20 July 2013

Weekend Cooking: The Kitchen Journal--Zucchini Edition

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Although it isn't yet National Zucchini Day yet (that's August 8, in case you were wondering), I thought I'd devote this week's post to that ubiquitous summer squash.

As most of you know, Mr. BFR and I have been members of a CSA since the last century. And this is the time when summer squash, especially zucchini, fills up our market basket. Fortunately for us, we love squash, and usually have no trouble eating it almost every night while it's garden fresh. What we can't use up, gets grated, measured, and put in the freezer for winter baking and soups.

This summer, I've already made zucchini bake, and we've eaten squash simply sauteed with onion and as part of stir-fries. So this week I decided to experiment a bit and came up with three new (to us) dishes. Unlike my usual bad habits, I actually wrote down what I did and remembered to take photos.

A note on the recipes: My recipes are inspired by the ingredients I have in my kitchen. Once I come up with an idea, I generally do a quick cookbook or Internet search to see some variations on my basic formula. Sometimes I tweak my recipe based on what I find. The following were all developed in my head and in my kitchen; as far as I know, they are unique.

copyright cbl for www.BethFishRieads

Simple Grilled Zucchini (© Beth Fish Reads)
Serves 2
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon coarse-ground mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • Pepper and salt to taste
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into 3/8-inch slices, longitudinally
Whisk the oils, vinegar, garlic, mustard, basil, and salt and pepper until well blended. Pour into a self-sealing gallon-size plastic bag. Add the zucchini strips. Let marinate at room temperature, turning the bag over every once in a while, for at least an hour, more if you have time.

Preheat your grill to medium high. Remove the zucchini from the marinade and grill 11 minutes total, turning once, or until crisp-tender.

Notes: We loved this and ate every bite. By the way, the marinade is my favorite salad dressing. I vary the herb (oregano, basil, thyme . . .) and don't use salt. Adjust the grilling time if you slice your zucchini thinner or thicker.

Zucchini and Pasta in Spicy Peanut Sauce (© Beth Fish Reads)
Serves 4-6
  • 1 pound dried pasta (any shape)
  • 2 medium zucchini,  cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 garlic scapes, minced (or use, um, say 2 garlic cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons water + 1/3 cup hot water
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 1½ teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1½ teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. When done, drain and rinse, and allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, place the zucchini and garlic scapes in a microwave-safe bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of water and microwave on high about 5 minutes, stopping and stirring once, until just softened. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the peanut butter with the 1/3 cup hot water (I used the pasta cooking water) until well blended. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring until well blended.

Place the cooled pasta in a large bowl, add the zucchini mixture (and any residual liquid). Mix. Then add the peanut sauce and mix until the pasta is well coated. Serve at room temperature.

Notes: I'm slightly allergic to peanuts, so I used Sunbutter (a fake peanut butter). If you use real peanut butter, you may have to adjust the amount of added water to get the right consistency (thick, but loose enough to coat the pasta). This may sound like an odd combo, but it was delicious. Next time, I'll add some red bell peppers (cooked with the zucchini) for color; the finished dish was a little bland looking.

Crustless Spicy Zucchini Quiche (© Beth Fish Reads)
Serves 4
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Hungarian wax peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 2 small andouille sausages, already cooked, diced
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk (or whatever you use for milk)
  • 1 tablespoon chili spice mix (I use one from Penzeys), or to taste
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8 by 8-inch baking pan.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and peppers, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the zucchini, and continue cooking and stirring until the zucchini begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the sausage, and continue cooking and stirring until the meat is heated through, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and chili spice until well blended. Stir in the zucchini mixture and the cheese. (If the zucchini mixture is hot, stir in a little at a time to temper the eggs.) Pour into the prepared pan and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the egg mixture has set up.

Cut into squares and serve warm.

Notes: I didn't add salt or pepper because there were enough spices in the chili mixture and sausage. Mr. BFR spooned salsa over his portions.


Tina 7/20/13, 6:54 AM  

For starters I did not know national zucchini day was August 8th so, I will be sure to mark the calendar. Definitely want to participate.

You sure served up some great recipes here. Will try the grilled zucchini soon. They are abundant here too this time of year. Yum!

Laurie C 7/20/13, 7:11 AM  

We grilled zucchini and red onion Thursday night to have alongside grilled burgers. Yummy! I used a recipe from the America's Test Kitchen cookbook that we have, and poured the marinade over the grilled vegetables after they were off the grill. Probably not as much flavor that way, but less messy on the grill, I guess.

caite 7/20/13, 7:12 AM  

I love zucchini..the smaller the better.
If it is bigger than your hand, forget it!
Baseball bat sized ones good only for amusement value.

