Wednesday, July 30, 2008

zucchini madness?

everyone i have ever known that grows zucchinis in california has the same story to tell. the first crop is delightful...delicious...a joy..and zucchini pops up on the menu for many meals in a row. then, this prolific vegetable produces and produces and produces...and zucchini is added to every dish imaginable..family and friends go from loving the bounty to raising their hands in a desperate cry to MAKE IT STOP!!...but no relief..more and more and more. soon, every person you have ever met, along with every food bank in your town has been given some of your harvest and still..more squash. sometimes, you just need ideas for new and different ways to prepare zucchini.

my friend deb over at the martha stewart, everyday food website, along with the folks at the away to garden site, is hosting a blog-a-thon on cucumbers and zucchinis.. at this time of year you just gotta...and then repeating the event with a new item every thursday between now and labor day.. it works like this..food and garden bloggers post stories regarding the week's topic..and ask readers to share their comments on the blogs..and check out all the other blogs on the same subject. ( as well as the two aforementioned sites)...this week's topic: "cukes and zukes, from tips for growing to how to take the bounty from garden (or farmer’s market!) to table."

i love zucchini and find it is really easy to grow, so i am going to post some of my favorite..easy..recipes. please check them out and let me know what you think...also..and this is really important..please post your favorite zucchini..or cucumber..recipes in the comments section of my blog... readers from other blogs will be linked to this one..so the more recipes you share..and the more blogs you check out..the more zucchini and cucumber recipes we can all add to our collections..how cool is that?
regular readers of this blog know that i am a broken record on the subject of quality ingredients..the following easy-breezy summer zucchini recipes use just a few ingredients..so it is important to use the freshest and best quality possible..try growing your own produce, or visit a local farmer's market..and keep your pantry stocked with the best extra virgin olive oil, "real" balsamic vinegar..organic sea salts, etc. ...you will not be disappointed...oh, and for those of you that have had problems growing zucchini..or anything else...check out the website away to garden... i have learned so much from margaret..you will too..and if you leave her a question in the comments section of one of her stories..her response time is remarkably fast..

roasted zucchinis and tomatoes with parmesan and balsamic
8 small zucchinis cut in half lengthwise
1 pint cherry tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese-grated
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp basil (cut in chiffonade)
balsamic reduction (recipe follows)

preheat oven to 400 degrees. place zucchini and tomatoes on rimmed baking sheet. drizzle with olive oil and turn vegetables ensuring all sides are coated in oil. place zucchini cut side up. sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and roast in oven until tomatoes begin to collapse and zucchini is soft (knife pierces easily) and lightly browned. remove from oven and top zucchini with grated parmesan cheese. place back in oven and roast an additional 3-5 minutes until cheese has melted...watch carefully to ensure cheese does not burn. remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

drizzle each plate with balsamic reduction and top with 2 pieces of zucchini. divide tomatoes evenly between plates. drizzle a bit more really , really high quality extra virgin olive oil on top and sprinkle with basil and a bit more sea salt if needed. serve. variation..substitute the balsamic with your favorite homemade tomato sauce. serve with freshly grilled bruschetta rubbed with a clove of fresh garlic and extra virgin olive oil.

balsamic reduction
reducing balsamic vinegar results in a sweet, syrupy sauce which is delicious drizzled over vegetables, roasted meats or chicken..even garlic mashed potatoes. do not use the super expensive aged balsamic for this..but ensure the brand you use contains 100% balsamic vinegar..no colors, sugars or other additives. cook over low heat until reduced by half... i store in a squeeze bottle for ease of use later...

zucchini/potato hash browns
1 lb potatoes cooked* and grated (i use the large holes of a box grater)
1/2 lb cooked and grated zucchini*
1/2 cup grated onions
1 tbsp italian parsley (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon grey sea salt
1/4 tsp teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
grated cheddar cheese (if desired)

stir together the potatoes, zucchini, onion, parsley, salt and pepper in a large bowl. heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. add the potato/zucchini mixture..spread out in the skillet to ensure the entire bottom is covered. cook until the mixture is nicely browned on the bottom. this should take about 6-8 minutes. frequently press down on the mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula to help form a crust. run the spatula around the edges of the hash browns to loosen from the bottom of the pan. place a plate over the top of the mixture and flip over. add the hash browns back to the pan with the cooked side on top. cook until dark brown, about 5 minutes longer...watch carefully..do not brown. if desired, sprinkle cheese on top during the last few minutes and allow to melt.... cut into wedges and serve immediately.

