Crazy for Zucchini

Zuke-Bites-PortraitSomething about zucchini drives me crazy.

It has nothing to do with the fact that it seems to multiply like crazy.

Put a couple of zucchini in the crisper drawer and the next day, you’ve got twice as many as you started with. Or it seems that way.

That’s not what makes me cuckoo.

What makes me crazy is the taste. Or, more specifically, lack thereof.

The good news about zucchini is that it’s good for you — a little dietary fiber, a healthy dose of Vitamin C and minerals and it even contains Omega 3 fatty acids.

Oh, and it’s supremely low in calories and has almost no fat. Huh, I think I just figured out the taste problem.

How many recipes have you seen that claim “a good way to use up zucchini” and yet the recipe calls for only one, or a cup of grated zucchini, which might be two small ones?

I posed a challenge on twitter the other day, asking someone to come up with a recipe that serves four, but uses 20 zucchini. I got some funny responses and some really good ideas.

@ChefReinvented suggested I eat one and compost 19. She’s funny.

@flourgrrrl told me about a zucchini crumble (yes, a dessert, and she says it tastes similar to apple cobbler.)

@KAHUNA75 suggested zucchini cheesesteaks. Great idea!

@hungrygrrl pointed me to Marcella Hazan, the queen of Italian cooking, which…

Scoop

made me remember that I have a recipe in my first cookbook, The Great Ranch Cookbook that uses lots of Italian flavors: basil, sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan — and it uses 6 small zucchinis. If you’re having a big party, triple the recipe and by golly, there’s 18 zukes gone.

Process

The recipe is zucchini rounds stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and blue cheese.

But hold on there, partner. I’m not crazy about blue cheese, either. Oh, I’ll use it once in a while, but it’s not my favorite cheese. So I changed the recipe up a bit.

Processed

The original recipe also calls for roasted red pepper which I happened to have a jar of in the fridge. Unfortunately, it also happened to be a Petri dish — growing several kinds of mold (don’t remember how long it’s been in there, but it apparently got lost behind all the jams and salsas I’ve been reviewing lately for Phoenix Magazine).

Stuffed

No problem. I had just picked up a pint of teensy weensy tomatoes called sweet pea currant tomatoes. They’re no bigger than my fingernail and sweet as candy. You might find them at a farmers market, but if not, just use small grape tomatoes or even cherry tomatoes.

Good friends had brought us a Petaluma cheddar-style goat cheese from Spring Hill Cheese from California (hey, better than a T-shirt) so I swapped that for the blue cheese.

Zuke-Bites-Landscape

Now, instead of zucchini making me crazy, I’m crazy for zucchini — if it’s holding a wallop of flavor like these little appetizer bites.

What’s your favorite way to use up summer zucchini? Leave a comment and share. I think I still have a few zucchini in the crisper drawer.

Sun-Dried Tomato & Goat Cheese Stuffed Zucchini

Serves 8

Ingredients
6 small (straight) zucchini (about 2 pounds)
1/2 cup marinated sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
1/2 cup small tomatoes (grape or cherry)*
8 medium basil leaves, torn
1/4 cup grated aged goat cheese (or white cheddar)
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Method
1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Slice the zucchini into 3/4-inch rounds and scoop most of the pulp out with a melon baller (be careful not to go all the way through — you’re making a “bowl” for the stuffing.)

2. Squeeze the drained sun-dried tomatoes in several layers of paper towels to remove most of the oil.

3. Place the sun-dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, basil leaves, cheeses and pepper flakes into a food processor. Pulse several times until the mixture is still chunky but the ingredients are mostly blended.

4. Grease (or spray with non-stick spray) a baking sheet. Place the hollowed zucchini rounds on the sheet and fill with about a teaspoon of filling, mounding it up slightly.

5. Bake about 10 to 12 minutes, until the mixture is bubbly and the zucchini is cooked al dente. Remove from the oven and transfer to a platter. Garnish with tiny basil leaves if desired.

* If you use cherry tomatoes, remove the seeds. Cut them in half, and scoop out the seeds, leaving just the shell.

11 replies
  1. formerchef
    formerchef says:

    Those look so pretty! It’s nice to have a canape option for the glut of zucchini.
    I recently stuffed some zucchini with Italian sausage as a main course dish and just today put up a new post with Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Parmesan.
    Can you tell they are multiplying in my fridge too?

    Reply
  2. Dana Treat
    Dana Treat says:

    Love this! It looks gorgeous and I know it’s delicious. I’ve always been ambivalent about zucchini. To me it’s either bland or bitter. I do love it grilled or roasted though and I also like it sauteed in a bit of olive oil until browned in spots served with a big squeeze of lemon and chopped tarragon. Not rocket science but good.

    Reply
    • chefgwen
      chefgwen says:

      Dana! So glad you survived the vacation plague! I hear you on zucchini. It is very bland, and there is always tons of it. Like your idea of lemon and tarragon. Will try that, too.

      Reply
  3. Rebecca Turrigiano
    Rebecca Turrigiano says:

    What a great way to have a fresh, light appetizer! I also do something very similar with mushrooms : ) Thanks for the post!

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Sun Dried Tomato and Blue Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Rounds. This recipe, from my book, “The Great Ranch Cookbook,” is an impressive appetizer or tasty side dish. […]

  2. […] to fellow blogger Gwen’s  terrific recipe for stuffed zucchini—and read her funny comments about […]

  3. […] to fellow blogger Gwen’s  terrific recipe for stuffed zucchini—and read her funny comments about […]

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