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August 21, 2008

Mama’s Little Babies Love Zucchini
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 07:51 AM *

Mama’s little babies love zucchini bread.

So there I was, reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, when M. Poirot comes on scene, throwing vegetable marrows over the wall.

“What the foo,” says I to myself, “is a vegetable marrow?”

It turns out that a vegetable marrow in Merrie Olde is what we in the USA call zucchini. (So this stranger comes to a small town, and he’s talking with one of the locals, and he says, “I bet this is the kind of place where folks don’t even lock their cars.” “Nope,” says the local. “Everyone’s very careful to lock up in summer.” “Why’s that?” ” ‘Cause if you don’t, you’ll find your car is full of zucchini.”)

One plant produces an awful lot of zucchini. I can see why Poirot was throwing them over a wall.

But if you don’t have a handy wall, and no one’s left their car unlocked, you can also bake them into bread.

  • 3 cups (400 g)bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • ½ cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
  • ½ cup (125 ml) applesauce
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (200 g) brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (about 500 g) grated zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (170 C).
  2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  3. Cream the eggs, oil, applesauce, vanilla, and sugars. Add the sifted ingredients a little at a time. Beat well. Stir in zucchini (and nuts if used) until well mixed. Pour the batter into greased and floured 8 x 4 (20cm x 10cm) loaf pans.
  4. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean (usually fifty-five minutes). Cool in the pan on a rack for twenty minutes. Turn out the bread from the pan, and allow to cool.

If bread doesn’t appeal, here’s a recipe for Zucchini Carpaccio.

(Updated to add metric measures—AS)

[Recipe Index]

Comments on Mama's Little Babies Love Zucchini:
#1 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 08:13 AM:

I think what you call zucchini are what I call courgettes (small ones - marrows are bigger).

You can also make light, moist, low-fat cake with them. I once took a chocolate-flavoured courgette cake to work. My office at the time had two rooms with perhaps ten people in each. Lots of people in the room I worked in had some cake, and it went down well, but there was hardly any left. So I went to the other room and said, "Would anyone like some cake? It's got courgettes in." They all said, "Eurgh! No." They missed a treat, or they would have done if there had been enough.

#2 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 08:21 AM:

Right, a marrow is a very large zucchini. A small zucchini is a courgette.

Big list of AmE/BrE vegetable names.

#3 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 08:48 AM:

My mother-in-law grows veggies every year, and tends to not listen to our descriptions of how much we can eat. Back when my husband was a single guy living alone and never ever cooking, she gave him a plastic bag containing three or four zucchini. (Really. I think she just wanted him to throw them away so she wouldn't have to.)

He's occasionally absentminded, and forgot about them. This was, of course, the dead of summer, and in central Georgia. They sat in the car for a week or two before he found them. He *still* gags when he thinks about the smell too long.

#4 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 08:49 AM:

There's a horrible beige squash thing that's essentially a container for flavourless vegetable mucous that I had fed to me as a child under the name of "vegetable marrow".

I wonder what that was?

#5 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 09:18 AM:

My mother always prepared squash one of two ways; boil them to death, or fry them into frisbees. Needless to say, squash was never one of my favorite veggies.

Then, at my favorite restaurant, my waitress brought me some zucchini that had been sauteed in olive oil. Now THAT was good!

Yellow squash is good that way too, so I decided to plant some squash this year and found that six yellow squash plants will feed two people quite well; and leave enough left over for about 50 more. Unfortunately, all six died last month from some plant fungus or something, so I now have recipes but no vegetables to use them with...

#6 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 09:49 AM:

Butternut squash, perhaps, Graydon?

I like baking acorn squash with brown sugar and butter till it's golden and translucent. Probably not very healthy, though.

Finely grated/zested zucchini goes well mixed in with buttery pasta and lots of parmesan cheese.

#7 ::: Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 09:53 AM:

I just made zucchini bread for the first time since childhood. It was the confluence of two circumstances: Michael's coworker sent him home with a zucchini approximately the size of a newborn baby, and Jo Walton was about to visit. I wanted to serve Jo a quintessentially American food. She seemed to think that zucchini bread qualified.

#8 ::: Jenna ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 09:55 AM:

If you want a sweeter route, chocolate zucchini bread.

Makes 2 loaves.


* 3 eggs
* 1 cup oil
* 2 cups sugar
* 2 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* ¼ teaspoon baking powder
* 3 cups flour
* 6 tablespoons cocoa
* 2 cups grated fresh zuccinni

Cream together eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients, add alternately with zuccini to creamed mixture. Grease and flour 2 8 ½x4 ½” pans. Bake 1 hour at 350° or until done.

I've given this to people who would not believe there was zucchini in it. It's good hot or cold with just a little butter.

#9 ::: Kirilaw ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 10:00 AM:

Tatterbots @ 1 --

When I was a kid, my parents used to use chocolate zucchini cake as a way of sneaking vegetables into us. Then my mother accidentally admitted that it was (gasp) zucchini cake, and we all promptly decided we had hated it all along.

#10 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 10:13 AM:

Those who grew up in the midwest, in the "lock your doors in the summer or people will fill your car with zucchini" kind of town that Jim mentions can only laugh a hollow, bitter laugh at these recipes.

Delicious? I'm sure. Creative? Of course.

But they use a mere 2 or 3 cups of grated zucchini.

