Oh, what to do with zucchini?
If you are like most backyard gardeners, you find yourself asking this question the same time every year. And then the quest begins to find ways to use it, give it, hide it and vow that next year you will only plant one plant — even if that one plant looks lonely and your early garden barren.
Regardless of how much you may like the gem-colored squash, after weeks of fried, baked, barbequed and sautÉed, you give in and start slipping them into neighbors’ mailboxes and unlocked cars.
After experiencing years of this, I wrote the book “The Zucchini Houdini” which has dozens of recipes using our glorious green friend, but one part of the book that I want to emphasize and encourage you to try is the section on freezing.
The majority of the recipes I love call for zucchini that is shredded. Most of the baked goods and many of the soups, quiches and casseroles can be made throughout the year if you shred and freeze your overabundance of zucchini now.
The trick is doing it right. But that doesn’t take much. It is simple and might just tempt you to plant a few extra seeds when next year rolls around.
The most important part of freezing zucchini is getting the moisture out. One way of doing this is to scoop out the seeds before grating. After grating, let the zucchini sit in a colander to release even more water and then pat out the excess moisture with paper towels. Measure out one or two cups into freezer bags and then squeeze out all the air, seal it and freeze. It is that simple.
During the winter months, you can pull out the premeasured, grated zucchini, thaw and it is ready! Use it like you would freshly grated zucchini.
Here is a recipe from “The Zucchini Houdini” that is perfect for the cold weather that will eventually be here. It will also work great with your freezer stash.
ZUCCHINI BACON SOUP
The bacon gives this soup a warm and smoky flavor.
Makes: 4-6 servings
4 slices of bacon or turkey bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups shredded zucchini
2 cups beef broth
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon parsley
1 tablespoon fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
Grated Parmesan cheese
In a Dutch oven, cook bacon until crisp. Drain off all fat except 1 tablespoon. Cook and stir remaining ingredients, except cheese. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes. Put into blender and blend until smooth. Return to pot and heat through. Serve with grated cheese on top.
Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of
twins, and a grandmother of two. She is a cookbook author and novelist. Her website is at www.talesofthedinnerbelle.com.