Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gadzuchs

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 eggs
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).

6 comments:

Packrat said...

I do hope you have better luck. Okay, I admit it. I don't like zucchini. I do like zucchini bread and bars. *Once in a while* I don't mind the tiny ones grilled or broiled. To me, zucchini either has no flavor or it is bitter. However, I LOVE the little yellow crook necks. Weird.

Christine said...

Mmm... my parents keep telling me about how they have so much zucchini in their garden they don't know what to do with it. I only wish I weren't six hours away from them because I never get tired of it! I love the zucchini pancakes my mother used to make, but I also love it sliced and dipped into Parmesan cheese and baked. Your recipes sound good, too!

Pat aka Posh said...

Glad to hear you managed to grow tons of zucchini this year.. be sure to chop some to freeze for soup and to add to spaghetti sauces..
I'm going to have to try your casserole recipe.. it sure sounds good. Thanks for sharing.

Amanda said...

I sympathize. I can't grow a darn thing. All my veggis don't seem to make to past the sprout stage.

Rochelle R. said...

I have made a squash casserole like yours but without the basil. I am sure that would be a very yummy addition. I have never been able to grow any type of vine vegetable. The blossoms look great then they just fall off :(

Jessica Cangiano said...

Such a scrumptious sounding recipe, I adore zucchini in both sweet and savory dishes, and will be bookmarking this page for sure. Thank you!


Wishing you a beautiful day,
♥ Jessica