Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summer Squash: Zucchini and Scallopini Squash

Summer harvests are in full swing and suddenly you turn around and there is summer squash EVERYWHERE! Sometimes it is in such abundance that you may find a “gift” on your front step or perhaps even in your mailbox. Add to that the variety of summer squashes that you find in your CSA box or at the market…What do you do with all of that summer squash? How about a “Zucchini Extravaganza!”

Zucchini from Harmony Valley Farm
Our second crop of zucchini started producing like gangbusters last week. We too found ourselves asking, “What are we going to do with all of this zucchini?!” Thus, we thought it might be good to take a moment to regroup, find new recipes and then dive back in and try some new ideas for how to put all of this summer bounty to use.

Zucchini is summer squash that can grow to be up to three feet in length, though we harvest them much smaller when they are tender and in their prime. Picking early and picking often increases the harvest, and the early, small zucchini are the most tender and full of flavor. A good zucchini will have a glossy skin that is bright and flesh that is firm to the touch. The skin of a large zucchini gets thicker and the seeds get larger. These bigger zucchini are excellent for use in baking, but the seeds and pulp should be removed before slicing or grating.

Zucchini has a very high water content making it low in calories. It is a good source of Thiamin, Niacin and Pantothenic Acid. It is also good source of fiber, protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese. The flavor of zucchini and other summer squash varieties is very mild, thus they combine well with many different flavors and ingredients. You’ll find them used in a wide variety of ways in cuisines across the world.

You will find zucchini to be one of the most versatile vegetables in your kitchen. Sliced zucchini is delicious simply sautéed in a bit of butter and lightly salted. Grilled, sautéed or stuffed, it lends itself to many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes that are complimented by herbs such as basil, dill or mint. Thinly sliced, zucchini can be a good substitute for noodles. You can even roast large lengthwise slices and layer them between meat and cheese for a good alternative to lasagna noodles. How about zucchini pancakes or fritters? If you are looking for something to satisfy your sweet tooth while adding the benefits of vegetables, you could try zucchini bread, zucchini bars or a chocolate zucchini cake. The moisture content of the zucchini results in very moist baked goods and your family won’t know that they are eating vegetables!

Whole, unwashed zucchini should be stored on the countertop. The ideal storage temperature is 40-500 F, so storing in the refrigerator will result in chill injury. Wash it just before using. If you need to store for later use, you can slice or grate zucchini and place it in freezer bags or containers before freezing. If you plan on storing long term, blanch the slices and store them in freezer bags for up to one year.

We grow several different varieties of zucchini and summer squash and plant two crops every year. Of course we need to plant the traditional green variety familiar to most people. Several years ago, we trialed an Italian variety that is green striped and has ribs on it. We found that it actually has a lot of characteristics we really like. The flesh of the Italian zucchini is more firm, thus it is easier to handle without damaging them and they hold up better to cooking. They stay firm, but tender instead of becoming mushy. They are also beautiful when cut into coins as they have scalloped edges. We also grow a fun summer squash that we refer to as a scallopini squash. The name of this variety is actually called “Flying Saucer” because it resembles a space ship! The flesh of this variety is also more firm and crisp, so they are good for grilling and roasting. You can even hollow them out and stuff them!
Green Zucchini 
Italian Zucchini

Scallopini Zucchini

How about a cocktail? Find the recipe for a Zucchini-Tini at:

If youare still looking for more recipes, let Maria and Josh take you on a zucchini journey at

Have fun and let us know if you find some good ways to use zucchini!

Halibut with Zucchini Salsa Verde
Recipe borrowed from Bon Appetit Magazine, August 2010

Serves 6
10 oz zucchini (about 2 medium), rough chopped
½ cup fresh cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
⅓ cup onion, rough chopped
5 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 ¼ tsp finely grated lime peel
2 ½ Tbsp chopped, seeded jalapeño chiles
(adjust quantity to your liking)
2 ¼ tsp salt, divided
Vegetable Oil
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ tsp ground coriander

6—6 oz skinless halibut fillets**

1. Combine zucchini, chopped cilantro, onion, lime juice, lime zest and jalapeños in the bowl of a food processor. Add 1 ¼ tsp coarse salt. Process this mixture until the mixture is finely chopped. You want it to have a little bit of texture, so stop processing before it’s completely smooth. Transfer to a small bowl. Cover and chill.

