Five zucchini-based recipes to try this week

By Emily Weinstein, The New York Times

Two weeks ago, we talked about tomatoes. Last week, we did corn. And so I realized it only makes sense to complete the peak-summer series and tackle zucchini this week. (This little ingredient series has turned out to be my “Godfather” trilogy, my Ring cycle, my “Chronicles of Narnia.”)

While zucchini doesn’t quite inspire the same rabid obsession you see with tomatoes and corn, I do love it, and in summer I always have some in the fridge. It’s delicious grilled and then piled with herbs and lemon. It’s phenomenal shredded and then caramelized in a pan to make a smushy sauce for pasta. It makes amazing muffins and quick bread. If you haven’t thought about it lately, I think you should.

1. Summer Squash Scampi

By Ali Slagle

While scampi is a type of crustacean (also known as langoustines), the word has also come to refer to the garlicky lemon-butter sauce that drapes shrimp at Italian American restaurants. But what if you lost the shellfish altogether? When summer squash is sliced and cooked only part way, they have a juicy snap similar to shrimp, no mushiness. This rendition also maintains the lively flavors of garlic and lemon, which are only slightly mellowed by the residual heat of the sauce. Eat with pasta or crusty bread, or as a side dish to any summery meal.

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini or other summer squash, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  • Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
  • Neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and cold
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (from half a lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, mint or basil leaves (or 1/2 tablespoon chopped tarragon leaves)

Preparation

1. Arrange the squash in a single layer and sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Let sit for 10 minutes (and no more than 30). Pat dry with a kitchen towel or paper towel.

2. In a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high, heat a thin layer of oil (about 1 tablespoon). Add a single layer of squash, salted sides down. Cook, without flipping, until browned underneath, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a platter or large plate, and repeat with the remaining squash, adding more oil as necessary. Sprinkle with garlic and red-pepper flakes.

3. With the empty skillet over medium-high heat, add the white wine (stand back as it may flame). Simmer until reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the butter and shake the skillet until the butter melts and combines with the wine into a smooth sauce. Remove skillet from the heat, add the lemon juice and shake to combine. Season to taste with salt, then pour over the squash. Top with the parsley and serve warm.

2. Grilled Zucchini With Miso Glaze

By Hetty McKinnon

This dish plays on the sweetness and fruitiness of plump zucchini. Scoring the flesh in a crisscross pattern creates crevices for the miso glaze to seep into while also allowing the heat to penetrate the zucchini. Cooked quickly on high heat, the squash maintains its shape and heft, with flesh that is just tender enough. Covering the zucchini with a lid during cooking locks in all the moisture, ensuring that it becomes juicy. A grill pan is ideal for achieving smoky char marks, but you could also use a regular skillet or cook it on an outdoor grill (see tip). If you are cooking for a group, count on one zucchini per person. Serve this as a side dish or with rice for a simple, quick and flavorful meal.

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 zucchini (about 2 pounds), washed and halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • Neutral oil, such as vegetable or grapeseed (or nonstick spray)
  • White or brown rice, for serving (optional)
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and finely sliced
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for serving

Preparation

1. Using a sharp knife (a small paring knife works best), score the zucchini flesh in a crisscross pattern, taking care not to slice all the way through.

2. Make the glaze: In a small bowl, combine the miso paste, mirin, sugar and soy sauce. Add 1 tablespoon of water and whisk until combined.

3. Liberally brush the cut sides of the zucchini with the glaze. Drizzle each piece with a little oil.

4. Heat a large grill pan (or a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet) over medium-high. When hot, working in batches, place the zucchini, glazed side down, onto the hot surface. Press the zucchini onto the surface to encourage charring. (If you’re using a regular skillet, you may need to add more oil to the pan.) Cook without moving for 2 to 4 minutes until golden and charred.

5. Flip the zucchini over onto the skin side, reduce heat to medium, cover with a lid and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until tender. To check for doneness, give the sides of the zucchini a squeeze; if it yields easily, it is ready.

6. Remove the zucchini from the pan and brush more glaze over the cut side. Serve on its own or on top of rice, if desired, and scatter with scallions and sesame seeds.

TIP: To grill the zucchini: Heat a grill to medium-high, and clean and oil the grates. Grill the glazed zucchini over direct heat, flesh side down, for 2 to 3 minutes, until there are char marks and the zucchini has begun to soften and turn golden. Flip and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until cooked through. If using a gas grill, close the lid between flips.

3. Sheet-Pan Chicken With Zucchini and Basil

By Melissa Clark

In this simple weeknight recipe, chicken thighs and drumsticks are seasoned with garlic, herbs and red-pepper flakes, and roasted alongside tender chunks of zucchini that caramelize in the oven’s heat. Torn basil leaves and a squeeze of lemon give the dish sharp and tangy notes just before serving, while the optional coriander seeds tossed into the pan lend depth.

This recipe comfortably serves two to three, but if you’re feeding more people, feel free to double the ingredients. Divide the ingredients between two sheet-pans, and bear in mind that you might need to add a few minutes to the cooking time. Add some crusty bread or rice to soak up the savory juices, and you’ve got a summery meal that’s fresh, full of flavor and an absolute snap to make.