Should one be so foolish as to plant zucchini in the midwest, one will require recipes that use bushels worth, not cups.

Me, I plant tomatoes. Problem solved.

#11 ::: Dave Trowbridge ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 10:14 AM:

Zucchini bread is wonderful, but it uses so little zucchini that it's not very helpful in dealing with an overload. Unlocked cars are still a better bet.

Coarsely-grated zucchini sauteed in olive oil with garlic and pepper and then topped with parmesan cheese is a nice change of pace.

#12 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 10:23 AM:

Dave @11

Ave frater!!

#13 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 10:39 AM:

Miss a day picking the zucchini, and you'll find sofa pillows under the leaves. Miss two days, and you can turn them into dugout canoes and have races.

We planted usually two or three hills of bush zucchini (two or three plants, and they don't take over the yard). The first week or so of flowers are all male, suitable for being stuffed or becoming soup.
Zucchini bread; raw zucchini, sliced and put in salads (good with dip, too); zucchini, cut in sections, cored, and stuffed; also blanched and frozen zucchini, usually reheated with chopped onions and maybe tomatoes.

I need to find that recipe for zucchini chutney (two large zucchini, apple, shallots/pearl onions, assorted other good things). Somewhere in one of the boxes ....

#14 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 10:40 AM:

grated zucchini freeze beautifully, and they're perfect for soup.

#15 ::: SisterCoyote ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 10:42 AM:

Zucchini bread is just about the only way I'll eat zucchini, and even that's a little iffy.

But this is a hangover from the first summer we lived in Southern California, when my mother planted ten (!) zucchini plants. And some of the damn things got so big that we were using them as softball bats by the end of that summer.

#16 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 10:53 AM:

One of the cakes at the Denvention Consuite "Birthday Party" was a Zucchini cake. Think Carrot Cake, but with extremely finely grated Zucchini instead, done as a two-layer sheet cake with cream-cheese frosting and finely sliced fresh fruit (mango, strawberry, kiwi, and pineapple, I think)topping each layer.

Absolutely delish.

#17 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 10:53 AM:

Sarah S@10

Obviously the solution is to bake lots and lots of zucchini bread.

Then go looking for unlocked cars to fill with bread...

#18 ::: Edward Pollard ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 10:56 AM:




What you couldn't find a banana lying around?


... I don't like zucchini. At all.

#19 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 11:05 AM:

My recommendation is to get one of Marcella Hazan's Italian cookbooks; there are enough good zucchini recipes to eat zucchini every night.

(To my sorrow, I have had no success with zucchini this summer; I can easily eat 4 or 5 a day myself, so i miss them.)

#20 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 11:09 AM:

My wife has an attack on zucchinis-- even the big ones-- which involves shredding them and cooking them with a little cream, cumin, cashews, and shredded parmesan cheese. It's something of a "cook until it be anow" recipe.

If you end up with excess butternut squash, turn it into "pumpkin" pies.

#21 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 11:55 AM:

We planted 4 plants of zucchini this year. We have the space, and conditions here are iffy enough that we don't really get the monsters. So far, that's not been an issue. But then they've just started.

We're picking them really small, just barely past the flowers opening. Partly because we're anxious, partly because we have to stay on top of them.

The favorite recipe is to cut them up, saute them in olive oil and pine nuts, then toss with pasta & good Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and possibly a hint of cayenne pepper.

#22 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 11:59 AM:

Not at all healthy, but ooh, so good -- Zucchini Fritters:

The recipe calls for 2 eggs, 1/2 c flour, and 3-ish cups of coarsely grated zucchini, fried in a couple of Tablespoons of oil. We randomly add garlic, pepper, red peppers, herbs, you name it -- and then serve them with chutney or salsa and aioli.


#23 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 12:00 PM:

I also planted zucchini this year. Uncertain of how well the plants would take off, I planted three. Now, there are three people in the house, so that might have worked... but two of us don't like zucchini, and the other is gone at work two weeks a month.

They're starting to build up.

#24 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 12:02 PM:

Many years ago, I lived in a group household. As such things go, it ran fairly well, which means that there were disputes aplenty but we weren't actually at each other's throats.

One fine spring, while one couple was preparing to move out of this house, another member of the household, a particularly pompous ass, was contemplating starting a vegetable garden in the back yard. One of the vegetables he was contemplating growing was zucchini.

"I wonder how many zucchini plants I should plant?" he contemplated aloud, while his two housemates were packing.

"For a household this size," said one of the departing housemate, "I'd say about six."

(Names omitted to protect the guilty.)

#25 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 12:04 PM:

A recent episode of Iron Chef featured a zucchini/squash battle. There were some interesting (as usual) dishes. The idea I liked was fine slicing the zucchini on a mandolin into faux-pasta. I thought that would be an excellent low carb alternative to traditional noodles. It's on my list of things to try with this years neighbor drop-offs :)

#26 ::: Thomas Lumley ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 12:10 PM:

My impression was that 'marrow' is used both /sensu lato/ to refer to any large summer squash without a more specific name and /sensu stricto/ to refer to a particular set of large, tasteless varieties. Zucchini wouldn't be marrows in either sense, though an assortment of summer squash including some zucchini could be marrows.

