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Written by Rhonda S., Sprout Volunteer

One of the greatest things about summer is the availability of fresh vegetables. Whether grown in the backyard or sold at a farmer’s market – the flavor can’t be beat.

When it comes to zucchini, everyone has a story: about the plant that took over the garden…a local restaurant that has the best breaded zucchini sticks…or the giant zucchini that fed the family for days.

Fortunately, zucchini can be used in a variety of delicious dishes – raw or cooked – because their simple, fresh flavor adapts to any ingredient combination. Although they can be hefty and large (that weight is 95% water), it’s always a good idea to salt and “sweat” sliced zucchini to drain any excess water before cooking.

Small, baby zucchini (6-8 inches) actually have the sweetest taste and should be harvested as soon as the blossom drops off.


 

CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini, drained well
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Frosting:

  • ½ cup margarine
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 6 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and oil. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture alternately with milk. Stir in zucchini and vanilla.
  2. Pour batter into a greased 15x10x1-inch baking sheet. Bake in 375 degree oven for 25 minutes or until toothpick stuck in center of cake comes out clean.
  3. While cake is baking, combine all frosting ingredients. Mix until smooth. Spread frosting over cake while hot. Set pan aside on wire rack to cool.

 

CRISPY ZUCCHINI SPEARS

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium zucchini
  • Sprinkling of salt
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ cup Parmesan chese
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Grease a 9X13-inch baking pan. Cut off ends of zucchini and slice in quarters or eighths lengthwise. Lightly salt spears and set aside to sweat moisture; drain and pat dry.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in one shallow dish and combine egg and milk in another shallow dish. Roll each zucchini spear in cornmeal mixture, then egg mixture, and back in cornmeal mixture. Arrange in baking pan and drizzle with melted butter.
  3. Bake in 450 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

 

QUICK SKILLET ZUCCHINI

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon margarine or butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 4 small zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions:

In a large nonstick skillet, melt margarine over medium heat; add onions and cook, stirring until softened. Add zucchini and pepper and for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 3-5 minutes or until zucchini and peppers are tender-crisp. Season to taste. Makes 4-6 servings.