Thursday, September 3, 2009

Zucchinis abound!

Tis the season. Do you have a ton of produce to deal with?

I came home from my in-laws this week with over 60 pounds of zucchini. It might even be significantly more, I just know that the two bags that I lifted into the car weighed more than my 3 year old - and he's about 30 pounds. There are quite a few "baseball bats".

Many will automatically assume its all about bread. I like zucchini bread. But there are lots of other options... here are some of the things that I'll do with all these veggies!

I will freeze some. This process, I observed my parent conduct every summer of my entire life. Slice the zucchini into 1/2 inch rounds. Blanch - lightly boil for about 2-3 minutes. Drain immediately. Spread across cookie sheets, prop cookie sheets at an angle in front of a fan for 10-15 minutes. Move zucchini into freezer bags or vacuum seal bags and seal, removing as much air as possible. Freeze.

Some of this freezing will be in different formats, depending on how I intend to use the veggies.
Some will be cut into quarters and then sliced into 1/2 inch pieces to be used in soups and stews. I will slice some into 3 inch pieces and julienne into strips. This makes a great low carb pasta replacement for spaghetti - really - even my kids like it!

This recipe is getting quite the raves, even from my husband on Facebook! :-)

Stuffed Cheesy Zucchini

1 large Zucchini - 18 inches long would be ideal
slice in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
4 cups tomato sauce (add meat if you'd like)
1 pint ricotta cheese
2 cups Italian blend cheese
2 eggs
Fresh basil
2 tbs Parmesan

Place Zucchini flesh side down in pan with 1/2 inch of water in oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes to soften. Drain water and flip zuch flesh-side up. Pour 2 cups of sauce around the zuch in the pan. In separate bowl, whisk eggs. Combine eggs with cheese and ricotta. Scoop into the hull of the zucchini. Drizzle remaining sauce over the top. Garnish tops with basil and remaining parmesean. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

I grew up eating zucchini casserole and it's still one of my favorites!

Zucchini Casserole / aka - Cheeseburger Casserole
3-4 zucchini, depending on pan size - about 2-3 cups raw
1 small package stuffing
1/2 cup of butter
1 large onion
1 lb hamburger or mild sausage
Sliced tomatoes
1 cup grated cheese (or 2 oz of velveeta sliced)

Cook zucchini in salted water until tender - about 5 minutes. Drain and layer in the bottom of a casserole dish. Layer dry stuffing ontop. Dot top of stuffing with butter. Fry onion in butter, add meat, cook till brown and crumbled. Layer on top of stuffing. Layer tomatoes on top of meat. Top with cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

I also had a friend recommend this blog for some great ideas for zucchini use, including a zucchini-feta fritter recipe and some chocolate muffins and a zucchini cake with broiled frosting!

Let us know if you try any of these ideas and what you thought or feel free to share other recipes and ideas in the comments.