You know you’re looking at a huge bowlful of lovely, creepily-large zucchinis right now that your neighbor (aunt/mother/friend/colleague/brother/ex) just dropped off — or which have proliferated in your own garden. What the heck are you going to do with them, you wonder, besides steam them into mush? Well, fear no more; you’ll have a gourmet 4-course dinner whipped up in no time, starring zucchini!
Zucchinis may get a bad rap for being a bland side dish in this country (or being turned into fake “apple” crisp, true story), but these unassuming members of the cucumber family can be transformed into everything from sweet bread to patties to succotash, or are delicious simply grilled with fresh herbs. You can even use flowers from the zucchini plant as garnish, you entertaining diva!
People have been enjoying zucchini in Central and South America for thousands of years, and in Europe since the Columbian Exchange. Italian immigrants then brought this versatile fruit back to the American continent in the 1920s. Meanwhile, zucchinis were solidifying their position as one of the rock stars of international cuisine; they’re still featured in Greek, Turkish, French, Mexican, Egyptian, and Bulgarian dishes.
As you might surmise, zucchinis aren’t all about appearance — they pack a serious nutritional punch, with each serving high in folate, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin A, and, of course, low in calories.
So, if you’re stuck at home alone with a load of zucchini — and depending on whether you’re feeling sweet or savory — try out one of these yummy recipes.
Vegan Zucchini Patties
- 1 large zucchini, grated (or part of a morbidly huge one – these suckers can grow up to 3 feet long!). You should have about 3-4 cups.
- 1 small onion, finely chopped (I used red, but you can use any kind)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 10 white mushrooms, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (or 2 t. dried)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sage
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds or chopped walnuts
- bread crumbs, as needed (optional)
- 2 T cornmeal
- 3 T flour (I used a gluten-free mix)
- 3 T flax seed meal
1. Grate zucchini into a colander; push it down to try and squeeze out some of the excess water.
2. Put the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. These patties are all about the texture, so just play around with amounts (the above are approximate, I was just dumping and mixing) until the patties are sticking together well and aren’t too gloppy.
3. You can either bake these lovelies in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or lightly fry them in olive oil (or, of course, coconut) over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, until browned and crispy. I highly recommend calling these “veggie burgers” for anyone 18 years of age. We enjoyed them with potato salad, greens, and baked beans, but you could class it up and serve with a quinoa pilaf, pesto pasta, or bright steamed vegetables.
Vegan Zucchini Bread (adapted from allrecipes.com)
This is the primary way I remember eating zucchini as a kid, so it was a bit of a sentimental journey to find a vegan version of this sweetbread. You can also easily make this gluten-free using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free all purpose flour, though you’ll want to use more baking soda and powder to give it some oomph. Or, add 3-4 tablespoons of cocoa powder and chocolate chips to make chocolate zucchini bread, you crazy thing!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons flax seeds (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon arrowroot powder (optional)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
1. Mix all dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients and mix until smooth.
2. Bake at 325 for 70 minutes; cool, slather with Earth Balance or just eat plain! So very delicious, and you can keep telling yourself it’s zucchini bread, so it must be incredibly good for you, right?