What to do with all that Zucchini
When I planted my garden this year I was excited to plant several cucumber plants. I always enjoy a good fresh cucumber right off the vine and I thought about all of the pickles I could make and store for the winter. However, as my ‘cucumber’ plants grew larger, they looked less and less like cucumber plants and more and more like something else. Oh, no….zucchini!!
I intentionally did not plant zucchini in my garden this year because they produce so much fruit that it’s hard to keep up with the harvest! Well, I really need to talk to the greenhouse that I bought these plants from because my ‘cucumber’ plants ended up being several zucchini plants!
Last week I ended up with a basket full of zucchini, so being the foodie that I am and using my kitchen as a test lab, I began to create zucchini ‘goodies’. I made Cheesy Zucchini Cakes, Zucchini Bread, sautéed Zucchini, Baked Zucchini and my mom’s all-time favorite recipe – Zucchini Casserole.
Since inquiring minds want to know, I pulled a few things off my shelf about zucchini:
Zucchini is a great summer squash. Harvesting the zucchini before it is completely mature will allow the plant to continue to produce flowers and fruit. The fruit is ready to harvest about one week after the plant blooms. It is best to harvest zucchini when the fruit is about 6-8 inches long (the skin is softer and the seeds are smaller). As long as the zucchini is harvested before it completely matures, the plant will continue to produce flowers and fruit right up to the first frost.
Zucchini offers several health benefits:
- Zucchini is a low calorie food, with a high water content. This is good for any weight loss program.
- Zucchini is low in carbohydrates and fat
- Zucchini contains many vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C and vitamin A, folate and potassium. This is good news for heart and nerve health.
- Zucchini has many anti-oxidants including carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are good for cholesterol control programs and anti-aging.
- The mineral content of zucchini contributes to bone health
- The vitamin and anti-oxidant content of zucchini contributes to eye health
- The vitamin C content possesses anti-inflammatory properties and can protect against diseases
So how could I go wrong with this prolific plant!?! I will continue to enjoy my zucchini – both for cooking and for giving away.
And don’t forget … August 8th each year is ‘sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor’s porch day’.
Try this recipe for Zucchini Bread. It’s a modified version of the Zucchini Bread that my mother used to make.
½ cup olive oil
½ cup organic butter – melted
3 medium zucchini peeled – 2 cups grated
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oat flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup raisins
Heat oven to 375°. Prepare 2 loaf pans by spraying with olive oil spray. Set aside.
Grate zucchini with a grater or food processor. Place grated zucchini in colander over sink and squeeze excess water from zucchini. Leave in colander until ready to use.
In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly with a whisk. Add vegetable oil, butter, vanilla and whisk together. Add grated zucchini and stir with a wooden spoon. In separate bowl mix together the whole wheat flour, oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to the wet mixture and stir until well mixed. Stir in the raisins. Pour half of the batter into each of the prepared loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes then transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or wrap in foil or plastic wrap and use within 3-4 days.
This is a lovely treat sliced plain or sliced and topped with organic butter or cream cheese.
For additional recipes go to http://trishblascak.blogspot.com/