(Diane) bookchickdi 7/20/13, 7:40 AM  

My sons love zucchini and I made a new recipe with it last week that was a big hit. I'm definitely trying your marinade, it sounds so good.

JoAnn 7/20/13, 8:11 AM  

We grill zucchini in a mixture with other vegetables at least once or twice a week, but it's going to take center stage with your marinade this week!

Heather Webb 7/20/13, 8:32 AM  

Yum! I love the idea of a crustless zucchini quiche. I need to try that. You didn't have any trouble with it being too runny? I make a roasted vegetable lasagne where several of the layers are zucchini. Also stuffed, curried zucchini is good, too. It's a nice way to cook without tons of carbs.

Beth F 7/20/13, 8:36 AM  

@Heather: It wasn't runny but I've had that problem with zucchini in other dishes. A solution might be to shred the squash and then squeeze out the liquid.

Heather Webb 7/20/13, 9:01 AM  

Good call! Or I could maybe slice it up and grill in for a few minutes before I add it. Your version seems easier. :) Thanks.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 7/20/13, 10:12 AM  

So much zucchini in the summer. That's why I never grow it in my garden...everyone else is always giving me zucchini from their garden!

Thanks for sharing this!

Sheila (Bookjourney) 7/20/13, 11:00 AM  

I love zucchini - I an going to look at making that first recipe tonight.

Suko 7/20/13, 2:03 PM  

I've been in a "zucchini mood" lately, and appreciate your zucchini recipes. I will try the grilled zucchini soon. :)

Too Fond 7/20/13, 3:55 PM  

I have two zucchini in my fridge just waiting to be cooked--I will be trying one of these recipes tomorrow! I used to not really like zucchini, but I think it's because I always had it overcooked and mushy. Now I tend to roast or lightly sautée it and I love the flavor.

bermudaonion 7/20/13, 4:21 PM  

I love zucchini and those recipes, especially the quiche, sound delicious!

Julie P. 7/20/13, 6:17 PM  

I made a zucchini brownie recipe for Booking Son that was egg and dairy free.

Joy 7/20/13, 7:25 PM  

Zucchini and peanut sauce sounds terrific!

Joy's Book Blog

Col (Col Reads) 7/20/13, 8:59 PM  

I've already put the Zucchini and Pasta in Spicy Peanut Sauce on this week's menu. Yum!

Cecelia 7/21/13, 1:14 AM  

That marinade sounds amazing, and I've just been on a peanut sauce kick, so your timing is perfect! Can't wait to try out some new zucchini recipes!

Anonymous,  7/21/13, 1:27 AM  

Zucchini is such a great veggie. Your recipes sound delicious.

Uniflame 7/21/13, 3:30 AM  

Thanks for the zucchini pasta recipe! My BF will love this!

Marg 7/21/13, 10:19 AM  

I do like zucchini! I was planning to try a new zucchini recipe this week - baked zucchini risotto for me though.

Kalyan Panja 7/21/13, 11:13 AM  

Just mouthwatering...looks delicious!

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 7/21/13, 2:47 PM  

I didn't know there was a National Zucchini Day. Usually I have so many in my garden that I'm always searching for new recipes to try. This year the crop failed. I pulled out the wilted, zucchini-less plants today, all ruined by the squash bug. Fortunately I can find lots of fresh, inexpensive zucchini at the farmer's market so I can still try these recipes. I've made them grilled, but peanut sauce and quiche are new ones.

Gilion at Rose City Reader 7/21/13, 4:59 PM  

Great recipes! I think I will make your crustless quiche today since a neighbor gave me a huge zucchini.

Tanya @ Moms Small Victories 7/21/13, 11:15 PM  

Ya know, I was looking for zucchini today and I couldn't find any. No yellow squash either! I could hardly believe it! Thanks for sharing these wonderful summery recipes.

Vasilly 7/21/13, 11:43 PM  

I've only had zucchini once before. I didn't like it but this post makes me want to give it another try. Thanks! :-)

Alice 7/22/13, 7:23 PM  

Your own recipe? Awesome! I have recently started cooking so I'd be giving these a shot. Thanks for sharing!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 7/24/13, 11:18 AM  

I love zucchini. I'll have to pop back in to try out your versions when I get some again. I think it might be in competition with broccoli for the veggie I prepare most.

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