Many Ways to Use Zucchini

summer squash

A zucchini and other summer squash from the Santa Barbara, Calif., farmers market, June 23, 2012

There are countless variations on the zucchini fritter. Here are three recipes, one with lemon zest, another with mint and a third that calls for Cheddar cheese. They are all strikingly different with regard to proportions of zucchini to egg to flour, which suggests that ideas about what makes a good fritter vary widely. Might as well try them all, and decide for yourself. As for the other recipes, the simplest of the bunch is the Persian-style zucchini, which can be whipped up in six or eight minutes, start to finish, and makes a great accompaniment to a rice dish.

Zucchini Fritters (with lemon zest) [top]

1 pound zucchini
Salt and pepper
1 clove garlic
1 small bunch chives
zest of 4 lemons
2 tbs flour
1 egg
2 tbs olive oil

1. Grate and salt the zucchini and leave let stand in a colander for 30 minutes. Squeeze the zucchini dry with your hands or wring it out in a towel.

2. Peel and mince the garlic, chop 1 tablespoonful of the chives, and grate the zest from the lemons.

3. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini with the garlic, chives, lemon zest, the flour, and the lightly beaten egg. Heat the olive oil in a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. For each fritter, pour a heaping tablespoonful of the zucchini batter into the pan.

4. Turn them over after about 3 minutes, or when golden. Cook two minutes more on the other side. Drain on paper towels.

Zucchini Fritters (with mint) [top]

3 cups coarsely grated zucchini
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint or
1 tsp dried mint leaves

1. Place zucchini in colander; let drain 1 hour.

2. In a large bowl, with a wire whisk, beat the eggs until frothy. Add remaining ingredients and whisk until blended. Stir in the zucchini, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper.

3. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. In large skillet, over medium to high heat, heat 2 tablespoons salad oil. Spoon in fritters batter, using 1 tablespoon butter for each fritter, adding more oil as necessary. Cook 1 minute on each side, until golden brown.

4. Keep warm, covered with aluminum foil, on platter in oven until ready to serve.

Zucchini Fritters (with cheese) [top]

2 beaten eggs
1/3 to ½ cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
splash of tabasco
dash of pepper
2 cups grated zucchini
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil

1. Make batter by mixing together eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, tabasco & pepper.

2. Fold in zucchini, onion and cheese and mix into a stiff batter. Let it set for 5 minutes to soften.

3. Heat butter and oil in skillet; use about 2 tbsp batter per fritter, dropping into skillet and browning 2-3 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

Sauted Zucchini, Persian-style [top]

5 small zucchini
1 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1 clove garlic minced
½ small onion, minced
½ cup yogurt (more if desired) at room temperature

1. Cut ends off zucchini and slice in half, length-wise. Saute in oil in heavy skillet on medium-high heat, cut side down, for about three minutes or until zucchini are lightly browned. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Turn over and cook for one more minute. Add minced garlic and onion and cook for about two more minutes, scraping bottom of pan with spatula to keep onion and garlic from sticking.

2. Place half of yogurt on platter. When onion has begun to brown, remove zucchini from skillet to platter and top with rest of the yogurt. Remove any remaining browned bits of onion and garlic and sprinkle on top of yogurt.

Baked Zucchini [top]

5-8 small zucchini
1 cup cottage cheese
1 egg
3 tbs buttermilk (optional)
paprika or cayenne

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Slice zucchini in half lengthwise and place as many as will fit cut side up, sides touching, in a greased 9-13″ glass baking dish (metal pans can give a metallic taste where they touch the zucchini). Cover with a cookie sheet and bake until half done, about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the zucchini.

2. Beat the egg and cottage cheese together. If you want it smooth, add the buttermilk and blend in blender.

3. When the zucchini are ready, remove from oven and spoon the cottage cheese mixture over the top. Dust with paprika or cayenne and return uncovered to the oven for 15 minutes. When done, the zucchini will be tender (poke with fork) and the topping melted and browned.

Optional: Before zucchini are baked the second time, top with ¼ cup grated cheese or bread crumbs or a sautéed mixture of ½ onion, 1 clove garlic and 2 tbs finely chopped parsley.

Zucchini Bread [top]

2 cups shredded raw zucchini
3 eggs
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
¼ tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Put zucchini in strainer and press or squeeze with hands to get excess liquid out. Beat eggs, sugar, and oil together. Add flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and walnuts. Mix together by hand.

2. Add drained zucchini. Mix well. Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake 55 to 65 minutes at 350°, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out with very little cake clinging to it.