Tag Archives: zucchini

Pickled Parmesan Zucchini Bites

zucchini rounds front

I’ve been having a great time coming up with fun and delicious ways to use up zucchini this summer as I have more than I know what to do with growing in the garden.  Of all the recipes I’ve created/found (Chocolatey Zucchini Banana Brownies, Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini BoatsZucchini & Parmesan Fritters with Lemon Zest) to name a few, THIS one has to be my favourite.

 

A few weeks ago I decided to bread some zucchini and fry it up as an appetizer.  I served it with a simple lemon, dill dip and although it was tasty, I knew I could do better.  I find zucchini, even fried zucchini, quite bland.  I also love fried pickles but sometimes find them to be too ‘pickly/sour’.  SO, I decided to combine the two flavours, add some cheese and lemon and voila!  I came up with fried Pickled Parmesan Zucchini Bites!

These turned out GREAT.  The longer you soak the zucchini in the pickle juice the more intense the pickle flavour becomes.  I recommend a minimum of 4 – 6 hours but you could even let them sit over night.  The zucchini is actually delicious eaten right out of the pickling liquid but once you bread them, fry them and serve them with dip, they are insanely tasty!!  A MUST TRY!

NOTE:  If you have a very large zucchini you may want to scoop out the centre ‘spongy’ part.  In this case, you could cut the zucchini into ‘moon’ or half circle shapes instead…

zucchini wedges

RECIPE (serves 4)

  • 1 medium zucchini (sliced into 1/4″ rounds – around 20 – 25 pieces)
  • pickle juice (enough to completely cover the zucchini)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs (or regular bread crumbs, if you prefer)
  • 2 small eggs – beaten and seasoned with salt
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • vegetable oil – enough for frying (about 1 cup)
  • salt (for sprinkling on zucchini before and after they are fried)
  • pepper

Click link for: Lemon Dill Dip to serve with the zucchini bites!

METHOD

  • Slice zucchini into about 1/4″ rounds and soak for 4 – 8 hours in pickle juice.
  • Remove zucchini from juice and pat dry with paper towel.  Salt BOTH sides of the zucchini generously and sprinkle pepper on one side.

zucchini salt and pepper

  • Arrange 3 large bowls.  Add flour to one, panko and parmesan to another and egg, salt and lemon zest to the third.  Whisk egg and lemon zest together.
  • Dip each zucchini round in flour and tap off any access.
  • Next, dip into egg mixture ensuring each piece is well coated in egg but not dripping.
  • Lastly, add zucchini round one to three at a time to the panko mix and press down on both sides to ensure zucchini is getting as much panko mixture on it as possible.

zucchini panko

  • Repeat this process until all the zucchini is nicely breaded.
  • Heat oil in a large pan until quite hot.  NOTE:  Test heat by dipping a zucchini round in the oil using tongs.  The oil should sizzle and bubble.  If it doesn’t, the oil is not hot enough.  It is CRUCIAL that the oil is hot enough of the zucchini will become soggy instead of nice and crispy.
  • Add zucchini to oil in batches ensuring you are not overcrowding the pan (overcrowding will bring the heat down too much causing the zucchini to become soggy).

zucchini one side uncooked

  • Watch the heat and increase if the zucchini is not browning fast enough (or turn it down if zucchini is browning too fast).
  • Watch closely and check zucchini often to ensure it’s not getting too browned.
  • Once brown and crispy on one side, flip and brown other side.

fried zucchini

  • Remove from heat and place on an even layer on paper towel (to soak up any access oil) and immediately sprinkle with salt.  (NOTE:  do not stack zucchini on top of each other or overlap right away because this will cause the zucchini to go limp).

Transfer to a serving plate and serve with lemon dill dip!

Chocolatey Zucchini Banana Brownies

brownies

The amount of zucchini growing in my garden right now is ridiculous.  Just about every day I go outside to find a new one the size of my arm.  This is awesome except for one problem – I’m the only one in the family who actually likes zucchini on its own and truth be told, it’s far from my favourite vegetable.  Which leaves me asking myself, ‘what the hell am I going to do with all this zucchini?!’

I’ve come up with some very tasty recipes such as zucchini fritters and a great corn, zucchini and feta salad and I’ve started shredding it and adding it into everything from rice, to quinoa to pasta sauces.

