I am quite possibly the only person in the Midwest who can’t grow zucchini; every year for the last decade my plants have sprung to life, produced half a dozen fruits, and then withered and died like the heroine of a Wilkie Collins novel.
This summer I am cautiously optimistic. I’ve harvested about three dozen (including one Louisville Slugger of a zucchini that hid from me until it got big enough to resist capture) and the plants still look like they’re ok. The yellow squash is also going gangbusters and I actually have enough to bag for the freezer.
In the meantime, I’m eating a lot of this casserole.
Scalloped Summer Squash
Thinly slice three small or two medium yellow squash and/or zucchini (the operative word here is thinly, if they are too thick they’ll still be crunchy when you take the casserole out of the oven. Pickle-chip thin is perfect). Toss with a half teaspoon of salt and leave in a colander. While the squash is draining put two big handfuls of basil leaves in the food processor with about a cup of shredded Parmesan, two smashed cloves of garlic, and one slice of bread torn into pieces. If you have it, a sliver of onion can be added. Pulse until everything is finely chopped but not a puree. Taste and add salt and pepper.
Oil a shallow baking dish; an 8x8 inch glass cake pan is the perfect size. Pat the squash dry and layer half of it evenly in the dish. Cover with half of the breadcrumb/basil mixture and dribble with about a tablespoonful of olive or other cooking oil. Repeat the layers, dribble with oil and a little extra Parmesan, and cover with foil. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes until the top is chewy and golden brown. UPDATED 7/21: I made this again today and realized I forgot to mention an important point.
After you pat the zucchini dry, taste for salt. Depending on your zucchini to salt ratio, you may find them too salty, in which case just rinse them off and pat them dry or wring in a clean dishtowel.
The Louisville Slugger was peeled, seeded, cut into chunks and shredded in the food processor, and two cups of it were put into this zucchini bread.
Brown Sugar Zucchini Bread
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1 ½ c. packed brown sugar
2 c. grated zucchini
1 T. brandy vanilla or vanilla extract
3 c. flour
1 ½ t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
½ t. ground nutmeg
1 c. golden raisins
1 c. chopped walnuts
Beat the eggs with the oil and brown sugar. Stir in the zucchini and vanilla and mix well. Sift together the dry ingredients and blend into the egg-zucchini mixture. Stir in the raisins and walnuts. Pour into a buttered and floured tube pan and bake at 325° for 55-65 minutes.
This could also be baked in muffin tins for 18-22 minutes, allowing one to enjoy the illusion that it is healthy.
(vintage 40's magazine ad from Patricia).