Yield: 2 to 3 servings

Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 pounds zucchini, sliced into 1-inch chunks (about 5 cups)
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, finely grated, passed through a press or minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried mint or oregano
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, cracked with a mortar and pestle or the flat side of a chef’s knife (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • 1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves, for serving

Preparation

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, and season all over with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Place zucchini on a rimmed sheet pan, and season with a little more salt and pepper.

2. In a small bowl, combine garlic, mint or oregano, coriander (if using) and red-pepper flakes. Whisk in oil. Add chicken to the pan with the zucchini pieces and pour garlic mixture over all, tossing until well coated. Spread chicken and zucchini in a single layer, and roast until chicken is cooked through and zucchini is browned and caramelized, 30 to 40 minutes. You don’t need to turn anything.

3. Once the pan is out of the oven, squeeze a lemon wedge over everything. Garnish with basil and serve with more lemon wedges and red-pepper flakes on the side.

4. Zucchini Pancakes

Recipe from Aytekin Yar

Adapted by Elaine Louie

Mucver (pronounced moosh-vair) are delicate, crisp zucchini pancakes popular in Turkey. This version has not just shredded zucchini, but also tiny clouds of feta and a sprinkling of minced fresh dill and scallions. They are crisp on the outside, tender within and subtly herbaceous. The trick to making the pancakes crisp and not soggy is to squeeze all the water out of the zucchini before mixing it with the other ingredients. A little brute force is required.

Yield: 12 pancakes

Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the pancakes:

  • 3 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), shredded
  • Salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped dill
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, more as needed

For the yogurt sauce:

  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place zucchini in a colander over a bowl, and mix with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Allow to drain for five minutes. Transfer to a cloth kitchen towel, and squeeze hard to extract as much moisture as possible. Squeeze a second time; volume will shrink to about half the original.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine zucchini and eggs. Using a fork, mix well. Add flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, olive oil, feta, scallions, dill and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Mix well, add baking powder, and mix again.

3. Place a cast iron skillet or other heavy skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and heat until shimmering. Place heaping tablespoons of zucchini batter in pan several inches apart, allowing room to spread. Flatten them with a spatula if necessary; pancakes should be about 3/8 inch thick and about 3 inches in diameter. Fry until golden on one side, then turn and fry again until golden on other side. Repeat once or twice, frying about 5 to 6 minutes total, so pancakes get quite crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels, and keep warm in oven. Continue frying remaining batter, adding more oil to pan as needed. Serve hot.

4. For yogurt sauce: In a small bowl, combine yogurt, garlic and salt. Mix well, and serve on the side or on pancakes.

5. Chocolate Zucchini Loaf Cake

This simple, one-bowl loaf cake isn’t actually dinner, but it is a sweet way to make the most of zucchini season. Chocolate cake batter is flecked with shreds of raw zucchini and studded with bittersweet chocolate chips for a summertime cake that’s fit for either breakfast or dessert. While some recipes call for squeezing the excess water out of the shredded zucchini, this loaf cake takes full advantage of the summer vegetable: The zucchini is taken directly from the grater to the bowl for additional moisture. The resulting cake strikes the perfect balance; it’s rich and fudgy, but still maintains a tender crumb. The cake will keep on the counter for 4 to 5 days, loosely covered, and only gets better with age.

By Jesse Szewczyk

Yield: 1 loaf (about 8 servings)

Total time: 1 1/2 hours, plus cooling

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray or neutral oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups/330 grams packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup/180 milliliters neutral oil (such as vegetable or safflower)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
  • 2 cups/280 grams lightly packed coarsely grated zucchini (from about 1 large or 2 small zucchini)
  • 1 3/4 cups/223 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup/63 grams unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup/173 grams bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sugar (such as turbinado or Demerara)

Preparation

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with a strip of parchment paper that hangs over the long sides to create a sling.

2. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the eggs, light brown sugar, oil, vanilla extract and salt until smooth and glossy, about 30 seconds. Add the grated zucchini and mix with a rubber spatula until incorporated.

3. Using a fine-mesh strainer, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda directly into the bowl and stir with a rubber spatula just until combined and no pockets of unincorporated flour remain. (Try not to overmix.) Add all but 1 tablespoon of the chocolate chips to the batter and stir until evenly distributed.

4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with coarse sugar and the reserved chocolate chips, pressing them in slightly so they stick. Bake until the cake puffs slightly and a skewer or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs attached or with smudges of melted chocolate chips (the chips will be dark brown versus the lighter color of uncooked cake batter), 75 to 80 minutes.

5. Let the loaf cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Using the parchment paper, lift the cake out of the pan and let cool completely on a rack before slicing, about 2 hours.

TIP: The cake can be baked in a 9-by-2-inch round cake or springform pan. Grease the pan and line the bottom with a parchment paper round. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs attached, 50 to 55 minutes.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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