Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Recipe: Five things to do with shredded zucchini

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My husband categorically hates zucchini. I'm sure my kids would say the same if I actually asked them. Which I don't - because I've learned to hide it, disguise it, slip it in where it's completely unexpected. So here, Dave Letterman-style, are my top five things (I couldn't think of ten) to do with shredded zucchini:

5. Make muffins. I use a recipe from The Martha Stewart Cookbook, page 111, omitting the walnuts and walnut oil because my kids go to a (&^###) nut-free school, and adding a few healthy things. Yes, I would really prefer to put in the nuts. My kids know these muffins have zucchini, but they taste so good that they don't care. My favorite recipe: Whole wheat zucchini muffins with wheat germ

4. Make zucchini squares. Mix a few eggs, some chopped green onions, a cup of Bisquick or the equivalent, shredded cheese of any kind, and shredded zucchini, and bake at 350 degrees in a brownie pan until golden brown on top. Cool, cut into squares, eat as finger food. Does not taste like zucchini. At all. Great for brunches or cocktail parties. See the recipe: Zucchini squares

3. Make a Mexican casserole. Mix leftover rice or crushed tortilla chips, some leftover cooked chicken or ground meat, salsa or enchilada sauce, shredded cheese, and shredded zucchini. Does it really need the zucchini? No, it's fine without, but any chance I get to put vegetables into my kids, I take. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown on top. I often make this for breakfast - I mix it up the night before, stick it in the oven, turn the timer on so it starts baking at 5:30am, and it's ready when the kids get up. See the recipe: Mexican chilaquile casserole

2. Make meatloaf. With zucchini. It keeps things moist, doesn't add any strong flavors, and again, the vegetable thing.

1. And my favorite thing to do with shredded zucchini: Zucchini pancakes. Mix a couple of eggs, a few cups of shredded zucchini, some chopped green onions, feta cheese, a half-cup of Bisquick (just enough to bind it), salt and plenty of pepper, and a tablespoon of herbes de Provence (or a mixture of tarragon, oregano, chives, basil...whatever you like). Heat a skillet, add a little olive oil, and fry up heaping dollops into pancakes. My kids eat these with their hands right out of the pan. And yes, they know what's in them. They just choose to ignore it. See the recipe: Zucchini pancakes (also called Bisquick zucchini fritters)


Anonymous said...

The zucchini squares sound yummy. Do you have an actual recipe for those?

Erika Kerekes said...

I do, and it's posted here:

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that you actually put something in the oven and leave it overnight. Do you know how bad that is with cheese and meat in it and how sick you could get from doing that?

Erika Kerekes said...

I have thought about it, and I am convinced it's not a problem. For one thing, the meat is cooked when it goes into the casserole, and it will be heated again when the casserole is baked. And hard cheese is perfectly stable at room temperature for days - that's why they started making cheese, you know, to preserve milk before refrigeration was commonly available. I do not leave it in the oven overnight if there are raw eggs in the mixture.

I'd love an opinion from a food scientist, or even someone who has been through a city or state health department training - I have not - but what I have learned from a restaurant owner friend is that raw meat can stay unrefrigerated for four hours without incident, so I'm assuming that cooked meat has a somewhat longer tolerance for non-refrigeration.

Erika Kerekes said...

After talking with a professional chef who has worked in professional kitchens and knows the health code standards backwards and forwards, let me say this: Yes, leaving the casserole in the oven overnight would be a health code violation in a professional kitchen. Therefore, I do not recommend that others do what I do. However, we have never gotten sick (anecdotal, I know).

Thanks, Anonymous, for pointing out the error of my ways. Take it not as instruction or advice, but just as a report of what I do in my own kitchen.

Daniela said...

Everything Erika makes is delicious. Also, I wish I had a programmable oven.

Anonymous said...

Eggs don't require refrigeration if they are raw. I believe the refrigeration just keeps them edible longer than not doing it.

tammy said...

do you think leaving out the feta cheese or any cheese would affect the recipe? I want to have it Kosher. Thank you.

Erika Kerekes said...

@Tammy for the zucchini pancakes? They're just as delicious without cheese. No problem leaving it out.

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