Friday, 7 August 2009

Knock, Knock

by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
Here in the States, August 8th is Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbors' Porch Day. This is to both encourage gardeners to share their harvest, and a chance to share recipes using zucchini. So, whether you be The Sneak or The Snuck, banish the thought there's such a thing as too much zucchini (well, maybe - I do know of someone, starting her first garden, that planted her entire packet of seeds that first summer). We're here to help.

Two or three plants are enough for the two of us plus chickens and neighbors. Often, our zucchini end up as a veggie side dish - either sliced in a quick saute with garlic and onions or halved lengthwise, drizzled with olive oil, and cooked outside on the grill. But, in keeping with the spirit of the day, here are a couple more of my favorite zucchini recipes:

If you like the deep-fried zucchini sticks appetizer in restaurants, you'll love this quick and healthier version. This is best made with small, young zucchini - a good excuse to make this frequently all summer long. I use my toaster oven to avoid heating up the kitchen.

Baked Zucchini Sticks
3 - 4 small zucchini, 1 - 1½" diameter, 6 - 8" long
1 egg, beaten (or a liquid egg substitute)
fine dry breadcrumbs (add seasonings to suit your mood, my favorite is salt, pepper, and dried oregano; when Aries is cooking, he likes pepper and Parmesan cheese)
your favorite dipping sauce(s)

Trim ends of zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Cut each half lengthwise into three wedge-shaped strips. Put egg in one plate, crumbs in another. Dip the cut sides of each strip in egg and then the bread crumbs, then place side-by-side, peel-side down, on a cookie sheet or the tray for your toaster oven. Bake 400º 10-15 minutes. The zucchini should be soft and the crumb coating golden brown. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce (I like ranch dressing or salsa, Aries prefers barbecue sauce). This summer, Aries has been cooking the crumb-covered strips on the barbecue grill - turning to brown each side. Yum! and still no heating up the kitchen.

Zucchini really shine in quick bread batters. I think just about everybody has a go-to zucchini bread recipe (mine is a dense Chocolate Zucchini Bread - I make bunches of loaves and freeze them; add a quick spread made from cream cheese and berries and I'm potluck-ready). Around here, muffins are our morning quick bread-of-choice. After much tweaking and experimenting, I finally have a zucchini muffin recipe I really like. The key was using dry milk instead of adding any more liquid to the zucchini mixture.

Zucchini Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

Mix together:
2 cups shredded zucchini (I use the big holes on a box grater)
1 egg
2 tablespoons oil (or applesauce)
¾ cup sugar
⅓ cup dry milk powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon lemon extract

Mix together, then stir in, just until all is moistened
(Grandma wisdom: stirring only 17 times):
1½ cups flour (I use ½ C regular whole wheat + 1 C whole wheat pastry flour)
1½ teaspoons baking soda (sift out any lumps)
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Then stir in (Grandma again: stirring only 3 more times):
⅓ cup raisins, with enough chopped nuts to make it ½ cup

Divide between 12 sprayed or greased muffin cups. Bake at 375º
20 minutes.

Got a zucchini recipe to share? Post links in the comments (and start your sneaking).