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A&E >  Food

Good gourd - it’s zucchini time

By Cindy Hval For The Spokesman-Review

Shortly before we left for vacation at the end of July, I pointed to several 6- to 7-inch zucchini in our garden.

“Do you think I should pick those?” I asked my husband, Derek.

He peeked under a broad leaf.

“Nah, too small,” he said.

When we returned a week later the squash had doubled in size and multiplied the way zucchini does the minute you turn your back on them.

I hauled the harvest to our kitchen and Derek sighed and began grating the extra-large gourds into my biggest mixing bowl.

He’s rethinking his “too small” comment. In fact, you might say he’s eating his words.

Some of the shredded morsels went into my favorite late-summer appetizer–Zucchini Tots. These savory gems studded with diced onion and shredded Parmesan are incredibly addictive, so I always make a double batch.

You might not think soup sounds good in early September when evenings are usually warm, but Zucchini Garden Chowder with its creamy, cheesy base tastes wonderful any time.

I baked a fair amount of the grated zucchini into four loaves of Pumpkin Zucchini Bread. The moist bread topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting is a perfect preview for pumpkin-spice-everything season and is a big hit with our sons.

As I took a batch of tots out of the oven, Derek walked by and snatched one.

He blew on it and quickly popped it into his mouth.

“Mmm,” he said. “If I have to eat my words, at least they taste delicious!”

Zucchini Tots

1 cup zucchini, grated and squeezed dry

1 egg

¼ cup onion, diced

¼ cup shredded Parmesan

¼ cup Italian style breadcrumbs

¼ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine ingredients in bowl.

Spoon mixture into greased mini muffin tin or onto greased bake sheet, forming them into a tot shape.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until browned.

Zucchini Garden Chowder

2 medium zucchini, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon dried basil

⅓ cup butter

⅓ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

3 cups water

3 cubes chicken bouillon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 (14 ½-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Pinch sugar, optional

Additional chopped parsley, optional

In a Dutch oven or soup kettle over medium heat, sauté the zucchini, onion, parsley, and basil in butter until the vegetables are tender. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Gradually stir in water. Add the bouillon and lemon juice; mix well. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, milk and corn; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until corn is tender. Just before serving, stir in cheeses until melted. Add sugar and garnish with parsley if desired.

Yield: 8-10 servings (about 2 ½ quarts).

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Bread:

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

⅔ cup canola oil

4 large eggs

2 ½ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground ginger

¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 (15 ounce) can pure pumpkin

2 cups shredded zucchini

Frosting:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2-4 teaspoons milk

Preheat oven to 350. Spray two 9-inch loaf pans with baking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, oil and eggs until blended. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and pumpkin. Mix just until blended. Fold in zucchini.

Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick poked in center of bread comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes in pans. Remove and cool completely on wire rack.

For the frosting, beat the cream cheese with powdered sugar cinnamon and milk. Add more/less milk for desired consistency. Spread over cooled bread.

Contact Cindy Hval at dchval@juno.com

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