Thursday, March 17, 2011

New favorite: Zucchini

Not being able to eat as many foods as most people without risking some biological fallout that I don't want to deal with, I am finding that there are certain foods that I never gave the time of day which. are. AWESOME. If I can convince my husband of this, than I'd be set, but I will simply have to foster these relationships alone.
This post gets to be my (slightly unpoetic) Ode to Zucchini.

Now before we go any further, I would like to note that zucchini also goes by the name of courgette, which I like better. It's an awesome name. I just forget to use it. You should use it! Maybe then I'll remember to use it. :)

I've never been a big fan of summer squash, so beyond some tasty bars and bread, I've never really felt zucchini offered me much. Until now, of course. It is a great addition to soups, stir fries, sautees, and absorbs flavor very well. Below is a review of some tasty recipes that I've found to use what is a very versatile vegetable.

Simply Recipes has a tasty post on making spicy zucchini soup. It calls for some things that I have to finagle around (mainly bread and peppers), but it's doable. Using alternate thickeners is pretty simple if you want to get rid of the carb question. The peppers really do add a nice kick, though, so if you can have them--play them up! If you can't have them, or just don't like spice, you may want to play around with some other flavor alternatives. The mint/cilantro part gives it a nice light taste to it, but the soup needs to be grounded in something more intense I think.

One of my favorite blogs, Just Bento, has a nice savory take on the low-carb zucchini muffin. I tend to ignore the fact that I'm adding dairy to it, but remind myself that I can have dairy in moderation. :) I've tended to freeze these for desperate snack attacks or for fast breakfast options. I haven't made these in a bit, but have been dreaming of them this whole time.

I didn't originally get this recipe from Just Hungry, but they have a nice post on this option as well: zucchini/chickpea pancakes. Another quick breakfast or lunch option, and it's vegan by its very nature. I rotate my egg consumption, so it's nice to have some savory breakfast options that do not require eggs as a binder. Chickpea flour really is a lifesaver with some dishes. And as a slight digression, Just Bento's listing of zucchini related posts looks delicious and quite extant.

Another version of the zucchini pancake theme is the zucchini latke. Some folks like to just use eggs as a binder, which is nice and simple. I haven't tried to make it like that myself for a while, if ever, though I expect it's easy and adequate. My mom used to make zucchini pancakes with Bisquick, but I can't have that anymore, so I opt to use this recipe from Whole Approach that uses buckwheat flour. It also has egg in it, and it's still a limit with the buckwheat, but it seems to strike a nice kind of comfort food chord with me. And as always, a bonus for me is that they freeze well. I ended up giving a batch of these latkes to my grandmother for Christmas this year, as she has a gluten intolerance. Well, she had an intolerance, I guess since she tells me she was cured this year by attending a healing Mass.

I really could go on, as there are numerous ways to use this vegetable, many of them incredibly healthy and tasty. But, this post is already long. So, I'll finish off with the most unlikely recipe I've found, which has ended up being the one I tend to use the most: hot "cereal" zucchini porridge. Who would have thought? It's actually pretty good, and would probably be better if I added almonds or other nuts to it as the original post suggests. But add some nice spices, a little sweetener (stevia in my case), and blend that stuff up!

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