2. Combine 1 tsp pepper, coriander and remaining 1 tsp coarse sea salt in small bowl;  stir to blend. Pat fish dry. Sprinkle fish on all sides with seasoning mixture.

3. Preheat a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, add the fish to the pan. Saute on the first side until it is golden brown and easily releases from the pan. Turn the fish over and finish cooking the fish to your desired degree of doneness.

4. Transfer the fish to plates. Spoon some salsa over. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve with remaining salsa.

**NOTE:  May substitute cod, salmon, or other fish of your choosing.  You could also serve this salsa over grilled steak or chicken. If you have extra salsa remaining, you can enjoy leftovers with scrambled eggs, eat it as a snack with corn chips, or use it to top off tacos.

Shaved Zucchini Salad with Parmesan 
Recipe adapted from one originally published in Bon Appetit Magazine in August 2010

Serves 6
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp dried crushed red pepper
2 pounds medium zucchini
⅔ cup grape or sungold tomatoes, quartered
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
¼ cup Kalamata olives, halved

Small wedge of Parmesan cheese (or other aged cheese)

1. Whisk oil, lemon juice, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, and crushed red pepper in a small bowl to blend. Set dressing aside.

2. Using a vegetable peeler and working from top to bottom of each zucchini, slice zucchini into ribbons (about ⅟₁₆ inch thick). Place ribbons in large bowl. Add basil, tomatoes and olives, then dressing; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Using vegetable peeler, shave strips from Parmesan wedge over salad.

Creamy Zucchini-Cumin Dip
This recipe was recommended to us by our friend Carol, a longtime Madison CSA member. She describes it as an ‘’unusual use for lots of zukes!” Carol found the recipe in Farmer John’s Cookbook, written by our friend John Peterson and his friends at Angelic Organics.

Yield 1½-2 cups
2 medium zucchini, coarsely grated 
2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
¾ tsp ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Paprika, to taste

1. Place the zucchini in a medium bowl; add the salt and mix well. Transfer to a colander and set in the sink to drain for at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, put the sour cream, onion, lime juice and cumin in a large serving bowl; stir until well combined.  

3. Squeeze as much moisture as you can from the zucchini with your hands; add the zucchini to the sour cream mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined. Season with pepper and paprika to taste.

4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve cold or at room temperature.  

My Special Zucchini Bread Recipe 
(Keep reading….this is not your usual zucchini bread recipe)
Heidi Swanson, creator of, created her own version of zucchini bread.  You’ll find her recipe to be slightly spicy, slightly sweet, and very interesting.  The first time I made this bread, it caught people’s attention and received rave reviews.  Heidi’s recipe and commentary about it can be found at her website,

Yield:  2 loaves
1½ cups chopped walnuts, plus a few to sprinkle on top
⅓ cup poppy seeds 
Zest of two lemons 
½ cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (optional)
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini (about 3 medium), skins on (squeeze some of the moisture out and then fluff it up again before using)
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose white flour)
1½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp curry powder (optional, but highly recommended) 

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter two 5 x 9-inch loaf pans. Dust them with a bit of flour and set aside. 

2. In a small bowl combine the walnuts, poppy seeds, lemon zest, and ginger. Set aside.

3. In a mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat again until mixture comes together and is no longer crumbly. Add the eggs one at a time mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Stir in the vanilla and then the zucchini (at low speed if you are using a mixer).

4. In a separate bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and curry powder. Add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches, stirring between each addition. 

5. Save a bit of the walnut, poppy seed, lemon zest and crystalized ginger mixture to sprinkle on the tops of the zucchini loaves before baking for a bit of texture. Fold the remainder of this mixture into the batter by hand. Avoid over mixing the batter, it should be thick and moist, not unlike a butter cream frosting.

6. Divide the batter equally between the two loaf pans. Make sure it is level in the pans, by running a spatula over the top of each loaf. Bake for about 40-45 minutes on a middle oven rack or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool the zucchini bread in the pan for about ten minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to finish cooling - if you leave them in their pans, they will get sweaty and moist (not in a good way) as they cool.

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