It’s Time … Dr Sista Outlaw’s annual zucchini fest

Zucchini, how I love it. There is nothing more delightfully buttery or charmingly versatile, or, for that matter, quite so easy to grow. Mine are bursting at the seams right now, pushing over the chook wire, and trying to run over the ground, fruiting in black and green stripes, with a pattern like 1960s barkcloth. Having just had a quarter of a year’s worth of rain in one weekend, they’re turning into marrows. And, as I am dead broke until the arrival of the Kevin Bucks, it’s time to get working on ways to use this luxurious, yet cheap, food.

Zucchini Muffins look so damned good the boy recanted his anti-zucchini stance and tucked in. They are also easy. Take a giant marrow or a few small ones and grate until you have 400 grammes worth. Then add: 1 cup white flour, 1 cup of polenta or some polenta and wholemeal, 1 tsp of baking soda, 1 tsp sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 lightly beaten egg and 60g of butter you’ve melted in the microwave. You can add flavourings such as a big handful of grated parmesan; a small handful of shredded herbs; six semi-sundried tomatoes sliced up; a big chunk of crumbled feta; ham, bacon, salami or smoked salmon in chunks; a handful of lightly toasted pine nuts or walnuts. Or any combo. Mix it all together until it just comes together into a lumpy mess and put big spoonfuls, lumps and all, into a lightly greased muffin pan. Bake at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes in a shiny new electric fan-forced oven, if, like me, you have one (I truly love my oven), but any one will do.

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But everyone knows about muffins. If you want to get people raising their eyebrows, cook Zucchini Loaf! I’ve made this for more than 20 years and it produces a smooth yet textured cake that keeps very well. Take three eggs and beat them with one cup of sunflower oil (a moulinex or bamix works best – this idea comes from a moulinex cookbook). Eventually the eggs and oil will thicken and go almost white, at which point you add 3 tsp vanilla extract and one cup of caster sugar.

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Assemble the dry ingredients: 1 and one half cups white flour, 1 and one half cups wholemeal flour, 1 and one half teaspoons of baking powder, three teaspoons of mixed spice and a shake or two extra of nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt. Then grate enough zucchini to fill two cups (pack it down hard and include the rind – it will look stunning) and add a cup of sultanas, walnuts or raisins.

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Mix it all up and chuck it into two loaf tins. Bake at 160 for about 45 minutes to an hour. Eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, preferably with butter.

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Stuffed Zucchinis are very good indeed. Slice a marrow lengthways and hollow it out so it looks like a boat (keep the pulp, but not the seeds). Then take about a cup of carbs, like cooked rice, lentils, barley or couscous. Add some flavourings, like sundried tomatoes, cheeses (especially feta), herbs, nuts, half a cup or so of cooked mince, salami or bacon (if that’s your thing), capsicum, cooked onion and bulk it out with the zucchini flesh, then loosely pack into the boat. Stick the whole shebang in a baking tray and add a good slosh of white wine, stock or even water. Cover and bake at about 180 for about 25 minutes, then remove the covering and brown it off. Cheese and parmesan on the top make a crispy crust.

And, finally, the best summer soup recipe EVAH! Especially if you’ve grown it yourself. This soup tastes like it is filled with cream, but has nothing of the sort in it. It comes from my friend Rachel, who has raised her three kids on little more than Centrelink payments and is extraordinarily good at budgeting, as well as cooking. (As she told me,  at this time of year zucchini, tomatoes and even basil are cheap, so you can go to town on this one without going broke).

Rachel’s zucchini, tomato and basil soup (utterly vegan)
olive oil
2 sticks of celery, sliced fine
2 carrots, chopped fine
1 kilo zucchini, sliced
1 kilo tomato, diced
1 litre of water
1 bunch of basil
1 tsp sugar, 1 good pinch of salt

Pour a good whack of olive oil into the bottom of a big saucepan and fry the celery, carrots and onion gently, with the lid on. Then add the zucchini, tomato, and fry gently, again with the lid on. Add 1 litre of water. Cook for about 20 minutes. Add sugar and salt. Turn the heat off, take a bunch of basil and rip all the leaves off it. Cover the soup with the basil leaves. Then you can either get our your food wand and puree the lot, or tip it into a food processor and hit the high notes. Warm it gently again before serving, just to bring out the fragrance in the basil (though you can eat it cold). You will end up with a lovely orangey khaki blend, that tastes like summer. It is especially good for kids, because it’s all vegetable but they don’t suspect a thing. It can be turned into pasta sauce, eaten with rice, served gloopy for a substantial meal or watered down to a more refined soup.

I don’t have a picture, because it’s not always possible to photograph heaven.

19 comments ↓

#1 dylwah on 18.02.09 at 8:31 am

Thanks for the post Dr SO, I’ll try that loaf asap. I made pickle with the first flush of the zucchini glut, then the heatwave wiped almost all my plants out. the plants are just making a come back and as i used my 3a allocation this morn i noticed a new flush of very young fruit, fingers crossed.

Dr SO – ‘Add some flavourings, like sundried tomatoes, cheeses (especially feta)’

Arn’t zucs and feta a great match, have you tried zuc and feta fritters, there is a version in moosewood.

