My dad is a gardener. A good one at that. This time of year he harvests many, many zucchini of all different sizes. Last week my parents invited themselves over for dinner so I asked that they bring roughly six zucchini.
Dad calls the overflow of zucchini the “farmers” curse. Maybe. But only if you don’t know what to do with it. Every element of this meal features zucchini in its own unique way.
As an appetizer, we somewhat tolerated a zucchini hummus. I won’t give the recipe because it wasn’t all that great. BUT, I went through all the effort of taking the photo and with some tweaking I think I may be able to improve the recipe to post eventually.
The main dish was zucchini “lasagna”rolls. The noodles are substituted by 1/4 inch strips of zucchini. Feel free to alter the recipe and layer the “noodles” rather than rolling them up. I think the rolls are a bit more fun and my whole family (even picky dad) LOVED this recipe. I’ve made another version of zucchini lasagna (recipe here) that turned out a wee bit watery. If that one is a 4 star recipe, this would be 5 star. YUM! I could just each the cheese mixture plain. It is so, so good.
To accompany the lasagna rolls I wanted to have something cool (it is 95 degrees out, after all) and with substance so no one left hungry. This zucchini pasta salad is light and has a perfectly balanced vinaigrette dressing. Let it sit for at least a half an hour so the veggies can soak in the flavors. The radiatore noodles were a perfect way to add the lasagna squiggly type of pasta to the meal. We all loved it.
Pinterest has been tempting me with cake recipes combining zucchini and all SORTS of interesting flavors like blueberry, peach, chocolate and orange. I opted to take the orange route for this meal. Citrus has a way of brightening up any dish. I’d consider this to be more of a sweet dessert bread than a cake. The varying flavors of lemon and orange balanced well and you don’t feel too guilty eating it. There is a green veggie in this dessert, after all! (For those of you who haven’t baked with zucchini before, don’t be afraid. The only indicator that zucchini is even present is the little fleck of green here and there. The taste and texture blend right into the cake.)
Zucchini Lasagna Rolls
12 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
8 ounces low fat cottage cheese
5 tbsp parmesan cheese
3 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley
1 1/2 tsp basil
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Black pepper to taste
2-3 large zucchini cut lengthwise into 8 (1/4 inch thick) slices
1/2 lb mild Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
2 cups marinara sauce, store bought or homemade
1/2 to 1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add all of the ricotta ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat. While the grill is heating, slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick strips. Place the zucchini on the hot grill and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until the zucchini is soft and pliable. Remove from the grill and cool until they can be handled.
Spray a 9×13″ casserole dish or similar size with cooking spray. Spread a 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce evenly over the bottom of the dish. Blot any excess liquid off of the cooled strips of zucchini with paper towels.
Spoon about a tablespoon of the ricotta filling onto one side of the zucchini and spread it into an even layer. Sprinkle a few of the cooked sausage crumbles on top of the filling. Roll up the zucchini and place them seam side down in the casserole dish. Top the zucchini rolls with the remaining marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Zucchini Pasta Salad
12 oz Radiatore Pasta – cooked & rinsed with cold water
2 Roma Tomatoes, diced
1 large zucchini, seeded & diced
1 medium broccoli, bite sized
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2/3 (15 oz) jar roasted red peppers, sliced
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp minced garlic
3/4 tsp salt
Black pepper, to taste
Cook the pasta according to directions.
Prepare the vegetables and place in a large bowl. Whisk the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and pour over the vegetables. Dump the pasta in the bowl and stir well. Refrigerate for a half an hour and enjoy.
Zucchini-Orange Dessert Bread
1-2 zucchini (three cups)
2½ cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for bundt pan)
2½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
3 large eggs, room temperature
1¼ cups granulated sugar
12 tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tbsp orange zest
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp orange zest
3 tbsp fresh orange juice
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Grate zucchini and then squeeze dry in a kitchen towel to remove excess water. Measure out three cups.
Grease a 6-cup bundt pan and lightly flour. (Make sure to tap out excess flour. You can also use the baking spray that contains flour.)
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.
Stir together eggs and sugar. Gradually mix in melted butter, zucchini, orange zest and juice.
Stir in flour mixture just until combined. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Let cake cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before inverting the cake pan and turning it out onto a wire rack. Let cool for an additional 30 minutes before glazing.
Whisk glaze ingredients together and drizzle over slightly cooled cake. If glaze is too thick, add more orange juice. If it is too thin, whisk in more sugar.