It starts innocently enough. The beautiful blossom and then a medium-sized zucchini perfect for quartering and putting on the grill with other vegetables appears one day in the garden. A few more are on the vine the next day. Then one day (like yesterday), I go to the garden and zucchini bats have appeared.That’s precisely the reason I self-published my first book thirty years ago, which seems impossible, but true. I was living in Ann Arbor at the time and had a small rooftop garden. I was growing zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers in large containers. Before I knew it, my small efficiency apartment was overcome with the green bats. Everywhere I went that summer, folks were saying they didn’t know what to do with their zucchini. So I wrote recipes, and my ex-husband (Larry Behnke) drew illustrations for the Zucchini Cookbook. I sold out the 200 I printed by the end of the summer (for $1 each!). I still use that cookbook today. With the advent of e-books, it may be time to resurrect and revise and publish.Today, I offer two suggestions for using surplus zucchini. The first is a modified and revised version of a recipe from my thirty-year-old cookbook.
Zucchini Cheddar Herb Bread
1 onion, chopped
1 TBSP olive oil
2 ½ cups unbleached white flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 TBSP parsley
½ dried basil or 1 cup of fresh leaves
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ cup milk
2 cups zucchini, grated
2 cups, sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Sauté onion in olive oil until tender. Mix onions, dry ingredients and herbs. Add milk and eggs and mix vigorously until well blended. Fold in zucchini and cheese. Spread in greased and floured round pan and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit oven for approximately 35 minutes. Cool slightly and remove from pan. [Note: I made my batch using small bread pans – this recipe made six small loaves. We ate one and froze the rest.]And finally, I offer a life-saver of a recipe that comes from my husband, Robert.
Zucchini Mess or Soup Starter – Chop up zucchini, onions, garlic, peppers, yellow squash (whatever you have!). When tomatoes come in you can add chopped tomatoes, too). Add herbs of your choice, fresh and/or dried. I tend toward the Italian variety. For this batch I used fresh basil, dried oregano, thyme, tarragon and a good Italian dried herb mix. Salt and pepper to taste. Saute until just tender, but not overcooked. Cool and bag in two-cup portions (or whatever amount you’ll use in one recipe). During the winter months, when I want to start an easy soup in the crock pot, I pull out a bag and I have the “starter” ready to go and just add the other ingredients to make any type of soup you can imagine. I’ve also used it in chicken and seafood recipes. Bon appetit!