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My Favorite Things to Do with Zucchini

Summer squash makes a variety of dishes moister and tastier.

The dog days of summer produce a profusion of vegetables in our home gardens. Many of us need new ways to serve up our super-local delights so that no one gets tired of eating the same old thing.

Summer squash is tasty grilled or roasted on its own, but it also serves well as an ingredient that makes some standard recipes better.

Three of my favorite ways to eat Zucchini require baking. Perhaps turning on the hot oven in the sweltering days of August doesn’t sound appealing. But, the results will make you feel that you can “stand the heat in the kitchen.”

Zucchini bread is well known, perhaps over-gifted during the holidays and maybe even a bit cliché, but don’t worry. You won’t see a loaf from me as a present on your door step. The Paula Dean Zucchini Bread recipe I use is so good that not a crumb makes it out of my house. I recently served a slice to my friend Julie who proclaimed it “Perfect: crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle.”

Including Zucchini in chocolate cake yields a dessert so moist and yummy that even my vegetable-opposed daughter will eat it. She indulges not because I trick her; I fully divulge the magic ingredient and even have her watch as I add the shredded green delight to the batter. She finds the taste well worth the vegetable ingestion.

There are many Zucchini Chocolate cakes to try. Here are two, the first from scratch, the second using a box mix: Chocolate Zucchini Cake III, Chocolate Zucchini Mocha Cake.

Zucchini Quiche makes a delicate summer dinner. In the past I have had trouble landing on a recipe I found worth the trouble. I’m not talented in the kitchen, so any cooking takes considerable effort. My husband is a far better cook but I like to secure a place in our meals for the vegetables we grow, so I practice my culinary skills with our home grown ingredients.

This year I took a stab at significantly modifying and combining recipes and it worked! The pie was polished off quickly by my family. That is enough evidence for me to call it a success. They make no secret of their distress when one of my meals fails.

 

Super Cheesy Zucchini Quiche

1 pie crust

2 tablespoons butter

2 medium or 3 small Zucchini, thinly sliced in rounds

½ cup Parmigianino plus ¼ cup to sprinkle on top

½ cup Mozzarella plus ½ cup to sprinkle on top

½ cup Gruyere (or any other cheese you like with a good, strong flavor)

½ cup sharp Cheddar

½ cup half-and-half cream

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 shallot or ½ cup red onion sautéed in olive oil ahead of time

½ teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Bake pie shell for 7 minutes and remove.
  2. Reduce heat to 350 F.
  3. Sauté the onions or shallot in a bit of olive oil until soft and brown. Set aside.
  4. Sauté ½ the Zucchini in 1 tbsp butter until soft and tender.
  5. Arrange the Zucchini around the bottom of the crust. Set aside.
  6. Sauté the second ½ of Zucchini in the other tbsp of butter until soft and tender.
  7. While keeping an eye on the cooking vegetable, combine the 4 cheeses (leaving out the portions indicated for the tops), cream, eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and sautéed shallots/onions in a large bowl.
  8. Stir.
  9. Gently pour cheese mixture into crust on top of Zucchini.
  10. Arrange second round of cooked Zucchini on the top.
  11. Sprinkle the remaining parm and mozzarella on top.
  12. Bake for 45 minutes until top is golden brown and a knife comes out clean.
Sue August 17, 2011 at 05:45 PM
My absolute favorite way to prepare zucchini from my garden is to stuff them, aka Zucchini Boats. I cut them in half lengthwise, run my knife carefully around the the edge so as not to puncture the "boat" then I score the flesh checkerboard style and micro face down in a casserole with a bit of water or you could do the same in the over or even on top of the stove in a large skillet. Cook till just slightly softened and scoup out the flesh and set the boats on a cookie sheet. (Hint: by scorring the flesh, it cooks quicker and scoups out already chopped.) Prepare a stuffing of hot sausage (or use sweet sausage, ground beef, vegetarian alternatives.. ) onions, green peppers, mushrooms, garlic, parmesan cheese, fresh basil, the zucchini flesh and finish with enough bread crumbs to bind. Fill the boats, top with chopped tomatos and and bake in a 400 oven for about 10 minutes or so. Sprinkle with a litttle shredded mozz and bake till the cheese melts. A half makes a great dinner or lunch. This is my interpretation; improvise and substitute the ingredients you prefer!
Alice Blair August 18, 2011 at 12:26 PM
This sounds delicious! I can't wait to give it a try. I assume you cook the meat first, but do I saute the onions,peppers etc. before hand as well? Thanks so much for sharing.
Sue August 22, 2011 at 01:46 PM
Thank you, I do hope you try it! Yes, everything is precooked.
MisterSpuddy August 22, 2011 at 09:49 PM
Love fried zucchini spears- I get them instead of french fries at some restaurants!

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