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Celebrate National Zucchini Day

Updated: 
August 8, 2017 - 12:05am

It’s often the big ones; ignored in the garden until they are approaching the size of a Mini Cooper. The grower, already overwhelmed with an abundant crop, decides to “gift” these veggie-monsters to a garden-deprived neighbor; maybe you. Fear not: the giant green one is amazingly versatile, so you can slice and sauté, stuff and bake, dice into a salad or stir-fry, add to an omelet, even grate it as a secret ingredient in a tea bread or moist cake. So just smile widely, thank the giver, and celebrate National Sneak Some Zucchini Into Your Neighbor’s Porch Day (yes, it’s today) with one or more of these easy recipes. Maybe next year you will sneak into the neighbor’s garden and …

Quick Zucchini Pickles

No long brining here; just a quick, tart liquid that keeps it crisp and flavorful. Try with sandwiches, cold cuts, and pasta salad. Should keep about a week if refrigerated. Recipe from “Chutneys &Relishes” by Lorraine Bodger; makes about 4 cups.

4 medium zucchini (about 1 1/4 pounds)

1 medium sweet onion

1 cup cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon celery seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon English-style powdered mustard

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Trim zucchini; cut each in half lengthwise. Cut each half in long strips about 1/4-inch wide; cut strips down to 1 1/2-inch pieces. Peel onion; cut in 1/2-inch slices; cut slices into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large saucepan, combine remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Add onions; stir well and simmer for 3 minutes. Add zucchini; stir again and cook 2 minutes more. Remove from heat; let cool, stirring occasionally, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until chilled.

Zucchini with Herbs

This is a very easy side dish that also makes a good filling for omelets. Recipe from “Kitchen Garden: by Anna Nicholas; makes up to 4 servings, depending on how much zucchini you decide to use.

Up to 2 pounds zucchini, washed, whole

Salt

3 tablespoons olive oil (or a mixture of olive oil and butter)

Lemon Juice

Fresh basil and parsley leaves

Coarsely grate zucchini, skins and all, and spread out on a clean towel inside a colander to drain. Sprinkle with salt and let stand for about an hour. Squeeze zucchini in the towel so all the liquid runs out. In a skillet, heat olive oil (and butter if using); add zucchini and gently cook until tender, turning occasionally. Sprinkle with lemon juice to taste, then herbs, and serve immediately. Add to a cooked omelet just before serving.

Lentil-stuffed Zucchini

With pulses like lentils having their moment as a non-meat protein source, this is a creative way to eat them and use up zucchini at the same time. Recipe from “The Gourmet Prescription” by Deborah Friedson Chud, M.D.; makes 4 servings.

3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced parsley

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon chopped oil-cured black olives

1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped fresh plum tomatoes

3/4 cup cooked lentils, drained

Salt and black pepper

4 medium zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds), trimmed and halved lengthwise

In a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes; saute for 2 minutes. Add olives, tomatoes, lentils, salt and pepper to taste; simmer for 3 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.

Scoop out pulp from zucchini halves, leaving a 1/4- to 1/3-inch shell. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil; blanch zucchini boats for 2 minutes. Drain; run under cold water to stop cooking, then dry well on paper towels. Season cut surfaces with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a nonstick baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon about 3 rounded tablespoons of stuffing into each zucchini boat, place on baking sheet, and drizzle each with 1/4 teaspoon olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes; serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Carrot and Zucchini Chocolate Cake

Still got a piece of that big squash left? Zucchini makes a healthy addition to baked goods, offering fiber and vitamins A and C, as well as a texture enhancer. Makes 12 servings.

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon each: ground nutmeg, ground allspice, salt

1 1/2 cups shredded carrots

1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini

1 package (6 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, allspice and salt. Stir in carrots, zucchini and chocolate chips. In a separate small bowl, beat oil and eggs together; add to dry ingredients and stir to moisten well. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool on a rack. When cool, sprinkle top with powdered sugar, if desired, and cut into squares. Store up to 2 days.

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