Friday, April 27, 2012


I had a friend come over the other night and I shared some of my seeds with her. In some ways, I feel like I pressed a zucchini seed on her, after she said that she never really knows what to do with zucchini because she doesn't like it plain.
To be honest, neither do I. Don't get me wrong, I used to love it! It was one of the easiest sides I knew, and I thought it was delicious. But the easiest way to hate a vegetable is sometimes to learn how to grow it. That was the case with me and zucchini. I honestly can't stand the stuff the way I used to love it: sauteed in butter with a little bit of salt and garlic, or even with some basil. It's unappealing now.
So why, you're probably wondering, do I still grow it? Well, for so many reasons. For one, it still grows really well here. For another, it's very versatile. Just because I don't want to have some as a side dish for my salmon doesn't mean that it's not still good in other things. And the list of "other things" you can make with it is quite long. Many of these things are ones that Shane and I both love, even though neither of us is terribly fond of zucchini as zucchini. (Shane hated it long before I did.)
So, if you're looking for something to do with the glut of zucchini, here's my list of links for my favorite zucchini recipes (and a few notes on how I do it):
Grilled vegetable panini: This is the only way Shane and I eat fresh zucchini, rather than shredded and frozen. The first time I made it Shane was soooo skeptical. But we both love it, and we use a mix of our zucchini and yellow summer squash. I make my own French bread loaves for it, and instead of grilling the veggies (since I don't know how to turn on the grill) I saute them. Also, we tend to leave out the eggplant because Shane hates it and I don't grow it. The only trickiness is in baking it long enough that the cheese gets all melty, but not so long that everything starts sliding off the bread.
Zucchini chocolate chip cookies: So yummy! These get devoured quickly. Shane will eat a few, but he's not the biggest fan of sweets anyway. (The man hates cake--cake!!!) I love that they stay moist, even in our dry Fairbanks air.'s making me want to make some again.
Zucchini Pancakes: In the middle of winter, these feel like such a treat. And they're amazingly healthy, too, since they're made with whole wheat. I recently discovered that my favorite topping for them is to smother them in applesauce. Yum!
Zucchni Bread: An old standby. How could I talk about what to do with zucchini and not include this? In fact, I don't have a link because I don't really have a specific recipe to highlight. I usually just Google one when I want to make some. Some have nuts, others have chocolate chips. Here's a hint, though: be sure to add in a little bit of nutmeg. Nutmeg and squash is pretty much one of the best flavor combinations out there.
Another common one (which I again don't have a link for) is zucchini muffins. I don't have a recipe because I don't actually have any muffin pans. I want to get some soon, but for now I can't. (Also, I can't say "muffin" without thinking of this SNL clip. I love Betty White.)
If you've still got a ton of squash and are at a loss as to what to do with it, or if you get sick of those recipes, there's always this link about 20 ways to cook zucchini. I know some people throw it in their marinara sauce, which I've tried. It tastes better if it's fresh zucchini grated into the sauce, or fresh in small chunks. Previously frozen zucchini adds a bit of an odd taste to the sauce, in my opinion. But perhaps you'll like it.
There are so many ways to use zucchini. Because it's so prolific, people have come up with a zillion ways to eat it, hide it in other foods, or otherwise get rid of it without wasting it, so you can find plenty of recipes.
A word about freezing zucchini: it can be done several ways. One way I might try this year (depending on how many jars I have leftover) is to freeze it in small-ish canning jars. That way there's no measuring or eyeballing and wondering, "Is this two cups or more like 2 1/2?" Just be sure to leave room at the top for expansion--don't pack it full!
If you're freezing it in bags, like I usually do, make sure the bag is flat when you freeze it. I never remember to do this and we end up playing freezer Jenga, trying to keep everything in the freezer in such a way that it will close and not fall on your toes as soon as you open the door. Freezing things flat like this makes it much easier to organize and you don't have to worry about broken toes.
Always shred zucchini before freezing it. I tried chopping it up and freezing it that way, but ended up throwing it all out because it got so mushy and was really gross to eat.
I've seen several suggestions that you should blanch zucchini before freezing it, but I never have. It just seems like a wasted extra step to me, and a lot of trouble. Since I only put the shredded zucchini in things, I don't think it would make a huge difference to taste or texture to blanch it first.

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