Snuggled up against their yellow squash companions, it’s practically indecent to see so much thinly clad vegetable flesh beckoning the hapless shopper. Notoriously promiscuous, there are more than 100 varieties of zucchini, many of them the result of cross-pollination. This beast must be attacked from different angles to take full advantage of its culinary possibilities. Welcome to Zukapalooza, a user’s guide designed to subdue this adversary and enjoy the spoils of battle at your table.
The versatility of zucchini and yellow squash makes them useful in many kinds of dishes, savory to sweet, breakfast to dinner, appetizer to dessert. What follows is a sampling of recipes that are well suited for zucchini (and yellow squash). This recipe comes from a great resource, Russ Parsons’ How to Pick a Peach. Use an oven-proof skillet for this light and easy summertime dish.
For breakfast or for a light dinner
GRATE: 1 pound zucchini, salt liberally, and place in a colander to drain for 30 minutes.
COMBINE and COOK: ½ sliced onion, 3 Tbsp. fresh parsley in 2 Tbsp of olive oil until onion is soft.
ADD and COOK: The drained zucchini over medium-low heat for a few minutes.
BEAT: 6 eggs lightly and pour over the vegetables, stirring briefly to combine.
COOK: On the stovetop until the surface just begins to set, about 10 minutes.
GRATE: 2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano (or plain Parmesan) cheese over the top.
BROIL: Until the top is set and the cheese begins to brown, 3 – 5 minutes.
COOL: Let it stand at room temperature for 5 minutes.
SERVE: Run a thin spatula under the frittata and shake the pan to free any sticking spots. Slide the frittata, cheese-side up, onto a plate. Cut into wedges.
My Swedish grandmother, a consummate cook from the old school, started a file of recipe cards for me when I was in high school and continued doing it after college, hoping I would someday utilize her favorite recipes. She typed them out on index cards and kept them filed in a shoebox that she had covered with pink contact paper. Many of these cards also had a handwritten piece of grandmotherly wisdom. At the time, it seemed unlikely that I would ever use them. But time plays tricks on us all, and now I count them as treasures. They’re still in that pink box. This recipe is dated 7/27/77.
EVELYN’S CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD
PREHEAT: Oven to 350
YOU WILL NEED: 3 C flour
1 C white sugar
1 C dark brown sugar
2 heaping Cups grated zucchini
1 C oil (or substitute unsweetened applesauce for ½ the oil)
2 Tbsp dark unsweetened chocolate
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 C raisins
1 C chopped nuts
GRATE: Zucchini over a colander and drain for 30 minutes.
SIFT: All dry ingredients together
BLEND: Sugars, oil, eggs, and vanilla
ADD: Sifted dry ingredients alternately with the zucchini.
STIR IN: Raisins and nuts
BAKE: In 2 well-greased (about 8½ x 4½ ) loaf pans for 50 minutes.
CHECK: Use a toothpick to check for doneness. If comes out clean, it’s done.
COOL: For 15 minutes in pan on a rack, then remove from pans to complete cooling on rack.
Sometimes it’s fun to use squash as a vessel for other ingredients. Here is an old standby, Zuccanoes (zucchini canoes), from the legendary Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. It’s a meal unto itself.
SLICE: In half lengthwise, 3 medium to large zucchini or yellow squash.
SCOOP: Out the insides, leaving ¼ - ½ “rim so it stays intact.
SAUTE: The zucchini innards with ½ # mushrooms, 1 large chopped onion, some crushed garlic, 2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds, and salt.
BEAT: 3 eggs
COMBINE:The eggs with 1 ½ C cottage cheese, ¼ C wheat germ, 1 C grated cheese, 1 C cooked rice, a dash each of Worcestershire, Tabasco, and tamari.
SEASON: With rosemary, basil, and thyme.
STUFF: The canoes generously until heaping. Sprinkle with paprika.
BAKE: 40 minutes at 350.
SERVE: With extra grated cheese or sour cream.
Tomatoes are coming on full bore at the Farmer’s Market. Green chile isn’t far behind.
If you have a recipe that you’re eager to share, stop me some Saturday and tell me about it.
The Parsnippet and its roving palate will be appearing biweekly throughout the summer. It is meant to tantalize and motivate you into joining the parade of locals who love to eat and who congregate every Saturday morning in the name of homegrown food.