What to do with too much Zucchini!

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on August 3, 2007

Zucchini–It’s everywhere here in upstate NY right now. When I go to church, there is a pile in the social hall, free for the taking. My good friend Sherry has offered all I can pick while she is on vacation. I even went into the American Legion bar yesterday evening (on my way to our American Legion Riders meeting) and found a pile laying on the bar for anyone who wanted to take it. (This tendency for Zucchini to overproduce makes it a very frugal vegetable-usually you can score a whole bunch for free) If you yourself have got a couple of healthy zucchini plants, then you are probably trying to foist it off on unsuspecting neighbors right about now.

So what to do with all this green squashy goodness? There are 3 main ways to use up your zucchini: as a vegetable, a pickle or a fruit (believe it or not)

As a vegetable, my favorite easy way to prepare zucchini is to boil it until just barely done. Then I sprinkle with Seasoned Salt (homemade of course) and eat! Low calorie and yummy. The very easiest way is to cut up the zucchini, place it in a microwave safe bowl-I’m lazy and throw it in my measuring cup, fill with water just to cover, and nuke on high for 3 minutes. Then you can drain the water and eat.

Another super simple way to eat it is raw. You can chop it up and throw it in a salad, or cut it into slices/spears for a crudities and serve with dip.

The other classic way to use up your surplus is to make zucchini bread. If you’ve never had it, this is a sweet (not savory!) lightly spiced quick bread. Many recipes include extras such as raisins or nuts. A Google search for “Zucchini Bread Recipe” offers up 2,330,000 results-so there are plenty of them out there to choose from. I personally use the one in the good old Betty Crocker Cookbook*. I’m sure that just about any basic cookbook you have on your shelf has a recipe for Zucchini Bread in it.

But even I get sick of raw and boiled zucchini after a while. And although I could eat Zucchini Bread every day, after a while my waistline wouldn’t thank me. So the next step in my arsenal is to add it to stir fries, curries, soups etc. I also saute it with some onions and serve it as it’s own side dish. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese is lovely on this as well.**

This year I tried my hand for the first time at making Zucchini Pickles. I used a sweet pickle recipe (which I will post this weekend) and it came out delicious! I actually canned them in a boiling water bath, but I think that they would be lovely used as refrigerator pickle and eaten right away, or else frozen in the brine. There are also some intriguing recipes for Zucchini relish that I plan on trying soon.

There is also a delicious baked zucchini casserole that I make. You can find tons of different casserole styles (most are creamy based or cheese based-again Google or a site such as Recipezaar.com are your friend here), but this one is sort of a baked bready/stuffing thing that I got out of a “Taste of Home” magazine years ago. Be warned, this is not a low calorie recipe.

Dilly Zucchini Casserole

1 Cup Bisquick or homemade alternative
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Tablespoon Dill Weed
1 teaspoon Salt (if you’ve salted and drained your zucchini, I’d skip this)
1/8 teaspoon Pepper
4 Eggs, beaten
1/2 Cup Canola Oil
3 Cups Chopped Zucchini (I salt and drain mine-just to keep it from getting soupy)
1 Large Onion, Chopped

-In a bowl, combine Bisquick, Parmesan, Dill, Salt and Pepper.
-Add Eggs and Oil; Mix well.
-Stir in Zucchini and Onion until well blended.
-Scrape into a greased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.
-Bake uncovered at 375 for 30 minutes (mine takes more like 45-you don’t want the middle to be raw but rather bread/biscuity) until golden brown.

My final suggestion for today is to use Zucchini as a “fruit”. I have never tried this myself, but have a girlfriend who does this every year. There are many recipes out there to use zucchini and come out with something that everyone around you would swear was apple. Great minds must think alike, because Stephanie over at Stop the Ride posted a recipe for Zucchini Strudel today! Some other examples from RecipeZaar.com with Zucchini being used as an apple substitute are: Zucchini Cobbler, Zucchini Pie and Zucchini Bars.

So there it is, a ton of ways to use that Zucchini. Who knows, you may even start ASKING people for extra :) Good luck to you all in using up your bountiful harvest.

* Note: You can even shred up zucchini and freeze it in the portions required by your favorite recipe-when you thaw, drain out the liquid (there will be a bunch) and use it in place of the liquids called for by your recipe. This preserves all the vitamins.

**Note: Zucchini has a lot of water in it. I like to use some salt to draw out some of the water first in recipes where I don’t want things to be “wet”-just remember to adjust the seasoning in your recipe to accommodate the extra salt. Even after rinsing it leaves quite a bit on the zucchini. Lately I’ve been cutting up 2 large zucchini, then soaking them in water which has had 1/4 cup of salt added for about an hour or so. Then I drain, rinse, and gently squeeze out even more water.

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