by Anna Ferraro
There’s a family joke that began a few summers ago. Apparently, there was a large pile of monstrous zucchini on the kitchen floor, and one of my siblings said, “Really, the only time you have to lock your car doors in Jacksonville is during zucchini season. If you don’t, you’ll walk out of Wal-Mart someday and discover that you’ve been the recipient of someone’s crop that they didn’t know what to do with …” Don’t laugh. It’s happened to us!
Needless to say, I’m pretty sure that everyone in the Midwest knows what it’s like to have an overabundance of zucchini on hand during the summer months. But over the years, our family has grown to love it. Now, when we receive half-a-dozen of those zucchinis that are each almost the size of a baseball bat, we know what to do with them. Today, I’ll share five of our zucchini consumption secrets.
1) Bake it. Zucchini brownies, cake and zucchini bread. Toss chunks of unpeeled zucchini into your grater or food processor. Once processed, you can use cups of this at a time in dozens of recipes. Disguised well by chocolate (do a Google search for “zucchini brownies” or “zucchini chocolate cake”), the zucchini adds an incredible moistness, making for a decadent, and even slightly nutritious dessert!
2) “Spiralize” it. With your favorite Italian or Oriental sauce or meal, enjoy guilt-free, low-carb pasta made from zucchini noodles.
3) Sauté or stir-fry it. Recipes abound for beautiful summer stir-fry meals with zucchini at the center of them. But really, you don’t even have to have a recipe. Toss sliced zucchini in a frying pan with plenty of olive oil or butter, and add sliced onions, chopped garlic and any other summer veggies you may have on hand. Toss in the butter/oil until lightly cooked, then, remove from heat while still slightly crunchy. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
4) Grill it. Shish kabobs anyone? That’s right, you can disguise those otherwise bland hunks of zucchini with that wonderful charcoal flavor, and an optional marinade. Pairing well with meats and other veggies, your summer grill nights won’t be complete without it anymore.
5) Freeze it. Last, but not least, you can put away frozen zucchini for those winter months when it won’t be around. The best way to do this is to grate it and freeze in 1-2 cup quantities. These can be thawed and used for baking. Also, you can freeze hunks of raw zucchini in plastic bags to cook up later – it’ll make beautiful, velvety smooth soups that will be amazing during those cold winter months.
There you go, five uses for zucchini. I guess you can leave your car doors unlocked now, and if you get dumped on with zucchini, no worries. Happy summer, everyone!