Taming Zucchini


It’s that time of the year when your zucchini is taking over the garden. You can’t give it away because your friends and neighbors have their own glut of zucchini to contend with. After a few years of overabundance, many gardeners part ways with cultivating this amazingly versatile vegetable. It’s not the zucchini’s fault that it thrives in our Northwest climate. I encourage you to keep growing zucchini; but do it with an action plan, so its proliferation doesn’t sneak up on you.

We have local food banks that would love your fresh zucchini. Put them in your weekly errand plan. Zucchini is the perfect vegetable for young gardeners to cut their teeth on. Make garden time with them and watch how proud they are as they harvest their bountiful crop. Do you like to preserve or can? You get the idea.

Here are a few recipes to help when your counters are covered by this week’s haul

Zucchini Fries

My son and his first squash garden inspired this recipe. You need to use a good mandolin slicer and zucchinis with small seeds.

Cut off the ends of your zucchinis and be extremely careful as you run the zucchini length-wise through the mandolin to make thin planks. It will take a couple of tries to get the right thickness. Spray a broiler pan, lay the zucchini planks on it and drizzle your favorite heart-healthy oil with a sprinkle of good salt.;

Set oven rack one level lower than the broiler level. These are thin and will cook fast, so watch them carefully. Cook until golden brown on both sides, adding a drizzle of oil if they look a little dry. Put on paper towels and then move to a warming platter as you do batches.

Tempura Zucchini Blossoms served with Ponzu Sauce

My favorite plan is to cook as many zucchini blossoms as possible before the season has passed. I love this simple tempura batter but you can use a box of tempura mix just as well.

First, reach inside the blossom and pinch to remove the stamen or pistil. Next, mix 1 egg yolk with 2 cups cold water and keep chilled. Dredge blossoms in 2 cups rice flour, ½ cup all-purpose flour, salt and pepper. Make batter with 1 cup flour mixture and 1 cup of yolk water (stirred to mix yolk and water). Keep egg water cold if you plan on making another batch.

Heat several inches of peanut oil to 370 degrees. Dip flowers in batter by the stem, letting excess batter drip off. Put in the oil carefully. Cook for only a few minutes and place on paper towels. Ponzu Sauce 1 part light soy sauce 1 part rice wine vinegar 1 tablespoon orange zest Fresh-squeezed orange juice to taste

Zucchini Relish

This is my German mother-in-law’s answer to gads of zucchini.

10 cups grated zucchini
4 cups grated yellow onion
5 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cups apple cider vinegar
6 cups sugar (or to taste)
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons celery salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 cup diced roasted red peppers

Combine zucchini and onions and sprinkle with salt. Toss together and let sit overnight in the fridge. The next day, rinse with cold water and drain well. In the meantime, heat vinegar and stir in remaining ingredients until sugar dissolves. Add zucchini and onions and bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer for 30 minutes. Seal in hot sterilized jars. Boil in canning pot for 10 minutes. Turn jars upside down briefly as you pull them out.