My mom adventures in Fort Collins


Garden harvest: Zucchini

We are approaching the time of year when it is best to come up with a few recipes using the produce from the garden, lest your kitchen counter become overrun with an army of vegetables that scorn you for planting them and not eating them.

The challenge: Three large zucchinis

The challenge: Three large zucchinis

Zucchini is a funny vegetable in that it literally grows like a weed.  Where one moment it seems like a finger-sized zucchini is peeking out from under the enormous leaves, then you blink and you have a 4-pound behemoth that your child wants to rename Pinky and use as a doll. I eat so much zucchini in the late summer that I don’t ever want for it during the rest of the year. Typically, I do some zucchini bread, zucchini & onion foil packets on the grill, or I can sauté it with olive oil and other spices. Since I had very large zucchinis (where do those buggers hide?), my preference would be zucchini bread. However, I presently have a non-operational oven. So, the challenge was use up all of the zucchini without using the oven.

Here’s what I came up with: Zucchini noodles (or “zoodles”) & Zucchini fritters 

Both of these recipes are quite adaptable, and you can improvise with new spices or different ingredients. I’ve shared the basic recipes, and then I will include some other thoughts based on what worked and what didn’t for me. Both include prep time, though, so neither of these recipes could be categorized as “quick,” though the active time for the zoodles is less than 20 minutes.

Do you zoodle? Well, neither did I until recently. My sister-in-law had been telling me that you can turn zucchini into noodles, thereby rendering them “zoodles.” I am sure there is some very fancy way of doing this that you can read about on the internet, but here’s what I did.

General zoodle recipe:

  1. Julienne zucchini into long strips
  2. Place the zucchini strips in a salt water solution for about an hour so that they can get bendy-flexy like real noodles
  3. Drain thoroughly (leave them in a colander for at least 5 minutes)
  4. Stir fry them in a pan with a bit of oil
Here are my zucchini strips after they had soaked in salt-water, and then were drained: completely bendable

Here are my zucchini strips after they had soaked in salt-water, and then were drained: completely bendable

When you use the zucchini “noodles,” I was told that you could use whatever sauce you would normally put on noodles. A peanut sauce sounded really good to me, so I whipped up a truly simple one.

The ingredients for a basic peanut sauce: peanut butter, vinegar, garlic powder and red pepper (and water--not pictured)

The ingredients for a basic peanut sauce: peanut butter, vinegar, garlic powder and red pepper (and water–not pictured)

Since I only made “one serving” of zoodles, I didn’t need much peanut sauce. I used about 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter (I happened to have some peanut butter that I made from honey roasted peanuts), about 1-2 teaspoons of vinegar (I used Sherry vinegar), a pinch of garlic powder and a pinch of cayenne, and about 1/4 cup of water–added in increments.

On med-low heat, I started with 1/8 cup of water and the other ingedients, then I stirred. As the sauce comes together over the heat, you may need to add more water to thin it out.

On med-low heat, I started with 1/8 cup of water and the other ingredients, then I stirred. As the sauce comes together over the heat, you may need to add more water to thin it out. You’ll need to stir frequently.

I added some scallion greens, chopped cilantro and a bit of lime as garnish. I must say, I fell in love with zoodles cooked up in peanut sauce.

zoodles in peanut sauce, with cilantro & scallion garnish

zoodles in peanut sauce, with cilantro & scallion garnish

Zucchini fritters are a nice way of staying clear of any comparison to actual vegetables. If you like your zucchini barely recognizable, then these are for you. These fritters are adapted from a recipe I received years ago for veggie burgers using both zucchini and yellow squash. Here, I skipped the yellow squash and just used zucchini.

