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Zucchini Baby

Saskia EsslingerI was checking on the garden during a brief respite from the August rains when I suddenly noticed a gigantic zucchini as big as a baby. How in the world did he grow so big without me noticing? He looked cold and wet so I cut his cord and wrapped him in a blanket. I named him Oscar. He was the best baby. Always calm and quiet and never needed food or a diaper change.

Giant zucchini

I hope you won’t think me barbaric, but eventually we ate him. Because he was a zucchini after all. You may have a zucchini baby yourself, or perhaps you forgot to lock your car and someone stuffed it full of zucchini. And what exactly do you do with 13 pounds of zucchini? Plus all his baby brothers and sisters that seem to grow faster than you can possibly eat them?

We all know that small zucchini are more tender and delicious, but that doesn’t mean we need to compost the overgrown ones. If the seeds are quite large and developed you can cut them out like you are seeding a cucumber. Grate the rest of the flesh in your food processor to make quick work of it. Now it is all set to go into all sorts of dishes.

This week I made zucchini bread, zucchini chocolate coconut cake, zucchini corn tacos and added some shredded zucchini to tomato sauce for lasagna. The shreds virtually disappear into the background, but they still offer added vitamins and fiber. I’ve added shredded zucchini to muffins, pesto pasta, soup, stews, and any kind of casserole or gratin or frittata. What you can’t seem to sneak in somewhere, put it in a zippered freezer bag and stick it in the freezer for mid-winter nutritional boosts.

Squash

And for the littler guys, I like to slice it thinly for my sandwich or salad, cut it into sticks to eat with dip, put it on pizza, slice it lengthwise and grill it to use in place of noodles in lasagna, or as a side with herb butter.

While I can’t say zucchini is my favorite vegetable (sorry, Oscar) it certainly is versatile. I eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack, helping me meet my goal of eating vegetables for every meal. So the next time you find a zucchini baby in your garden, love him and hug him and eat him up!

Salad

Zucchini Corn Tacos

• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 onion, diced small
• 1 red pepper, diced small
• 1-2 zucchini diced small (about 4 cups)
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2 ears or corn, kernels cut off (or a small bag frozen corn if you live in Alaska and can’t get fresh)
• 1 can black beans
• 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
• Salt and pepper
• 4-6 oz cream cheese
• Snack size flour tortillas

Directions: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté a few minutes until softened slightly. Add red pepper and zucchini and sauté about 5 more minutes. Add the taco seasoning and the garlic. When veggies are soft, mix in cream cheese until it is melted. Taste for seasonings. Serve inside warm tortillas with salsa or hot sauce.