BY LATE summer my family has been stuffed to the gills with cubed, shredded, fried, stuffed, stir-fried, boiled, baked and marinated zucchini. For example, one recent meal included cold zucchini soup, hamburgers with zucchini relish, stir-fried zucchini and zucchini bread for dessert. You might say my family and I have become zucchini freaks.
Strategically planted in our garden between stalks of corn to keep the raccoons away, our zucchini yields a bumper crop. Having been inculcated with the New England spirit of frugality, I consider it my duty to use up all the available gourds. After fulfilling our summer needs I pickle and make loaves of zucchini bread to last through the winter.
My 20-month-old daughter willingly eats plain steamed zucchini at every meal. Her spoiled father will not. There is just so much ratatouille that he will consume in one summer. Therefore, I plan in advance.
Throughout the winter I collect zucchini recipes in a special file. My repertory is endless. It includes hors d'oeuvres made from fresh zucchini sticks dipped in boursin cheese, zucchini rounds, tiny pancakes and other delicacies. We eat pickles, relish, baked stuff zucchini with tomatoes or apricots, pasta with zucchini sauce, zucchini lasagna, fritters and several varieties of salads, soups, stews, quiches and sweet breads. Nevertheless, I must confess, by mid-august I can no longer tell my husband the vegetable for that evening's dinner until the meal is served, especially if the preceding night's experiment was less than successful.
Whenever possible I try to use small zucchini, less than six inches long. These are the most tender and the tastiest. But what to do with the larger squash? It seems a pity to throw them out or give them to neighbors who don't know better. I often use the large zucchinis for pickling or stuffing and baking with rice and meat. They also do quite well as containers for cold tuna fish salad. Peeled and sliced with their seeds removed, the large ones are also delicious in chicken or meat stews.
Served raw, the small young zucchini are excellent substitutes for cucumbers in dips and pickling. They are also tasty when served sliced and marinated in salads.
Zucchini, like many other squashes, is a good source of Vitamin A as well as Vitamin C. Mostly water, the vegetable must often be salted to extract its liquid before cooking. In executing zucchini recipes figure two small zucchini per person as a vegetable or one pound for three people.
The following are some favorites. BHAJIA (PAKORIS) (Indian Zucchini Vegetable Tempura) (8 servings) 1 cup gram (lentil) or chick pea flour 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon turmeric 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin 2 teaspoons salt 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper Water (about 3/4 cup) 1 egg (optional) Vegetable oil for deep frying 3/4 to 1 pound zucchini, sliced in thin rounds or 2-inch thick sticks*
*(Onions, potatoes, eggplant, green pepper, cauliflower or asparagus can also be used.)
Mix together the flour, baking powder, turmeric, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Add just enough water to make a thick batter, about 3/4 cup, and then add the egg. Blend batter ingredients well by hand until the mixture is smooth.
Heat oil to 375 degrees in a heavy skillet.
Dip the zucchini or other vegetables in the batter and coat thoroughly. Drop a few coated zucchini in the hot oil. Fry until cooked through on each side and golden brown. Drain well on paper towel.
Serve hot as an hors d'oeuvre with mint coriander leaf chutney or your favorite chutney. (NEW-LINE)CREAM of ZUCCHINI SOUP(NEW-LINE)(4 servings) (NEW-LINE)1 pound young green zucchini(NEW-LINE)2 tablespoons butter(NEW-LINE)2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots(NEW-LINE)1 clove finely minced garlic(NEW-LINE)1/2 teaspoon curry powder or to(NEW-LINE)taste(NEW-LINE)Salt and freshly ground pper to taste(NEW-LINE)1/2 cup heavy cream (NEW-LINE)1 3/4 cups chicken stock Scrub the zucchini. Do not peel. Slice thin. Heat the butter and add zucchini, shallots and garlic. Cover tightly and simmer about 10 minutes. Shake the pot occasionally and do not let vegetables burn.
Spoon the mixture into a blender or food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and blend about half a minute. Serve cold with chopped chives or heat and serve warm with croutons. TURKISH STUFFED ZUCCHINI (6 servings) 7 medium fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped, or 2 1/2 cups canned tomatoes, drained and chopped 1 cup finely chopped onions 2 teaspoons salt Freshly ground black pepper to taste 6 medium zucchini or other summer squash, 7 to 8 inches long 1 pound lean ground lamb or beef 2/3 cup uncooked long-grain white rice 2 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried mint 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, sliced 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 2 tablespoons currants or raisins 2 tablespoons pine nuts or chopped almonds
Combine the tomatoes, onions, 1 teaspoon of the salt and pepper in a heavy casserole large enough to hold the zucchini in 1 or 2 layers. Stirring frequently, bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Scrub the zucchini under cold water. Pat dry and cut about 1 inch off the stem end. With an apple corer, carefully leaving a shell 1/8 inch thick all around.
Combine the meat, rice, mint, parsley, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, netmeg, allspice, currants, pine nuts and freshly ground pepper to taste. Spoon the stuffing into the squash, tapping the bottom end lightly on the table to shake the stuffing down. Fill the squash completely.
Lay the zucchini flat in the tomato sauce. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover tightly, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the squash shows only the slightest resistance when pierced with the point of a sharp knife. CARL GOHS' ZUCCHINI BREAD (Makes 2 loaves) 3 eggs 2 cups granulated sugar 1 cup vegetable oil 2 cups grated, peeled raw zucchini 3 teaspoons vanilla extract 3 cups all purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 cup coarsely chopped filberts or walnuts
Beat the eggs until light and foamy. Add the sugar, oil, zucchini, vanilla and mix lightly but well. Combine the flour, salt, soda, baking powder and cinnamon and add to the egg-zucchini mixture. Stir until well blended, add nuts, and pour into two 9-by-5-by-3 inch loaf pans. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. If there's anything more galling than the crop that flopped, It's the crop that has too fulsomely succeeded, Which can make you start to think it would be wise to opt For a garden that's unplanted and unweeded -- A feeling that increases at a stiffer rate The moment your zucchini vines proliferate. For they fructify so freely that they summon shades Of terror from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" When the gourds keep coming at you in such cavalcades That you're sure you'll soon become non compros mentis. The teeniest zucchini can, in one day flat, Expand to the dimensions of a baseball bat. You can stew it, fry it, roast it, you can serve it raw, Or even try to stuff it into blini, But there's little hope of finding a receptive maw; However thin it's sliced, it's still zucchini. So pull up every second vine that starts to sprout -- The zucchini's going to get you if you don't watch out! Felicia Lamport, From "Beard on Bread"