We are at the height of zucchini season. Hot summer days mean big yields of this fantastic vegetable.
My mom likes to tell the joke that if you leave your car window open during July and August you shouldn't be surprised to find some zucchini waiting for you when you return. People have so much that they are desperate to give it away.
That definitely seems to be the case at our local farmers market. Supply is high and prices are low for this versatile veggie.
Mini Zucchini Pizzas
With easy and accessible zucchini all over the place, conditions were right for me to make this yummy veggie lunch.
1 cup of tomato sauce (preferably homemade)
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons shaved Parmesan or shredded mozzarella
Crushed red pepper
Olive oil spray
Set oven to broil on High. Spread zucchini slices between two layers of paper towel for about 10 minutes to lose some of their liquid. Then, place slices on a baking pan covered in foil or parchment paper. Make sure they aren't overlapping or touching, you don't want to steam them.
Spray slices with olive oil spray and sprinkle with garlic powder and crushed red pepper to your taste (just a bit per slice). Broil for a few minutes (five was perfect for my oven) until zucchini starts to brown and crisp.
Remove pan from oven and flip zucchini slices. Season again with spray, garlic powder and red pepper. Then, top each mini pizza with sauce, cheese and a sprinkle of oregano.
Place slices under broiler until cheese is melty and golden.
What a fun way to get your veggies. These little bites are wonderfully filling while being oh so good for you.
I can also tell you I ate a whole zucchini's worth. It was delicious. Especially with homemade sauce that was essentially sautéed fresh tomatoes with basil, oregano, garlic and onion ... mmmm.
The key is to thinly slice the zucchini. Not so thin that they become chips, but thin enough so that they get a bit crisp and lose some of their water during broiling. That's also why I added the paper towel step above; it will help just a bit. With some experimentation I think you'll find your desired cut.
These would be great for kids as a snack or meal too. Maybe even slap a turkey pepperoni on each 'pizza'? Go crazy:)
Julia Child's Zucchini Tian
Flooded with zucchini? Make this amazing gratin/tian. It is the perfect warm summer dish and is in two stages - perfect for using the prepped zucchini for other things.
2 to 2 1/2 pounds zucchini
1/2 cup plain, raw, untreated white rice
1 cup minced onions
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, mashed or finely minced
2 tablespoons flour
About 2 1/2 cups warm liquid: zucchini juices plus milk, heated in a pan (watch this closely so that it doesn't curdle)
About 2/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese (save 2 tablespoons for later)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Grated & Salted Zucchini
Shave the stem and the tip off each zucchini and scrub to remove any clinging sand or dirt. If vegetables are large, halve or quarter them. If seeds are large and at all tough, and surrounding flesh is coarse rather than moist and crisp, cut out and discard the cores.
Rub the squash against the coarse side of a grater, and place grated flesh in a colander set over a bowl. For each 1 pound (2 cups) of grated squash, toss with 1 teaspoon of salt, mixing thoroughly. Let the squash drain 3 or 4 minutes, or until you are ready to proceed. Just before cooking, squeeze a handful dry and taste. If by any chance the squash is too salty, rinse in a large bowl of cold water, taste again; rinse and drain again if necessary. Then squeeze gently by handfuls, letting juices run back into bowl. Dry on paper towels. Zucchini will not be fluffy; it is still dampish, but the excess liquid is out.
The pale-green, slightly saline juice drained and squeezed out of the zucchini has a certain faint flavor that can find its uses in vegetable soups, canned soups, or vegetable sauces.
Gratin of Zucchini, Rice, and Onions with Cheese
While the shredded zucchini is draining drop the rice into boiling salted water, bring rapidly back to the boil, and boil exactly 5 minutes; drain and set aside.
In a large (11-inch) frying pan, cook the onions slowly in the oil for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and translucent. Raise heat slightly and stir several minutes until very lightly browned.
Stir in the grated and dried zucchini and garlic. Toss and turn for 5 to 6 minutes until the zucchini is almost tender. Sprinkle in the flour, stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes, and remove from heat. Gradually stir in the 2 1/2 cups warm liquid (zucchini juices plus milk, heated gently in a pan). Make sure the flour is well blended and smooth.
Return over moderately high heat and bring to the simmer, stirring. Remove from the heat again, stir in the blanched rice and all but 2 tablespoons of the cheese. Taste very carefully for seasoning.
Turn into buttered baking dish, strew remaining cheese on top, and dribble the olive oil over the cheese. Set in upper third of a preheated 425-degree oven until tian is bubbling and top has browned nicely. The rice should absorb all the liquid.