Spread, not bread
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.