Two Quick Ways with Zucchini

Despite all the jokes about locking your car so no one can leave a zucchini in it, I find a lot of people really like the vegetable and look forward to fresh ones each summer. Three big healthy plants in my garden, a variety called Cocozelle, are doing their level best to challenge my imagination in the cookery department.
My neighbor Anne Marie will take away the zuke bludgeons and make them into her annual relish. Small ones are good for a quick sauté. Mediums seem good for ratatouille or slicing and grilling. I love grilled zucchini: slice them lengthways brush with olive oil and slap them on the grill like steaks. Cook them rare: just barely tender.
The big ones I regard as oven stuffer roasters, if I may borrow a term from a chicken producer. I cut them lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and flesh, leaving a half inch or so thick wall, bake it for a few minutes while I enhance the scooped out stuff by sautéing it with onions and garlic, or sausage or ground meat and herbs, or rice or orzo. Then I dump the result into the hollowed out squash and bake it a little longer, maybe with cheese on it.

Then there is the quick roasting method that follows. There are so many vegetables this time of year that I can make an entire supper of them. Thank goodness, Toby agrees. The other evening, I chunked up a whole medium sized squash (about ten inches long and, say, three inches in diameter) tossed it in olive oil with two or three chopped cloves of garlic and flash roasted it in a 500 degree oven. It took twenty minutes. Meanwhile, I sautéed some Romano style green beans, flat ones called Nor’easter, in butter. That was it. Toby, who will gratefully eat anything I put in front of him, pronounced it “excellent.” Of course, you could add some rice or a piece of chicken to the menu, but we just filled up on squash and green beans.

Then a couple of nights later, Toby experimented with broiling the squash. Same basic procedure: chunks, olive oil and garlic. After about fifteen minutes, he grated cheddar over all and let it bubble and turn golden. I fixed some tiny beet greens, thinning from the old garden, sautéed in olive oil and sprinkled with balsamic vinegar and a little sugar to go with the zucchini. That was it. Yum. Could not be easier.

So here are a couple of non-recipes for you to work your own magic on. Add herbs, used seasoned salt or serve dressed with a favorite salad dressing. Play with it.

Roasted Zucchini
1 medium zucchini, about 1 ½ pounds
2-3 garlic cloves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Cut the zucchini into chunks about an inch or inch and a half on a side. Peel and coarsely chop the garlic. Put the zucchini and garlic into a heavy baking pan and dribble olive oil over them, tossing to coat each side of the squash. Sprinkle on salt and pepper. Put into the oven and check after about ten minutes, turn the zucchini over and put it back for another ten minutes. Serve.

Makes enough for three or four servings.

Broiled Zucchini
1 medium zucchini, about 11/2 pounds
2-3 garlic cloves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the broiler on high. Cut the zucchini into chunks about an inch or inch and a half on a side. Peel and coarsely chop the garlic. Put the zucchini and garlic into a heavy baking pan and dribble olive oil over them, tossing to coat all sides of the squash. Sprinkle on salt and pepper. Run under the broiler for about ten minutes. Remove and turn the squash chunks over, replace for an additional ten minutes or less. Remove and grate the cheese on top and broil again until light brown. Serve.

Makes enough for three to four servings.

Looking for………other zucchini recipes. Do you have a recipe using zucchini that you rely on? Feel like sharing? Send it along.

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About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.