Yesterday I had a few very ripe bananas sitting around that were starting to attract fruit flies so I decided to give a zucchini and banana bread a go.  I knew my eldest (who is 7) wouldn’t eat it unless I added chocolate, so that’s what I did.  I was hoping it would turn out good enough that the kids wouldn’t turn their noses up at it.  To my surprise this recipe turned out better than I could have hoped for!

It’s less of a bread texture and more of a dense, rich, chocolatey, satisfying brownie texture!  I made a whole pan yesterday and the kids had eaten the entire thing by today.  My 5-year-old says it’s the best ‘cake’ he’s ever had, which I’m still in shock over.

This brownie/cake is so moist because of the zucchini and the banana chocolate flavour is wonderful.  There’s so many things you could top this with – whipped cream, ice cream, chocolate or vanilla frosting, peanut butter, caramel, melted chocolate…..  you get the idea.  I wanted to keep it healthy so I just topped mine with fresh strawberries.  The kids enjoyed theirs with left-over chocolate frosting.

I made this in a 9 x 9 inch baking dish.  It can easily be cut across one or two times and layered with any of the above mentioned ingredients to make a layered brownie/cake.  I’m thinking for my next one (which I’ll probably make again in a few days!)  I’ll cut this ‘brownie cake’ into 3 and put in a layer of whipped cream, a layer of camel sauce and a topping of chocolate peanut butter frosting.

I love that this is a pretty guilt free recipe because it’s loaded with bananas and zucchini.  A perfect summer dessert!  It’s also great in the morning with a cup of coffee (:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (dark cocoa powder if you want a dark chocolate taste)
  • OPTIONAL:  1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups packed shredded zucchini (no need to drain liquid)
  • 2 medium or 3 small very ripe bananas

METHOD

  • Combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and powder and cinnamon in a bowl.
  • Cream together oil, sugars, vanilla and banana.
  • Add eggs one at a time and mix.
  • STIR in shredded zucchini and pour wet mixture into dry mixture.
  • Fold together until everything is mixed.
  • Pour into a greased 9 x 9 inch baking pan.
  • If adding chocolate chips, sprinkle them evenly on top of mixture (or you could stir them right in!)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pan comes out clean.
  • Let cool and enjoy on its own or with your favourite topping!

Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini Boats

cheesy stuffed zucchini boats

cheesy stuffed zucchini boats

Zucchini has never been one of my favourite vegetables.  It doesn’t have a whole lot of flavour.  However, this can be a good thing because it’s basically a blank slate.  You can do a LOT of things with zucchini (http://www.frugalfreshfood.com/zucchini-parmesan-fritters-with-lemon-zest/) and ‘hide it’ in just about any dish (http://www.frugalfreshfood.com/10-whatever-ways-sneak-vegetables-food/)!

It’s also incredibly good for you.  Zucchini is an outstanding source of manganese and vitamin C and is the best source of dietary fiber that will keep your body in the best shape for the long run. It also contains vitamin A, magnesium, folate, potassium, copper, and phosphorus.  To learn more about all the amazing health benefits of eating zucchini check out the following link: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-zucchini.html

I’ve been trying for a while now to get my kids to eat more zucchini, but it’s been an uphill battle.    I’ve tried serving it raw with dip, sautéed in a stir-fry and diced into quinoa and/or rice.  I’ve even shredded it and tossed it in with pasta.  Although they will eat it all of these ways, I haven’t heard them tell me they actually like it yet.  That was until I served it to them in the form of a cheesy zucchini boat!  This recipe is DELICIOUS, easy to make and a fun way to serve zucchini.

About the recipe:  I used cottage cheese to add protein but ricotta would be wonderful too.  If you want to keep this dish lower in fat and calories, just reduce, or forgo, the mozzarella cheese on top.  I baked these but they could also be cooked right on the barbecue!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1.5 tsp garlic – minced
  • 2 Tbsp shallot – minced (white onion or leek would also work)
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese)1 cup mozzarella cheese (1/2 for mix and 1/2 for topping)
  • 3 Tbsp panko break crumbs (1 Tbsp for mix, 2 Tbsp for topping)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp olive oil (plus more for rubbing on zucchini)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp parsley – chopped
  • OPTION:  2 Tbsp green onion – chopped

