Ask Chef Phyllis:
By late summer, I have an abundant amount of zucchini from my garden, and most of the time by then my family is tired of eating it as a vegetable, in a soup, or from the grill. I know if you leave a not-so big zucchini just an extra day or two, very soon you’ll have a huge zucchini with too much seed. Do I use all of the big ones? Help—all zucchineed out!
—Jo-Anne Durando, New York
I know just from reading my email and watching shows on the Food Network that the most asked-about summer vegetable is, bar none, zucchini. That said, I have many suggestions for wisely using your abundant crop. The following recipes for moist zucchini-nut quick bread and savory zucchini fritters are among my favorites.
The squash should be picked before it becomes huge and full of seeds—which seems to always happen overnight. Try to harvest green zucchini at about 8 inches long and 2–2½ inches thick. If they’re spongy or have mold near the blossom end, discard them. To store, carefully wash the skins, leave them whole, and place in the high humidity compartment of your refrigerator. Also keep in mind that it’s best to use zucchini within about 3 days. If you happen to be cooking with really large zucchini, cut them in half to remove the spongy middle section and the seeds with a tablespoon before you grate them.
Rich in potassium as well as vitamins A and C, zucchini is also a good source of fiber when you consume the skin—I personally like seeing a little green skin throughout my zucchini bread. By the way, if you still have many blossoms on the vine, don’t sell them short. Italians have always prized the zucchini blossoms, and these days they’re considered a highly priced delicacy item. Since it’s too late for the blossoms to develop into zucchini, go ahead and pick them. After checking carefully for any insects that may be hiding inside the flower, season the blossoms with some salt, pepper, and sliced garlic, and then fry them up in a little olive oil. What a treat to top your favorite salad greens!
Moist Zucchini-Nut Quick Bread
Makes two 9×5-inch loaf pans.
- 2 medium zucchini, skin included, shredded on the large-holed side of a box grater (about 2–2½ cups)
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup honey or rapadura sugar
- ½ cup butter, melted and cooled
- ½ cup peanut oil
- 3 cups white whole-wheat flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9×5-inch loaf pans and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add grated zucchini, eggs, honey or rapadura sugar, butter, and peanut oil. Mix gently by hand until the wet ingredients are just combined.
- Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, pecans, orange juice, orange zest, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and sea salt. With a hand beater, mix well until all the ingredients are combined. The batter will be thick.
- Spread the batter equally between the two loaf pans. Rap the pans lightly on the counter to release any air bubbles.
- Bake for 55– 60 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
- Set pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing the loaves. When completely cooled, wrap tightly in plastic wrap. For long-term storage, wrap again in freezer paper or plastic gallon bags.
Chef’s Tip: You may keep the cooked fritters warm in a preheated 400°F oven until all of the batches have been fried. I particularly like this as a side dish for leftover roast or a light Sunday summer supper.
- 3 cups grated zucchini
- 3 eggs at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 3 tablespoons arrowroot flour
- 1 teaspoon each oregano, basil, salt, and black pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- Marinara sauce (optional)
- Place the shredded zucchini in a colander to drain the excess liquid. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add eggs, olive oil, onion, garlic, Parmesan, arrowroot, and spices. Add red pepper flakes if desired. Mix ingredients until well blended.
- Add zucchini to the bowl. Mix gently until zucchini is thoroughly coated with the egg and cheese mixture.
- Heat about 6 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan. When the oil is hot, spoon in about ¾ cup of batter, which will spread out by itself. Fry until crisp, about 3–4 minutes. Flip carefully and fry the other side for about 2 minutes.
- Serve immediately, accompanied with marinara sauce if desired.
To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:
- chemical- and hormone-free meat
- wild-caught fish
- pasture-raised, organic eggs
- whole, unrefined grains
- virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
- whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
- pure, clean, spring water
- sea salt
- raw and/or cultured milk and cream products
Creative Commons photo by Joy