(AP) — It's easy to be overwhelmed by zucchini at this time of year.
The prolific summer squash is simple to grow and often becomes ubiquitous in late-season gardens.
So, in honor of the abundant vegetable and its place at the end of the alphabet, here are 26 ideas on how to use zucchini — from breakfast to dinner, from soup to salad, from appetizers to desserts.
1. Grill long, thin slices of a small zucchini and wrap them around a chunk of your favorite cheese with a fresh spinach and basil leaf.
2. Mix shredded zucchini with hot pasta, sauteed garlic and shaved Parmesan cheese.
3. Cut small zucchinis into half-rounds and saute in olive oil, salt and pepper until crisp-tender. Sprinkle with any fresh herb — lemon thyme is our favorite — and enjoy.
4. Cover a pre-baked pizza crust with paper-thin slices of zucchini and chopped fresh tomato. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 10-12 minutes in hot oven and sprinkle with fresh herbs and lemon juice before eating.
5. Make zucchini fries by dipping French-fry size pieces of squash into beaten egg, then roll in a mixture of seasoned bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese. Deep-fry or bake in 450 degree oven until crisp.
6. Slice thin ribbons of fresh zucchini and yellow squash with a vegetable peeler and dress with olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt. Mix in ribbons of shaved Parmesan cheese just before serving.
7. Top crisp rounds of fresh zucchini with a tomato slice — sun-dried or fresh — and sprinkle with feta cheese and chopped basil.
8. Add finely diced zucchini to your favorite tomato-based or corn-based salsa recipe.
9. Make zucchini quesadillas by folding finely diced zucchini, shredded cheese, black beans and salsa between tortillas and grill.
10. Stir some shredded zucchini into your favorite muffin recipe.
11. Bake a loaf of zucchini bread. It's hard to beat the old-fashioned classic, especially topped with your favorite cream cheese frosting.
12. Or re-invent it by adding chocolate chips or marmalade, as in the Tangerine Marmalade Zucchini Bread recipe below.
13. Cook shredded zucchini with chopped bacon and fold into scrambled eggs.
14. For a fancier egg dishes, make a zucchini frittata or a zucchini-filled quiche.
15. Let kids build their own veggie stacks with alternating layers of zucchini slices, tomato slices and shredded mozzarella cheese. Place on foil and grill for 5 minutes. If they build them, maybe they'll eat them.
16. Toss slices of zucchini and any other fresh summer vegetables you have on hand — beans, peas, corn, tomatoes — with olive oil, salt and pepper, sprinkle with seasoned bread crumbs or shredded cheese, and bake in oven for 30 minutes or until tender.
17. Make zucchini hummus for a new twist on a classic Middle Eastern specialty. See recipe below.
18. Add small, chopped fresh zucchini to your favorite pasta salad recipe.
19. Use up 3 cups of zucchini or more by layering it into lasagna.
20. Make Zucchini Tomatillo Bisque.
21. Grill thin slices of zucchini. Let cool and spread with pesto before rolling up. Serve appetizers at room temperature.
22. Stuff medium zucchini (scoop out the seeds) with any meat- based or vegetarian mixture you like, such as the Zucchini Rellenos from Renee Shepherd's "Recipes from a Kitchen Garden." Stuffing zucchini is a good way to use up slightly larger squash.
23. Make zucchini pancakes. Shredded zucchini combined with eggs and seasonings are terrific when skillet fried and served with sour cream. Try the recipe below from Shepherd's cookbook.
24. Stuff the blossoms with a creamy cheese and ham filling, bake and top with tomato sauce.
25. Make broth. The fast-growing vegetable can quickly outgrow its tender, tasty size. When it does, chop it up and simmer with onions, celery and seasonings of your choice, then strain to produce broth for future use.
26. Give them away, or toss them out. After a certain size, not even your friends want them. Really.
Here are some zucchini recipes.
Tangerine Zucchini Bread
1-¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup light brown sugar
½ cup tangerine marmalade (or any other marmalade of your choice)
2-½ cups grated, fresh zucchini, lightly squeezed to remove some of the excess juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, knocking out any excess flour.
Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon in a sifter, then set aside on top of a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, sugar and marmalade until combined. Add the zucchini and salt, and whisk to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Sift the flour mixture mixture directly into the bowl containing the egg and zucchini mixture. Fold the flour into the zucchini mixture until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top as much as possible. Bake in the center of the oven until a cake tester comes out clean, about 60 to 65 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then invert on to a wire rack, turn right side up and allow to cool completely.
Serve at room temperature.
The following recipes can all be found in two indispensable cookbooks for vegetable gardeners by Renee Shepherd and Fran Raboff: "Recipes from a Kitchen Garden" and "More Recipes from a Kitchen Garden."
Zucchini Tomatillo Bisque
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
6 medium zucchini, chopped or coarsely grated
2 Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped
6 tomatillos, husked and chopped
6 cups chicken stock
5 corn tortillas
1-2 tablespoons lime juice
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
In large saucepan, heat oil and butter, saute garlic and onions until softened. Add zucchini, chiles and tomatillos, stirring until coated and heated through. Add chicken stock; bring to boil, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Tear or shred tortillas into pieces and add to soup. Stir in lime juice and cilantro leaves. In a blender or food processor, blend soup in batches until smooth.
Return to saucepan and heat through. Season to taste. Serve hot, garnished with sour cream, crumbled tortilla chips and cilantro leaves. Makes 10 cups.
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 small zucchini, coarsely chopped
1 cup canned or cooked garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 cup tahini
4 scallions, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil, add garlic and zucchini and saute over low heat for 8-10 minutes until soft. Add more oil if needed. Place mixture in a food processor or food mill, add beans, tahini, scallions, parsley, lemon juice and cayenne. Process until smooth. Mix in sesame oil, salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley and lemon slices, if desired. Serve with crackers or pita bread. Makes 2-1/4 cups.
Easy to make and low in calories, these vegetable pancakes make a fine lunch or brunch dish.
6 medium zucchini
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 scallions, finely chopped
4 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
2 small cloves garlic, minced
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons canola or mild vegetable oil
Shred zucchini, sprinkle with salt and let stand for 5-10 minutes to draw off moisture. Squeeze or wring the shredded zucchini in a clean kitchen towel to remove all the moisture you can. Combine the squeezed-out zucchini with the rest of the the ingredients except the butter and oil, mixing well. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy skillet. Spoon the zucchini mixture into the heated skillet, shaping into pancakes. Cook over medium heat until set and light brown underneath. Flip pancakes and finish cooking the other side.
Serve whole or cut into wedges. Sour cream or very fresh plain yogurt makes a nice accompaniment.