Friday, July 24, 2009

Zucchini invasion!

Our first 'quantity' zucchini harvest awaiting the knife...

It’s that time of year again. You know, where people who live in rural areas start locking their car doors for fear of finding extra zucchini squash left on their front seats. I’ve pretty much always loved zucchini. I remember my mom growing a few plants, and I remember her saying that they were easy to grow, but I don’t remember bumper crops. My guess is that she had them, but that she found ways of disposing of them before they took over the countertops where I might have noticed them.

The last three summers that I’ve been gardening, we’ve only had a few. I had two plants in NC, but didn’t get a great crop due to lack of sun in the area of our garden. Last year, we had 3 plants, but again – not much of a crop. We planted very, very late though – and we weren’t great about watering.

This year, it’s a different story. My guess is that our success is partly due to experience and good weather, and partly due to the fact that I actually have been known to say “I don’t think you can EVER have too much zucchini”. Oops.

The above picture is our first crop. Since then, we’ve had that same number of squashes on our counter twice – and the size of them is increasing. In fact, yesterday, my H picked a couple of ‘baseball bat’ ones! Luckily, I’ve got tons of ways I plan on using them up.

Last weekend we dried slices in the dehydrator. It was quite quick and easy. I just sliced them using the mandolin slicer, laid them out on the trays, dusted them with seasonings and set it to dry. In about 10 hours later, we had chips! I did one tray of garlic, salt and pepper, one tray of adobo seasoning, one tray of hot adobo seasoning, one tray of just sea salt and 4 trays of plain. They were all delicious! Next time, I’m going to try a rosemary garlic combo and perhaps a barbeque type. I’d also love to try one with Tabasco, but I’m not sure how to do that yet.

Then I used up a few zucchinis in some baked goods. I made lemon zucchini muffins and cranberry walnut zucchini bars (brownie style), both of which were delicious! Lastly, my H made a zucchini and linguini baked casserole that is pictured below.

The zucchini casserole just after it came out of the oven.

This delicious recipe was from The Victory Garden Cookbook and is the second successful recipe we’ve made from that classic book. The casserole was made with my H’s homemade ricotta (or farmer’s cheese), spaghetti, sausage and tons of diced zucchini (we had no linguini on hand). We are still eating the leftovers!

This coming weekend, I’m going to make zucchini chocolate chip cookies, another zucchini bread recipe, zukamole (guacamole with zucchini instead of avocado), and a mock crab cake recipe that uses zucchini instead of crab! I will also be dehydrating more chips and a bunch of shredded zucchini so that we’ll have plenty to use come next winter. I also often toss diced zucchini pieces into pasta sauces or chili just to up the veggie-factor, so I may dehydrate some in cubes as well. We will also be eating it – sautéed, grilled, roasted - all YUMMY!

See, zucchini is so damn versatile that I just don’t see how it’s possible to have too much!! I’ll probably be eating those words (mixed with pureed zucchini) in about a month. ;-)


Charlene said...

Cat you can also freeze it pretty well to use in baking over winter - just clean, shred, and then freeze in bags in serving sizes - it's watery when it thaws but works great.

Carrie Anne said...

I'm jealous...the squash borers have destroyed our crop in you guys have those out there?

Cat said...

Charlene - I've heard that you can freeze it already shredded, but we are trying to avoid putting anything else in our freezer! We want to make sure we have room for our next venture...raising our own chickens for meat.

CA - I'm not sure I know what a squash borer is! We have very few bugs out here - at least compared to NC or FL. :-)