Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What to do with Zucchini

I present this piece as a public service announcement. It's zucchini season, friends, and anyone with a garden needs this recipe in their arsenal.

Gone is my love for zucchini. This happens every year: in May, I yearn for those first supple little slices, meltingly tasty and bright green. In July, I celebrate the first garden zucchini almost as enthusiastically as I celebrate the first tomato. I fill our meal plans with them. I roast them, bake them, grill them and saute them.

And then August rolls around and I start to pray for a killing frost. A frost, a flood, even a blizzard, something to dull the vigor of the vines. By now, it's begun to seem almost menacing, the way they persist in filling my kitchen countertops with corpulent squashes. Don't they know they're no longer needed? Or even wanted? In a capitalist culture, there's something unsettling about beings that continue producing long after demand is met. Zucchini are a economic enigma. Adam Smith's worst nightmare.

I'm still using them, of course. But by now I'm going for covert employments of zucchini, as opposed to making them center stage. I shred them mercilessly, running the long green spindles one by one through my food processor as if it were a wood chipper. This is a recipe we adapted from an old Moosewood cookbook (circa 1973, I believe). It's ridded our kitchen of a scourge of zucchini many a time.

The recipe calls for shredded zucchini, which, at our house, means pulling out the food processor. We like to make this recipe when we have many zucchinis we'd like to be rid of, running them all through the processor, wood-chipper style, to make enough for many meals of zucchini-crusted pizza. We divide the shredded squash into 3 1/2 cup portions (as needed for the recipe) and salt and drain it before freezing. This makes a whole winter's worth of zucchini crusted pizza a snap.

Zucchini-crusted Pizza

3 1/2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini

Salt the zucchini amply and let sit in a colander over the sink for twenty minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and oil a 9 x 13 baking dish. Squeeze out the excess moisture, and combine in a bowl with:

1/3 cup flour
3 beaten eggs
1 cup grated cheese

The cheese you choose is up to you. I like to use a combination of half soft, melty cheese (like mozzarella) and half hard, strong-flavored cheese (like parmesan). But anything goes. Really.

Dump this eggy cheesy zucchini glop into the baking dish, and spread it out. Bake for 25 minutes, until the surface is dry. For a crisper crust, at this point you can brush the top with oil and broil for five minutes-- but I tend to forgo this step in favor of a speedier meal.

And now, folks, comes the fun part. It's terrific enough that this recipe uses up zucchini. But what makes it even better, in my mind, is that it uses leftovers, too. Amazing. For toppings, as with cheese, anything is fair game. Here's a few combinations we've tried and loved at our house:

Pizza sauce, mushrooms/olives, and mozzarella cheese
Salsa, black beans, corn, and monterey jack cheese
Sliced fresh tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella
White beans, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes (pictured above)
Green beans, red onion, wholegrain mustard, and swiss cheese

Turn your oven down to 350, pile on your toppings, and slide the zucchini pie back in for 20 minutes.


BeckyinVT said...

That DOES sound good! I've written down the recipe already, thanks!

alanna rose said...

You are a genius.

I still have some zucchini in the freezer (leftover from last year!) that must be eaten, I think I'll just make some pizzas :)

Dany said...

I have several fantastic zucchini recipes. If you are interested email me at kbonesss@gmail.com and I'll put them into a word doc for you.


ps yours sounds great.... unfortunately my zucchinis are never ready until late September, so it will be a while before I can try it.

Kristen said...

Just made this for lunch, so good, thanks for sharing the recipe.

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