The naming of squash is a complex issue, though. In Australia we used 'pumpkin' for all the available winter squash (eg 'butternut pumpkin'), but in US terminology almost none of them would be pumpkins. Even the pumpkin-shaped ones were mostly the 'Queensland Blue' or 'Jarrahdale' cultivars, which are blue-grey (the color of Hubbard squash), and people here tell me that the color would definitely disqualify them as pumpkins.

#27 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 12:14 PM:

I had a guest over who was on a low-carb diet so I made zucchini noodles as a pasta substitute. Simply slice the zucchini lengthwise into thin slices, then slice again into noodle-like strands. If you are using super-big zucchinis, don't bother with the seedy parts. Cook very briefly, covered in a pan at high heat with enough water to keep the bottom covered, and a bit of oil. Serve with whatever pasta sauce you were going to have anyway. The zucchini noodles don't have a lot of flavor, but they're replacing pasta and the flavor comes more from the sauce. They hold up well (but don't overcook them).

#28 ::: Kristi Wachter ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 12:15 PM:

Those of you who grate zucchini and then saute it - do you salt and drain it first? Or is there some other trick to reducing the moisture?

#29 ::: hapax ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 12:34 PM:

That's pretty close to my zucchini bread recipe, but I add a LOT more spice -- not just cinnamon, but mace, cardamom, nutmeg, clove...

I also slice zucchinis very thinly the long way and use them instead of noodles in a meatless lasagne.

Mostly, however, I slice them into rounds (along with yellow squash) and barely steam them, with lots of good pepper. Yum!

(Yes. I leave my car unlocked in the summer. Give me your tired, your poor, your unwanted squash by the sackful...)

#30 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 12:40 PM:

You can also grate them and make lasagna with them (that is, instead of meat). Haven't tried using them as a substitute for pasta, though that sounds really good. I wouldn't recommend substituting zucchini for both the meat AND the pasta in the same dish, though!

I also used to halve and core them and stuff them with cooked, herbed, buttered and maybe cheesed rice. Bake until it be enow.

My friend The Mad Hawaiian used to invite people over to eat "roast dragon tail." He'd take a particularly enormous zucchini, cut scales into it, and roast it stuffed with rice (I can't remember what flavorings he used, but it was yummy).

#31 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 12:44 PM:

Graydon @ 4, I'd bet it was a way-overcooked yellow summer squash. Could have been a butternut, but "flavorless vegetable mucous" doesn't describe the interior of a butternut that well (butternut is, in taste and texture, more like pumpkin) -- and I have certainly had overcooked yellow squash that fit that description perfectly.

(I don't like yellow squash much, but do like zucchini. I wonder how much of this is psychological.)

I've got three zucchini plants and they frankly haven't been producing all that well. Lots of flowers that open, close, and drop off. One of my friends in Florida has not gotten a single zucchini from hers. Even my cucumbers are only making a mediocre effort, and my cantaloupe has produced one melon and a whole lot of vines. The cherry tomatoes are about the only thing that's producing.

#32 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 01:07 PM:

In Italy last year we ran into a restaurant with English translations of the menu; the British-influenced translation of "zucchini" was "dwarf marrow." Eew. Reminded me of the time, having just finished Courtship Rite, I noticed the local supermarket had an aisle offering "baby meats."

#33 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 01:10 PM:

I was confused as a kid for years about what "vegetable marrows" were because I read a lot of British books. I thought it must be some weird vegetable we didn't have here, and imagined it being like bone marrow inside. (Which sounds rather like Graydon's experience, perhaps colored by the name.)

Zucchini is excellent sliced in frittatas.

If you aren't allergic to eggs or unable to eat them for some reason, it's worth learning to make frittatas because they're an easy, tasty supper that works with whatever vegetables you have on hand, including say, too much zucchini. For the uninitiated, a frittata is sort of an Italian omelette cooked without all the stirring; saute vegetables and herbs or other interesting stuff in a big pan, pour beaten egg and/or cheese over, stir a tiny bit and turn heat way down, cook until it sets. Optionally brown the top in a broiler. (Consult a cookbook as needed; this explanation is just to give an idea how easy it is.) It comes out somewhere between a French omelette and a crustless quiche, but less work than either.

#34 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 01:17 PM:

I somewhat regret not having planted zucchini this year, actually. I have only a small veggie plot, and my cucumbers have been slow to start (only three harvested so far, and the remaining ones are just beginning to grow). The cherry tomatoes have started to ripen, and with the monstrous size of the plant I think I will be fine with them for several months (the larger tomatoes on the three other tomato plants are still firm and green).

On the other hand, come fall I should have a bumber crop of butternut squash - I've got at least 12 goodly sized ones in progress, and many more blossoms on the plants. Any good recipes for butternut squash will be much appreciated!

#35 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 01:32 PM:

Next time you're charcoal-grilling something, halve some zucchini lengthwise and throw it on. It's startlingly good.

#36 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 01:48 PM:

Recently I've discovered that nice chunky zucchini half-moons -- about 3/4" thick -- are good as part of a meat fondue platter. Cook in the hot oil till just flecked with brown on the outside. Nicely low-carb, depending on what dipping sauce you prefer. (Also good are really fresh button mushrooms.)

#37 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 01:51 PM:

Roasted butternut squash with feta: Halve the squashes and place face up on a baking sheet. Roast at 400° for 25 minutes until the insides are tender. Scrape the insides into a bowl and mix with some feta cheese and herbs. Put the mixture back into the squash halves and warm them in the oven for a bit before serving.

