CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- While some of us are packing away bathing suits and preparing for a new school season, neighborhood gardens and farm stands are still in full summer swing. They are loaded with fresh produce and there are infinite delicious ways to enjoy the harvest.
Zucchini is one of the prominent summer staples that could lose its appeal if not for the countless cooking methods that highlight its versatility.
A personal favorite is zucchini ribbons. You simply scrub the zucchini, trim the ends off, and use your vegetable peeler to turn it into a pile of paper-thin strips.
Quick-sauté the strips in fragrant olive oil, season with fresh garlic, herbs and a squeeze of lemon. You instantly have a flavorful side dish. A sandwich topping. A quesadilla filling. You get the idea.
Zucchini bites are another tasty treasure. Grate the squash with some onion and add fresh breadcrumbs, a beaten egg, a little cheese and some fresh herbs. Bake the mixture in mini muffin cups. These little jewels can be served as an appetizer, alongside a green salad, or even popped into a lunchbox.
Better yet, bake a large batch, then cool and freeze any leftovers. Later, when the garden zucchini is a distant memory, you'll have a satisfying summery snack at your fingertips.
Have you acquired a zucchini the size of a baseball bat? Home run!
Thinly slice it lengthwise until you get to the seeds. Layer the seedless slices with sauce and cheeses, making a wheat-free lasagna.
Zucchini recipes are practically endless. Branch out and try something new and you will renew your appreciation for its abundance. In the process, you'll get happy smiles from the hungry ones around your table.
Makes 2 dozen.
2 cups grated zucchini (from 1 medium-large zucchini)
1/2 yellow onion, grated on the holes of a box grater
1/2 cup grated cheese (sharp cheddar, Swiss or Jack)
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (see note), preferably whole wheat
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and ground pepper
HEAT oven to 400°. Butter or spray 2 mini muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray.
BEAT lightly in a large bowl the eggs with a whisk. Add the remaining ingredients and gently fold the mixture together using a rubber spatula.
FILL each muffin cup to the top, using a melon scoop or teaspoon, using about a heaping tablespoon per muffin cup.