By Nancy Sweet, director, LLCC culinary program and operations
Who has zucchini coming out of their ears right now? I know all of my friends who have zucchini in their garden certainly do – as they always seem to show up bringing “gifts” of it when I see them! When feeling lazy, I just slice them up with some onions and add white vinegar, sugar, salt and water to have a quick pickled snack. But, there are certainly many different ways to cook the versatile zucchini.
Zucchini is a typical summer squash, but there can be different varieties of zucchini making some striped, some ridged, some lighter green and some darker green. Some zucchini can get very large in size; however, those usually become quite fibrous, so stick to those that are a more manageable size.
Normally, zucchini is served cooked – sautéed, fried, baked, roasted, etc. But I’m a big fan of using raw zucchini as crudité, which is an appetizer using raw veggies like cherry tomatoes, radishes, bell peppers or asparagus with a dip of some sort, such as buttermilk ranch, green goddess dressing or hummus.
Below are several different ways to prepare zucchini.
Crudité with Green Goddess Dressing
Makes 1 1/2 cups
*1/2 cup mayonnaise
*1/2 cup sour cream
*Juice of 1 lemon
*1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
*1/2 cup parsley, fresh
*1/4 cup chives
*2 tablespoons cup fresh herbs such as basil or tarragon
*1 garlic clove
*1 anchovy fillet
*1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
*salt and pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Serve with trimmed, raw zucchini slices, red and green bell pepper strips, asparagus stalks, green onions, cherry tomatoes or other favorite fresh vegetables.
Serves 2 entrees
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
*1 medium onion, died
*1 tablespoon olive oil
* 2/3 cup rice
*2 tablespoons golden raisins
*1 tablespoon pine nuts or walnuts
*2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
*1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
*1/2 teaspoon group allspice
*1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
*3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
*3 medium zucchini
*3/4 cup boiling water
*1 ½ tablespoons sugar
*salt and pepper
Saute the onion in the oil until softened. Add the rice, raisins, nuts, parsley, mint and half the lemon juice. Continue cooking on low heat for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Halve the zucchini lengthwise and along the center, using a spoon, scoop some of the flesh to make “boats”. Place them in a shallow saucepan that is large enough to hold them all side by side. Fill them with the rice stuffing and put into sauce pan. Pour boiling water, remaining lemon juice, sugar and some salt around the zucchini, but do not have the liquid come up as high as the stuffing.
Simmer, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, basting the filling occasionally with the looking juices. The zucchini are ready when the rice is cooked through and almost all the juice have evaporated. Garnish with more chopped fresh parsley and mint if you like.
Sautéed Shredded Zucchini with Garlic and Lemon
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Zucchini has a very high water content, which often leads to watery, bland, lifeless zucchini dishes. To combat this, take several steps to make sure you end up with tasty, vibrant zucchini. First, grate the zucchini using a box grater, toss the shreds with some salt, put in a colander to drain, then finally squeeze it out in a kitchen towel to rid it of excess moisture.
*5 zucchini, halve lengthwise, seeded, and shredded
*salt and pepper
*2 tablespoons olive oil, separated, plus more for drizzling
*1 garlic clove, minced
*juice of 1 lemon
Toss shredded zucchini with 1 ½ teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Transfer to a colander and let drain for 5 – 10 minutes. Place zucchini in center of a kitchen towel and wring out excess moisture, in batches if necessary.
Place zucchini in a large bowl and shake out any large clumps. Add 1 tablespoon and garlic to zucchini and toss together. Heat other tablespoon of oil in a 12 inch non-stick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add zucchini in even layer and cook, without stirring, until bottom layer browns, about 2 minutes. Stir well, breaking up any clumps, then cook until bottom layer browns, about 2 minutes more.
Off heat, season with lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with topping, drizzle with olive oil, and serve immediately.
Zucchini Fritters with Feta and Dill
Makes 8 fritters
Adapted from Michael Symon’s Live to Cook
This recipe using the same method as above to eliminate excess water from the zucchini: shred, salt, drain, wring out.
*2 medium zucchini, grated, sprinkled with 1 teaspoon salt, drained for 10 minutes, wrung out in kitchen towel
*1 tablespoon fresh mint
*1/2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped, plus more for garnish
*1 large green onion, thinly sliced
*2 garlic cloves, minced
*1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
*4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
*zest of 1 lemon
*3 tablespoons flour
*salad oil for pan frying
*1/2 cup Greek yogurt
In a bowl, combine zucchini, mint, dill, green onion, garlic, pepper, feta and all but 1 teaspoon lemon zest. Stir in egg and flour until well combined.
Add enough oil to large shallow pan until bottom is covered and place over medium-high heat. Form fritters by hand with about ¼ cup of mixture. Fry fritters in batches until they are golden brown, about 4-6 minutes total. Drain on paper towels and season with a little salt.
Serve fritters with Greek yogurt and remaining lemon zest.
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 786-4613 or visit http://www.llcc.edu/academics/business-technologies/hospitality-culinary-arts/ .