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Zucchini bread

Season peaks for versatile zucchini breads, cakes

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It's zucchini time.

There is no getting around it, the zucchini is a prolific plant with the versatile green vegetable now running wild in most backyard gardens. I refer to it as a vegetable because in its culinary usage that is how it is regarded; however, botanically it is a fruit.

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Once the plant starts producing, it seems to appear overnight and there are always more than enough to go around. Such is the case right now.

The smaller ones are great for sautéing with all your favorite vegetables and cheeses and the larger ones are ideal for those breads, muffins, and cake recipes that are either perfect baked fresh and eaten or popped into the freezer for later use. Baked items with the shredded zucchini are always moisture laden and consequently freeze up well, and when thawed are just as good or even better than the freshly made. I don't peel my zucchini for use in dishes. You can if you like, but I like the texture and the green coloring in the baked or cooked dishes better using the unpeeled zucchini.

Zucchini is also extremely good for you - one cup has a mere 20 calories, but packs a whopping 35 percent of your daily allowance of vitamin C and 14 percent of Vitamin B6, plus other good nutrients.

It is also fairly bland, taking on the flavors of whatever you cook it with. That means you can hide it in a number of dishes and if your guests are not big zucchini fans, they won't even notice you're cooking with it.

Because zucchini produce so fast and furiously, people who like to cook and bake with the vegetable, usually get sick of them before the season is over.

That's why it's important to continually refer to your zucchini recipe file. The following are an excellent sample of the thousands out there that rely on the vegetable as a main ingredient. I feel like through the weeks, I've overworked the word easy, but all are truly very simple to put together from start to finish and equally as delicious to enjoy.

I have not yet tried the Zucchini Pancakes but plan on doing so this weekend as a breakfast entrée. Office employee Paula Bonzer shared this recipe given to her by a friend Bernadette Raguse, who endorsed their goodness.

The rest of the recipes I can vouch for, having personally prepared or tasted them all. The Zucchini Bread is also from the recipe folder of Paula Bonzer, and the Zucchini Cupcakes were shared by good friend Carilyn Haagenson. The Skillet Zucchini has been in my personal collection for quite some time. The really nice thing about this skillet dish is you can toss in pretty much what you like when it comes to additional vegetables. I many times eliminate the yellow squash and will add an onion or a red or green pepper. Fresh mushrooms are also wonderful sautéed into the mix. Anything is basically fair game, when it comes to additions. I also like to throw in a little extra cheese, but it all boils down to personal preference and in that regard this recipe is certainly flexible and can be custom made.

Until next week, from my kitchen to yours, happy cooking!

Zucchini Pancakes

Place peeled and chunked zucchini in blender to two cup mark, then add buttermilk to the two cup mark and blend.

Add:

1 to 2 eggs

3 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 to 1 ½ cups flour

1 tsp. vanilla (optional)

Blend all well. Fry on griddle and top with favorite syrup.

May be frozen after cooked.

Zucchini Cupcakes

½ cup butter

½ cup oil

1 ¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

2 cups grated zucchini

1 tsp. vanilla

2 ½ cups flour

¼ cup cocoa

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. soda

Topping:

¾ cup chocolate chips

¾ cup chopped walnuts

Mix all ingredients together and fill cupcake papers ¾ full. Sprinkle chocolate chips and walnuts on top. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

Zucchini Bread

Mix together:

3 eggs

1 cup oil

2 cups sugar

Add:

3 cups grated zucchini

½ tsp. salt

2 tsp. soda

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. cinnamon

3 ½ cups flour

½ tsp. vanilla

Optional add:

1 ½ cups raisins

1 cup chopped nuts

Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Skillet Zucchini

2 zucchini, sliced

2 yellow squash, sliced

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tbsp. olive oil

½ cup mozzarella cheese

2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil

2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese

Cook zucchini and squash in hot oil in skillet for about three minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook three minutes loner. Remove from heat and stir in mozzarella and basil. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve hot.

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