Zucchini crop calls for creative solutions

Reed Robinson
Stuff zucchini boats with a mixture of vegetables, sausage and cheese to give the squash a flavorful boost.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's that time of year when sacks and baskets of zucchini appear in workplaces with the hopeful note "free to a good home" or by the armfuls from eager neighbors. Even gardeners who judiciously sowed just one plant can be overwhelmed with zucchini's prolific production. A person can (and should) eat only so much zucchini bread, one of the more common uses of zucchini. It's usually made with alarmingly generous amounts of oil. Sauteed, grilled, stuffed, shredded, baked, roasted, fried or blanched, this versatile mild squash works well in both savory and sweet dishes. According to livestrong.com, zucchini is high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium. Eat it with the skin on to maximize its nutritional value Zucchini's not really a favorite at my house, but Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats contained enough diversions in the form of sausage and cheese, to make the dinner cut earlier this week. Served over rice, the zucchini boats made a savory summery meal alongside a cool salad of greens and fresh peaches. 
Reach Julie Robinson at julier@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230. Stuffed Zucchini Boats Serves 6 3 medium (8-inch) zucchini, ends trimmed, then cut in half lengthwise 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 cup finely chopped onion 1/4 cup chopped green pepper 3 medium garlic cloves, minced 3/4 pound lean turkey sweet Italian sausage, casings removed 2 teaspoons dried oregano 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese 1/2 cup tomato-basil marinara sauce 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil Salt and pepper HEAT oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
SCRAPE out the insides of each zucchini half, leaving at least a half-inch of flesh. Don't scrape the zucchini all the way to the skin. Chop the flesh removed from the zucchini COOK and crumble sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. Drain any fat. Add olive oil and saute zucchini pulp, onion, green peppers and garlic until the onions are softened. Mix in oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. Transfer the meat mixture to a medium bowl. MIX the cheeses together in a small bowl. Remove two tablespoons of the cheese and set aside. Add the rest of the cheese to the meat mixture, along with the marinara sauce and basil. Add salt and pepper, as desired. DIVIDE meat mixture between the hollowed out zucchinis, filling and mounding into each one. Set the stuffed zucchini into the prepared pan and sprinkle the reserved cheese on top. BAKE 30 minutes, or until tender. Nutritional information per 1 zucchini boat: Calories 241, Fat 13.5g, Saturated Fat 4.8g, Sugar 3.9g, Fiber 3.9g, Protein 19.2g, Cholesterol 51.6mg, Carbohydrates12.2. Source: based on a recipe from skinnytaste.com Crispy Zucchini with Parmesan 1 medium green zucchini 1 medium yellow squash 2 1/2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese 1 tablespoon finely ground whole-wheat breadcrumbs 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves 1 tablespoon olive oil HEAT oven to 425 degrees. TRIM the ends off the zucchini and squash. CUT the zucchini in half crosswise and then cut each half lengthwise into 4 quarters. Do the same with the squash to make 16 evenly sized zucchini and squash sticks. PLACE zucchini and squash on a small baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. MIX together the cheese, breadcrumbs and thyme in a small bowl. Sprinkle a generous amount of the cheese topping over the cut surface of the vegetable pieces. BAKE until squash is almost tender and topping is golden brown, about 15 minutes. REMOVE from oven and allow to cool a little before eating. Source: April Hamilton, aprilskitchen@suddenlink.net Cheesy Zucchini Casserole Serves 6 to 8 6 large eggs 1 cup ricotta cheese 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or other hot chili sauce 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 3 cups grated zucchini (about 2-3 fresh zucchinis) 1 1/2 cups chopped plum tomatoes (about 4-5 fresh tomatoes) 1/2 cup fresh basil, cut in strips 4 cups cubed day-old bread Olive oil HEAT oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the ricotta and beat until smooth. Mix in the grated Parmesan cheese, Tabasco, salt and pepper. AFTER the vegetables are prepared, squeeze excess moisture out of the tomatoes, by pressing them in a sieve, or wrapping in paper towels and squeezing. Add the tomatoes, basil and zucchini to the egg mixture. MOISTEN bread cubes with a little water then squeeze out any excess moisture using paper towels. Mix the bread cubes into the egg mixture. COAT the bottom and sides of a 9- by 13-inch baking dish generously with olive