*note..i steam the potatoes and zucchini until crisp/tender, allow to cool and then grate. if your zucchini is throwing off a lot of liquid, place in a clean cotton dish towel and gently squeeze prior to adding to potato mixture. also, i like the texture of potato skins so i do not peel. if you want, peel prior to steaming...

o.k. everyone..enjoy the zucchini dishes..and remember, please share your favorite zucchini and cucumber recipes in the comments section..the other readers..and i..appreciate it in advance...or feel free to request a recipe..we will try to accommodate..

best,
napa farmhouse 1885
"live a green life of style"™

14 comments:

Margaret said...

I am 7 months into the same post-corporate journey, and having fun, so I was happy to arrive here and have another visit today for the "Food Fest" entry. Thanks for joining me and Deb...and for the recipe.

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks margaret...i am having a blast too...and i love our new weekly parties..let's not end at labor day...we can go into fall..right??!!

beth said...

Yum! I am going to try both of your recipes. The zucchinis with tomatoes look beautiful in the photograph. And of course I will add cheese to the hash browns.

Dianne said...

That looks fabulous! I love roasted tomatoes, but I had never thought of roasting zucchini!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks dianne and welcome..roasting zucchini brings out the sweetness..so it is one of my favorite ways to prepare. thanks for the visit..please return often..
from a one "n" diane to a "nn" dianne...

susan said...

I grill slices of zucchini on the barbecue and sprinkle with salt, olive oil and lemon zest. Love your blog!

casalba said...

The same is happening on our side of the pond. There is a site I always read The Cottage Smallholder. If you check this out (and the comments section)there are some great ideas and more links. (We call them courgettes - just in case there's any confusion.) Here is the link: http://cottagesmallholder.com/

kate said...

Hello Napa,
I tried your zucchini and potatoes hash browns with cheese last night. My family loved it and ate every bite. I am always looking for ways to get my 3 kids to eat green vegis. :) This recipe was a hit. Thank you

Maggie said...

I love the hash brown idea. I have to give that a try. Just when I thought I was going to drown in zucchini the plants took a turn for the worst. Squash borers did them in and I had to rip out the plants but they had a good run this year.

frannie said...

we are usually covered up with zucchini as well and i have tried various ways to use this amazing vegetable.
will also try some of the recipes here that look yummy.
i have recently made a zuchini cake that is a treat and disappers quickly. it has a "carrot cake" personality and is becoming a fav with the carrot cake crowd at my home. i serve it without an icing and with the traditional cream cheese icing.
as an aside, my cholestrol levels always go down during the zuke harvest time, and lo and behold i find out through my research that zukes are good for controlling cholesterol.(the increased fiber maybe).
i would love it if someone would tell me how can i store zukes for future use in the winter. i find differing info on whether or not they can be frozen. i would love to shred some and freeze so we can have zuke cake and bread through the year? any help?
thanks
frannie in texas

Marla Braff said...

I tried to leave a message on twitter, but I'm not on your list. Response to freezing zucchini's. My mother used to grate and freeze to be used for baking, such as breads and cakes. I believe there was extra moisture after being frozen, which she drained or squeezed out. I think before she would freeze it, she would allow some of the extra moisture to drain out of the zucchini after grating. She seemed to have good results for baking. It's been years, so I hope my memory is correct!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi maggie, thanks for the comments..i think you are also a new friend from food buzz. looking forward to getting to know you..let me know how the hash browns turn out.

hi kate..thanks for the feedback!

hi casalba..always love to hear from you guys..i still get tons of hits from your site regarding the fig recipes!..thanks for the zucchini recipes link...

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi marla...thanks for the tip..i will add you to my twitter friends right now..am a bit behind with this...

and to frannie, the zucchini cake sounds delicious..do you follow a typical carrot cake recipe and just substitute zucchini? or do you make changes? regarding freezing, marla's idea sounds to be the perfect solution i had the same idea from another twitter friend, foodie tots http://www.foodietots.com. she did say you will need to drain the zucchini in a collender after defrosting..but that it would work perfectly in cooked and baked recipes..thanks to both foodie tots and marla..i will try this out myself..

Snickers said...

I "milk" a zucchini...meaning I squeeze the juice out of it and then I drink it every Friday morning before 8:00. This keeps me regular and ready to go for the weekend. I mash up the leftover zucchini, mix it with olive oil and smear it all over my face. Next, I lie down in a dark room, listening to Indian chanting music. No one ever guesses I'm 60 years old. Rock On!!!