Lock your doors, its zucchini season in North Dakota. New gardeners have often times made the mistake of planting more than one hill of this prolific summer squash. That means overnight bushels of long green squash appear and panic sets in.
We don't like to waste anything we grow so we look for ways to make use of zucchini gone wild including passing it off on our unsuspecting neighbors.
People have a love/hate relationship with zucchini. It's easy to grow and very prolific, but there are those who do not care for its mild taste and smooth texture. You can eat it raw but it can be used in a multitude of recipes including as a substitute for ground beef in many vegetarian pasta recipes.
My recent favorite is zucchini noodles. You can buy a small spiralizer for $10 that works well for this soft squash. If you grate it you can use it in lasagna or spaghetti sauce and your family will never know they are eating a vegetable rich in Vitamin C and Potassium.
Prairie Road Organics offered a new variety of this summer squash -- Cucurbita pepo. "When farmers, Bill Reynolds & Donna Ferguson, discovered their favorite zucchini variety was no longer commercially available, they decided to develop their own reliable, open-pollinated (OP), organic replacement! With the support of Organic Seed Alliance and master plant breeder, Dr. John Navazio, they embarked on a six-year breeding project. The goal was a high-quality, OP variety with all of the traits of the best hybrids: uniform, dark-green fruits, open growth habit for ease of harvest, early and prolonged production, drought-tolerance, high yields, and high disease and pest resistance. “Dark Star” was born!" (www.prairieroadorganic.co)
Mild in flavor and quick to cook, you should try zucchini. Farmers markets offer an abundant variety of summer squash -- not to be confused with the rich winter squash which we will talk about in October.
And, if you can't face a sauteed zucchini there are tons of recipes of pseudo jams, jellies and apple pies made with zucchini that has grown past its prime picking time of about 5 inches long. There are also many recipes for disguising zucchini in cakes, muffins and quick breads. The best recipe I have ever made came from Bernice Kiefer Nagel, who loved zucchini but it was never grown in the garden on the farm where she grew up.
If you find a zucchini in your car you have to try this recipe.
Zucchini Fruit Bars
¾ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¾ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup shredded coconut
¾ cup chopped dates
¾ cup raisins
2 cups unpared coarsely shredded zucchini.
Beat until creamy butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended. Sift together four, salt and baking powder. Stir in coconut, dates, raisins and zucchini.
Spread the mixture into a greased 10x15-inch pan. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until top is richly brown.
1 tablespoon butter melted
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts
Beat all ingredients except nuts together until well blended. Spread over warm bars evenly. Sprinkle finely chopped nuts on top.
Cool thoroughly and cut into bars.
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Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.