Finding good use for that zucchini


Recipes include vegetable in all meals of the day

August 21, 2002|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

In The Classic Zucchini Cookbook, Andrea Chesman repeats the old saying that the true test of a friend is one willing to accept zucchini in September.

Certainly zucchini is one of the most prolific summer vegetables, straining the appetites of even ardent fans. Grill it, bake it, fry it and boil it, you still end up with zucchini crowding the bottom drawer of the refrigerator.

Chesman notes that three zucchini plants supplied enough vegetables for her to test recipes on her family nearly every day one summer. But the result of her work is 225 squash recipes that may make it possible to accept the vegetable with a smile.

The Classic Zucchini Cookbook (Storey Books, 2002, $14.95) is an update of Maynor Jordan and Nancy C. Ralston's Garden Ways Zucchini Cookbook, published 25 years ago. Chesman revised and retested 135 recipes from the original book and added 90 new ones to reflect the popularity of spicier, more healthful cuisine.

Zucchini is a pretty boring, bland vegetable, Chesman says. But that, she says, is a good thing, the secret to turning the zucchini into dishes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Disguise them as pizzas, puree them into soups, turn them into lasagna, even bake them in pies, cookies and cakes.

After an introduction about the history of squash and various cooking methods, Chesman leads the reader through seven chapters of squash dishes, beginning with appetizers, salads and soups, then moving to main dishes, side dishes, breads, desserts and preserving.

Although illustrations are limited to line drawings, the recipes are not difficult and instructions are clear.

In one squash-filled dinner, I treated my family to sauteed zucchini, creamed yellow squash, a ground-beef-and-zucchini casserole and a creamy yellow summer squash soup, which was our favorite.

We still have zucchini and squash in the refrigerator, but not for long.

Creamy Yellow Summer Squash Soup, Serves 4

2 tablespoons butter

4 leeks, sliced

2 cups sliced yellow summer squash

4 cups homemade or canned chicken broth

1 cup milk or light cream

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the broth. Transfer the squash mixture to a blender or a food processor and puree until smooth. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Add the remaining 3 cups broth, the milk, and salt and pepper to taste.

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