Poor zucchini. This well-known garden producer does its job so very well that jokes are made about it. Zucchini is given away as door prizes, brought to meetings and churches; heck, it is so productive that people are told not to leave their porch lights on or their car windows rolled down, lest you be “zucchini’d”.
There are some great things about zucchini though, in addition to its sheer productivity. It freezes very well; we like to shred it and freeze it in 1-2 cup increments in flat ziploc bags stacked. Zucchini is not only flexible in recipes, it is actually quite good for you (now don’t scrunch up your nose like that!). The fruits of summer squash are low in saturated fat and very low in cholesterol and sodium, as well as being a good source of thiamin, niacin and pantothenic acid. They are also a very good source of dietary fiber (in the peel), protein, vitamins A,C, and B6, folates, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese. The golden-skinned varieties are rich in flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin, compounds which help scavenge harmful oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) from the body that play a role in aging and various disease processes. What’s not to love, eh?
Creamy Herbed Zucchini Gazpacho
(cold soup or appetizer)
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, cut into 1” pieces
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
2/3 cup chopped sweet onion
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
salt & pepper to taste
1. Puree everything but the water in a food processor until soupy. Add water to achieve desired consistency.
2. Season to taste with salt and pepper
3. Cool for 2-4 hours or overnight for flavors to meld.
2 cups zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 cup onions, chopped
2 small tomatoes, cut up
1 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup cottage cheese or ricotta
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1. Steam zucchini until just tender, drain and set aside. Fry meat and onions until meat is brown and onions are tender; drain fat.
2. Add next 8 ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered 10 minutes or until reduced to 2 cups.
3. Mix cottage cheese, half of shredded cheese.
4. In 1.5 quart pan arrange half of the meat mixture. Top with half of the zucchini and all the cottage cheese mixture. Top with remaining meat & zucchini.
5. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.
6. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer.
7. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.