Put Up Your Zukes

Put Up Your Zukes

August 8th is Sneak some Zucchini onto your Neighbor’s Porch Day.  Let us explain.  Back in the day, agrarians of America were notorious for seeding excessive zucchini crops, often resulting in overabundant harvests.  To contend with these proverbial rabbits of produce, the farmers would stealthily smuggle the crops next door in the dead of darkness–ultimately planting the seeds for one of the most ridiculous occasions ever to be called a holiday.  After all, what better way to rid oneself of surplus summer squash than a surprise delivery on your neighbor’s stoop?

“Believe it or not, anonymous zucchini porch-droppers are rampant here–and not just on one day of the year,” says Dara Michalski of Utah, a chef and author of the blog Cookin’ Canuck.  “People have even been known to open the doors of unlocked cars and deposit large bags of the green squash on the seat.”

Should you find yourself recipient of any unwanted zucchini this weekend, here are some scrumptious suggestions to help you make the best of it.

Recipe: Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

From Ricki Heller at Diet, Dessert and Dogs (dietdessertndogs.com)

Ricki writes, “Infinitely adaptable, this recipe is great when you’ve got leftover cooked grains, extra zucchini, or just feel like a hearty, tummy-warming breakfast.”  She adds, “This is not a zucchini-flavored oatmeal. You won’t really taste any zucchini in this (though you might detect a few shreds here and there).  The veggie is just a silent nutritional bonus!”

Ingredients (Per Serving):
2/3 cup (160 ml) water or soy, almond, or rice milk
pinch fine sea salt
1/3 cup (80 ml) dry steel-cut oatmeal
1/4 medium zucchini, grated very fine (use smallest holes on box grater, or “fine” blade on food processor)
handful chopped pecans
1/2-1 tsp (2.5-5 ml) cinnamon, to your taste
pinch nutmeg or 1/8 tsp (.5 ml) ground ginger, if desired
1 heaping Tbsp (20 ml) natural smooth almond butter, or nut/seed butter of your choice
handful raisins, if desired
1 Tbsp (15 ml) agave nectar or maple syrup, or 5 drops stevia liquid

In a heavy bottomed pot, bring the water and salt to a boil over high heat.  Add the oats, lower the heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice (if the bottom begins to scorch, add a bit more liquid).

After 15 minutes, add the zucchini, nuts, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir well, then cover again and cook for another 5 minutes.  (Again, if the oats are too dry, add a bit more liquid).

Remove from heat, stir in the almond butter.  Stir before serving with sweetener of your choice and more milk, if desired.  Makes one serving.

Variation:  You can substitute about 3/4 cup (180 ml) of another cooked grain of your choice for the oats and water.  In that case, either reheat the grains in about 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk before adding the remaining ingredients, or blend the grain, nut butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk in a food processor before warming gently for 7-10 minutes; stir in the zucchini and then allow to warm through before serving.

Recipe: Creamy Zucchini & Coconut Milk Soup (Dairy Free)

From Dara Michalski, The Cookin’ Canuck (cookincanuck.com)

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red jalapeno pepper, seeds & membranes removed (if desired), and minced
3 cups (packed) grated zucchini
1 tbsp minced fresh mint leaves
1/2 tsp kosher salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (plus more to taste)
2 3/4 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup coconut milk

Photo: Dara Michalski

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan set over medium-low heat. Add the onion and chili pepper, and sweat (cook without browning) until the onion is soft and translucent, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for additional 2 minutes.

Turn the heat to medium, add the grated zucchini and chopped mint leaves, and cook until the zucchini is starting to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove soup from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Trust me, you do not want to skip this step. That is, unless you enjoy wiping hot soup off your ceiling after your blender lid flies off.

Process the soup in a blender, in two batches, until the soup is almost smooth, but with a little bit of texture. Return to the saucepan, stir in coconut milk, reheat, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

This soup can also be served chilled – a nice treat on a hot day.

Serves 4 as an appetizer course.

Recipe: Zucchini-Sausage Pizza

From Mark Bittman, “The Minimalist” (The New York Times)

Makes 1 large, 2 medium or more smaller pizzas
Time: 40 minutes
Zucchini, sausage and garlic deliver intense but clear tastes on this pizza. The zucchini should be thinly sliced and salted and left to drain to remove some liquid.
4 small or 2 large zucchini
Coarse salt
Pizza dough (see recipe)
2 or 3 sweet Italian sausages, meat removed from the casing and crumbled
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced garlic

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
2. Thinly slice zucchini, salt lightly and let sit at least 20 minutes, then drain off any accumulated liquid.
3. Top pizza rounds with zucchini, sausage and garlic and bake about 15 minutes, or until nicely browned.
For the Dough:
1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
3 cups (about 14 ounces) all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1 to 1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

Combine the yeast, flour, and 2 teaspoons salt in the container of a food processor.  Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water and the 2 tablespoons of oil through the feed tube. Process for about 30 seconds, adding more water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch.  If it is dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds.  (In the unlikely event that the mixture is too sticky, add flour, a tablespoon at a time.)

Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball.  Grease a bowl with the remaining olive oil, and place the dough in it.  Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let rise in warm, draft-free area until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours.  You can cut this rising time short if you are in a hurry, or you can let the dough rise more slowly, in the refrigerator, for up to 6 to 8 hours.

Wrap the dough tightly in plpastic wrap and freeze for up to a month.  Defrost in a covered bowl in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

To make this dough by hand: Combine half the flour with the salt and yeast and stir to blend.  Add 1 cup water and the 2 tablespoons olive oil; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Add remaining flour a bit at a time; when the mixture becomes too stiff to stir with a spoon ,begin kneading, adding as little four as possible – just enough to keep the dough from being a sticky mess.  Knead until smooth but still quite moist, about 10 minutes.  Proceed as above.

Recipe: Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

From Lacey Stevens-Baier, A Sweet Pea Chef (asweetpeachef.com) – adapted from a recipe in Martha Stewart’s Everyday Foods submitted by Ian Young of Oakland, CA (May 2007, Volume #42)

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 zucchini (10 ounces), coarsely grated (1 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Photo: Lacey Stevens-Baier

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cups of a standard (12-cup) muffin tin with paper or foil liners. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Mix in nuts.

In another bowl, combine zucchini, oil, eggs, and vanilla; add to flour mixture, and mix just until combined (do not overmix).

Divide batter evenly among cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.

Cool in tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes out, right side up, and cool completely. Meanwhile, make frosting. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, spread frosting on cupcakes. The frosted cupcakes are best eaten within 1 day.

For the frosting
Makes enough for 12 cupcakes
4 tablespoons room-temperature unsalted butter
4 ounces room-temperature bar cream cheese
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth.

Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract; beat until light and fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 day.

Recipes and photos reprinted by permission.

Published on August 6, 2010