Zucchini Pies Rule

Imagine zucchini as a hearty delivery system for eggs and cheese. Some of the recipes you sent along when I asked for your favorite ways to cook zucchini use up ever-plentiful squash, which plays a minor role in the flavor department. If you have a vegetable-avoider in your family, this would be a way to sneak some squash into their diet, or, if you have a resident vegetarian, this dish makes a solid main course.

Peggy Tracy in Prospect Harbor supplied Amy’s Zucchini Pie, and Beverlee Richardson in Hancock sent along “Zucchini Bake” and “Summer Squash Bake.” Sharon Frost in Calais sent Zucchini Bake, too, plus some others which we’ll get to later. All called for squash, eggs, cheese, and onion, peppers, garlic for flavor. Kinds of cheese varied, and included cheddar, Parmesan, and a shredded Italian cheese mix. Peggy’s recipe called for crescent rolls as a crust. One of Beverlee’s called for a crushed cracker base, and the other was simply baked in a pan.

As I fiddled around with them, it occurred to me that there was a fair amount of flexibility here for crust or no crust, varying sorts of cheese, different varieties of squash from zucchini to yellow crook or straight-neck to patty pans (round, scalloped-edge squashes which you never see in stores but can find in farmers’ markets), varying quantity of eggs, and just about any kind of seasoning you like.

I took Peggy’s pie to a potluck supper on Sunday, cut into several small pieces; one was left and I offered it to Toby’s twelve-year old vegetarian son Tres who pronounced it delicious. Because it reminded us of quiche, Toby and I both thought we’d enjoy it made with a pie crust instead of the rolls.

We ate Beverlee’s summer squash bake last night for supper, the whole thing, but it was all we had. I did a little enhancing with oregano, garlic and onion, even if they were not called for. I used mozzarella in both and parmesan. Since I had no small zucchini – all the zucchinis here shot past me in the day or two I was otherwise occupied with canning peaches, I used mediums and probably ended up using more squash total than the recipes actually called for. But these recipes are elastic and forgiving. You can get away with a lot.

Following are two recipes. You can think of the squash mixtures as interchangeable fillings for pie-like dishes, and use either the crescent rolls as the first suggests, or line your pie pan with the same pastry you might use for quiche. Or grease a baking dish and bake either simply as a casserole.

Amy’s Zucchini Pie
8 oz. package crescent rolls or pastry for a nine-inch pie plate
2 to 3 small/medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small onion chopped
3 tablespoons butter
2 beaten eggs
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 clove crushed garlic
Oregano or basil, optional to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ to ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a nine-inch pie plate with pastry or separate crescent rolls and arrange them in the plate, pressing them into the shape of the pan. Over medium heat sauté the zucchini and onion in the butter until the zucchini is tender. Place the zucchini on the crust. Mix eggs, cheese, parsley, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Pour over the zucchini, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for thirty to forty minutes, until golden brown. Let stand five minutes before cutting.

Makes four to six servings.

Summer Squash Bake
Olive oil
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 small onion, chopped
4 eggs
½ cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup finely shredded Italian 4-cheese blend, or mozzarella
½ cup chopped green peppers
1 clove of garlic, optional to taste
Oregano, optional, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 375 degrees. On medium heat, place a large skillet and add the oil or spray with cooking spray Add zucchini, yellow squash, and onion, cook and stir five minutes or until crisp-tender. Beat eggs and mayo in large bowl with whisk until well-blended. Stir in Parmesan. Add zucchini mixture and all remaining ingredients. Mix lightly. Spoon into an eight-inch square baking dish. Bake thirty-five to forty minutes or until center is set and edges are lightly browned.

Makes four to six servings.

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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.