When the farmer’s market is so loaded a dollar gets you two big ones. When overgrown zucchini find their way to the faculty workroom. Or our front door.
My favorite ways to use them start with taming: Cut in halves or quarters and take the seeds and spongy part out with a grapefruit spoon or other sharp spoon; i.e. a cheap metal spoon with an edge. Grate the flesh not too fine on a box or flat grater. Toss with a little salt (say 1 teaspoon for a zucchini the size of a big guy’s forearm) and let sit, at least fifteen minutes or as long as you like. Then wrap in a cotton handkerchief and squeeze out by the handfuls. You can squeeze out too much liquid, I discovered once when I was particularly avid, and the resulting bread was a bit dry. When you’re done squeezing, the cloth should not drip liquid, but neither should the zucchini feel like shredded paper.
This recipe is just right: a bit of spice, a bit of herb, lightly sweet and neither greasy nor dry. It will stay fresh in the refrigerator for a week.
2 cups shredded, squeezed zucchini, tightly packed
¾ cup avocado oil (or other vegetable oil)
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (4 ounces)
3/4 cup high fiber flour or a mix of flours: banana flour, teff flour, coffee flour (or whole wheat or rye) (4 ounces)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cloves
½ tsp. allspice
¼ cup minced fresh basil or 1 Tbs. minced tarragon leaves (optional, but worth the trouble)
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (optional, and other nuts are OK, too, but the pine nuts and basil are heavenly)
Beat eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla until thick and smooth. Whisk together dry ingredients, gently beat into wet mixture. Fold in zucchini, basil, and nuts. Pour into loaf pan sprayed with Baker’s Joy. This recipe fills my 14×3 pan. Two smaller pans are also fine. The batter will not rise much—and the bread will have a flat top. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes, unmold and continue cooling on a rack. Wrap tightly when cool and refrigerate. Slices best when cold.
And here’s another version of what I called “Middle Eastern Frittata” in an earlier post:
Mix 2 cups packed zucchini with 6 eggs, one bunch chopped scallions, 3 Tbs. finely chopped mint, ½ tsp. ground black pepper, and 8 ounces Greek or other imported sheep’s milk feta cheese, crumbled. Spoon into muffin tins you have sprayed with Baker’s Joy or lined with paper cups. Bake at 375 until a pick comes out clean, maybe 15 minutes for the muffin size. These are delicious warm or cold. Good for picnics!