METHOD

  • Cut end off zucchini and slice in half length-wise and right down the middle to make 4 equal pieces.
  • Using a vegetable peeler, slice down back of zucchini so that it has a flat surface and won’t roll around.
  • Using a melon baller, scoop out the inside flesh and chop the ‘flesh’ into small pieces.

zucchini scoop

  • Place in a colander/strainer with a bowl underneath and coat generously with salt.
  • Allow to sit for 10 – 15 minutes to draw out the moisture then squeeze out any remaining liquid.

zucchini in strainer

  • Season the zucchini ‘boats’ with salt, pepper and olive oil.
  • Heat oil, garlic and shallot in pan and allow to soften and become translucent.  About 3 or 4 minutes on medium-low heat.  Stir often to ensure garlic does not burn.
  • Scrape garlic/shallot into mixing bowl with the drained zucchini bits and add all other ingredients EXCEPT 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and 2 Tbsp of panko (mix the remaining panko and mozza together and reserve for topping zucchini later).
  • Taste mixture for seasoning and adjust as desired.

zucchini mix in bowl

  • Scoop mixture into seasoned zucchini boats.

zucchini stuffed

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and bake zucchini boats uncovered for 20 minutes (up to 25 minutes if you like the zucchini very soft).
  • Remove from oven and turn oven up to BROIL.
  • Sprinkle remaining cheese and panko onto zucchini boats and place under broiler for 3 – 5 minutes or until the top is browning and crispy.

Suggestion:  Serve as a vegetarian dish with rice or quinoa or serve with your favourite meat (I really like these with steak or pork!

zucchini - at dinner

zucchini boat with bowtie pasta and steak

 

Broccoli and Lemon Salad with Feta

broccoli & lemon salad with feta

broccoli & lemon salad with feta

When I was working at an Italian Deli a few years back they made the most delicious sandwiches and salads.  I loved working there simply because I could pick any combination I wanted for my staff meal every day!  What I loved most about these sandwiches and salads was their simplicity.  It was all about quality ingredients and perfect flavour combinations.  One of the healthiest ones, and one I never seemed to get tired of eating, was a broccoli salad.  I have modified this salad significantly to incorporate more veggies (I LOVE colourful salads!).  I have also added nuts and cranberries to my recipe because I love the sweet, chewy addition the cranberries offer and the crunch of the nuts.  I love this salad and the best part is, it’s SO healthy and with all the fibre from the broccoli and healthy fats from the nuts and olive oil, it fills me up for hours!  (I always make this in huge batches and eat it for 3 days straight in between meals to keep me full.  If I want it for an entree I’ll add some grilled chicken or canned tuna on top).

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 – or 2 very large salads)

  • 4 cups broccoli – cut into bite size florets/pieces
  • 1 cup zucchini – shredded (using cheese grater) – before squeezing out liquid
  • 3/4 cup bell peppers (red, orange, yellow – or a combination of all three) – diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion – diced
  • 1/4 cup green onion – chopped
  • 2 – 3 tsp lemon juice + 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (more if you want more heat)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese – crumbled
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil (I use one to keep it really light)
  • 1/2 cup almonds – chopped (to garnish salad with)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp salt (start with half a teaspoon and add as desired)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

METHOD

  • Shred the zucchini on a cheese grater and put in a strainer on top of a bowl.  Add about a 1/2 tsp of salt to the zucchini and mix.  Let stand for about 15 – 20 minutes.  (The salt will draw a lot of water out of the zucchini).
shredded zucchini with salt in strainer

shredded zucchini with salt in strainer

  • Using your hands squeeze as much excess liquid out as possible.  (I keep this liquid to cook quinoa or rice with!)
1/3 cup zucchini liquid (saving for another use)

1/3 cup zucchini liquid (saving for another use)

