Those of you with gardens realize that the fruits of your spring and summer labors are now making their debut. In our backyard, one of the first to arrive on the scene was zucchini. Zucchini is arguably the most versatile resident in your garden. It can be used as an appetizer, in a soup or salad, as an entrée, side dish and even in a few different desserts.
The zucchini has a delicate flavor requiring little more than quick cooking, with its skin left in place, in butter or olive oil. Alternatively, zucchini can also be eaten raw, sliced or shredded in a cold salad, baked into muffins or breads, or lightly cooked in hot salads and stir fry dishes.
Whether you purchase or pick it, it should be firm, slender and bright green in color. Zucchini should be stored no longer than three days.It is prone to chilling damage so refrain from refrigerated storage where possible.
However, zucchini is also a vegetable which freezes well. Depending on how you will use it, there are a couple of options. For use in soups or salads, slice and blanch in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Drain and freeze in an airtight container or resealable plastic storage bag. Shredded zucchini, which is ideal for baking, can also be stored similarly and defrosted as needed.
This week a couple of unusual options are featured. The first is a seafood entrée which grills beautifully. The second is a zucchini cupcake with chocolate frosting – it never hurts to sneak an extra vegetable in here and there, right?
August has arrived; time to enjoy the harvest!
Zucchini-Wrapped Sea Scallops
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Montreal seasoning
- 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1-1/2 pounds sea scallops (about 16)
- 2 medium zucchini
- In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, oil, seasoning, orange peel and red pepper flakes; set aside 1 tablespoon for basting. Pour the remaining marinade into a large resealable plastic bag; add the scallops. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Using a vegetable peeler or metal cheese slicer, cut zucchini into very thin lengthwise strips. Drain and discard marinade. Wrap a zucchini strip around each scallop. Secure by threading where the zucchini ends overlap onto metal or soaked wooden skewers.
- Grill seafood, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 inches from the heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until scallops are opaque, brushing once with reserved marinade.
Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes
- 1-1/4 cups butter, softened
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup baking cocoa
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup grated zucchini
- 1 cup grated carrots
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with yogurt, beating well after each addition. Fold in zucchini and carrots.
- Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Frost cupcakes. Yields 21 cupcakes.
- 1/4 cup margarine, melted
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
In a large bowl, beat margarine and cocoa together until combined. Add milk and vanilla; beat until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Adjust with more milk or confectioners' sugar if necessary.