#2 Dr Sister Outlaw on 18.02.09 at 8:39 am

Zucchini and feta fritters … yum …

#3 librarygirl on 18.02.09 at 9:04 am

FINALLY, finally (and miraculously given that we’ve only 2mm rain since Jan 1 and the heatwave) I counted about 15 weeny zucchinis while watering this morning!
So thanks for posting the zuke recipes. Hopefully the pumpkins might be the next thing to take off.

#4 ampersand duck on 19.02.09 at 7:13 am

Nup, not even your marvellous skillz can persuade me of the goodness of zucchini. Blech.

#5 Dr Sister Outlaw on 19.02.09 at 8:29 am

What? So you don’t want a zucchini cake as a present when we arrive next weekend?

#6 Zoe on 19.02.09 at 11:46 am

I didn’t put in any zucchini this year BECAUSE I AM STUPID.

But my favourite ways are an agrodolce with tiny currants, and char grilled with feta, mint and some kind of nutty bits.

Boats and loaves and things are a bit sad to read about when you are too stupid to have planted zucchini. There’s something about the kind of things you cook because they’re abundant, or free, which my subconscious has been writing a post on for a little while now. Will have to buy Choku Bai Jo zucchinis today for loaves. They’re the next best thing, but nothing compares to home grown.

#7 Dr Sister Outlaw on 19.02.09 at 11:55 am

That’s about as absent minded as it’s possible to be … but if the marrows are still abusting when I get in the car in a week I’ll rustle some supplies over the border!

And yes, a cooking abundance post would be good, especially because the bloke is so broke it’s just not funny and one can only eat vegemite toast for so long.

What, for instance, do you do with rain-soaked tomatoes?

#8 FDB on 19.02.09 at 12:01 pm

You mean toms that are all split apart? Get ‘em in afore the ants have their wicked way, for starters.

I love a good stuffed marrow. 2 seasons back we had the same problem you’ve got DSO. Frying the flowers of course is a delicious way to head off excess cropping, but mainly we let them get huge and stuffed them. Some wound up as long as your arm and three times thicker – couldn’t fit a whole one in the oven! As I recall, something in the area of 6kg was the record.

#9 Kirsty on 19.02.09 at 12:53 pm

I would probably make endless pots of tomato sauce with split tomatoes, for pasta and pizza toppings, vegetable and chickpea stews etc.

You make me want a glut of zucchini. One of my favourite zucchini things is a garlicky, olive oily, dip.

#10 dylwah on 19.02.09 at 3:26 pm

Dr SO – What, for instance, do you do with rain-soaked tomatoes?

looks like you need to make tomato and zucchini pickle

#11 Zoe on 19.02.09 at 4:12 pm

I made the Stephanie Alexander baked marrow in yoghurt sauce once and it was poxy as. Only dud I’ve ever made from one of her recipes. No wonder she doesn’t like yoghurt.

#12 lauredhel on 19.02.09 at 4:52 pm

We had a lovely tomato glut this year, with our small patch yielding around 35 kg of tomatoes. Some we ate in salads, some we made relishes and chutneys with, but most we just bagged in recipe-size portions and froze as is.

Dump in the crockpot for bolognese or cacciatore or curry, and away. I’m into low-effort cookery.

#13 Dr Sister Outlaw on 21.02.09 at 8:46 am

A very good tip, and it actually hadn’t occurred to me that you can freeze tomatoes like that but I am a bit slow. My latest kitchen accessory is a small bar freezer, which has made all the difference to my cooking aspirations!

#14 librarygirl on 21.02.09 at 11:54 am

I bought one of those small bar freezers last year and it is filled constantly – plums (stewed) from the plum glut, soup stock, bagels, pesto from the basil glut, muffins for lunchboxes and so on.
Takes up little room next to the washing machine and constantly full!

#15 Cath the Canberra Cook on 21.02.09 at 3:26 pm

Ah, just what I need at the moment. I only have one plant, but it’s quite enough. I’m making a ratatouille and have been wondering about zucchini muffins.

I am also tempted by my fave blog – chocolate & zucchini cake from chocolate & zucchini blog, how could you go wrong? http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2004/04/chocolate_zucchini_cake.php

#16 Mindy on 24.02.09 at 3:50 pm

Don’t worry Duckie, I’m with you. Can’t bear the blighters.

#17 Helen on 26.02.09 at 1:06 pm

But they are so funny, nothing much on the vine then you turn your back for five minutes and BAM! multiple huge phallic symbols everywhere. In these tough times they give you both food and a laugh.

#18 Kirsten on 10.03.09 at 7:00 pm

I am so going to try that zucchini loaf this weekend – does it freeze well? sounds like a good lunch box snack.

And freezing tomatoes as is – why did I never think of that? (Just made a yummy pasta sauce tonight though mostly from tomatoes and zucchinis from the garden, with a few portions left over for my lunches)

#19 ‘Mum, you overgrew them!’: Dr Sister Outlaw’s bountiful home harvest | on 02.08.12 at 9:34 pm

[...] blogged about the advantages of overgrown zucchinis before, but I love baby beets and slender parsnips, roasted with brown sugar and balsamic, so [...]

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