Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Zucchini (Too Much!) for One

Zucchini-Almond Muffin
I hope you have a generous neighbor (as do I) who gardens...  Maybe he'll leave a tres giant zucchini on your back porch one day...

that makes people say things like, "Oh, my God!"  I guess this is sort of a giving thanks for copious amounts of food.  If you don't have a gardening neighbor or friend (and folks at church often bring these tomes to get rid of them after service), the farmer's market in St. Paul sells them for fifty cents.  Talk about food value.  While not as tender or flavorful as the tiny elegant zucchini that grace the plates of fine restaurants, these babies will still feed you.  (And anyone else who's hungry.)

An interesting aside about zucchini, which we usually think of as a vegetable.
Botanically, however, the zucchini is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower.
(This from Wikipedia, should we trust it.  YIKES.)

So here's two recipes for using up zucchini for the solo cook, who might often pass by a big zucchini:

 1.  Zucchini Cakes --  Fried up "pancakes" full of Parmesan and grated onion, they're hearty and healthy.

Zucchini Cakes--Eat 'em while they're hot.  Or not.

          You might have the cakes a time or two before they're gone.  I like them instead of sausage with fried eggs, sliced up over rice and topped with chopped green onions or dill, smothered in a layer of Greek yogurt and a good dose of black pepper, graced with a dop of great salsa, or just by themselves.  Yes, versatile!  Also fine hot, at room temp, or cold right out of the frig.


3 cups grated zucchini (Squeeze excess moisture out in a towel or you'll have mushy cakes.)
3T minced or grated onion
1/2 cup flour (You might need a little more if mixture looks very liquidy before frying.)
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t kosher salt
Pinch crushed red pepper, optional
1 egg, beaten well
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish if you like)
2-3 T olive oil or butter for frying
Freshly ground black pepper

Toppings:  As you choose from above listings

Mix together all ingredients except oil/butter and pepper.  Heat oil/butter over medium - medium-high heat.  Shape zucchini mixture into patties about 3" in diameter and place in hot fat.  (Or spoon mixture into fat much like pancakes and smooth into shape.) Dust with black pepper.  Let cook 3-4 minutes until quite golden.  Carefully turn over, dust again with pepper, and fry the other side until golden. Serve immediately.  Or later.  Store tightly wrapped in the frig for up to 2 days.  Do not freeze.

2.  Big Zucchini-Almond Muffins --  Makes 3 Very Large Muffins  Read all directions before beginning.

You could make 6 regular sized muffins instead if you like.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and grease well (use soft butter or shortening) 3 large muffin cups, 3 oven safe coffee mugs or 6 regular-sized muffin cups.

1/2 c applesauce
1/4 c vegetable or canola oil (or melted butter)*
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk (save the white for your egg white omelet)
1 t almond extract (or vanilla extract)
1 1/4 c white sugar

Mix the above wet ingredients together well in a medium bowl or 4 cup measuring cup.

1 c all-purpose flour
1t cinnamon
1/4 nutmeg, ground
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl or 8 cup measuring cup.  Stir in the wet ingredients until just barely mixed.

1 c grated zucchini that you have squeezed somewhat dry in a towel (grated on the coarse-grate side of a box grater)
1/2 c chopped almonds or walnuts, optional.

Add to the flour mixture the zucchini and the nuts, if using.  Stir briefly until incorporated, but not over-mixed. (You'll have tough muffins if you do, though they'll eat, too.)

I like cups in a 9x13 pan because it's easier in the oven.
 Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake 25-30 minutes for large muffins and 15-20 minutes for small. Muffins are done when they "crown" and if they spring back when you push your finger a bit down on them.   You want them browned around the edges, not pale.   Also, you can use a toothpick (I like a very thin wooden skewer) and push that down into the muffin.  If it comes back clean or almost clean, it's done.  If there's lots of goo on it, the muffins need more time in the oven.  (Note:  Anything baked in glass, pottery, porcelain, etc. takes longer to bake.)

Store tightly wrapped or covered at room temperature for 2 days or freeze for up to 2 weeks.

*You can sub all canola or vegetable oil for part applesauce/part oil.  Older zucchini bread recipes were fatty indeed.  You could also try olive oil for a more healthy alternative, though the taste will be affected.

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,


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