#38 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 01:52 PM:

Tim Walters @ #35, I thought I was going to have to suggest that. Baste the lengths with olive oil first.

#39 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 01:53 PM:

Oh, and Carl's Jr., a SoCal hamburger chain, has a couple of franchises out here. At least one of them sells deep-fried battered zucchini rounds with a ranch sauce as a side dish.

#40 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 01:57 PM:

Tim Walters @35: Grilling is surprisingly good for lots of veggies. They get sweet, I guess it caramelizes them. It's good to brush them with a good coat of olive oil first. Loading up the oil with herbs is also good. Recently I was served grilled okra and it was completely different than when it is sautéed or stewed.

#41 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 02:01 PM:

Yes to the grilled zucchini--my daugher's standard green summer (and often winter, come to think of it) vegetable--but halving would be the instruction for proper little courgettes, not the monsters. Caroline, I don't care for yellow squash either, but don't seem to tire of zucchini; I think it's a difference in texture.

I would advise salting and draining if you're setting out to make fritters (to which, imo, some parmesan or feta would be a desirable addition). I've gone the grate-and-saute route both with and without pre-salting, and like it both ways, so the speed advantage of being able to cook it immediately usually wins out for me. I generally finish this with a chiffonade of fresh basil or a bit of parmesan, or both; balsamic vinegar does not come amiss either. To take it to the next level: start by dicing a little bacon and browning it in the olive oil before adding the garlic and then the zucchini.

I can literally eat myself sick on traditional zucchini bread, so I've also considerably lightened the original recipe (I'm betting Jim's above began life close to the same basic one I started with) though I like it with whole wheat flour; mine comes out much more crumbly than the traditional version, and I slice it frozen when I want to toast it. (I use only half a cup of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt, plain yogurt instead of the applesauce [I always have yogurt on hand, applesauce seldom]; and I replace two of the eggs with two mashed bananas. And I prefer a mix of raisins and sunflower seeds to the traditional walnuts.)

#42 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 02:14 PM:

The cursing of Squash is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your Making Light games.
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
But a squash must be cursed at with three different names.
First of all there’s the curse for a squash that’s not teeny
Such as: “Blight on my garden! Extraneous marrow!
Goddamn you, misshapen and monstrous zucchini!
You colossal courgette! (All are names sure to harrow)

#43 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 02:15 PM:

Caroline @41 --

That sounds plausible, thank you!

Tlönista @6 --

Don't think so, I remember butternut squash fairly fondly. (Since I can't eat dairy, halve, de-seed, goodly dollop of bacon fat, dollop of honey, cinnamon, dry mustard, salt, cover with foil while baking until the last ~20 mins to brown; if you can eat dairy, that's 'goodly dollop of butter').

Big zucchini, well, I recall some as snuck through the fence into the tall grass and had to be sectioned with an ax before the pigs could -- not would, but "were physically able to" -- eat them.

#44 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 02:25 PM:

I add chopped zucchini to my spaghetti sauce. Little ground beef, some garlic, stir in cayenne, black pepper and a pinch of cinnamon. Mmmmm. Good.

#45 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 02:31 PM:

Q. What vegetable likes to watch animals?

A. Zoo-chini.

#46 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 02:36 PM:

#42, Sarah -

Thank you! Thomas at #26 made me think of that poem too, but I am most definitely not up to versifying. Well done!

#47 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 02:39 PM:

PJ @ 13 : We used to call those 'lurking zucchini'.

As a resident of a Zucchini Town, I don't grow zucchini -- I let my friends do it, and then I don't get stuck with too many zucchinis (until my husband gets greedy, and takes three or four, forgetting that he's the only one in the house who will eat them when they get big). My zucchini growing friends are currently bemoaning the fact that the deer who are so diligent about eating the beans and pumpkin plants leave the zucchini alone this year -- at least one of them planted extra zucchini 'for the deer' after they lost half a garden to them last year.

Last year, feeling as though the statute of limitations had expired (we'd both been out of the house for 20+ years), my sister and I finally admitted to Dad that we had been known to use lurking zucchini as bats in a slightly twisted game of "How Far Will It Fly". The tomatoes we grew, while very tasty, tended to split badly and then rot (and we grew lots!). One of our chores was to pick the split ones -before- they rotted. In the interests of spreading the tomatoes more evenly in the field, we began throwing them into the field, and when that wasn't far enough, we brought in the zucchini bats. It was a test of eye-hand coordination, as well as impact speed, as you really don't want the tomato to explode upon impact.

Mum used to cut zucchini into spears and put them on the plate with the other raw veggies -- that only works with the small ones, though.

#48 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 02:40 PM:

Q: What kind of vegetable likes to watch animals swimming?

A: A zoo-kini.

#49 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 02:46 PM:

Zucchini, zucchini, Nancy Zucchini
Zucchini, zucchini, Nancy-O.

As I walked in by Glasgow city
Nancy Zucchini I chanced to spy
I walked in, sat down beside her
Seven long years spent by her side.

Zucchini, zucchini, Nancy Zucchini
Zucchini, zucchini, Nancy-O

The more I kissed her the more I lo'ed her
The more I lo'ed her, the more she smiled
I forgot my mother's teaching
Nancy Zucchini had me beguiled.

