Using Frozen Zucchini

After a long winter, I sometimes get a little carried away planning the summer vegetable garden. The thought of planting something that will produce more fresh produce than I can handle becomes intriguing instead of irritating, and I mistakenly assume that this year I will eat a lot of zucchini. Right.

After a plentiful harvest over the summer, I suddenly realized that I had at least 60 cups of chopped zucchini in the freezer. If you find yourself in the same situation, here are some ideas for using finely chopped or grated zucchini. 

Pizza: Stir lightly cooked zucchini into the tomato sauce, or simmer tomato sauce with uncooked zucchini and herbs in it, then spread on pizza as usual.

Pasta: Cook zucchini with meat or vegetables in a frying pan, then add to spaghetti sauce, lasagne filling, or any tomato or cream based pasta sauce.

Muffins and quick breads: Most people like zucchini bread, probably because it has so much sugar and usually chocolate chips, too. For a healthier loaf, experiment with halving the sugar and using whole wheat flour. The following muffin recipe is pretty sugary but quite tasty.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup grated zucchini
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, oil, milk, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips. Bake muffins at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins.

Tricks and deceptions: There are plenty of recipes out there for zucchini brownies and zucchini cakes, which are apparently tasty and moist. But the oddest idea I've ever heard is the true story of a woman who, for years, made "apple" pie from peeled zucchini slices. Apparently her husband still has no idea. If you find yourself trying this, plant less zucchini next year!

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