If you’ve been here long enough, you know the routine. Winter gives way to spring, finally, which is followed gently by summer, which glides gently into the season of getting rid of zucchini. During those tense few weeks, neighbors and even strangers are afraid to make eye contact, lest a zucchini gets tossed, like some baby that you have to catch. And then it’s yours. And you, likewise, belong to the zucchini.
Where I live in the northern Rockies, zucchini season often aligns with fire season. In need of fresh air a couple weeks ago, I took my family to the Pacific coast, where we were able to escape the smoke. But not the zucchini.
Our friend Marilyn didn’t need to shove whole zucchini in our faces to make them go away, because we were her guests. She was feeding us. We were captive. We were hungry. We were zucchini-disappearing machines, and she used us strategically, like tools.
The zucchini bread came first, with breakfast, which nobody in their right mind could turn down. The vegetable stir-fry that accompanied the salmon we had for lunch had more green zucchini, and we polished it all off.
After getting rid of several green zucchini in that manner, she switched to yellow that evening. Yellow zukes are easier to disappear into other dishes than the greens, she later confided. But that night she let her cooking do the talking, as she baked a quiche soufflé out of yellow zucchini and Dungeness crab, a recipe invented by her sister, who lives on an island off the coast of Canada.
The next morning, Marilyn made pancakes with grated yellow zucchini, and they were moist and fluffy. That afternoon we stuck a green one into a batch of triple chocolate cookies, and nobody but us was any the wiser.
I came home with a truckload of ideas for what to do with zucchini, as well as a baseball bat-sized specimen that Marilyn snuck into the bed of the truck before we took off. When we got home, I sliced it in half, lengthwise, and threw it to the chickens. As far as I know, that’s the only thing you can do with a big zuke.
When preparing zucchini for humans, the fruits should be no longer than a foot-long hot dog. If you need direction in cooking them, you could do worse than fry some slices in butter. As for me, I was inspired by those pancakes.
When I got home, I grated some yellow zucchini and added it to a French toast batter, so the long shreds got plastered onto the bread by the egg mixture. As they cooked in the hot pan below the weight of egg-soaked bread, the zucchini strands released water, which instantly turned into steam, cooking the interior of the toast into a moist, molten eggy masterpiece that crushed the non-zucchini-enhanced control toast. They were moister and fluffier, and the kids couldn’t for the life of them figure out what brought about the improvement until they looked at the stringy leftover batter. When we ran out of bread, we soaked up the rest of the egg mixture with grated zucchini and made fritters.
For four pieces of bread, I used two eggs, a tablespoon of milk, a teaspoon of vanilla, and a half cup of finely grated zucchini. Mix thoroughly and coat the bread. Fry it in butter; put a pad atop each piece before flipping it so there is plenty where it needs to be.
I’ll leave you with Marilyn’s sister’s zucchini crab soufflé. Rather than hide the zucchini, this recipe promotes it to center stage, where it belongs, once in a while. I’ve made it with bacon and smoked salmon, too, given the price of crab. Either way, it makes the zucchini go away in short, thick order.
Fisherman’s Pie (With Zucchini)
This pie serves 4, but I happen to know that a single hungry person can eat the whole thing in a sitting.
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 cups grated yellow zucchini
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced
- 4 large eggs, cracked and beaten
- 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
- 2 cups crab, chopped bacon, or smoked salmon (or a combo)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter, for the pan
Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Mix the flour and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl. Add the other ingredients (minus the butter) and mix it all really well.
Butter a baking pan or cast-iron skillet and pour in the mixture. Smooth it out so it cooks evenly, and bake for an hour, or until a golden crust forms. Remove from the oven and cool for about 45 minutes.
Like any quiche, it should be served with hot sauce and coffee.