Batting .500 with new zucchini dishes

Published 7:06 pm Saturday, August 19, 2017

By Sarah Condley

On a recent Friday, one of our sweet county homemakers, Marian Sublette, was in our office and gave me a large zucchini. I told her I’d never done anything with a zucchini and she suggested zucchini bread.

Since zucchini bread is so popular, I decided I’d try to come up with something different.

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During my lunch hour, I searched the internet for something else to make with it.

I found a couple of recipes on that looked good. The first one I found was zucchini pie. I know the name doesn’t sound the best, but all of the reviews said it tasted just like apple pie, and who doesn’t love apple pie. A photo of light zucchini casserole looked pretty good and it didn’t require any out of the ordinary ingredients.

On Saturday at the Farmer’s Market, I ran into our county family and consumer sciences agent Jennifer Howard and mentioned what I was planning. She said she  has a good zucchini bread recipe if I changed my mind. My friend Dee had mentioned she had a good one too. I think everybody but me must have a good zucchini bread recipe.

Before I headed home, I asked Jennifer what I had to do to the zucchini to use it. She said to use a vegetable peeler to get the skin off, cut it in half and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Then just do whatever the recipe says to do: slice, shred, chop, etc.

A couple of days later I was ready to tackle the zucchini. Since desserts are my favorite thing, I opted to try making the zucchini pie first. Just like Jennifer said, the peel came off very easily with the vegetable peeler. I sliced it in half length wise, scooped out the seeds and set it aside while I made the pie crust.

Once the crusts were made, I was ready to start making the zucchini pie filling. To get thin slices of zucchini, I used my mandolin. Once I had 4 cups, I poured them into a large bowl and added the lemon juice. I combined all of the dry ingredients and poured them over the zucchini, stirring to coat all of it.

When I was satisfied all of the zucchini was covered with the dry ingredients, I poured the mixture into the pie crust, topped it with a few slices of butter, then covered it with the top crust. I brushed the top crust with a little bit of milk, sprinkled a little sugar on top and cut some slits in the top to vent.

Into the oven the pie went. I set the timer, then looked at the leftover zucchini. I still had quite a bit after making the pie.

I wasn’t in the mood to make another dish. After reading the casserole recipe, I shredded the rest of the zucchini and put it in the refrigerator for another day.

When the oven timer sounded, the pie came out of the oven. It smelled delicious, just like apple pie. I let it cool a little and then we did a taste test.

Lo and behold, it did taste like apple pie, but I wasn’t crazy about the size of the zucchini pieces; they were too big and were hard to cut with my spoon while I was eating it. Brad said he didn’t think the pie was as sweet as an apple pie. We’d had homemade apple pie a few days before (last week’s recipe).

Of course, we shared this pie with our neighbors and they all liked it. I’ll have to say I nailed this one and I will hang on to the recipe just in case I end up with more zucchini in the future, but I’ll make a note to use bite-size slices of zucchini.

The next evening I thought the light zucchini casserole would be a perfect addition to our evening meal of chicken.

The recipe was quick to throw together, especially since the zucchini was already shredded. I greased a pie plate, poured the mixture into it and then put it in the oven to bake. After an hour of baking I took it out of the oven because we were almost ready to eat.

It looked and smelled good. I cut one slice out of the casserole and noticed that it seemed goopy. We both took a small taste and thought it wasn’t bad, but needed to cook longer.

I put it back in the oven and put aluminum foil over the top so it wouldn’t get too brown. It stayed in the oven while we ate and while I cleaned up the kitchen. The whole time I kept checking on it, but it still seemed goopy, so I just let it keep cooking. Actually it stayed in the oven so long that I forgot about it and it burned.

After the kitchen was cleaned up, I went out to work in the yard. When I came in the house I smelled it … not a burnt smell, just a something cooking smell. I headed to the oven and took it out. There was no smoke or anything, but it was burnt.

When I cut into it, even though the top and bottom were burnt, the inside was still goopy. Needless to say, this recipe was a big flop and it went straight into the trash.

As a consolation prize, I warmed up a piece of leftover zucchini pie,  added a scoop of ice cream and my failure was history.

Light zucchini casserole

1 pound zucchini, shredded

1 small onion, grated

1/3 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 cup biscuit baking mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch pie pan.

In a medium bowl combine zucchini, onion, buttermilk, oil, cheese and biscuit mix. Mix well and pour into prepared pie pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until lightly browned.

Zucchini pie

2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

4 cups zucchini, thinly sliced

3/4 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons tapioca

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons butter

1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9 inch pie pan with one pastry pie crust.

In a large bowl, stir together sugar, tapioca, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cornstarch. Add zucchini and lemon juice and blend well. Put mixture into pie crust. Dot with butter. Place second crust over pie crimping the edges together. Then brush top crust with milk and sprinkle with a little sugar if desired.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 50 minutes.

Sarah Condley is an amateur baker and chef who is compiling a cookbook of her favorite recipes.