General zucchini fritter recipe:

  1. Shred zucchini, carrots and onion
  2. Sauté the onions first in a non-stick skillet for about 5-7 minutes with a bit of olive oil, then add the carrots and zucchini and continue stirring for 5 additional minutes.
  3. Add salt and minced garlic, and sauté for a few more minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and drain any excess liquid from the pan (if necessary)
  5. Add egg, some grated cheddar cheese, whole oats, additional spices, and stir to combine
  6. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour
  7. Remove from fridge. Form the veggie-oat mixture into small balls, and coat in flour
  8. Place in a non-stick skillet with olive oil. Press down on the balls to flatten into patties, and fry on each side 5-7 minutes on medium heat

Now, I had a LOT of zucchini, so I’ll share how much of everything that I used, but keep in mind that this makes an enormous batch. Also, my zucchini were big, so I took out the seeds. If you use smaller zucchini, you don’t have to bother seeding them.

Seeded zucchinis--I used two large zucchinis for this recipe

Seeded zucchinis–I used two large zucchinis for this recipe

I am in love with my food processor, so I let that baby do all the hard work. Along with the two seeded zucchinis, I shredded one large onion and three carrots. Also, because I happened to have red pepper, I threw that in this recipe as well. If I ever shred red pepper in my food processor again, I’ll peel it first… that didn’t work so well.

After all the shredding is done, start by sauteing the onions for a few minutes, then add the remaining vegetables

After all the shredding is done, start by sauteing the onions for a few minutes, then add the remaining vegetables

Sauteing everything first does bring out a lot of the liquid. I added about 1 tsp. salt (though my original recipe called for soy sauce), and that may have pulled out some liquid as well. I also added 4 cloves of garlic (love the garlic, but that may be too garlicky for folks, especially if you feed it to kiddos). Before turning off the heat and adding the oats, I found that I needed to drain the liquid, and I just did that over the sink using my lid.

Can we pause here and I can show you my little wheely garlic mincer contraption that my brother got me?

Can we pause here and I can show you my little wheely garlic mincer contraption that my brother got me?

It's an interesting device. You basically load the thing with garlic cloves that are halved or quartered, then you roll it around and a blade inside gets the garlic all minced. Open the top, and presto--finely chopped garlic!

It’s an interesting device. You basically load the thing with garlic cloves that are halved or quartered, then you roll it around and a blade inside gets the garlic all minced. Open the top, and presto–finely chopped garlic!

After you cook everything, you will turn off the heat and add the remaining ingredients. I added two eggs, two cups of rolled oats, and I happened to have green chile cheddar cheese (I used way more than I needed to, about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of shredded cheese). Since the cheese was a bit spicy already, for spices I added 1 tsp cumin and 2 tsp chilli powder. Then, you mix everything up and put it in a large bowl to chill for at least an hour.

Voila! Shredded veggie and oat goop!

Voila! Shredded veggie and oat goop!

So, an hour goes by, and you want to get your fritters going. I need to prepare you for this:

Once the patty-making begins, you will have very messy hands... VERY messy

Once the patty-making begins, you will have very messy hands… VERY messy

Using a tablespoon or two of oil in your pan, add the mounds of floured-veggie goop and press it down so that they form patties. You want these patties to be thoroughly cooked on the inside (not overly wet), so do about 5-7 minutes per side on medium heat.

Crispy on the outside--these are the zucchini fritters of your dreams!

Crispy on the outside–these are the zucchini fritters of your dreams!

I had already eaten dinner that night (see “Zoodles” above), but I had to have a little plate. The majority of the fritters have been eaten in the days since as lunch-time leftovers.

This big batch made a little more than a dozen zucchini fritters

This big batch made a little more than a dozen zucchini fritters

As far as reheating goes: If you microwave them, they are delicious but soggy. The best way to crisp them back up would be to stick them in the oven or back in the frying pan for a few minutes. However, I am a simple lady, with simple nourishment needs.

Zoodles & Fritters: I think I did okay for the self-imposed zucchini challenge. I’d love to hear from any readers on their thoughts for no-bake zucchini recipes, or really any use-up-the-garden-produce thoughts at all. Thanks for reading, everyone!

Advertisements

Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment



Your thoughts are always welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: