Z is for Zucchini

With each summer comes plenty of zucchini whether it comes from our garden or what we find at the farmer's market. It is abundant. I'm always amazed how much we get out of our plant or two each summer. Normally I fall back on old tried & trues like grilled zucchini & zucchini bread but all this abundance requires some creativity.

Recently I tested out some ideas using just one giant guy we picked up at a farmers market: salty and vinegar chips, "sushi"-style rolls & zucchini pizza crust (what?!?!). Check out my zucchini Pinterest board to see the recipes.

I started with chips as they would take longer to bake. These were pretty straight-forward to make: slice them thinly width-wise then add the olive oil and vinegar. For a little kick, I added some of my homemade cayenne pepper sauce for one of the parts of vinegar. It added a nice little zing. Then baked them on low for about two hours. They came out great! Crispy and zippy.

Next were the "sushi" rolls. I've been hearing and reading a lot lately about squash ribbons and this was a way to try it out. Using a peeler, I thinly cut the zucchini length-wise creating a ribbon of sorts. I had to be careful of making sure they were even. 

The recipe called for mashing up cashews into a paste (I assume to make it vegan). No cashews in the pantry. No cream cheese either. What to do? Here is where I took my own MacGyver spin and used some good ol' French onion dip that we had in the fridge. It wasn't as thick as what the cashews or cream cheese would have been but I got it to work,trying not to lick my fingers during the whole assembly process. 

Now on to the pizza crust. On top of the ribbons, I also heard about cauliflower pizza crust - a low-carb way to enjoy a personal favorite. So when I read about the zucchini version, I thought, why not? Plus this meant I could use up the whole "carcass," if you will, of this versatile veggie.

Again, pretty straight-forward recipe without a lot of intricate steps. The one thing I would recommend is letting the zucchini drain for a sufficient amount of time so that your dough isn't too wet. I did this and I think it really helped.

I had to MacGyver it again on this recipe as it called for "almond meal". Ok, I'll admit, I don't really know what that is exactly, but I'm guessing it just really ground up almonds, right? While we didn't have any cashews, we luckily did have almonds in the pantry this day. So using the handy grinder I proceeded to make my own "meal". If that is not what almond meal is, it turned out just find anyway.

Here is, during the baking step, the only time on this zucchini adventure did it get tricky. I baked them on one side in the cookie sheet. It did seem to take a while but I did do it on the grill so the temperature was a little inconsistent (note to self: self, do this in the oven next time). Then I wanted to put them on the baking stone but I didn't think mine was large enough to fit the both of them so I kept them on the cookie sheet. 

By the end, they came out ok, good flavor and all, but a little flimsy. I think the baking stone would have crisped them up nicely. (another note to self: self, maybe use two baking stones, in the oven, next time).

Regardless how all of these things turned out, it really showed how versatile this vegetable is (hooray for versatility!). I used to stick to some limited versions of preparing it but I'm glad I experimented and found some new ways. Try something new yourself!

Check out my Pinterest board about this versatile veggie.

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