Zucchini, zucchini, Nancy Zucchini
Zucchini, zucchini, Nancy-O

Come all you ramblers, you roving gamblers
Come all you lads where e'er you be
Never lose your heart to Nancy
She'll ruin you as she ruined me.

Zucchini, zucchini, Nancy Zucchini
Zucchini, zucchini, Nancy-O

#50 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 02:50 PM:

For people with serious zucchini overpopulation problems and access to a Mexican market for good cheese and tortillas, squash blossom quesadillas are fantastic. Chop up the flowers, mix with good queso fresco, and put the filling between corn tortillas.

#51 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 02:52 PM:

Zucchini is good on the grill. I prefer olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of salt. Also good are onions, mushrooms, potatoes, asparagus and lots of other veggie shaped items.

But really good on the grill are peaches, nectarines, and pineapples, once the main heat has died down. The tartness and sugars mix, and you get this molten goo inside a slightly held together skin. Just quarter and plop them on. (or smaller in the case of pineapple)

#52 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 02:54 PM:

Q. What's zucchini's favorite sport?

A. Squash!

#53 ::: The AstroDyke ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 03:00 PM:

I recognize this recipe! It's "Carl Gohs' Zucchini Bread", from the cookbook "Beard on Bread". It's had a few substitutions (applesauce for half the oil, brown sugar for half the sugar). It's especially fine when made with Trader Joe's vanilla paste.

#54 ::: melissa ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 03:15 PM:

Deep fried zucchini is also wonderful...cut into lengths, dip in a light batter, and fry.

Thanks for the marrow info, I read Roger Ackroyd recently and was wondering what a marrow was.

#55 ::: Eirin ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 03:35 PM:

When I hear zucchini, I invariably think of that "Gilmore Girls" episode where they all "Slept With the Zucchinis".

There might be a recipe in there; I wouldn't know. Apparently, we don't do zucchini in Norway. I had to look it up.

Also, I wanted the plural to be zucchinies, but google twarted me.

#56 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 03:40 PM:

eric #51:

Do you also get a molten goo on the outside that is well-nigh impossible to clean up off the grill?

#57 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 03:46 PM:

Note: our oversized zucchini are thrown over the fence, where they break open with a satisfying sploosshwick, and are eaten by whatever cattle are in the high-attention paddock.

Only not this year: the weather has swung from cool and wet to ferociously hot and windy, and nothing much is growing well, not my peppers, not the Blue Lake pole beans, and certainly not any of the cucurbits, which are on the edge of mildewing away to nothing.

#58 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 03:52 PM:

joann, I haven't noticed that the gunk is any worse after doing fruit. But my normal method of cleaning the grill is to use a grill brush, then plop it on really high heat. I'm not a cleanliness perfectionist.

#59 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 04:02 PM:

Cucurbits are vegetables? I only knew of them as the name for part of an alchemical apparatus.

#60 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 04:38 PM:

eric #58:

I was just reasoning from the production of caramel. Once it's gotten to the hard-crack stage, it's closer to Bakelite than anything else.

#61 ::: Jasper Milvain ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 04:38 PM:

To me, the phrase "flavourless vegetable mucous" conjures a (very unpleasant) memory of vegetable spaghetti.

#62 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 05:00 PM:

Possibly this is the sap in the skin (and the rest of the plant), which is very gummy when it dries. As in, you really don't want to get it on anything, and wash your zucchini-cutting knife as soon as you can.

#63 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 05:31 PM:

oliviacw @ 34

Chunk up your butternut squash and steam it a bit, while sauteing an onion and some fresh sage in butter until translucent. Add squash and sauted goop to a pot with stock of your choice. Cook until squishy, then have at it with an immersion blender. Allow the soup to simmer while you saute some fresh chanterelles in butter and white wine. At this point you can either add grated parmesan to the soup, or wait until you take it off the stove and stir in some plain yogurt. Dish up and garnish with chanterelles, or blend the chanterelles in with the rest of it, if you prefer.

The main points here are the squash, the sage, and the mushrooms. It's a versatile recipe, so pretty much anything in your crisper drawer will work okay. I've had good luck with adding potatoes and leeks.

#64 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 06:28 PM:

You are large, oh Zucchini:
your name must be marrow.
If you were much smaller,
we'd call you courgette.
I've filled up with your fellows
a giant wheelbarrow,
The fact that I grew them
I deeply regret.

#65 ::: Robin Z ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 08:30 PM:

I have no comment on the recipe, but I find it vaguely amusing that no-one has linked Ursula Vernon's "St. Wombus and the Zucchini" yet...

#66 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 09:21 PM:

Jim @orig: Not having applesauce in the house at the moment (nobody's fault but mine; I could have bought some about an hour and a half ago but I was in a hurry to get home)... what might one substitute, if any?

Sarah @10: Me, I plant tomatoes. Problem solved.

Oy! Flashback to childhood--every available horizontal surface in the house, including the stairs, covered in Budweiser trays FULL of tomatoes representing every color on the green/red spectrum. And the smell, how it lingered... *shudder*

Lance @25: If you want to try the squash-for-pasta route without all that tedious business of cooking and cleaning up, and you're in the mood for a trip down to the Flatirons Mall, Spaghetti Squash is one of the signature dishes at that Tavern place (what the hell's it called? Flatirons Tavern? Something like that). John and I went there and I had it. Apparently they don't actually grate the squash; instead, the variety they use is more like a gourd full of spaghetti-like strands of squash. Then they sautee it up with other veggies. It was very very very good.

