can you really eat?
Convinced we could find more — and more creative — ways to use up a bounty of zucchini, we decided to explore out-of-the-box ideas for summer’s most notorious love-hate vegetable. The result? Some delicious ideas that will have you if not embracing then at least better tolerating your zucchini.
10 FRESH WAYS WITH ZUCCHINI - Pasta: Grab yourself one of those veggie spiral cutting gizmos, which let you render produce into pasta-like ribbons. Zucchini does particularly well. Toss the zucchini spirals in a hot skillet with a splash of oil for a minute or two, then dress with sauce and cheese as you would pasta. Or boil up real pasta, then add the zucchini for the last minute. Drain and dress.
- Dip: Slice a zucchini in half and toss it on a medium-hot grill. Cook until lightly browned and tender, then pop it into a food processor. Add tahini, garlic, salt, pepper and a splash of lemon juice, then process until very smooth. Use as a dip for vegetables and chips, or as a sandwich spread.
- Salsa: Dice and toss together 1 medium zucchini, 1 large tomatillo and ½ red or orange bell pepper. Add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, a pinch of red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapenos and a splash of hot sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
- Fries: Cut the zucchini into ½-inch-thick sticks, then toss them first in a beaten egg, then in seasoned breadcrumbs. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet, then bake until crisp outside and just tender inside. As soon as they come out of the oven, sprinkle them with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Boats: Slice a zucchini in half, then use a melon baller to scoop out the insides of each half. Mix together loose sausage meat, grated cheese and chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Pack the mixture into the hollowed-out zucchini halves, then bake or grill (over low heat) until cooked through.
- Frittata: Use a mandoline or food processor to slice the zucchini as thinly as possible. Whisk 6 or so eggs, then pour them into an oiled pan and cook over medium-high heat until the bottom is just set. Scatter the zucchini slices evenly over the top of the egg, then crumble feta over it. Broil until lightly browned and the center is set.
- Grain salad: Toss finely diced raw zucchini with cooked and cooled farro or barley, halved cherry tomatoes, diced red onion and crumbled soft goat cheese. Dress with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Tart: Use a mandoline or food processor to slice the zucchini as thinly as possible. Unfold a sheet of puff pastry (thawed according to package directions). Run a paring knife along the outside of the pastry about 1 inch from the edge and cutting only halfway down. Arrange the zucchini slices in the center, then sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Bake at 400 degrees until puffed and lightly browned.
- Chips: Use a mandoline or food processor to slice the zucchini as thinly as possible. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet, mist with cooking spray, then season with herbs, spices, salt and pepper, whatever you like. Bake at 375 degrees until the chips are nicely browned.
- Casserole: Cut a whole mess of zucchini into ½-inch rounds. Arrange several layers of them in an oiled casserole dish. Top them with a bit of marinara and some ricotta cheese. Repeat this layering until you fill the casserole dish about three-quarters of the way. Bake at 350 degrees until tender, lightly browned and bubbling at the edges.
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Cynthia Rolando can be reached at (815) 220-6934 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find her on Twitter @NT_LifeEditor. J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. Find him on Twitter @JM_Hirsch or email to email@example.com.
ROASTED ZUCCHINI & FENNEL WITH THYME 2 small (about 12 ounces) zucchini or summer squash 1½ cups sliced (about 1 small bulb) fennel plus 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds, divided 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon freshly-ground pepper ¼ cup thinly-sliced garlic
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Quarter zucchini lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces.
In a large bowl, combine the zucchini with sliced fennel, EVOO, thyme, salt and pepper. Spread the mixture evenly on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes.
Stir in garlic and roast until the vegetables are tender and the fennel is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes more.
Stir in fennel fronds and serve.
PORK CHOPS WITH ZUCCHINI STUFFING Pork rib chops cut 1¼-1½ inches thick 3 tablespoons butter or margarine ½ cup celery, chopped 1 small onion, chopped 1 large tomato, peeled and diced 1 slice white bread, finely shredded ¾ teaspoon salt ¾ teaspoon savory leaf 1 small zucchini, coarsely grated ½ cup cooked rice
Make a small pocket in each chop by cutting into the chop with a small, sharp knife on rib side parallel to the surface of the chop. Be careful not to cut through to the opposite side.
Brown celery and onion in butter or margarine.
Combine tomato with bread; add to celery and onion; cook 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with salt and savory leaf. Stir in Zucchini and rice. Fill pockets in each chop with approximately 1/4 cup of stuffing mixture, distributing evenly.
Broil chops 5-7 inches from heat for 10 minutes. Turn and broil 10 minutes more. Continue broiling until done, 6-12 minutes, turning occasionally.
CREAMY BASIL-MINT ZUCCHINI SOUP 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth 2 pounds (about 4 small) zucchini, sliced into ½-inch rounds 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped, plus leaves for garnish 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped ½ cup ricotta cheese Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the broth, zucchini and herbs. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the zucchini is tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat.
Using a blender, or immersion blender, puree the soup. Stir in the ricotta cheese. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with basil leaves and serve.
Can also be made ahead and served chilled, but be sure to reseason before serving.
CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE 1¾ cups sugar ½ cup butter, softened ½ cup oil 2 eggs ½ cup buttermilk* 1 teaspoon vanilla ½ teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt ¼ cup cocoa 1½ cup flour 2 cups zucchini, grated and drained Topping: 1 cup chocolate chips 1 cup chopped nuts (pecan, walnut, etc.) ½ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine sugar and butter. Add oil, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.
Combine remaining ingredients (except zucchini) in a separate bowl and mix well. Add flour mixture to moist mixture. Fold in zucchini. Pour into greased 9-by-13-inch pan.
Mix topping ingredients together and sprinkle over top of the cake. Bake for 40 minutes or until done.
*Buttermilk substitute mix ½ cup skim milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Set aside 10 minutes. Stir. Ready to use.
PESTO-TOPPED GRILLED SUMMER SQUASH ½ cup fresh basil, chopped ¼ cup toasted pine nuts 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese 1 clove minced garlic 2 teaspoons lemon juice ½ teaspoon salt 2 medium (about 1 pound), zucchini or summer squash, sliced diagonally -inch thick
Toast pine nuts by placing in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2-4 minutes.
Preheat grill to medium-high. Combine basil, pine nuts, 1 tablespoon EVOO, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice and salt in a small bowl.
Brush both sides of zucchini or squash slices with remaining EVOO.
Grill the zucchini until browned and tender, 2-3 minutes per side. Serve topped with the pesto.
Zucchini Pasta Recipe Prep/Total Time: 25 min. 6 servings 8 ounces uncooked linguine 4 cups coarsely shredded zucchini (about 3 medium) 4 teaspoons olive oil 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced ¼ cup fat-free plain yogurt ¾ cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese ¾ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper
Mix all ingredients and cook until zucchini is tender. Serve over pasta.
¾ cup equals 219 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 10 mg cholesterol, 395 mg sodium, 32 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 10 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1½ starch, 1½ fat, 1 vegetable.