It's that zucchini time of year again. Across the country, zucchini vines are hard at work in backyards and gardens, turning out tons of long green squash, and overpowering most other garden crops in terms of production.
And just about every gardener who grows zucchini is forced, at this time of year, to develop a second hobby - finding new and unusual ways to enjoy this versatile member of the curcubit family. Gardeners across America are tackling this task with glee, and cooking zucchini up into everything from quiches and casseroles to cookies; and even chocolate cake.
I've been gathering recipes. This one for zucchini quiche comes from Phyllis Sprieser of Bronx, N.Y. It's easy and elegant, and the recipe will turn out two nine-inch pies. ZUCCHINI QUICHE
Grate two small zucchini, skin and all, sprinkle with one teaspoonful of salt and place in a fine strainer to drain. Melt two teaspoonsful of butter in a skillet and sautee half a cup of scallions until they're tender. Spread the scallions over the bottoms of two partially baked pie crusts.
Mix three beaten eggs with a cup of heavy cream. Press some water out of the zucchini and add it to the eggs and cream. Stir in half a cup of grated Gruyere cheese, chopped dill, parsley and a sprinkling of pepper.
Pour the mixture into the pie crusts and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Bake the quiches on a cookie sheet and you won't have to worry about a messy overflow.
Another combination of zucchini and cheese, with tomato sauce, makes a delicious Italian dish. This recipe comes from Dorothy Schultz of Trenton, N.J. CHEESE-TOPPED ZUCCHINI
Slice three medium zucchini in half lengthwise. In a large skillet, saute one medium onion until it's tender in just a small amount of oil. Add the zucchini halves, cut side up, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano.
Pour a cup of tomato sauce over the zucchini, cover, and cook at medium heat until it's just tender - about 10 minutes. Top the zucchini with sliced mozzarella cheese, sprinkle with oregano, and cook, covered, just until the cheese melts. Pass parmesan cheese with this tasty dish.
And while chocolate zucchini cake might not sound like your cup of tea, it's better than it sounds - rich, sweet, and special. The recipe comes from Lucille Stiles of Emmaus, Pa., and it's unusual. No one will be able to guess what makes the cake so moist. CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE
In a large bowl, cream a stick and a tablespoon of butter with two cups of sugar. Beat in three eggs, add three squares of dark chocolate, melted, two teaspoonsful of vanilla, two teaspoonsful of grated orange rind and half a cup of milk. Stir in two cups of coarsely grated zucchini.
In another bowl, mix 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 1/2 teaspoonsful of baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoonsful of baking soda and 1 teaspoon each of salt and cinnamon.
Mix these into the zucchini bowl and turn the batter into a 10-inch tube or bundt pan, greased and floured. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Cool on a rack before removing the cake from the pan.
Zucchini can make every part of a meal, from soup to dessert - and that makes August a good time for zucchini fest. Just get in touch with some gardening friends and ask them to come over with "covered dish" fo their favorite zucchini.
You'll get a variety of new taste treats and a good time. And you'll help everyone to solve the problem of what to do with all their zucchini.