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Versatile vegetable: Zucchini can create a variety of tasty dishes

By Russ Parsons

Los Angeles Times (Mct)

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 18 2012 9:51 p.m. MDT

ZUCCHINI FRITTERS

Total time: 30 minutes, plus draining time for the shredded zucchini

Servings: Makes 8 fritters

1 pound zucchini

Salt

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 green onion, chopped, green part only

1/2 to ¾ teaspoon minced jalapeno

2 tablespoons flour

1 egg, beaten

Olive oil

Greek-style yogurt

1. Shred the zucchini and put it in a colander. Sprinkle generously with salt, mix well and set aside for at least 30 minutes to drain. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat until they begin to pop and smell fragrant. Grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.

2. Rinse the shredded zucchini under cold running water. Pick up a small handful, squeeze it dry and put it in the center of a linen dish towel. When you've squeezed all the zucchini by hand, gather the dish towel around the zucchini and twist, wringing out as much liquid as you can. The more liquid you remove, the lighter the fritter will be.

3. Put the zucchini in a bowl and add the green onion, jalapeno, cumin and coriander and stir to mix well. Stir in the flour and then the beaten egg. The mixture should be sticky, but there shouldn't be any free liquid. If there is, stir in a little more flour.

4. Pour olive oil into a nonstick skillet to a depth of about one-fourth inch (it'll take about one-fourth cup) and heat it over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough that a little bit of zucchini sizzles immediately, drop 4 (2 to 3 tablespoon) mounds of the batter into the pan, flattening them slightly with the back of a spoon.

5. Fry until golden brown on one side, 3 to 4 minutes, then gently flip and fry until golden brown on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and gently pat away any excess oil.

6. Serve immediately, with a dollop of thick Greek yogurt.

Each fritter: 147 calories; 2 grams protein; 4 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 14 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 23 mg cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 87 mg sodium.

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ZUCCHINI TIAN

Total time: 30 minutes, plus 1 to 1 1/2 hours baking time

Servings: 6

1 large onion

Olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt

2 tablespoons slivered basil leaves

2 zucchini, cut into ¼-inch rounds

16 to 20 cherry tomatoes, quartered

3 tablespoons slivered, pitted black olives

Freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces fresh goat cheese

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the onion in quarters lengthwise and then in one-fourth-inch crosswise strips. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is softened and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.