Zucchini: Is There Anything It Can’t Do? (Zuke Salad and Zuke Cake)

And, by the way, how do you spell it? I think this is the accepted form.  Tomorrow is the first day of summer, and if you’re a gardener — or the friend of one– it’s not to early to start planning for National “Leave a Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch” Week.  I’ve actually never grown zucchini, because I have so many generous friends who do.  This vegetable is good for everything from soup to dessert.  If you have a particularly large one, you can stuff it with a ground meat seasoned with cumin, oregano, garlic and mint (some chopped tomatoes, if you like) for a Mediterranean-style entree.  Here are two recipes that I think are excellent examples of zuke versatility. If you have a copy of Jane Brody’s Good Food Book (and I hope that you do!) check out her recipe for Zucchini Fritatta.

ZUKE SALAD

I’m not sure of the origin of this recipe; I may have gotten from a fellow teacher in Kansas City who probably brought it to some luncheon, as my copy is scribbled on the back of a blank test form.  When I pulled this scrap out of my bag  home the other day and prepared it, I had forgotten how delicious it is!  It is reminiscent of home-made pickles.

Mix together:

  • 3/4 cup sugar (I used about 1/2)
  • salt and pepper – you decide
  • 2/3 cup vinegar ( I used a combination of balsamic vinegar and apple cider; red wine vinegar would also be good.)

Add:

  • 5 cups of thinly sliced zucchini
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced

Mix it all up and refrigerate.  It keeps very well and gets better every day (just like you!).

ZUCCHINI CAKE

Grease and flour a Bundt cake pan.  Preheat the oven to 375.

Mix in a large bowl:

  • 3 cups peeled and grated zucchini
  • 3 cups sugar (you could probably get by with 2 cups)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine and add:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Add:

  • 1 cup nuts, optional
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, also optional
  • 1/2 cup cocoa, also optional

Pour into the pan and bake for 40 – 45 minutes.  It’s good with cream cheese frosting, but isn’t everything? You can see that this can be made to be a chocolate cake or not.  1 teaspoon cinnamon can also be added.

I have to be honest:  I don’t think you need that much oil.  I think you could leave out 1/2 cup, but it’s been a while since I’ve made this.  Tell you what:  I’ll make it up next week and let you know.

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