In the seventies, during my hay day as a gardener, I was Jean, The Zucchini Queen. In the dense, hard soil on our Ozark farm—that I affectionately termed The Clay Pit—it was one of the plants that grew with gusto. After being overrun with squash one season, I learned that a few, well-tended plants could feed the family, our neighbors and relatives. But now, like Blanche DuBois, I depend on the “kindness” of others. If they let me down, there’s always Soulard Market.
When cooking with the versatile green vegetable, think beyond zucchini bread—though I’ve included a recipe in this post and here for an old favorite that includes pineapple and nuts. There’s a number of ways to serve zucchini as a main dish. Here’s a couple of easy recipes you’ll want to try ASAP.
Boil several small, whole squash until tender, but not mushy. Slice in half long wise; scoop out pulp and mash together with some ground ham. Add a bit of sauteed onion and mushrooms, if you like, along with salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. I’ve not tried it, but I bet you could sub some sausage for the ham, browning it along with the onions.
Whichever you do, return the mixture to shells and top with bread crumbs, such as Panko and shredded cheese. Drizzle with a bit of melted butter. Bake 5 minutes at 375 degrees until cheese melts.
Farfalle with Zucchini is a dish I made recently that’s meat-free. But you could easily add meat. I’ve made this versatile recipe often using what I have on hand. In the photo, I subbed spinach for the green peas and fresh corn for the pine nuts. I had some fresh parsley, basil and mint from Lisa’s garden, which added a fresh, summer flavor. Because the pasta is not heavily sauced, this dish works well for a warm weather meal.
Farfalle with Zucchini
- 12 oz. dried farfalle (butterfly) or fusilli pasta
- 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large sweet or yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 Tbs. chopped Italian parsley
- 2 medium zucchini, cut into sticks 2″ by ¼”
- 2 Tbs. shredded, fresh basil
- 1 Tbs. finely chopped, fresh mint
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ½ cup grated Parmigiana and/or Pecorino Romano cheese
- ½ cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)
Bring a big pot of water to a boil, Add salt and pasta; cook according to package directions. Add peas 2 minutes before pasta is done. Drain well, reserving ½ cup cooking water.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens and turns golden.
Raise heat to medium-high and add garlic. Cook, stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn, for 1 minute, then stir in parsley and zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes or until zucchini are tender and lightly browned. Stir in basil and mint and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove pan from heat.
Add drained pasta and grated cheese to pan and mix well, adding a little pasta water if too dry. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Zucchini Pineapple Nut Bread
- Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large bowl, mix oil, eggs, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Blend in pineapple and zucchini. Stir flour mixture into zucchini mixture. Pour batter into two greased and floured 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. (There will be enough batter for some muffins as well.)
- Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool on wire racks.