Zillions of zucchini

When I was a kid growing up in Ohio, we had a huge garden; in fact, everyone in my family did – aunts and uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents. As is the norm, I did not appreciate what I had then and only looked at the hours of picking string beans, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, summer squash and green peppers in the steaming mid-west sun as grueling, tedious, torturous child labor. Quite to the contrary, helping work in my great-grandfather’s acre+ garden was a completely different story (big potatoes in the wheelbarrow, little ones in the bucket). That was a pleasure. Maybe because it was his, maybe because the whole family was there, maybe because after we were done we would all sit down to a huge meal celebrating the fruits of our labors. He was a master gardener before there was such a thing. He grew tomatoes as big as dinner plates (orange, yellow and red), celery, carrots, cantaloupe, and more but always had the time to steal the salt shaker from the kitchen and sneak out to the garden to eat sun-warmed tomatoes straight off the vine with me.

Regardless of the size of garden, the varieties of produce grown or the skill of the gardener, no one in my family planted zucchini. Ever. Zucchini grew very well in Ohio. Too well, in fact. So well that anyone who grew zucchini found their garden soon overtaken by monstrous, leg-sized dark green behemoths. If, however, some were smart enough to NOT grow them, they did not go without. Indeed, the few who dared to grow zucchini, had enough to feed the entire community. As the zucchini plague spread each summer, an ever expanding radius of neighbors and friends woke early in the morning to spontaneous zucchini growth right on the front porch – my family included.

I soon became the master of zucchini preparations. Raw was good, grilled or steamed was better but breaded was best! My recipe was pretty simple. Dip the sliced zucchini in egg, then flour and into a pan with a little butter until brown on both sides. A dash of salt and my summertime breakfast and lunch was now ready for consumption. Even though I ate it nearly every day in the summer, I never grew tired of my fried zucchini. I still love it today.

Recently, I was at a local produce stand and saw these cool little, perfectly round zucchini. They were called “eight-ball zucchini.” I decided to buy a couple and make fried zucchini for dinner. In an effort to be “healthy,” I tried a new method which turned out to be very delicious (although I still prefer my simple egg, flour and salt method.) So, next time you find yourself with zucchini overload or you happened to pick up a few fresh and local beauties at your neighborhood farmer’s market, give the following a try. I’m sure you’ll like it – my family did.

Oven-fried Zucchini
Zucchini slices (about 1/3” thick)
1 egg
1 cup homemade bread crumbs (I let a variety of old bread dry completely on the counter and grind it in my food processor after I have a bunch saved and seal in an airtight jar)
¼ cup parmesan cheese (in the green can)
1T Mrs. Dash® Italian Medley Seasoning Blend
2t garlic salt
2T olive oil

-Heat oven to 350. Place parchment paper on two baking sheets. Spread 1T olive oil on each sheet.
-Scramble egg and place in shallow dish. Mix bread crumbs, cheese, Mrs. Dash and garlic salt and place in second dish. (I use half at a time in case the egg makes the mixture gloppy.)
-Dip zucchini slices in egg then crumb mixture evenly coating both sides. Place on parchment.
-Bake for eight minutes. Flip each and bake for an additional eight minutes until golden brown.
-Serve immediately and enjoy!

Thank you to Burpee for the veggie pictures: http://www.burpee.com/

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