Two favorites from my family:

Melt a couple tbsp butter in the pan on medium to medium high. Sautee thinly sliced onions along with yellow squash half-moons. Easy.

Take two large zucchini and grate, salt, and squeeze-the-living-hell-outta-dem in a clean towel over the sink. Twist the cloth ball but good and set it atop a wide mug or something like that to drip dry. Now make a very light-brown 1-tbsp butter roux (1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp flour, stir over low heat until barely light brown) barely let it brown, add about 1/2 C milk. When the milk is warm mix in "enough" cheese - I used up the parrano in the fridge and added some parmesan last time I did this. When it's all melted and sorta kinda thick but not really, mix it together with the grated zucchini and however much standard breadcrumbs you like in a casserole dish. Top lightly with Italian-style breadcrumbs. Bake it at 350 until it's done.

But tonight it's zucchini bread I think.

#67 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 09:37 PM:

Nicole: I subbed plain yogurt, the increased acidity may make the bread rise a little higher but that's all the difference I see.

#68 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 09:59 PM:

Oh, spaghetti squash! Yes, it's excellent and very little work to cook.

What works for me is to split it, seed it, put the halves cut-side down on a cookie sheet (or foil) in a hot oven, and bake it for 40 minutes or so. Then when it's done (the skin is soft and starting to collapse) you take it out and simply run a fork repeatedly over the interior which breaks it up into spaghetti-sized strands. Serve with a standard tomato-based pasta sauce, or with butter and lots of shredded parmesan.

#69 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 10:26 PM:

Tlonista, #6, I used to cook acorn squashes as the main part of the meal like this:

1. Wash the outside of the squash and stab it around the equator.

2. Microwave for 10 minutes. Remove carefully! Hot!

3. While microwaving, slice some mushrooms, make two sausage patties, and grate cheese.

4. Cut the squash in half (carefully! hot!) and scoop out the seeds and strings. Then put the mushrooms in the bottom of the "cup," then the sausage patty, and then grated cheese.

5. Cover loosely with waxed paper and microwave for another 2-4 minutes.

Serves two. I usually had some kind of grain with it.

#70 ::: hapax ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 10:52 PM:

"An' it's who'll squash ye this time?
Who'll squash ye noo?"


Or not.

#71 ::: Tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 12:21 AM:

You can also do this with them.

#72 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 12:52 AM:

hapax: It depends on whether they're courgettes or prize-winning marrows, doesn't it?

#73 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 03:00 AM:

"Beware of the dreaded zucchini; it grows ten times faster than grass,
And buries each amateur gardener in vegetables up to his ass.
But I do not pity the gardener who brought on his own tragic end --
For the folks who must pay for his folly are his neighbors, relations, and friends!"
... and it goes downhill from there. :-)

This is the recipe that convinced me zucchini were worth eating:

Andrea's Veggie Casserole

2 medium-sized zucchini
2 large yellow squash
1 very large onion (yellow is best)
about a dozen large mushrooms
1 soup-sized can tomato sauce
your favorite Italian herbs & spices, to taste
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Slice all veggies into thin rounds; layer into a casserole dish that's been sprayed with non-stick spray, with the onion slices on the bottom. Mix the herbs & spices into the tomato sauce (I do this right in the can) and pour over the layered veggies. Top with the shredded cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 for about half an hour. Makes a main dish for 2-3, or a side dish for 4-6.

When I'm making it, I generally dice the veggies and just jumble them together instead of slicing and layering, but the latter makes a prettier presentation.

And after I'd been eating zucchini for a while, I discovered that now I can stand yellow squash too, so long as it's not cooked into mush. I still like zucchini better, though.

#74 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 10:13 AM:

I *like* yellow squash cooked to mush. Zucchini, too, but yellow is better. I don't much care for either one cooked less than that, although yellow is palatable (when cooked by someone other than my mother :).

#75 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 10:36 AM:

73: like it. Very Kiplingish.

#76 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 12:56 PM:

Tim Curry, Saturday Night Live, The Zucchini Song -- Oh what a beauty...

Here's another zucchini recipe. This one is timed perfectly to go with steaks under the broiler.

For two servings: Take a zucchini 6-8" long and cut in half lengthwise. Spray a broiler-safe baking sheet with cooking spray, put the zucchini on it cut-side down, spray the zucchini outsides too, and slide under the broiler with the steaks.

At about 4-5 minutes, when you take the steaks out to flip them, flip the zucchini over too and sprinkle the tops with rosemary-garlic herb mix (Dean Jacobs and Spice Islands both sell grinders with rosemary-garlic blends). Stick them back in for another minute or two, them remove and sprikle with feta cheese and grated parmesan. Stick them back in till the steaks are done.

#77 ::: Rosa ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 02:24 PM:

Sherrold @ 22 - we make those fritters with a mix of shredded zucchini & carrot. It's a little dryer than straight zucchini.

They still don't use up even a whole really gigantic zuke, but if you invite ten friends to dinner, you can take down a whole pile of zucchinis. And a dozen eggs. Plus zucchini pickle spears, and cut up rounds on top of salad greens...I can knock off a bag of abandoned zucchini in one night.

