Oh, the prolific zucchini
In late summer, gardeners of every skill level swear they’ll never plant another hill of zucchini, but by the time spring rolls around, the oft-maligned fruit winds up in the garden once again. Gardeners love zucchini in the spring because it performs so cheerfully and is usually the first squash to make it to the table. But midsummer bushels of the long, green or striped fruit leave gardeners wondering what to do with all the bounty.
Some fresh new ideas on how to eat up the excess is what people need..
Zucchini are best picked when 6 to 8 inches long, although they can grow to be 2 feet long.
The bigger the zucchini gets, the tougher it is, and the more seeds the fruit will contain. When purchasing, look for zucchini that have no bruises or broken skin.
They can be stored in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for three to seven days before use. Do not keep zucchini too long or they get mushy.
One cup of raw zucchini contains only about 25 calories. As with all fresh vegetables, zucchini supplies many vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C, plus potassium, along with a healthy dose of fiber.
Has anyone ever handed you a large zucchini? Did you wonder what in the world you were going to do with this 2-foot-long squash? Don’t throw it away.
Younger and smaller zucchini are more tender, but the older, tougher ones still have their uses. They are great for stuffed zucchini, for dipping and frying, or for making zucchini Parmesan or zucchini bread.
My mother recently made eight loaves of bread from one very large zucchini.
Note: Salt is optional, but can be added to taste in all recipes.
Breaded and fried zucchini
1 zucchini, 8 to 18 inches
2 to 3 eggs
Italian bread crumbs
Pour 1/2 inch canola oil in 10- to 12-inch skillet and heat.
Wash zucchini and place on cutting board. Cut off ends and slice zucchini in even slices, 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick.
In soup bowl, crack eggs; whisk until frothy. Whisk in a little milk. Place bread crumbs in another soup bowl.
Line platter with paper towel and place platter on unlit burner behind skillet. As you fill platter with layers of zucchini, place another paper towel on top to absorb oil.
With fork, pick up a slice of zucchini and place in egg mixture, coating both sides, then place in bread crumbs. Carefully add zucchini slice to hot oil in skillet. Brown bottom side, then flip and brown other side. Repeat with remaining zucchini.
These fried slices of zucchini can be eaten as a side dish (or just nibbled while cooking), or they can be cooled, then placed on a cookie sheet and frozen, then placed in a container and left in the freezer until needed for zucchini Parmesan.
The oil may have to be changed before all the zucchini slices have been fried because both the oil and the bread crumbs will start to burn. Put the oil in an empty coffee can or use paper towels to soak it up. Be careful, as the oil will be hot. Clean the pan and start again with fresh oil.
1 zucchini, 12 to 18 inches
1/2 to 1 pound ground beef or meatloaf mix (equal amounts beef, pork and veal)
1 can (14 to 16 ounces) corn, drained, or
1 box (16 ounces) frozen corn, thawed and drained, or leftovers (any amount) from corn on the cob
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
1 tomato, chopped
3 to 4 eggs
1 box stuffing mix
Black pepper or crushed red pepper to taste
Grated or sliced mozzarella cheese
Heat oven to 350 degrees Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; set aside.
Wash zucchini and place on cutting board. Cut off each end and slice zucchini in half lengthwise. Use tablespoon or serving spoon to scoop out seeds and make a hollow in each half. Place, hollow side up, in prepared dish.
In large bowl, combine remaining ingredients, except cheese. Spoon into zucchini hollows. Add water around zucchini to 1-inch depth.
Cover dish with foil, and bake for 1 to 2 hours, or until zucchini is tender.
Remove foil, and top each zucchini hollow with cheese. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
While frying the breaded zucchini, have a package of Italian sausage links cooking in a pot of water. When they are cooked, slice them on a platter or plate.
If using frozen fried and breaded zucchini, thaw while cooking sausage.
Spoon a little spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a covered casserole and spread it across the bottom of the dish. Place some Italian sausage in the sauce, then place a layer of fried zucchini.
Beginning and ending with spaghetti sauce, repeat layers until all ingredients have been used.
This can take more than one casserole dish depending on the size and amount of zucchini being used.
Top with grated cheese, and bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling around the edges.
These casseroles can be made up and placed in the freezer until needed. A day or two before baking, move from freezer to refrigerator to thaw.
Excerpted from GRIT, Celebrating Rural America Since 1882. To read more articles from GRIT, please visit “http://www.Grit.com”>www.Grit.com. Copyright 2011 by Ogden Publications Inc.
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