Zucchini

Tales of Love and Hate from Deep In My Vegetable Garden

For me, there always seems to that one definable moment when my springtime fantasies of planting vegetables meet the harsh reality that I now have more zucchini than I could possibly ever eat in one lifetime.

Miniature zucchini from the PSU farmers market.

Each day when I walk out to water my plants I notice that five more zucchini miraculously grew overnight. In terror, I start rummaging through hundreds of cookbooks and online sources, looking for any word that slightly resembles zucchini to try new recipes from. Friends stop answering my phone calls for fear that I may try to unload yet another shopping bag full of zucchini on them. My neighbors cautiously keep an eye on me as I near their front porches.

I have tried several different dishes attempting to disguise them on the dinner table to avoid the inevitable incredulous look of horror from my eight-year-old son Beau who long passed zucchini saturation a few weeks back.

What are your favorite zucchini recipes? Here are FIVE of my favorite zucchini recipes:

Trouchia: A Perfect Zucchini Omelet

Trouchia, a simple zucchini omelet that your family will never tire of, especially when your garden is producing more zucchini than you can eat. Pick your zucchini when they are no bigger than an inch in diameter, otherwise, they will be tougher, less sweet and too watery. Those are the zucchini you drop off at work or compost.

Ingredients

  • 5 thin zucchini ends trimmed off
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 cup good parmesan, or goat cheese

Instructions

  1. Shred zucchini on a box grater or using your food processor.
  2. Mix with salt and let sit for five minutes or more. The salt draws moisture of the zucchini. Grab a handle of zucchini and squeeze all the water out of it.
  3. Mix zucchini with eggs, herbs, and cheese.
  4. Heat olive oil or butter in a non-stick pan and pour eggs in. Cook over a hot flame till one side is lightly browned. Put under the broiler, and cook the top side. If you are feeling adventurous you can try to flip over with a flick of the wrist. I usually pour a pastis and do this when no one is looking. That way if I fail, I can simply say I made incredible scrambled eggs.
  5. Serve with a small salad or au naturel.

Petits Farcis, Lu Farcum

One of the most endearing and favorite of all Provencal dishes is Petits Farcis or stuffed vegetables, also known as lu farçum in the Niçard (Nice) dialect. They are the perfect and easy family meal that can be served hot, cold or warm and everyone loves to eat them.

Petits Farcis are best made in the summertime when so many great vegetables, like sun-ripened tomatoes, round zucchini, and thin eggplants start to appear in the farmers’ markets but really can be made any time of year.

Ingredients

Vegetables

  • 4 small tomatoes
  • 4 round zucchini
  • 2 small eggplant
  • 4 small sweet peppers
  • 2 red onions

Stuffing

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 pound ground pork or lamb
  • 3 slices bread chopped
  • 6 ounces milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon thyme chopped
  • 1 tablespoon basil chopped
  • 1 tablespoon parsley chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan

Instructions

Vegetables

  1. Tomatoes: Cut tops off and scoop insides out leaving a shell. Chop insides and save for stuffing.
  2. Zucchini: Cut tops off and use a melon baller or spoon to remove insides. Blanch in boiling water. Cool off in ice water then drain well. Chop insides and save for stuffing.
  3. Eggplants: Cut in half and roast skin side down on oiled sheet pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until tender. Scoop out excess pulp and save. Chop insides and save for stuffing.
  4. Peppers: Cut tops off and roast on the same pan as eggplants for 30 minutes.
  5. Onions: Boil in salted water till tender, about twenty minutes. Carefully remove two outer layers from each onion, trying to keep them intact. Chop insides and save for stuffing.

Stuffing

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan and saute onion and garlic till tender, about five minutes.
  2. Add ground meat and cook till browned and fully cooked.
  3. Add all the vegetable innards and remove from heat.
  4. Mix bread and milk together, then mix into ground meat.
  5. Add eggs and herbs and mix well.
  6. Stuff all the vegetables with the ground meat mixture, sprinkle with parmesan and bake in a 400-degree oven for thirty minutes, or until tops are lightly browned. Cover with vegetable tops on and bake 5 minutes longer.

Zucchini Blossom Beignet: The Proactive Solution to a Garden Overrun with Zucchini

At this time of year, restaurants and farmer’s markets across Provence are saturated with zucchini blossoms. They appear on menus in a variety of forms and guises, stuffed with ratatouille or ricotta, turned into pesto and tossed with Dungeness crab and pasta or simply deep-fried as beignets. I even have stuffed a whole small fish into one and baked it.

Ingredients

beignet batter

  • 1.5 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 pinch baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon Espelette pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups of water

everything else

  • 1-quart oil
  • 16 zucchini blossoms
  • sea salt
  • Espelette pepper
  • 1 cup rouille, or another dipping sauce

Instructions

beignet batter

  1. Mix flour, salt, baking powder, herbs de Provence, and Espelette pepper.
  2. Mix egg yolk, olive oil, and water.
  3. Lightly white egg white.
  4. Add egg yolk mixture to dry ingredients, then fold in egg white.

everything else

  1. Heat oil to 350 degrees.
  2. Dip zucchini blossoms one by one into the batter, then into the hot oil. Be careful not to overcrowd the pot. Fry till golden brown, turning a few times, about three minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy with rouille, or whatever dip you like.

Zucchini Blossoms stuffed with Ricotta

Ingredients

  • 16 big fresh zucchini blossoms
  • 16 ounces whole milk ricotta
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 lemon zest only
  • 12 mint leaves chopped
  • 2 slices jalapeno chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp fruity olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg freshly grated
  • 2 cups tomato sauce

Instructions

  1. Mix together ricotta, parmesan, lemon zest, mint leaves, jalapeno, olive oil, and nutmeg. Taste and season with sea salt and black pepper.
  2. Put everything into a pastry bag OR a big ziplock. If using a ziplock, cut a corner out of one side to make a ‘quick’ pastry bag.
  3. Pipe into zucchini blossoms and twist ends to seal.
  4. Pour tomato sauce into baking dish.
  5. Lay blossoms in a baking dish and bake in a moderate oven (400 degrees or so) for 5 to 10 minutes, or until warmed.

Provencal Rouget with Tapenade, Ratatouille and Zucchini Blossoms

A dish I made for friends while on a Culinary Adventure in Southern France using local ingredients and roasted in a wood-burning oven.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe tapenade
  • 4 each rouget or small red snapper remove head and bones
  • 1 recipe ratatouille
  • 4 each zucchini blossoms
  • 3 tablespoons great olive oil

Instructions

  1. Put one tablespoon of tapenade between the two fish filets.
  2. Stuff one tablespoon of cold ratatouille into the zucchini blossom.
  3. Stick the fish into the zucchini blossom.
  4. Drizzle with olive and bake in a 450-degree oven for about ten minutes.

Recipe Notes

This may seem a long and complicated recipe to some. To me, this is a quick and easy dish utilizing components I usually have already made. Both tapenade and ratatouille are great dishes to have laying around at all times. If friends stop by unexpectedly you can put a spoonful of tapenade on a cucumber slice or tartine and have a quick snack. Ratatouille makes a great light dinner or omelet mixed with goat cheese.

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