What can I say, I'm a sucker for free food.

#78 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 10:22 PM:


Perhaps my memory is "improving" Teresa's glorious account (here, a year or two ago, I think) of this incident, but it's telling me that the Best Version would be "about two hills (or six plants) per person".

#79 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 10:42 PM:

There's also a way of using grossly-overgrown Zucchini to make something like watermelon-rind pickles. The instructions (which I've lost *sigh*) call for soaking the peeled, cored, and cubed/oblong-rectangular flesh in something (a saturate solution of slaked lime?) overnight, to assure firmness, then cooking until translucent in 1:1 vinegar & sugar, with spices (cloves, cinnamon, allspice, & ginger, maybe). Best put up into pint jars, if I remember correctly, for family use.

#80 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 10:43 PM:

Shouldn't zucchini indicate plural, with zucchinus the singular?

#81 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 12:19 AM:

This seems to be close to what I had in mind:

3 lb. marrow, peeled and seeded [1]
½ lb. shallots, peeled and sliced
½ lb. apples, peeled, cored and sliced
12 peppercorns
¼ oz. dried wholeroot ginger
½ lb. sultanas [2]
4 oz. Demerara sugar [3]
1½ pints malt vinegar

Cut the marrow into small pieces, place in a bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt; cover and leave for 12 hours. Drain well and place in a pan with the shallots and apples.
Tie the peppercorns and ginger in muslin and put in the pan with the sultanas, sugar and vinegar.
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the consistency is thick, with no free liquid. Pot and cover.
Makes approx. 4lb.

I used pearl onions, fresh ginger root, and cider vinegar. Worked fine. It makes about 4 pints, maybe a little more.

[1] zucchini, [2] raisins, [3] brown sugar

#82 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2008, 11:34 PM:

Zucchinus would only work as a singular form in Latin; Italian's changed too much to do things that way. However, Zucchinus or Zucchininus sounds either like an extremely obscure Byzantine emperor, or an evil advisor to an obscure Byzantine emperor, of the sort Gibbon and Runciman would have pithy and damning things to say about.

I'm not fresh on Italian noun endings to indicate size, but wouldn't they be things like zucchinini, zuchinetto, and the dreaded zucchinone, big enough for home defense. Speakers of Italian, please rush in to set me straight here.

#83 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2008, 12:07 PM:

fidelio #82:

There's a statue on the outside of the Or'SanMichele in Florence called "Il Zuccone" (the Big Squash) because of the head's resemblance to various bulbous gourds.

#84 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2008, 06:45 PM:

Janet @ 76:

The whole performance can be seen on video here.

#85 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2008, 12:36 AM:

I stopped at an Italian restaurant on the way home from the rheumatologist today (kept me from sitting in rush hour traffic) and had their Zucchini Frites. They cut them like french fries, covered them in a light herbed batter, and fried them. With aioli to dip. Mmmmmm

#86 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2009, 02:01 PM:

Right. I have a zucchini that decided that it really wanted to be a watermelon. I suspect that if I grate it I'm not going to be far short of 3 cups.

I think its time to try the recipe.

#87 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2009, 02:31 PM:

abi @ 86... if I grate it I'm not going to be far short of 3 cups

...and, if you do fall short of 3 cups, you'll regrate it.

#88 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2009, 02:38 PM:

Well, it was a grater amount than I anticipated - just over 3 cups.

#89 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 12:31 AM:

The problem with zucchini is that they do not have a natural maximum size -- they grow till you pick them.

My husband's family found this out the hard way by going away for a month in July/August, and coming home to find their yard entirely full of, well, Invasion-of-the-Body-Snatchers-esque pods.

My father-in-law grimly picked them all, grated them, and froze the gratings. They were still eating that zucchini the following summer ... in pasta sauces, zucchini bread, and stranger things. I think it ended up being about 1/3 of the volume of all his shepherd's-pies until they ran out, etc.

#90 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 12:52 PM:

Elliott, a friend of mine back in East Lansing used to cut scales into one of those, stuff it with rice (and cheese etc.) and announce a "dragon-tail roast," inviting all his friends over. It was an excuse for a potluck, of course. Great fun though.

#91 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 01:23 PM:

One thing I'm learning this year is that squash don't breed true.

We saved seeds from pumpkins last year, one set from a large pumpkin, and one from a small. The large ones didn't germinate well. Two plants made it into the garden from the small pumpkin, one is a monster pumpkin vine, and one is... some sort of pumpkin zucchini cross. We're calling it a pucchini. And it's destiny is the county's 'largest zucchini' competition at the fair.

(unless a true zucchini does it one better. We've got a monster one of those already)

#92 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 01:36 PM:

I made the zucchini bread with a few additions (1/2 teaspoon each of nutmeg and cloves; I would have added allspice too, if I had it lying around) and substitutions (a grated apple and a little milk for the applesauce). Made a couple of cupcakes for tasters, plus two loaves.

I brought the loaves into the office, where my colleagues did the OM NOM NOM thing and suggested I make it more often. My timing was perfect, too, because now our American visitors have been educated about the Dutch custom of bringing yummy food to the office* and will be returning the favor tomorrow.


* No, really, this is a Dutch custom, with a name and everything. The verb is tracteren.

