CSA Week Seven : Zucchini Part One

a04121154Ah….zucchini.  The one vegetable there never seems to be too little of.  You have heard the zucchini stories.  The one where you open your front door and someone has left them on your steps or you come out of church and someone has put some in your car.  Zucchini is summer’s kale.  It is here and will be for a while.  But before you start imagining all those loaves of zucchini bread and all that grated zucchini stuffed in your freezer, let’s learn a bit about it.

Zucchini is a member of the cucumber and melon family. Inhabitants of Central and South America have been eating zucchini for several thousand years, but the zucchini we know today is a variety of summer squash developed in Italy and brought here to the Americas.

Here are some fun facts about zucchini:

  • The word zucchini comes from the Italian zucchino,meaning a small squash.
  • In Europe you will know them by their French name “courgettes”.
  • One zucchini are a “zucchina”, not that you’ll often find just one.
  • A zucchina has more potassium than a banana.
  • April 25th is National Zucchini Bread Day.
  • The most flavorful zucchini are the smallest ones and the darker the skin the more nutrients they contain.
  • Zucchini and summer squash blossoms are edible and delicious stuffed.
  • The largest zucchini weighed 65 pounds and was 7 feet 10 inches long.
  • Zucchini is fat-free, cholesterol free, low in sodium, rich in manganese and vitamin C, 95% water and only 25 calories.

So now that you know a little more about this plentiful summer veg, what to do with it?  I’ll post more zucchini recipes as we go along, but here are a few to get you started.

Summer Bread Salad With Zucchini, Tomatoes and Feta Cheese

1 1/2–2 cups chopped zucchini
1–1 1/5 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped sweet or green onion
1/4 cup chopped black or green olives
1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
5-6 cups firm-textured bread cubes (sourdough, pita, etc) dried or toasted

Toss all ingredients except bread in a large bowl.
Let stand at room temperature for flavor to develop, tossing occasionally 1/2 to 1 hour.
Toss in bread, just before serving.

Zucchini Bread
{makes 2 loaves}

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powderzucchini-bread-1_custom-ade3d390893cee4381673e3b16558f84c52049ea-s3-c85
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 1/4 cups coarsely grated, unpeeled zucchini
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts or pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 1/2-inch loaf pans.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into a bowl, and set aside.
Combine the zucchini, sugar, eggs, oil and orange zest in a large bowl, and mix by hand until evenly blended.
Add the sifted dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture.
Stir by hand just until the batter is evenly moistened and blended.
Fold in the nuts.
Divide the batter between the prepared loaf pans.
Bake until the edges are browned and starting to pull away from the pan, and the bread springs back when lightly pressed with your fingertip, about 55 minutes.
Remove the loaves from the pans and let cool on wire racks before serving.

MORE ZUCCHINI RECIPES:  Zucchini Parmesan Biscuits, Baked Zucchini Fries, Balsamic Grilled Zucchini, Spiced Turkey and Zucchini Burger, Stuffed Zucchini, Garlic Lemon Parmesan Roasted Zucchini, Zucchini Tots, Eggplant and Zucchini Gratin, Cream of Zucchini Soup, Grilled Zucchini Roll