I was gently laying a large zucchini like an abandoned baby on my friend Erin’s doorstep when I turned to find her partner, Jeremy, watching me with his best WTF look. The awkward conversation that followed went something like this.
Me (sheepishly): “Um, hi. I’m just leaving you a zucchini.”
Him (still with the WTF expression): “But we have a garden full of zucchini.”
Me: “Yeah, but Erin said you didn’t have a big zucchini.”
Him: “So next week we’ll give you back a big zucchini?”
Me: Lower gaze, slowly back away, escape through garden gate.
It’s that time of year when, to paraphrase another friend, “You know the people who don’t have friends because they’re buying zucchinis in the grocery store.” The harvest abounds, not least of which is this summer squash that seemed like such a sensible thing to plant in the spring with the promise of its bountiful harvest.
Now, your garden’s throwing out emerald phalli on a daily basis and you’re stacking them in the refrigerator like a winter’s supply of cordwood, the apprehension rising in your gut as you begin to wonder if anyone ever died of zucchini poisoning, or suffocated under its weight.
(Wikipedia informs me that a zucchini is, in fact, the plant’s ovary. Who knew?)
We’ve all got our tricks for offloading zucchini overload (apart from skulking around like the zucchini fairy). Some simpler ones include grating or pureeing it and throwing it in the freezer for soups and baking. If you’ve got the time — and the stomach — for a little zucchini on your menu, here are a few suggestions for suckering friends and family (sadly, those who trust us most) into helping you consume vast amounts of courgettes.
Trick your family
Zucchini fritters are quick and easy, and make a great bed for eggs on a lazy, late-summer Saturday morning. My unsuspecting family will eat pretty much anything if there’s enough cheese involved (that said, these fritters are still tasty if you go dairy-free and skip the parmesan.)
1 medium or slightly larger zucchini, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten, plus 4 for poaching
1/4 cup (60 mL) flour (sprouted whole wheat if you have it)
1/4 cup (60 mL) parmesan, grated
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tble (45 mL) onion, grated or finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2-3 tble (40 mL) cooking oil for frying
3 tble (45 mL) white vinegar for egg poaching
In a large mixing bowl, blend zucchini, one egg, flour, parmesan, garlic, onion, salt and pepper until a sticky batter forms.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat, drop in roughly 1/2 cup of the mixture and gently press with the back of a spatula.
Cook 4 to 5 minutes each side, until browned and firm; remove from pan and drain on paper towel.
While mixing the fritter ingredients, bring 2 to 3 litres of water with a splash of white vinegar to boil in a medium saucepan.
Drop in four eggs and reduce heat to medium.
Poach eggs five minutes for runny yolks, longer for firmer.
Serve fritters with an egg on top.
Trick potluck guests
I felt rather cheeky taking this zucchini ribbon salad to a potluck wedding at the height of summer when everyone was trying to unload their harvest, but the feeling shifted more toward smugness when I got to my dish in the buffet line and found it empty, save a few pine nuts. It looks too good to pass up. Find the original recipe here.
1/4 cup (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
3 tble (45 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon (5 mL) sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red chilies
3 medium zucchini, trimmed
1/4 cup (60 mL) coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/4 (60 mL) cup pine nuts
Parmesan cheese shavings
Whisk oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and crushed chilies in small bowl.
Using vegetable peeler, slice zucchini into ribbons and place in large bowl. Add basil and nuts, then dressing; toss to coat.
Using vegetable peeler, shave strips of parmesan over salad.
Trick unexpected visitors
Zucchini loaves are a great thing to make in multiples and throw in the freezer. They’re also an easy thing to pull out, warm up and serve when friends show up unexpectedly. And who’s going to object under those circumstances?
1 3/4 cups (400 mL) flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup (125 mL) honey
1/2 cup (125 mL) sunflower oil
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1 cup (250 mL) zucchini, grated
1/2 cup (125 mL) apple, grated
4 dates, finely chopped
Mix dry ingredients in large mixing bowl and set aside.
In a smaller bowl, combine eggs, oil, honey and vanilla; whisk to combine.
Stir in zucchini, apple and dates; mix into dry ingredients.
Pour into greased loaf pan and bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees F, until that trusty ol’ toothpick comes out clean.