  • While the zucchini is drawing out moisture, bring a pot of about 2 cups of water (just enough to make steam) fitted with a strainer, to a boil.  Add the broccoli florets, cover with a lid, and steam for NO MORE THAN ONE MINUTE.  SET THE TIMER FOR ONE MINUTE.  You still want a crunch to the broccoli.  If you overcook it, you ruin the whole salad.
  • Immediately plunge into an ice bath (ensure you get this ready ahead of time if using!!!), or just run under cold water, mixing around with your hands, until broccoli is completely cooled to ensure it doesn’t keep cooking.  Put the broccoli on a dish towel (or a few pieces of paper towel) to absorb any extra liquid (broccoli can be quite watery and you don’t want that water in your salad).
steamed broccoli florets in bowl

steamed broccoli florets in bowl

  • Mix broccoli with drained zucchini, diced bell peppers, onion, lemon juice & zest, cranberries, oil, salt and pepper.  Check seasoning and adjust as desired.  NOTE:  ensure you don’t add too much salt here because you still need to add the feta and that is quite salty as well.
veggies in mixing bowl

veggies in mixing bowl

  • Add feta cheese, mix gently one more time.  Put in serving bowl(s) and top with chopped nuts
broccoli salad ready for serving

broccoli salad ready for serving

Zucchini & Parmesan Fritters with Lemon Zest

7

It’s finally happening.  A few of my vegetables from my garden are ready to be picked!  Yesterday I picked my first zucchini.  (This is my first year vegetable gardening so everything seems really exciting!  haha).  My kids aren’t huge zucchini fans, and to be honest, it’s not my favourite vegetable either.  Don’t get me wrong, I like zucchini.  But I could certainly live without it.  I find it a little boring.  So I decided to come up with a fun recipe that the whole family will really enjoy!  My kids will eat just about anything if it comes with a dip (:

This would also be a great recipe to serve as an appetizer if you’re having guests over.  Tonight I will be serving my zucchini and parmesan fritters with a garlic, dill and lemon yogurt dip.

INGREDIENTS (makes 8 large fritters or 16 small ones)

  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (I use a cheese grater)
  • 1.5 Tbsp diced shallot
  • 1/2 tsp diced garlic
  • 1/4 cup green onion
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup – 1 cup flour + more for sprinkling while forming fritters
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable/canola oil (for frying)

METHOD

1 6.02.45 PM

 

Shred zucchini on cheese grater and place in colander.  Sprinkle with about a 1/2 tsp of salt to draw out excess liquid.  Let sit for about 30 minutes.

2 5.52.28 PM

Meanwhile, dice shallot, garlic, parsley and green onion.  Shred parmesan (if using a brick of cheese) and zest lemon.  Get flour and egg ready.  After half an hour or so, take zucchini in small batches and SQUEEZE out as much excess liquid as possible.  This is important because you don’t want watery fritters that require using lots of flour.  NOTE:  You should get nearly a full cup of liquid!  Save this liquid to cook rice, quinoa or other grains in for added nutrition!

3 5.53.04 PM

After I’ve squeezed the zucchini by hand, I wrap it all in paper towl to soak up the last bits of liquid.  Now mix all the ingredients together except the flour and egg.  If you’re making these within a few hours, go ahead and add the egg and flour as well.  If not, leave the egg and flour out until just before you plan on frying them so they don’t get ‘gummy’.

4 6.02.45 PM

Put flour on your hands so the mixture doesn’t stick to them and add flour to the fritters while you’re forming them, as needed.  Just enough so they don’t stick.  Place the fritters on parchment/wax paper until you’re ready to fry them.

5 6.02.45 PM

Add oil to pan and heat on medium high until the oil is hot enough that when you place the fritter in the pan it should make a sizzling sound and bubble.  You want the pan quite hot or the fritters will stick to the bottom and will get soggy instead of crispy.  NOTE: Always put the fritters in the pan so they drop facing away from you to avoid getting hot oil splattered on you.  DO NOT overcrowd the pan or the temperature of the oil will drop and the fritters won’t get crispy.  They’ll just be soggy.  Watch the fritters constantly to ensure they don’t burn.  Look underneath every minute with tongs to ensure they aren’t getting too dark.  If they are, reduce heat and flip.

6

When they are golden brown on one side (2.5 – 3 minutes) flip them and continue cooking.  Reduce heat slightly (between 6 and 8)  if needed.  Remove from pan and place on paper towel to soak up any excess oil.  Sprinkle with salt and transfer to plate.  Serve with your favourite dip!

 

MONEY SAVING TIP:  You’ll probably have some left over oil.  DON’T THROW IT OUT!  Once oil has cooled, strain it and save it in a jar (I use saved pickle jars for this!).  Store in a dark, cool place and then you can reuse it for frying again and again (: