Do you Zucchini?
Everyone jokes about the high productivity of zucchini. Who hasn’t had a gardening friend try to pawn off some of his overgrown surplus? I fondly recall a series of Fox Trot comics where the mother thinks she’ll get a dozen zucchini because she planted a dozen plants. Then she spends the rest of the summer harvesting. This year the joke was on me - namely because my own plant didn’t produce. I started a few and gave some to friends. They have zukes now while the one I kept is taunting me.
I received zucchini in my farm share last week and immediately knew what I would cook with it – zucchini lasagna. My plant must have been inspired too, because it put out a blossom. I’m a huge fan of squash while my husband is a detractor. The lasagna was going to be made with yellow squash, but when the menu changed to zucchini he brightened a little, even complimented me on it, and then wanted seconds.
So here’s my entry into the Fiesta al Fresco at La Mia Cucina and Cream Puffs in Venice:
Storage: Refrigerate in a plastic bag in the veggie drawer and use within 2-7 days. The older they get the less flavor they retain. You can also freeze them, but first slice or grate it and blanch it (dump in boiling water for 2 minutes then transfer to a cold water bath).. You will notice blanching was effective because the zucchini becomes translucent. If you love Zucchini bread, you can freeze the bread or just the grated veggie to save space. The blossoms are also edible and will keep for 1-2 days in an ice water bath in the fridge. Alternately, seal them in a plastic bag blown up with air and tied shut.
Uses: raw in salads or just plain, steamed, sautéed, baked, grilled, included in stews and soups and even shredded and baked in a cake or bread. Since it is a summer squash, it may be substituted with any other summer squash. The zucchini flower is a delicacy and can be stuffed, fried or eaten raw in salad. Be very careful not to overcook zucchini since it tends to get soggy – like really bad cafeteria veggies. To avoid watery dishes when cooking, lightly salt your fresh-sliced zucchini and place on a paper towel. The towel will soak up some of the water in a few minutes. Rinse off the salt and continue to prepare your dish.
Flavor Enhancers: Garlic, Onions, Tomatoes, Sesame Seeds, and of course salt and pepper. Herbs and spices to use are marjoram, cumin seeds, parsley, dill, rosemary and savory.
Health Notes: Zucchinis are a diuretic to help remove toxins from the body. Also they are high in potassium which is helpful to all of us who suffer from high blood pressure. 1 cup of sliced zucchini is only 20 calories. The fiber in the zucchini also helps to lower cholesterol. Also high in vitamin C and manganese.
Safety Notes: This vegetable is completely unsuitable for canning. It turns to mush and there is no know method to keep it via canning methods. You can use it in pickling in place of cucumbers.
This dish was amazing. It made four servings, which provides a good dinner for two and leftovers for lunch the next day. This makes me remember to eat lunch on a regular basis. The lasagna almost didn’t make it to lunch because it was so yummy. This will definitely go on the regular cycle of dishes.
From Everyday Food September 2006 (with my own mix up)
Prep Time; 15 min
Total Time: 1 hour
Olive Oil, for baking dish
8 oz reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature (this is really important)
1 container (15 oz) part-skim ricotta cheese
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 medium zucchini (8 oz each), halved lengthwise, then sliced thinly crosswise
1 garlic clove, minced
2 t. dried oregano
6 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (1/2 c)
1. Preheat oven to 425O. Lightly oil an 8 in square baking dish; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese and ricotta; season with salt and pepper. In another medium bowl, combine zucchini, garlic, and oregano; season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
3. Spread ½ zucchini mixture in prepared baking dish; top with 2 noodles, then ½ ricotta mixtures, place 2 more noodles and repeat with the remainder. On top of the ricotta mixture sprinkle the mozzarella. (It was supposed to be divided in thirds but i miss read.)
4. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil; bake until bubbly and noodles are tender, 30-35 minutes. Remove foil; bake until golden brown, 15-20 min more. Let stand 10 min before serving.