It is that time of year again, a time when turning your back on zucchini can be dangerous. A small zucchini turns into a monster bat-sized baton in record time or so it seems if you have a garden. It can be hard to keep up with even a single plant.
Zucchini is typically the first of summer’s fruit to be ready for harvest. This year, as we wait for heirloom tomatoes to ripen, they are already enormous and abundant. It is time to revisit favorite zucchini recipes.
Many home cooks, when faced with too many zukes, lean towards recipes that mask them rather than highlight them. Zucchini muffins, zucchini bread, zucchini bake, zucchini- chocolate cake and even zucchini- apple pie are offered as ways to use a surplus of summer squash.
I think there are best ways to appreciate it and believe it is at its best in a savory, not a sweet, contest. Zucchini tarts, galettes, quiche, gratin and frittatas are all easy and delicious.
Zucchini is an increasingly popular pizza topping, too, though it is most often lost in the tomato sauce on most versions. I prefer a pizza topped with olive oil, minced garlic, and grated cheese, with sliced avocado added after it is cooked. You can make a similar sandwich that is equally delicious.
Chilled zucchini soup is rich and refreshing but won’t bust anyone’s diet. Zucchini salsa is delicious on creamy polenta or grits, tossed with a small pasta such as ditalini and spooned over quesadillas, steamed rice or grilled zucchini.
If you are gluten intolerant, you can cut it into noodles for Zucchini Carbonara, Zucchini Marinara or even Zucchini Bolognese.
There are links to recipes from the Seasonal Pantry archives at “Eat This Now” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. To find them, simply enter “zucchini” in the search bar.
If, after trying all my suggestions and your own favorites, you still find yourself with too many zukes, just wait until August 8, “Sneak Some Zucchini On Your Neighbor’s Porch” night.
Today’s recipes are updated versions of several of my favorite ways to enjoy zucchini.
The simplicity of this dish belies its deliciousness; it is one of the best ways to enjoy zucchini. It’s not a good way to prepare large zucchini — larger than about 1 1/2 inches in diameter — unless it is Romanesco variety, as other types will fall apart. With Romanesco, the zucchini will hold its shape no matter its size.
Black Pepper Zucchini
Makes 3 to 4 servings
3 tablespoons butter
3-4 small zucchini, trimmed and cut in 1/4-inch rounds
— Kosher salt
— Black pepper in a mill
Put the butter in a medium sauté pan set over medium high heat and when it is melted add the zucchini. Sauté, tossing or turning frequently, until the squash is just tender but not at all mushy, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and several very generous turns of black pepper.
Remove from the heat and enjoy right away.
If you love zucchini, it is worth it to invest in a mandoline. You don’t need a professional one, though; the plastic ones designed for home kitchens are durable, easy to use and inexpensive. They allow you to cut zucchini and similarly shaped vegetables into thin noodles and coins of even thickness. I’ve used the same one for about 25 years.