Spread, not bread

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - FOOD & WINE -  ⁄ byj M Hirsch

THE trou­ble with late sum­mer’s bounty of zuc­chini isn’t in the vol­ume of the veg­etable it­self. Rather, it is in the lack of cre­ative recipes for us­ing it.

Frankly, what the world most cer­tainly does not need are more recipes for zuc­chini muffins and breads and casseroles. The web­site Al­lRecipes.com, for ex­am­ple, lists some 244 recipes for zuc­chini bread alone. In fact, there are so many that users of the site have stopped even try­ing to come up with cre­ative names for the recipes, in­stead re­sort­ing to Ro­man nu­mer­als. A slice of Zuc­chini Bread VI, any­one?

Us­ing a veg­etable peeler to turn it into rib­bons for a salad is be­nign. Shredding it into strands for “pasta” is cre­ative, if not par­tic­u­larly de­li­cious. And I have no in­ter­est in yet an­other vari­ant of stuff­ing them, no mat­ter how much ba­con and cheese you jam in there.

But re­cently I was im­pressed by, yes... a zuc­chini recipe. I no longer thought this was pos­si­ble.

A gen­er­ous reader sym­pa­thetic to my on­go­ing bat­tle to get my eight-year-old son to em­brace more veg­eta­bles di­rected me to a recipe for zuc­chini hum­mus on blog­ger Kait Capone’s site, LaCuci­nadiKait.com. The recipe is pre­cisely as it sounds — a hum­mus-like spread made from ground zuc­chini.

As is my wont, I mod­i­fied the recipe the first time I tried it. The recipe calls for puree­ing raw zuc­chini, which held lit­tle ap­peal for me. So I grilled it first. I also upped the gar­lic, and added smoked pa­prika and salt. The re­sult was in­sanely good.

A few more mod­i­fi­ca­tions in round two and I had some­thing I’d long thought im­pos­si­ble — an amaz­ingly de­li­cious, cre­ative and even healthy way to use zuc­chini.

It makes a fine sand­wich spread or dip for veg­eta­bles, crack­ers or hunks of pita bread. I dumped some over a salad of baby greens and roasted veg­eta­bles and it was fan­tas­tic.

If you don’t want to crank up the grill, you also could pop the zuc­chini un­der the broiler for a few min­utes. Coat the zuc­chini lightly with cook­ing spray or olive oil, then set on the oven’s low­est rack. Broil just un­til very lightly browned and start­ing to get ten­der.

Heat a grill to high. Use an oil-soaked pa­per towel held with tongs to lightly oil the grill grates.

Trim the ends from the zuc­chini, then slice it in half length­wise. If the seeds are large and wa­tery, use a melon baller or small spoon to scrape out and dis­card most of the seeds from the cen­tre of each half. It’s not crit­i­cal to get them all. If the inside of the zuc­chini ap­pears firm and the seeds small, you don’t need to scrape them out.

Place the zuc­chini on the grill, cut side up, then re­duce heat to low. Cook for 10 min­utes, or un­til just lightly browned and start­ing to get ten­der. Set aside to cool.

When the zuc­chini has cooled enough to han­dle, place it in a food pro­ces­sor. Add the tahini, gar­lic, le­mon juice, cumin, smoked pa­prika and salt. Process for 1 minute, or un­til very smooth.

Nu­tri­tion in­for­ma­tion per 60 ml (¼ cup): 45 calo­ries; 30 calo­ries from fat (67 per cent of to­tal calo­ries); 3.5 g fat (0 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg choles­terol; 3 g car­bo­hy­drate; 1 g su­gar; 1 g fiber; 2 g pro­tein; 110 mg sodium.

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