What is the Doctor Who master race of the vegetable garden? Zucchini, of course. All this summer’s rain, sun and heat has produced a bumper crop in our garden, even thought just one vine survived spring groundhog predation!
We are enjoying the glut, and I say so without sarcasm. This plant is a gift to the summer cook. Just don’t turn your back for three days.
In case you run out of things to do with your zucchini harvest, here are six of my favourite ways to use them.
Zucchini ricotta fritters
These appear in the image above. Grate two medium zucchini. Combine it in a large bowl with ½ cup ricotta cheese, 2 large eggs, grated zest of one lemon, one or two finely chopped garlic scapes or cloves, a finely chopped small red onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Some chopped dill or other fresh herbs can also be added. Finally, blend in ¾ cup all-purpose flour (a gluten-free flour blend works fine). Heat ½ cm olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place hearty spoonfuls of batter in the hot oil, flatten them and fry on each side for a couple minutes, then put them in a warm oven while you do the rest.
Grate or mince 5 carrots, 1 medium zucchini, 2 sticks of celery, 2 garlic cloves, a small onion and 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley or basil. Brown ¼ cup of butter over medium heat, then sauté the vegies 10 minutes. Add two big cans of tomato sauce and simmer for two hours. Grate 450 g of mozzarella. Assemble sauce and cheese in layers with boiled or oven-ready lasagna noodles, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes in a 350°F oven. Here is my complete recipe.
For a low-carb lasagna alternative, try eliminating the pasta. Cut some medium zucchini into 5 mm slices, place them on a well-oiled baking sheet, turning once to coat, and roast at 450°F for 15 minutes. Then use the roasted slices instead of pasta in your favourite lasagna recipe.
Easy paleo zucchini brownies
I made these easy brownies for a party recently and they were yummy. Philosophically, I do not see how chocolate, baking soda or all these spices belong in the paleo diet. Personally, I do not care. These brownies taste good and are reasonably healthy.
Combine 1 cup almond butter, 1 small grated zucchini, 1/3 cup honey, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon each of vanilla, baking soda and cinnamon, ½ teaspoon each of nutmeg and allspice, and 1 cup of dark chocolate chips. Spread in a square baking pan and bake at 350°
Cut two small zucchinis in half and scoop out the pulp. Steam the shells until barely tender. Sauté 1 tablespoon minced onion or garlic until softened, then add zucchini pulp and sauté until tender. Crack an egg into the pan. Add some fresh chives, parsley or dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fry until the white starts to cook, then scramble briefly, not allowing the eggs to dry out. Scoop the pulp back into the shells, grate cheddar cheese overtop and broil until the top starts to brown.
Pasta with basil margarita shrimp
Peal 450 g of raw shrimp and marinade 30 minutes in a mixture of ¼ cup chopped, fresh basil, ¼ cup tomato paste, 2 tablespoons olive oil, minced garlic, 2 oz. tequila, juice of two limes, salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Chop one medium zucchini into bite-sized pieces. Sauté shrimp mixture over medium-high heat. Before shrimp are thoroughly pink, add zucchini and stir one more minute. Stir in cooked, fresh pasta to heat through then add another ¼ cup chopped, fresh basil. Serve with grated parmesan and pepper to taste. The complete recipe is here.