I think the zucchini is one of the most versatile vegetables around. It can be used in savory dishes or in sweet dishes, eaten raw or cooked. Sometimes it’s big or small, yellow or green. The zucchini is also known as the summer squash and is part of the squash family. The zucchini plant can grow fairly large and produces pretty yellow/orange flowers that can be eaten as well (recipe to come). I grew zucchini in my garden this summer and soon realized that it's a plant you need to pay attention to or else you will end up with zucchinis the size of your arm!
One of simplest methods of preservation you can do is to freeze your vegetables. Zucchini meet box grater, and GO! A food processor works great too. Before freezing, make sure to squeeze as much water out of the grated zucchini as possible. Make a note on your freezer container that includes the name, date, and volume. This winter when you are missing warm sunny summer days, I will show you how to use up this frozen mass of greenness.
1lb zucchini grated
After grating zucchini, place in a colander and squeeze excess water. Weigh or measure grated zucchini and place in a freezer safe container. Note ingredient, weight/volume and date. Keep in freezer for 6 months.
Another way to use up that arm sized zucchini is by doing a "quick pickle". Quick pickling is the lazy (or smart) version of canning. Instead of doing a water bath canning process (we will get to that soon), your veggies are added to a heated vinegar mixture and that will be kept in the fridge, instead of the pantry. You only need the most basic kitchen equipment: a pot, knife, cutting board and mason jar. A mandolin slicer also works well instead of a knife if you have one. It also requires ingredients that you may already have at home: water, white vinegar, sugar, and salt. To fancy it up, add some spice! My favorite right now is curry or turmeric, as you can see from my recipe below.
1lb zucchini sliced thinly in ribbons or coins
1 small white onion sliced thinly
1 c water
1 c vinegar
2 tb sugar
1 ts salt
1 tb turmeric *optional
1 tb mustard seed *optional
Add water, vinegar, sugar, and salt to a pot and heat over medium high heat. Stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved, turn off heat. Place zucchini and onion in a heat proof container (a quart sized mason jar works well) and pour brine over the vegetables. Let cool and keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
To me this salad is the essence of summer, and it uses up a lot of zucchini. The first time I had it was at a restaurant in Minneapolis. I liked it so much, I made it the next day with the ingredients from my CSA box! Plus it’s easy, as promised. You will see this common trend on The Northern Feast, meals do not have to take all night to make.
2 c cherry tomatoes
2 tb olive oil
1 tb white wine vinegar
2 tb lemon juice
1 tb fresh thyme
½ ts salt
¼ ts pepper
2 tb pine nuts
sprinkle feta cheese *optional
Slice zucchini into about 3” long by ¼” thick matchstick pieces. You can use knife, mandolin slicer or fancy spiralizer. Slice cherry tomatoes in half and mix with zucchini in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together olive oil, vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper. Pour over zucchini/tomato mixture. Add pines and feta. Enjoy!
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