oil. Pour the egg vegetable mixture into the baking pan and even it out in the pan. Place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. The casserole should puff up and brown lightly. If it hasn't after 30 minutes at 350 degrees, increase the heat to 425 degrees and cook for 5-10 minutes further. REMOVE from oven and let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before cutting into squares to serve. Source: myfoodsonline.com Zucchini and Corn Fritters 4 cups shredded zucchini 1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs 2 ears corn 1 small onion, diced small 3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced 1/4 cup cilantro, minced 3/4 cup flour A few good grinds of black pepper Canola, grape seed or other neutral oil, for pan-frying Sour cream or Greek yogurt, for serving SHRED zucchini on the large holes of a box grater or with the shredding disc of a food processor. Place the shredded zucchini in a colander in the sink or over a bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Toss to combine. Let drain while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. CRACK the eggs into a large bowl and scramble lightly. Cut the kernels from the corn cobs and add the kernels to the bowl along with the diced onion, sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, flour and pepper. PICK up the shredded zucchini in small handfuls and squeeze out and discard as much liquid as possible. Add the zucchini to the bowl. Mix well to combine. POUR oil into a large frying pan to a depth of about 1/4-inch. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Drop large, heaping spoonfuls of the zucchini mixture into the pan to form disc-shaped fritters. Cook in batches without crowding, until golden brown on the underside, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown on the second side. REMOVE to paper towels to drain. Add a bit more oil between batches if necessary. SERVE with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt. Source: seriouseats.com Zucchini Ribbons with Goat Cheese, Lemon and Pine Nuts Recipe Serves 2-3 2  zucchini, shaved into thin strips using a vegetable peeler, mandoline or cheese slicer Olive oil Juice of half a lemon, plus zest Salt 2  tablespoons red pepper flakes 1/2 cup pine nuts 2    ounces plain goat cheese, crumbled PREPARE a large bowl of ice water. Place zucchini strips into a pot of boiling water for about 30-45 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove the zucchini strips and place in the ice water to stop the TOSS the zucchini with olive oil and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. Add pine nuts, lemon zest and goat cheese. Toss mixture and serve. www.thedailymeal.com Zucchini Enchiladas 1 cup of enchilada sauce 1 teaspoon olive oil 2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 medium scallions, chopped 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped 2 medium zucchinis, grated Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper 1 1/2 cups grated Mexican blend cheese 4 large flour tortillas HEAT oven to 400 degrees. SPRAY a baking dish with nonstick spray. Add enchilada sauce to the bottom of the baking dish. In a medium nonstick skillet, sauté garlic and scallions in olive oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes; add zucchini, salt and pepper to taste and cook about 4 to 5 additional minutes.  Remove from heat.  ADD one-fourth zucchini mixture and 1/4 cup cheese to each tortilla and roll up. Place stuffed tortillas in pan, seem side down. Top with remaining cheese.  ADD additional enchilada sauce on top, if desired. BAKE for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle green onions and cilantro and serve. Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting 2 cups all-purpose flour 2 cups white sugar 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 4 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup apple sauce 1/2 cups vegetable oil 3 cups grated zucchini, seeded and partially peeled HEAT oven to 350 degrees. Line the muffin tin with liners or spray with baking spray. MIX together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, vanilla, apple sauce and oil to the dry ingredients and mix well. GENTLY fold in the grated zucchini until it's even distributed throughout the batter. Spoon batter into individual muffin wells to about 2/3 full. BAKE for 30-33 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out cleanly. Allow to cool completely before frosting. Cream Cheese Frosting 12 ounces light cream cheese, at room temperature 1/2 cup powdered sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract   COMBINE all ingredients in a stand mixer's bowl and beat on low speed until all the sugar has been incorporated. Or use a hand mixer. Increase speed to medium-high and beat frosting until it has a light consistency. SPREAD on cupcakes.
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