#93 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 05:02 PM:

No, sqaushes (and cucurbits) are way profligate. They need to be isolated to breed true.

Worse, the canteloupes and cucumbers don't mix. If they cross, the fruits of both taste awful; this year.

The same is true of various sweet corns.

#94 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 06:13 PM:

I suppose I shouldn't be too suprised, as I've planted something called a 'red warty thing' this year. It's apparently a cross between a hubbard and a pumpkin.

I'll keep the whole cucumber/melon thing in mind should I ever be in a place where melons have a better than 5% chance of working.

#95 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 07:08 PM:

Terry #93: I had not realized that melons and squashes were the same botanical family! (But I just checked, and yup.) Given that, however, I'm not surprised that particular mix is unpalatable -- hybrid screwiness aside, cucumbers are normally eaten unripe, whereas cantaloupe is generally eaten ripe. But now you've got me wondering about melon/melon mixes in general.

One of my neighbors has some sort of squash (etc?) in his front yard, and the first flowers are starting to look gorgeous. At least they were yesterday, it's been raining today. Anyway, I love those huge orange flowers! Whatever they are, they've also got huuuge leaves, some of them nearly a foot across.

#96 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 09:21 PM:

Tim May #2: I have yet to forgive Rocket Salad for turning out to involve argula.

I mean, I like argula just fine, but Rocket Salad sounded seriously cool.

#97 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 09:31 PM:

If nothing else, with those weird hybrids, it ought to be possible to use the flowers (stuffing and eating them is the first thing I think of doing).

#98 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 09:49 PM:

David Harmon: Not all melons are cucurbits.

The thing about cuke/melon crosses is they affect this year's crop. The cross pollination ruins the fruit it pollinates.

I love the flowers too. I've done some decent macro of them.

#99 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 10:04 PM:

The cucumber this year has a really neat fractal like thing going on the tip, I'm going to try to get out tonight and take a macro.

I've never done well with cooking squash blossoms. This year I've seen some giants -- like a foot across. One of these days I'll try it again.

And we're seriously into zucchini season here (Seattleish). About 3 weeks earlier than last year, and we've gotten 4 meals worth out of the garden in a week. (and thankfully, it's early enough that people still accept them as gifts). Tonight's rendition was grilled zuc spears over pasta with a sort of fried tomato and chick sauce. I've seen the technique before in indian cooking, but it's probably more general than that.

#100 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 10:35 PM:

marna: Rocket salad with mash sounded good too (I didn't know, when I heard it that it was mâche)

#101 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 10:45 PM:

My zucchini experience for today started by following an apparently innocuous link[0], only to discover a ... demonstration ... of an alternate, oft joked about, use for zucchini.

[0] Given the source of the link, I -really- should have known better than to follow it.

#102 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2009, 12:42 PM:

We've now crossed a line. Last week, it was 5 tender little squash to make up a meal. This weekend, there was the one foot long that got missed at the 6 inch stage that made up the meal.

Now we've picked 10 in the 8-10 inch range in the last 24 hours, and we're anxiously looking to see if we can pawn them off on the neighbors. And it's not even August yet.

#103 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2009, 01:49 PM:

Hello. It's that time of year.

Last week's zucchini all got pureed and simmered down and put in the freezer. I'll be reviewing this thread's recipes for what to do with them. They may get au gratined. They may go into a bread (though some of last year's bread is still in the freezer). They may, though don't tell my CSA this, get fed to the cats in place of the canned pumpkin that goes into their chow. I'm out of canned pumpkin and see no reason to buy more when I'm pureeing last week's zucchini just to make room for this week's zucchini.

Also, peaches (cobbler). And cucumbers (tzatziki). And eggplant (parmesan).

But mainly zucchini.

#104 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2009, 01:53 PM:

Also, we have a squash ripening on the balcony that doesn't know whether it's an acorn or a delicata. It was planted as a delicata, but see above re: cross-pollination.

It's pretty; roundish and deeply ridged and a lovely mottled cream green/dark green.

#105 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2009, 01:58 PM:

A big zucchini can be sliced in rounds (we're talking hamburger-sized rounds here), oiled, and grilled.

#106 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2009, 02:31 PM:

They can also be pickled. I basically substituted them 1:1 for cucumbers in a dill pickle recipe. Also tried pickling them shredded with shredded onion for a relish like experience, but havne't opened that yet.

#107 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2009, 03:10 PM:

So is this post going to be like the Dysfunctional Families Day thread, and get resurrected every year during Zucchini Season?

Obref Jon Singer: Once when asked by a beginning gardener how many zucchini plants to put in, he blandly replied, "Oh, maybe one per family member."

Fortunately, a nearby observer (Teresa?) intervened.

#108 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2009, 01:49 PM:

Nicole: Good luck with the squash. I've had good luck with planting seeds from store-bought squash. Field densisty seems to keep them true to type.

So one purchase does double duty; a meal, and next season's seed.

#109 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2009, 03:01 PM:

Re cross-pollenation of cucumbers and melons:

Once a relative of mine of yore accidentally grew some flavorless watermelons, and they were stolen by a railroad gang.

He laughed about it ever since, figuring the punishment fit the crime. So I'm told anyway.

#110 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 08:12 PM:

I haven't made zucchini bread since college. Might be worth trying again; I quite liked it as a kid.

Smaller type (our default)
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Even larger type, with serifs

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