Don’t you love summer veggies? If you garden or belong to a CSA, or even shop at a Farmer’s Market and can’t resist a good deal, your kitchen may be overflowing with some of summer’s most prolific producers. Here are some new ways to prepare them.
Joel Salatin once said something to the effect of, “The only reason we lock our cars in the summer is to keep our neighbors from putting their overabundance of zucchini squash in there.”
Yes, when it rains, it pours – especially when it comes to zucchini production. Zucchini season is a kind of shock and awe growing season. It seems each morning you step out to find a full-grown squash where one did not exist the day before. And should you not check for a few days… well, then you come out to find smooth, green baseball bats or bowling pins in your garden.
Zucchini can actually be green or yellow. And if you can, they are best harvested when they are small. Zucchini freezes well, and although some recommend blanching before freezing, I never do. I freeze some sliced, but for the most part I shred my zucchini using a food processor and freeze it in two-cup portions.
A great use for zucchini is quiche (which is one of my favorite meals to have on hand anyway). See this post for a super easy (and adaptable) recipe. Try zucchini and tomato, zucchini and bacon, zucchini with basil or pesto, zucchini and shredded carrot…
Zucchini is also delicious sauteed. Often I quickly slice it (using a mandoline slicer) and saute it in ghee with some garlic and salt for a salt-minute side dish. It pairs well with almost any fresh herb (which are also in abundance right now), so throw in whatever you have.
Here are two adaptations to a basic saute, both based on recipes in Nourishing Traditions.
Classic Sauteed Zucchini
*Sea salt and pepper
Slice your zucchini lengthwise and saute the long slices in a mix of butter and coconut oil. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and sea salt and pepper to taste.
Julienne Zucchini Saute
*6 medium zucchini
*2 tsp. sea salt
*4 Tbsp. butter (Grass-fed)
Julienne your zucchini (I also use the mandoline) and mix it with sea salt. Let stand for an hour. Rinse it with filtered water in a colander and squeeze dry in a tea towel. Slowly melt butter in a heavy skillet and then raise the heat and saute zucchini for one minute.
I love all of those methods. But for me, by about mid-July, I’ve had all the sauteed zucchini I can stand. That’s when I know I need to roll out something new. This next recipe is just about my favorite usage for zucchini. It’s adapted from a recipe our farmer sent out.
Zucchini Pizza Casserole
*4 cups shredded zucchini
*1/2 tsp. sea salt
*1/2 cup raw Parmesan cheese (If I can’t find raw, then I use Locatelli Pecorino Romano, because I love the taste!)
*1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (Raw, if possible. I often use garlic-cheddar.)
*2 lbs. fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded (See note below.)
*1 lb. grass-fed ground beef
*1/2 cup chopped onions
*2 cups pasta sauce (You can use jarred organic, but this is also a good way to use up leftover sauce. You could also make a quick sauce with any leftover tomatoes you have on hand.)
*1 green pepper, chopped (Use whatever color you like or have on hand.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place zucchini in a strainer and sprinkle with salt. Let drain for ten minutes. Squeeze out moisture. Combine zucchini, eggs, Parmesan cheese and half of the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Press into a greased 13″ x 9″ x 2″ pan. (I usually use leftover bacon grease.) Bake for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, brown beef and onions and then add in sauce. Spoon over baked zucchini mixture. Top with remaining cheeses and green pepper. Bake for 20 additional minutes.
To shred fresh mozzarella: Place fresh mozzarella in freezer for a couple of hours. Yes, that long. It will make it so much easier to shred. Use a food processor if at all possible!
One of our favorite appetizers is fried zucchini. Although I usually fry it in slices because that is easier, it’s yummy, and looks so nice, when you take the time to cut it into sticks.
*Zucchini, sliced or cut into sticks
*Breadcrumbs (Any breadcrumbs would work, and homemade from soaked or sprouted bread would be ideal. In a pinch, however, I have used organic panko breadcrumbs with great results.)
*Parmesan cheese, grated
*Tallow or lard (Any fat will do, including coconut oil, but I really love the flavor that tallow and lard impart.)
For this you’ll use the traditional breading/ frying method. Put your flour in one bowl and your beaten eggs in another. In a third bowl, mix together equal parts of the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Take your slices or sticks and dip them first in the flour, then the eggs, and then the breadcrumb mixture. Move aside (I usually place them on a cookie sheet) and bread all your zucchini pieces before beginning frying. When you’re ready to fry, heat your tallow or lard in a nice, heavy skillet. Use enough so the melted fat level will be almost covering the pieces. When it’s nice and hot and shimmering, carefully place your zucchini slices into the pan. Work in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan. When one side is golden brown (a few minutes, depending on your pan temperature), turn them over and fry another minute more. Move to a plate lined with paper towels and fry the next batch.
I serve this with two dips: homemade ranch and a dip made by mixing dijon mustard into the homemade ranch. Sounds strange, but don’t knock it until you try it!
And we have zucchini for breakfast! This recipe is one I have been making since my daughter was a young toddler. It’s slightly modified from one by Dr. Sears.
*1 cup shredded zucchini
*1-2 Tbsp. sprouted whole grain flour (wheat, spelt, etc.)
*1/2 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
*Dash sea salt
*Homemade/ organic jelly or salsa
Stir together zucchini, egg, flour, baking powder and sea salt until just mixed. Pour into preheated, buttered pan. Flip when first side is set but before you do, sprinkle on sesame seeds. Flip to finish cooking. Serve with more butter and jelly, or salsa. (I like it with just butter, my daughter likes a touch of jelly.)
And you can even have zucchini for dessert! Try out this Chocolate Zucchini Cake at Modern Alternative Mama. To me, the consistency is more brownie-like. And I will tell you that even as someone without a particularly bad sweet tooth, this seemed a bit under-sweet at first. But, I got used to it and really kind of enjoy it. I like cutting off tiny slivers and getting a chocolate fix a couple of times a day, guilt-free. (I substituted carob powder for the cocoa (making this caffeine-free) and added in the tiniest splash of chocolate extract.)
You can also follow the recipe for Squash Chips at the end of this post, subbing zucchini for the crooknecks. Or make a colorful mix!
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