11 August 2006

La saison des courgettes

It's zucchini time. Summer, when you have a garden, means too many squash. This year we have yellow ones (my mother sent me seeds from North Carolina) as well as the standard green zucchini. Walt thinned the green zuke plants down so that we only have two, but he left four yellow summer squash plants. So we have a lot of yellow zukes.

Slice the zucchinis in half the long way.
This works well with ones that have grown very big.


So what do you do with them all, besides giving them away to neighbors? My favorite technique now is to slice them in half the long way, put them face down on an oiled cookie sheet, and bake them in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes (depending on size) at about 375ºF (190ºC).

These zukes have cooked in a hot oven until soft and
now are cooling in their pans on the front deck.


When they're good and done, let them cool. Turn them over and scoop all the pulp out of the shells. Toss the shells, which have dried out. Use the pulp immediately or put in in the freezer to use later.

To use how? Purée the pulp and make soup. Or a timbale (which is a kind of savory custard). Or make a dip — zucchini caviar — with garlic, herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil. Or just flavor the pulp with herbs, butter or olive oil, and salt and pepper, and eat it hot as a side dish.

Zucchinis cooked the the oven, cooled, and turned over,
with pulp ready to be scooped out.


You can also make stuffed zucchini. Some people call them "boats" or "canoes." Either yellow or green zucchini will work fine. This is a another good way to use the ones that hid under the big leaves of the squash plant and grew larger than you intended.

Chopped zucchini pulp, already cooked

Cook them the same way, by putting them cut-side down on a cookie sheet in the oven. But instead of cutting them in half, cut them so that one piece is about ¾ of the zuke and the other piece only ¼. And don't cook them as long. You want a "boat" with some shape to it.

Stuffed zucchini boats, ready to go in the oven

When the larger pieces are cooked, scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh so that what you have left is zuke shells with ¼-inch or so of flesh still in them. Chop and cook the smaller pieces in a pan with some butter or oil. Add the zuke seeds and extra pulp you scooped out. And then add all that to whatever stuffing you are making.

A rice stuffing with chopped cooked chicken, diced tomatoes and
green peppers, and some herbs and spices. The rice and chicken were
left over from previous meals.

I added some cubed dry white bread and about 1½ lbs. of lean ground pork
to the rice stuffing, along with two eggs to bind it all together


Stuffing ideas: ground beef with onions, garlic, and green peppers. Add some cooked rice or some bread crumbs to the mixture and season it as you like. Use ground chicken or turkey or pork instead of beef.

Here are my zucchini boats, ready for eating or freezing.
I made at least twice this many with the stuffing I had prepared.

Another stuffing possibility is a thick cheese sauce with the cooked zucchini flesh and some cooked onion stirred into it. Sprinkle bread crumbs and grated cheese over the top and let it all brown in the oven.

Tomorrow I'm planning to make yellow squash boats stuffed with couscous, raisins, pine nuts, garlic, herbs, and a little curry powder. We'll see how they turn out.

4 comments:

  1. Will the wonders never cease? Not only the sublime zuke soup, but all these other ideas! Don't know what the problem is, but I must be the only gardener in the known world unable to grow zukes. They get to be about the size of my little finger before turning yellow and falling off the plant. At least I have memories of the zuke soup to sustain me until a friendly gardener with an overload of zukes takes pity.

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  2. Susan, your zuch plants sound like they're not being pollinated. If you're short on bees, you can do it yourself with a little paint brush.

    Ken, thanks for the good ideas. My plant isn't producing yet because I planted it very late, but we're supervising 3 yellow zucchini plants for friends on vacation.
    Chris P

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  3. I like your recipies very much. Thanks a lot. Here is my zuke (courgette) news. (what are they in France?) I compost my veges waste in a plastic bin containing worms - the compost at the bottom is wonderful, when spring comes the worms are on the top layer,being moved back to the bottom . I use the compost to enrich the dry dust which passes for soil here. This year not only are zuccini plants growing and flowering, but five small plants identified as papaya trees - was puzzled as to how and why until I remembered the worms - I doubt we eat two papays a year so pretty astonishing. Dont use an ordinary compost heap - twigs and hard stuff make a home for toads and beetles, bumblebees, etc.
    (all needing water)
    Magda in Wimbledon

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  4. Hi Chris, pollination doesn't seen to be the problem. We're getting plenty of tiny zukes, but so far they've all turned yellow and fallen off the plants. We've an abundance of bees, thanks to lots of lavender, oregano, rosemary, and other assorted blooming herbs. There's got to be something else going on that's standing between me and zucchini heaven.

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