Saturday, August 29, 2015

Summer bounty

We have entered the "OMG the zucchini  is the size of cats!" phase of summer. (If you planted them, you know what I mean. You blink, and they are too big for most recipes.) We've all made enough zucchini bread, and we've all grilled enough zucchini. So, NOW WHAT DO you do with the zucchini?

I have answers.

Zucchini weighed as much as Coco!
(Coco is mostly fluff)
Answers in the form of many fabulous  recipes that let you use up all that good-for-you, garden-grown goodness! And I admit upfront I've amassed these recipes over YEARS of having more zucchini than any human being should have on-hand. (I also may have earned a bit of a reputation for showing up places with give-away zucchinis in the summer.)

Absolutely my favorite new recipe is Lime Couscous with Summer Veggies from Better Homes and Gardens. I have no awesome images - because I basically inhaled the stuff. Click the link for the recipe - but if you have limes, couscous, carrots, green onions*, walnuts, zucchini*, and some cheese - you can make this in less than 10 minutes. No joke. It's good warm or cold.

*Ingredients I had in my garden (I no longer grow carrots. But maybe I should as they are tasty when accompanying zucchini)

Another fast recipe - perfect to make ahead and take to a pool party - is Zucchini-Carrot Salad with Catalina Dressing (recipe by Southern Living). Best part? This is just 5 simple ingredients! I did fudge this one a bit. I did not have French Fried Onions (it is not green bean casserole time yet). So I used chives from the garden instead and skipped the mint. It also gave me an excuse to use my Veggetti  on my garden-grown zucchini and store-bought carrots. (The chives also came from my garden).

I'm pretty frugal. So even if the zucchini plant is a little subpar and needs pulled out, I salvage the blossoms. And pan fry them. (Suggestion - use regular, not blue cornmeal. Blue cornmeal can look a little gray and off-putting.) Pan-fried Zucchini Blossoms is a bare-bones recipe: drag washed blossoms through a shallow bowl with a mix of egg + a touch of milk, then drag it through a shallow bowl with a mix of cornmeal + a touch of salt + a dash of pepper; drop the blossom in a pan of oil. (Oil should already be warmed.)  Fry until crispy. I like to serve them with spicy ketchup. 

No zucchini recipe post would be complete without a recipe for zucchini bread. Here's my recipe for Zucchini Bread, adapted from my ex-mother-in-law (who got it from her Amish family):

3 beaten eggs
3/4 cup of oil (I use olive oil as it is a clean oil; there is EVOO good for baking)
2 1/4 cup sugar 
3 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 cups shredded zucchini

Mix the beaten eggs and oil together, then add sugar and vanilla. Slowly hand blend all of the dry ingredients into the liquid/sugar mix. (I mix up all the dry ingredients, except the sugar, in a separate bowl.) When everything else is mixed, add the zucchini. Pour into 1 large flat pan or 2 loaf pans.

Bake at 325 for 1 hour.  When a fork comes out clean, the bread is done.  

(To make it a little healthier - use up to 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour in place of the regular flour. To make it a little more delicious - use cream cheese frosting.)

Take-away - The Mae West quote "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!" applies to many things in life, including zucchini.

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