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For the love of zucchini

Today’s Special

If you notice that friends and family are not making eye contact with you or it seems that people you thought were your friends are slipping out the side door at church so as to avoid you, it probably means they don’t want any more zucchini.  But oh, it’s summer squash season and zucchini’s at it’s prime and not to be missed.

Zucchini comes in my favorite color…light to mottled to dark shades of green. Surely someday there will be a “zucchini green” paint color right up with the likes of apple green, lime green and avocado green. Not that I will be painting my kitchen zucchini green but it certainly makes it to my table in the summer months.  What a tasty, healthy fat-free green vegetable to include on your plate.

It’s a squash that is available year-round thanks to our transportation system but is extra tasty right now from backyard gardens, truck patches and farmers markets. Market size is 4-6 inches long and about 2 -3 inches thick, but garden grown zucchini can reach a giant 2 feet long and up to 6 inches round, looking more like a torpedo than a delicate tasting summer vegetable.

DW tosses the overgrown zucchini into the compost pile, that way they come back next year to fertilize the garden. Waste not, want not he always says.

As you like it. Zucchini is quite versatile in the kitchen too. You can sauté it in a skillet with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh or dried basil; layer slices with slices of white onion, fresh tomato and topped with shredded cheddar cheese in a skillet or bake it in the oven. Boil it in salted water until just tender, drain, cool and place in freezer bags for the winter and make cream of zucchini soup later.

To grill it: cut longwise and in half, brush lightly with olive oil, season with salt & pepper or Crazy Mixed-Up Pepper; place cut side down on a medium hot grill until the flesh is tender. Flip it over and sprinkle with shredded parmesan and panko crumbs.  And remember to make zucchini relish for a perfect topping for field peas or butter beans. You can pretty much do what you want to with zucchini.

And, then there’s the case for zucchini bread and the reason you should say yes, “I’d love some more zucchini,” when asked. What other slightly sweet, veggie filled, breakfast bread can have green flecks in it and still be edible?

Use the supersized zucchini for bread: grate unpeeled (never peel zucchini) and mix up with flour, sugar, oil, eggs, maybe some pecans and a little vanilla extract for a nice change for breakfast or a morning snack.  Or try this savory bread to serve with homemade vegetable soup.

Wrap up cooled loaves in plastic wrap and place in gallon sized freezer bags for this winter or to share.  When you have zucchini bread to give away, people will be more than happy to see you!

Recipe of the Week

Cheddar Zucchini Bread

3 cups all-purpose four

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 cup coarsely shredded zucchini

¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

¼ cup chopped green onions

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill, or 2 teaspoons dried

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Whisk dry ingredients in large bowl.  Add zucchini, cheese, onion and herbs. Toss in flour mixture, being sure ingredients are well separated. Whisk eggs, buttermilk and oil together in another bowl.  Add to the flour mixture, mix lightly taking care not to overmix.  Batter should be lumpy.  Pour into a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. Bake in center of oven preheated to 350 degrees, about 55 – 60 minutes or until loaf tests done. Let cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on rack.

*Option: bake in 4 mini-sized loaves, reducing cooking time to about 22 – 25 minutes.

Write to Peggy Walker at pmwalkerrd@gmail.com