Zucchini are at their best right now. This versatile and prolific vegetable is a boom and bust vegetable. Prices have dropped and those of you growing it at home are likely to be searching for new ways to use zucchini.
I’ve been exploring ways to embrace the zucchini glut – and in particular how to use the giant zucchinis that appear out of nowhere after turning your head for a moment. While travelling, we returned to my mother-in-laws garden to discover nine huge zucchinis, each bigger than my forearm. Some see these giants as a failure destined for the compost – but I saw them as an opportunity to try a few new zucchini recipes.
Zucchini pickles are my favourite zucchini recipe for the season (recipe below). They are an easy and delicious way to use and preserve giant zucchini. Their texture and taste is similar to bread and butter cucumber pickles.
Next on my list of favourite zucchini recipes is zucchini spaghetti. I've been admiring the thin twirls of raw zucchini produced by Spiralisers and Spiroolis, fancy kitchen tools that turn vegetables into a raw healthy pasta alternative. But the last thing I want is another single use kitchen gadget, so I was pleased when I discovered that you can make long thin noodles of zucchini using the humble box grater.
The trick is to put the grater on its side (with the thickest grater face up) and move the zucchini along it in long strokes in one direction. The resultant thin strips of zucchini can be eaten raw, the same way you would eat pasta.
I’ve been enjoying zucchini spaghetti with pesto and also with bolognaise sauce.
If the zucchini season continues much longer, I might even consider instigating an Australian version of National Zucchini Day which is celebrated in the US each summer and otherwise known as "Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbours’ Porch Day."
Originally published in my Newcastle Herald column 'Less is More' 25th January 2014.
Zucchini Bread and Butter Pickles
I love Bread and Butter Pickles. I seem to have more luck growing zucchini than I do cucumber, so I was thrilled to discover you can make Bread and Butter Pickles from zucchini.
This recipe is particularly good for using giant zucchini that may otherwise end up in the compost.
1 kg zucchini, ends trimmed.
2 brown onions, halved, thinly sliced
3 tbs salt
2 L cold water
1 L apple cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
1 tbs mustard seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
Use a vegetable peeler to cut zucchini length-ways into thin ribbons. If you are using a large zucchini, don't use the middle seedy soft bit. Place in a large bowl with the onion and sprinkle with salt. Stir in the water. Cover and set aside for an hour or so to soften.
Meanwhile...wash and sterilise your jars. I use 5 x 500ml jars. To sterilise, boil clean jars in a big pot on the stove for 10 minutes, or wash in the dishwasher on the hottest cycle, or place in an oven at 120 degrees C for at least 20 minutes.
Tip the zucchini mix into a colander or large sieve, drain and discard the water. Rinse under cold water, drain and press out as much liquid as you can.
Combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds and turmeric in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes.
Spoon the zucchini mix into the jars. Cover the zucchini with the vinegar mixture and seal immediately.
Cool to room temperature then store in the fridge for up to 2 months.
What is your favourite zucchini recipe?