By Marika Varro, The Convenient Chef
A couple of summers ago, my friend Bea Kent handed me a few zucchinis, saying, “If you have to buy zucchini during the summer in Powell River, then you don’t have enough friends.”
For the beginner gardener, zucchini is one of the easiest vegetables to cultivate; success is guaranteed. Zucchini can produce so much it can be overwhelming. One good way to control overabundance is to harvest the flowers as well.
The name zucchini is used in Italy, Australia, Canada and the United States, while the name “courgette” is commonly used in France, the Netherlands, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Eaten before mature, they are called baby squash.
The vegetable can be used in many ways: raw, steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed, baked, barbecued, fried – even cut with a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles for a low-carb alternative. Zucchini can also be baked into bread similar to banana bread or incorporated into a cake mix. Its flowers can be eaten stuffed, deep fried in tempura batter.
Zucchini is used in many countries. In Bulgaria it is fried and served with a dip. In Egypt it is cooked with tomato sauce, garlic and onions. In France it is a key ingredient in ratatouille, a vegetable stew; in Greece, zucchini is usually fried, stewed or stuffed with minced meat, rice, and herbs. In Italy it is fried, baked, boiled, or deep fried, while in Mexico, the flower is cooked in soups or used as a filling for quesadillas. A popular dish in Turkey is zucchini pancakes made from shredded zucchini, flour, and eggs, lightly fried in olive oil and eaten with yogurt. Flowers are also used in a cold dish, where they are stuffed with a rice mixture containing various spices and nuts.
If your garden is producing more zucchini than you know what to do with, consider eating a few of the zucchini blooms. The bright yellow flowers taste similar to the zucchini and are perfectly safe to eat. Choose blossoms that are just barely fully opened and harvest them in the morning.
What kind of socks do you need to plant zucchini?
Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 12 zucchini flowers with stems, rinsed
- 12 cubed feta, size to fit inside flower (you can use other cheese)
- 1 cup seasoned flour
- 2 eggs, beaten with salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Pour 3 inches of oil in a heavy pot, heat to 375F
- Stuff a flower with a cheese
- Coat with seasoned flour
- Dip into egg
- Coat with Panko
- Fry flowers in hot oil until crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Don’t overcrowd.
- Drain on paper towel.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- ½ cup soft butter
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup buttermilk (or mix ½ c milk with 1 tbs lemon juice)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 21/2 cups flour
- 4 tbsp cocoa powder (Dutch preferably)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 2 cups grated zucchini, drained
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Cream together butter, sugar, oil, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.
- Sift and mix dry ingredients, flour, cocoa, baking powder & soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves.
- Stir dry ingredients into creamy mixture.
- Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.
- Pour into greased bunt or chiffon pan, or two small loaf pans.
- Bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes, till tester comes out clean.
- Dust with icing sugar or top with chocolate glaze.
(Makes about 1 1/4 cup)
- 7 oz semisweet chocolate
- 1 tbsp butter, unsalted
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1/3 cup strong coffee
- Melt in double boiler over hot, not boiling water chocolate and butter.
- Cook sugar and coffee to thread stage (230F).
- Pour syrup in slowly, stirring constantly until mixture coats back of the spoon.
- Pour the glaze over the cake.