Zucchini Are Coming!

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Cocozelle summer squash.

Cocozelle summer squash.


This is the time of year when zucchini make their annual bid to take over the world. While summer squash in general are very prolific (in fact, based on my experience, I’d say Early Prolific Straightneck Squash has zucchini beat in terms of production), zucchini is certainly one of the pack leaders. I once knew a woman who planted an entire packet of zucchini; her friends avoided her like the plague all summer. Once the zucchini start producing, people lock their car doors and hide inside when gardening neighbors come to call, because there’s just so darned much of the stuff. Fear not, even zucchini can be used up.
Ratatouille is one of the great summer dishes, and it’s truly a summer dish, because it should be made with the freshest ripe vegetables, straight from the garden. It can’t be frozen or canned because of the eggplant and zucchini, so fresh is the only way to go. I think it tastes best with about two-fifths summer squash (the other three-fifths being eggplant, tomatoes and onions). Zucchini slices or chunks can also be quickly sauteed with butter, olive oil or coconut oil. Onions in various colors go well with this recipe, as does a bit of garlic. Despite its high water content, zucchini can also be dried quite easily to make zucchini chips for snacking all winter long. Zucchini also makes a great mock apple pie and can be stuffed and baked with all sorts of fillings.
Summer squash are always productive, but these babies outdid themselves this year.

Summer squash are always productive, but these babies outdid themselves this year.


One of the great disadvantages of zucchini is that it really doesn’t freeze well. Once you defrost it, it turns to glop. However, grated zucchini freezes very well, and it’s quick; no blanching or other cooking (a boon in the summer heat). Just grate or whiz it through the food processor, pack in plastic bags and shove it in the freezer. I usually do two-cup increments, as that’s the right size for zucchini bread and useful for other recipes. In addition to zucchini bread, you can defrost and use to make zucchini relish, jam or marmalade after the weather cools a bit and you’re not so busy processing everything else in the garden. By the way, you can make zucchini bread in both sweet and savory versions, which adds to the culinary possibilities.
Although this post is about zucchini, my remarks apply to any kind of summer squash.

Although this post is about zucchini, my remarks apply to any kind of summer squash.


Frozen grated zucchini can also be turned into cream of zucchini soup and added to vegetable soup (no need to defrost for either of those, just toss in the pan). It can be added to pesto when you’re short on basil. I like to dilute basil pesto with other greens anyway, as the flavor is a little strong for me. Saute zucchini with some frozen corn and yellow or green onions for a tasty side dish. Defrosted and drained, grated zucchini can be sprinkled on home-made pizza or mixed into just about any tomato-based pasta dish.
If all else fails (or if, like my friend, you planted the whole packet), chickens and pigs love zucchini. For the chickens, it’s best to whack the biggest ones that think they’re baseball bats into chunks with an ax; they’ll take it from there.

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