Call on versatile zucchini for dessert, appetizers

KEARNEYSVILLE – Whether you get your zucchini from your own garden, from a friend with a bountiful crop or a grocery store or farm market, there’s no shortage of ways to use this vegetable.

Zucchini bread is one popular choice. This easy recipe only takes around 15 minutes prep time and a total time of 40 minutes.

Zucchini, a member of the gourd family and native to Central America and Mexico, turn up in recipes for a sweet bread, appetizers and a main course, too.

Zucchini Bread

Take three cups of thinly sliced unpeeled zucchini (2 to 3 medium zucchini); 1½ cups sugar; 2/3 cup vegetable oil; 2 teaspoons vanilla; 4 eggs; 3 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour; 2 teaspoons baking soda; 1 teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; ½ teaspoon ground cloves; ½ teaspoon baking powder; ½ cup coarsely chopped nuts and ½ cup raisins.

Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat to oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottoms of two 8×4-inch loaf pans or one 9×5-inch loaf pan with shortening or cooking spray.

In large bowl, stir zucchini, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs until well mixed. Stir in remaining ingredients, adding the nuts and raisins last.

Divide batter evenly between the 8-inch pans or pour into 9-inch pan. Bake your 8-inch loaves for 50 to 60 minutes and your 9-inch loaf for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a cooling rack 10 minutes, then use a knife to loosen the sides of loaves from the pans; remove from pans and place top side up on cooling rack. Cool completely, about two hours, before slicing.

Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to four days or refrigerate for up to 10 days.

You’ll love this tasty appetizer using zucchini.

 

Zucchini Bites

Take 3 cups thinly sliced unpeeled zucchini (4 small zucchinis); 1 cup Bisquick mix; ½ cup finely chopped onion; ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese; 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley; ½ teaspoon salt; ½ teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano leaves; 1/8 teaspoon pepper; 1 garlic clove, finely chopped; ½ cup vegetable oil and 4 eggs, slightly beaten.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches. Stir together all ingredients. Spread in pan. Bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into 2-inch squares, cut squares diagonally in half in triangles. Makes 4 dozen appetizers.

How about a main dish next? Brown rice and vegetables come together in just 20 minutes. The zucchini takes the place of meat in this hearty, saucy, one-dish dinner.

 

Zucchini and Tomato Skillet Dinner

You値l need 1 teaspoon olive or vegetable oil; 1/3 cup chopped onion; 1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in half, then cut crosswise into slices (2 cups); 1 15-ounce can ready-to-serve creamy tomato soup with 30 percent less sodium; ½ cup water; 1 teaspoon red pepper sauce; 1 cup uncooked instant brown rice; 1 medium tomato, chopped (3/4 cup) and 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.

In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion in oil, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in zucchini and cook 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender. Remove from heat.

Carefully stir in soup, water, pepper sauce and rice. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 13 to 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in chopped tomato. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and cook about two minutes or until cheese is melted.

Baked Zucchini Fries

You can munch on regular fries or the version made with sweet potato, but for a tasty change, make these crunchy baked zucchini fries. They池e a healthy, delicious way to use up those leftover zucchini from the garden.

Start with 2 large zucchini (about 8 inches long); 1 teaspoon salt; ½ cup all-purpose flour; 2 eggs, beaten; and 1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs.

Cut off ends of zucchini. Cut each one in half crosswise; cut each half into eight, three-inch spears. Place spears in colander over bowl; sprinkle with salt. Cover: let stand at room temperature for four hours.

Rinse, then pat completely dry with paper towels, set aside. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper; spray paper with olive oil cooking spray.

Take three shallow bowls for the flour, beaten eggs and bread crumbs. Coat each zucchini spear with flour; dip into eggs and coat with bread crumbs. Place on cookie sheet and bake 15 to 20 minutes, turning spears over halfway through baking time, until golden brown. Serve warm.

For extra flavor, you can mix a half-cup of grated Parmesan cheese in with the bread crumbs. Another delicious option: serve your fries with your favorite marinara sauce or a cool ranch dressing dip.

Send Patt Welsh feedback on this column or your ideas for future columns by writing to her at pwelsh@shepherd.edu or mailing your thoughts to the Spirit of Jefferson, 210 N. George St., Charles Town WV 25414.

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