8/11/11

Attack of the killer zucchini!

I forgot to harvest my vegetables before we went camping last weekend, so we came home to a couple of killer zucchini.


What a wonderful vegetable! They thrive on neglect, grow in the worst soil and produce in spite of every hardship. Each year, they exceed all my expectations with their voracious production, and each year I'm forced to exhaust my entire recipe library to manage the bounty.

But what do you do with those monstrous overgrown zucchini squashes? I read a report last year about a Montana woman who fended off a snarling bear using her 14-inch zucchini as a weapon. Then, there are the Italians, who stack the huge squash outside their house like cord wood before feeding them to the pigs, according to Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal Vegetable Miracle. For me, it's totally excruciating to imagine "wasting" perfectly good produce on the livestock, especially if it hails from my own garden, and by now you surely know that if something was busting into my house, I would not be using a zucchini to defend myself...


So, my first tried and true solution to zucchini overload is zucchini bread. I shred tons of zucchini every summer with my Cuisinart shredder attachment and make batches of bread in bulk, often baking 6-8 loaves at a time. Once made, I wrap the cooled loaves in tinfoil, seal the wrapped packages in a Ziplock and pop them in the freezer. The frozen loaves last well for up to a year, which is much better than just freezing shredded zucchini.

Over the years, I've discovered that packing a still-frozen loaf for a camping or hunting trip is a perfect breakfast solution, as it travels well in it's solid state, and once thawed (usually by morning), tastes delicious and doesn't  dirty any dishes to enjoy.

I have two other favorite solutions for these freakish gourds: The first is a deliciously upscale pureed cream of zucchini soup, courtesy of Julia Child, and the other is a definitely down home zucchini casserole. Check the recipes, share them with your friends...you know you're gonna need them if you don't already!

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Zucchini Bread 
(makes 2 loaves)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional)

Combine all ingredients, pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees.

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Cream of Zucchini Soup
  • 1½ pounds of zucchini
  • ½ cup minced shallot, or an onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1½ tsp. wine vinegar
  • ¾ tsp. dried dill weed
  • 4 tbsp. quick-cooking Cream of Wheat
  • 1 cup sour cream
Cut zucchini into half-inch chunks. Cook shallots or onion in butter until tender, but not browned. Add zucchini, broth, vinegar, and dill. Bring to a rolling boil, then stir in Cream of Wheat. Simmer, partially covered, for 20-25 minutes. Puree with immersion blender (or in food processor or blender), adding sour cream, salt and pepper. Serve chilled.

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Zucchini casserole
  • 6 cups zucchini, diced in 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1 can of mushrooms (drained)
  • 1 package dry bread stuffing mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Grease casserole dish. In a large saucepan, cook zucchini, carrots, onion and peppers until crisp tender. Mix in mushrooms, condensed soup and sour cream. In a small bowl, mix together stuffing and melted butter. Spread half stuffing into greased casserole dish. Add zucchini mixture. Top with remaining stuffing mix. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until top is golden brown.


1 comment:

  1. Yum! The soup sounds good! Will have to try it as DS has never met a soup he didn't like and it seems I always have zucchini -- fresh or dried.

    ReplyDelete