Everyone has the same problem this time of year.
No, not deciding which pair of Frye boots will be crucial to your signature look this fall—the problem is too much zucchini. It's almost trite to mention, it's so common—yet every year we plant a couple more zucchini in our garden. "Oh, this year I'll be better," you say. "This year I'll really eat them all."
Well this year really will
be different. I can help. I have lots of good ideas for you, and not a single one of them is "leave a box of zucchini on your neighbor's porch."
Smaller is Better
My first tip may seem like a "no doy," but it's really going to spare you a lot of heartache: Pick them tiny. I pick a lot of my summer squash when they're itty-bitty, sometimes with the flowers still attached. Then you can either:
- Stuff the flowers with soft cheese and fry them, or
- Throw them on a grill until the squash is lightly browned and al dente.
Then toss them with olive oil, chopped fresh herbs and a pinch of salt for a very fast pasta topping. Remember: Picking them small really helps you stay on top of things.
Zucchini as Pasta
If you're avoiding carbs or gluten, try running zucchini lengthwise on a mandoline to make ribbons of "pasta" (you can cut the ribbons into thinner "noodles" if you like). Dunk them in salted boiling water for one minute and toss them with your favorite sauce. If you love carbs like me, try roasting chopped zucchini and folding it into risotto with pumpkin seeds and pesto.
Just Add Zucchini
I toss diced or grated zukes into everything these days for a little nutritive kick and to stretch more calorie-dense ingredients. Craving Middle Eastern food? Try a falafel or gyro with the garbanzos or lamb mixed with grated zucchini. Or stuff an overgrown zucchini with ground meat, cooked rice, feta, mint, oregano and the scooped-out zuke all diced up. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes and serve with a salad and a crisp rosé for a satisfying yet surprisingly light supper.
Another idea is a salad of cold zucchini, avocado and corn, perfect as a side to grilled fish or shellfish or as a taco or hot dog topping. Just dice up two zucchini and toss with kernels cut from three ears of corn, one diced avocado, the juice of one lime, two tablespoons of olive oil and 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste, and a bit of minced jalapeño if you're feeling feisty.
Last, you can always save some for later, by turning them into bread-and-butter pickles. It's easy: Just slice up 4 quarts of small zukes into 1/8" coins, then stuff them into jars. Pour on a brine of 3 cups white vinegar, 1 cup water, 3/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons of salt, and a tablespoon each of celery seed, mustard seed and coriander seed (heat the brine enough to dissolve the sugar and salt). Seal the jars and either store them in the fridge for a month or can them in a boiling water bath (if you do, add 1/4 teaspoon of calcium chloride to each pint to improve crispness and follow the USDA/NCHFP canning guidelines
And if you find yourself in way over your head after all, you can still give them away. But instead of foisting them on your neighbors (who may have their own zucchini problems), why not consider donating excess vegetables to your local food bank?
More Zucchini on Tablespoon