Oh, zucchini! If your garden is fully consumed with summer's most-proliferate squash, you may be wondering what to do with it.
There's zucchini bread, fried zucchini, zucchini quiche, zucchini cake — more ways to cook zucchini than you can shake a stick at. In fact, zucchini overtakes our gardens so much that I'm sure you already have Aug. 8 marked on your calendar. After all, it's National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day.
According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, Pennsylvanian Tom Roy designated the national day that is celebrated simply by waiting until the dead of night and quietly creeping up to your neighbors' front doors, leaving plenty of zucchini for them to enjoy.
It is a way to rid yourself of the avalanche of long, green squash this time of year. You can't can zucchini, nor does it freeze well, and you can only bake and consume so much until you turn as green as the squash itself. And when you bring a basket of freshly picked vegetables to work or some other gathering, people grab the tomatoes, peppers and yellow squash. But the zucchini sits there, left behind for you to carry back home.
So today, I give you another way to prepare it — one way you may not have tried: Pizza in the form of a casserole — with lots of fresh zucchini. A good way to use it up.
The pizza "crust" is shredded zucchini with beaten eggs for binding and cheese for flavor. Then you make the pizza "toppings" from ground beef, more cheese, tomato sauce and fresh herbs.
It really works and is so simple. The perfect late-summer meal served with a salad of fresh tomatoes. A beautiful, colorful dinner that's healthful — plus a nice way to use up that wonderful zucchini that we can't get enough of, even though we have plenty.
Zucchini Pizza Casserole
4 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can (15 ounces) Italian tomato sauce
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1-2 teaspoons fresh basil chiffonade (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 medium green or red pepper, chopped
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place zucchini in colander; sprinkle with salt. Let stand 10 minutes, then squeeze out moisture.
Combine zucchini with eggs, parmesan and half of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Press into a greased 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Bake 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook beef and onion over medium heat, crumbling beef, until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add tomato sauce and herbs; simmer for a minute or two, then spoon the sauce mixture over zucchini mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses; add green or red pepper. Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes longer.
Contact Anne Braly at firstname.lastname@example.org.