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Seasonal Recipes from the Tickled Palate: Zucchini

Proudly my husband and I birthed our two zucchini plants, Summer Squash Fordhook Zucchini from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I have lost count on the number of squash harvested from these plants. At first, I thought I would lose them, picking up a moldy wilt, but after I stopped watering from above and put some mulch down, the plants took off.  A little heat also helped.

 

I have forgotten how fast zucchini grows. They increase in size right before our eyes when the temperature warms, and they have just the right amount of water to drink.  I prefer my zucchinis to be no longer than 8 to 10 inches long. But the larger ones make for great grilling and the grated for zucchini bread. They become tougher and denser as they age, but the Fordhook Zucchini has a creamy white flesh that has the perfect firmness.

 

Again, my recipes are basic and provide the background for other additions and alterations. I love the bare essential flavors of what the vegetable show and want to enhance its personality, but not let it lose its identity.  

 

In this set of recipes, I will prepare the zucchini in several different ways. Grilled zucchini is one of my favorite ways to enjoy the squash, especially the larger ones. If you grill extras, you will have zucchini to put into the food processor or blender.

 

Especially with zucchini, I find a spiralizer and a mandoline or vegetable slicer invaluable. With the spiralizer, one zucchini is inserted into the cone cutter and twisted into the blades to produce long noodles. The slicer usually comes with different inserts to make thin slices or long julienned cuts. If you do not have either tool, use a grater or a knife. 

 

 

 

Vegetable Tools

 

Zucchini Noodles are fun to eat served raw or lightly steamed or boiled and then tossed with oil, acid, and flavoring. Zucchini Puree can be served as a side to steamed potatoes or accompany a grilled flat iron steak. With the addition of some broth, it can be transformed into a soup that can be brought to the table chilled or hot.

 

Grilled Zucchini

 

 

Grilled Zucchini

Serves 4 as a side dish

This is my favorite way to enjoy zucchini in the summer especially if the grill is on for cooking other foods. Though virgin olive oil is my choice of oil for tossing before grilling, other oils can be used. There are some oils flavored with lemon, for instance, that can be substituted in this recipe. Though I used only minced garlic here, think about using chopped herbs such as chives or basil that is in the summer garden.

 

2 pounds zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch thick slices

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt, to taste

 

Toss zucchini with oil, garlic, and salt. Grill on barbecue about 3 minutes on each side to the desired doneness.  Serve immediately or chilled.

 

Zucchini Puree

 

Zucchini Puree

Serves 4 to 6

Pureed zucchini is an excellent side to a grilled steak, roasted lamb or with steamed potatoes. Oregano is added to this recipe, but chives or a touch or tarragon would be other flavor options. This mixture can then be made into soup very easily by adding 4 cups of vegetable or chicken broth. If you want a smoother, creamier soup, put the puree and some broth into a blender. The soup can be served chilled or heated with a slice of garlic bread or better yet, toasted bread spread with pesto.

 

Grilled Zucchini from the previous recipe

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

Salt, to taste

 

Heat oil over medium-high heat, add onion and sautee for about 2 minutes. Add oregano and salt and cook for another 3 minutes or until translucent. Set aside.

 

Add grilled zucchini and cooked onions to a food processor. Process until smooth.

 

Zucchini Noodles

 

Zucchini Noodles 

Serves 4 

A spiralizer is one of the “funky” tools I do have in my drawers. I find that there are some special items out there that claim to help with prep that are not that useful. Even more, these pieces of equipment just take up space. A mandoline or vegetable slicer comes in handy for slicing up vegetables, so I recommend getting one.

 

With these noodles, again be creative as you can use sesame oil or a lemon-flavored olive oil. Use lime or orange juice instead of lemon. Capers can be substituted with preserved lemons. Then basil or cilantro can also be added for fresh herb flavors. I like the zucchini noodles raw but go ahead and drop them into a pot of salted boiling water for about 3 minutes if you want. Then serve warm or chilled.

 

1 pound zucchini, cut into noodles or shreds

1 ½ teaspoon capers, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup chopped chives

2 tablespoons mint, coarsely chopped

Salt, to taste

 

In a large bowl, toss noodles with capers, lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil. The toss in chives and mint with a sprinkle of salt. Serve at room temperature or chilled.


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