What can I say, you know what’s coming, it’s that time of year. Yes folks, zucchinis are a ripenin’ and the neighbors are in hiding.
I did have one little surprise this year. I decided to try planting just one zucchini in hopes of not being awash in prolific squash, and opted for one lemon cucumber as well.
The zucchini and cucumber plants looked very much alike. They were identical in size, and I planted them about 10 inches apart.
However, after just one night the cucumber had been eaten to the ground, but my zucchini remained untouched.
I replanted the cuke but by the next morning it, too, was eaten into oblivion. After another attempt and subsequent loss I realized that an as-yet unidentified feasting critter was ignoring the zuke and devouring the cuke.
After covering the fourth lemon cucumber with netting, I’m happy to report it’s doing just fine. I have thwarted my midnight muncher and am amazed to learn something had a taste for cucumbers — but not zucchini. Who knew?
With zucchini in mind it’s time to drag out a few trusted recipes I recommend without reservation.
Years ago, the beloved Danish Inn served one of my all-time favorite restaurant meals. While likely to not be politically correct in the 21st century, I loved their take on veal picatta. It was served with fettichini Alfredo and French-fried zucchini rounds. Delicious. To this day I miss the DI and I am still saddened by its demise.
The following is as close as I’ve been able to come to their take on fried zucchini. It’s good, but not the one of my dreams.
You can cut the zucchini into rounds or fingers for the following, and ranch dressing makes a great a dipping sauce.
1 large zucchini
1/2 c. milk
Wash and slice squash into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices or strips. Beat egg with milk and salt. Dip slices into milk mixture, roll in bread crumbs and fry in oil until browned and tender.
Do cucumbers repeat on you? If so, try these zukes masquerading as cukes.
Mock Cucumber Salad
2 or 3 small zucchinis, sliced thin
3 or 4 thin slices of onion
1/2 c. plain yogurt
2 Tbsp. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix
1 tsp. dried dill weed
Salt to taste
Soak sliced zucchini in vinegar to cover for one hour. Drain well and rinse. Mix rest of ingredients, pour over zucchini slices and chill until ready to serve.
One problem with these prolific squashes is what to do with the giants. If you haven’t tried zucchini bread, here's a terrific one with a couple of variations.
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3 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. butter or margarine, melted
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
3 c. grated raw zucchini
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
Mix all ingredients together, folding in nuts at the end. Bake in two greased and floured loaf pans at 325 degrees for 60-75 minutes.
Variations: (1) Add three teaspoons ground cinnamon. (2) Add two squares of baking chocolate either melted or, for a slightly different effect, finely grated, ground or chopped.
By the way. If you have a trick or two up your sleeve for a tasty zucchini dish, please send it to me. I’d love to have something new to share. My email address is below. I can always use a good recipe or two. Helpful hints, questions or comments — nice ones, I hope — would be welcome, too.
Santa Ynez Valley resident Elaine Revelle can be reached at [email protected]