Every year it seems that gardeners rally around their common problem of too much zucchini. It’s not something I could ever relate to.
I imagine all of us at a gardener’s cocktail party. I’m wondering how I even got an invitation. Even in my imagination I have imposter syndrome. Somehow I find myself in a conversation with several gardeners and they begin to laugh about the shared problem of too much zucchini. Thinking about my meager zucchini plants of gardens past, and the less than abundant harvest, I smile and nod, playing along while feeling like a fraud.
I’ve always wanted a glut of zucchini, in part so I could hold my own at those make believe gardener’s cocktail parties but mostly because I love zucchini and I can’t imagine ever having too much. Well, I’m happy (and now a bit scared) to report that it is happening. The giant otherworldly leaves are loving this abundant sun we’ve been having and they are doing their job brilliantly, turning the energy from the sun into a feast for the zucchini. Much like I sit in front of my oven to watch the buttery lift of puff pastry, I’ve been tempted to sit in the garden to watch the zucchini grow. It is seemingly happening that fast.
The harvest is, I hate to admit it, more than I can handle. And although I try to capture them while they are young, tender and sweet (before they reach the potential of winning awards at the fair) I can not keep up. Returning home from my latest camping trip the zucchini’s took over and grew far beyond the young, tender, and sweet phase. They are full grown adolescent zucchini.
So now I sit in the pressure of abundance. In the spectrum of scarcity and abundance I live in the fear of both while aiming for the gratitude that removes the fear of scarcity and makes all of life feel perfectly abundant. As I think about this generous harvest and how to make use of it (particularly as the only zucchini fan in the family) I’m wishing I had some sort of zucchini Rolodex; an index of possible uses for this often misrepresented vegetable.
With the help of my Instagram community the overwhelm of my harvest is rightfully feeling like the gift it is. A few weeks back (when the zucchini were just starting to show up) I talked about a pasta pungent with pesto and zucchini I caramelized and cooked down until nearly saucy. There was a faint memory of meaty zucchini sauces being all the rage and thanks to a fellow zucchini fan the bulk of my day will be spent making zucchini butter. I’ll likely add some heat to mine as I find it to be a good match. Perhaps even a little zip from lemon or vinegar. I wonder now too knowing how well zucchini lends itself to a cinnamon spiced sweetness (think zucchini bread) if perhaps there’s a way in which this butter could tip towards dessert? Perhaps that’s a stretch. Listen, in a world where you find yourself with a single zucchini weighing over 6 pounds there are no bad ideas. Although I’m not sure how I feel about the suggestion of substituting zucchini for apples in a pie.
That zucchini butter was mentioned by another reader via Smitten Kitchen’s zucchini butter pasta. Deb has gone a little rogue with the original butter recipe in ways that make me adore her all the more (hello, butter! Hello, ease). This, I believe, is the recipe I was attempting to channel through that pesto and zucchini pasta.
With zucchini also come their stunning and edible blossoms and those too are finding their way in my kitchen. In fritters, stuffed, grilled and on pizza with shaved garlic and soft ricotta. Ever since my dear friend, Hina, taught me how to make pakora I’ve been enjoying them all year round with whatever produce is in season and found in my fridge. In fact, I’ve moved a pakora recipe all over my new manuscript waiting to find my favorite way to enjoy this fritter. Well, it’s the grated zucchini and chopped blossom version that has won out. I particularly like them fried small for maximum crisp. The slender gratings of zucchini fry into a lacy, delicate texture held together with just enough rice and chickpea flour. The batter is seasoned with garam masala, ginger, garlic and chilis and I serve mine with a smooth herb chutney. That same genius friend, Hina, also mentioned a smoked zucchini raita that I’m dying to try.
Someone else mentioned a recipe Ottolenghi shared for a zucchini and pea soup. While in search of finding that particular recipe I found this one with harissa and lemon, and this one where they are stuffed with a pine nut salsa, and this one in which they are grilled (quite possibly my favorite way of cooking zucchini) and served with warm yogurt and saffron butter. Then there’s a zucchini baba ghanoush, and another grilled version, this time as a salad, then finally the soup I went searching for.
A few people mentioned gratins or some sort of baked version. I’ve not done a whole lot of that and while Seattle is in the midst of a heat wave I’m inclined to keep my oven off. Except for when I baked approximately 45 loaves (maybe I’m exaggerating) of zucchini and blueberry cake. But Ina never lets me down and this one looks worthy of turning on the oven, as does this zucchini and corn frittata.
I’ve also never really jumped on the “zoodles” bandwagon although I do love slender peels of zucchini in summer salads especially if they are a noodle-y salad, like rice noodles with peanut dressing, or a chilled pasta salad. Perhaps I’m missing out. It's just that I try and find an appealing zucchini noodle recipe and then something like this beauty where they are grilled or pan seared then tossed with a zippy vinaigrette, steals the show. Although I think this one counts as noodles and it looks oh so good, with corn, feta and the blossoms.
Of course there is always cake and as I mentioned in my marathon baking session yesterday, there is a lot of it. I’m planning on making the rounds around the neighborhood today carrying loaves of zucchini and blueberry cake and zucchini itself. Although, as my friend Dan mentioned, this time of year in Maine is the only time when they lock their car doors - to keep people from giving them zucchini. That’s fine though, having put together this extensive list I’m feeling quite grateful and inspired once again. Oh and about that cake, I riffed off of this recipe (simple, classic) but I do love Renee Erickson’s, especially the part where she fries it in butter and serves it with creme fraiche. (They don’t mention the frying here but essentially melt and brown butter in a skillet then fry each side until golden, top with creme fraiche and flake salt).
What am I missing? Do you have a favorite zucchini recipe we all must try?
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I've only made this zucchini recipe once, but I still think about it! http://orangette.net/2013/09/over-and-over-and-over/
Zucchini soup is the first solid food my daughter ever ate, so I have a real soft spot for it-- although we make a very simple version that's just zucchini sauteed with onions and garlic , and pureed with chicken broth.
Oh! And we often make "Superhero muffins" as an easy breakfast or snack: https://www.mealgarden.com/recipe/superhero-muffins/
I love that everything about this post is really just a conversation. An invitation to participate and share. 💕
My favorite use for zucchini is just lightly sauteed with scrambled eggs. I'm always just so thrilled with it - I love it so many other ways, too! But my first go-to is definitely for breakfast.