I have more zucchini experience than I’d like to admit. They say that if you plan on planting zucchini, you better have a lot of friends. Well, one summer I made a gardening miscalculation and learned that I had far fewer friends than I thought! Enter several weeks of raw zucchini salad with almond pesto, zucchini cheddar fritters, zucchini corn chowder, and never ending zucchini muffins… It may be very good for your waistline, but not so much for romantic dinners and marital bliss.
If you find yourself in the same precarious situation as I did, with more squash than sense, here’s how you can make the most of your courgette cargo.
Why not nip those zucchinis in the bud and make those buds work for you? Zucchini blossoms are the darling of haute cuisine these days and homemade stuffed blossoms are easy and a decidedly luxurious and romantic start to any zucchini themed meal. Bon Appétit’s recipe is a great place to start.
When dealing with zucchini (or really any vegetable), remember this golden rule: the more butter and cream, the better. My absolute favorite soup is homemade corn chowder, with a sautéed onion base; finely chopped potatoes simmered in a rich cream-based stock and finished off with creamed corn and freshly roasted corn kernels. When the onions are sautéing, add in an equal portion of diced zucchini and a generous knob of butter.
Tender young zucchinis are perfect for use in a raw salad. Using a carrot peeler, create long thin ribbons of zucchini. They are great when tossed with an artisan olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and home toasted pine nuts, but I love it best when the salad is dressed with an almond, basil, cilantro, and parmesan pesto.
Zucchini is an easy, economical addition to any main course, adding moisture and soaking up the flavor of the other ingredients. One unexpected way to enjoy it is in a zucchini fettuccini alfredo, making the ultimate creamy indulgence marginally more healthful. A slightly healthier but just as decadent option is a zucchini risotto chock-full of basil and sun-dried tomato.
There’s nothing wrong, of course, with tossing some chopped or grated zucchini into just about everything you cook — it works well in meatloaf and shepherd’s pie, folded into stir-fry and pasta salad, spooned into chicken pot pie filling, and camouflaged into chili.
Forget the soggy and oil-clogged, deep-fried zucchini sticks of the pub because there is so much more you can do to incorporate zucchini into side dishes. If you still crave the crunchy, buttery goodness of zucchini, a more modern take on a pub classic is to make cheddar zucchini fritters. Chatelaine has a great recipe for them — I highly recommend using a sharp aged cheddar in the recipe–and don’t forget to oil the parchment paper to avoid a sticky situation!
One zucchini recipe I’ll never, ever tire of is a good, old-fashioned zucchini loaf. I’ll take mine with double cinnamon and applesauce stirred into the batter for extra moistness! But if your dessert tastes are more chocolate inclined (a position that I absolutely respect), then you have to try the Repressed Pastry Chefs’ Death by Chocolate Zucchini Cake!
Repressed Pastry Chefs’ Death by Chocolate Zucchini Cake
For the Cake:
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 2 cups shredded zucchini
- 3/4 cup Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate chips
For the Ganache:
- 1 1/2 cups Hershey Special Dark chocolate chips
- Approx. 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
Add all cake ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer, reserving the zucchini and chocolate chips, and mix with a paddle attachment until a smooth batter forms.
Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the zucchini, and then the chocolate chips.
Grease a bundt cake pan liberally with shortening. Dust with cocoa powder.
Spoon batter into the pan. Bake at 325º for 45-55 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Let cool in pan for about 15 minutes. Then flip onto plate.
For the ganache:
Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Pour the whipping cream in until almost level with the chocolate chips. Microwave for 1 minute.
Whisk until smooth. Spoon over the cake before serving.
Photo Credits: Heirlooms and Wooden Spoons, vegetablegrower.com, Sharyn Morrow, Joshua Bousel, Erin Stevenson O’Connor, and Something Swanky.