Tale of Two Zucchini Part II
Zucchini, Cucurbita pepo, is a member of the cucumber and melon family and is harvested while immature, making the rind tender and edible, like all summer squashes.
Botanically, zucchini is a fruit, but it's treated as a vegetable. It is derived from a similar vegetable that was common in Mexico and the northern parts of South America thousands of years ago. Squash was one of the main foods that Indigenous peoples ate, along with corn and beans. The term squash comes from the Narragansett tribe's word askutasquash, which means "eaten raw or uncooked."
However, today's version is a variety of summer squash developed in Italy, where it was often referred to as green Italian squash. The Europeans who colonized the Americas brought it back to their homeland, where its cultivation began. The word zucchini is the plural form of the Italian zucchino, meaning a small gourd.
If you’re rolling your eyes at this, ANOTHER column on zucchini, consider the following and look at the bigger picture here. I am presenting four very different vehicles and methods to prepare a vegetable: Saute, Grilled Cheese, Quiche, and Pizza. Would mushrooms work with this cooking outline? Why, yes! Beets or potatoes? Of course! Uh, brussel sprouts? Bring it on! You can’t go wrong. Add three vegetables. Add a protein. Clean out the fridge. The possibilities are endless.
Zucchini crustless quiche
1 medium zucchini, grated
¼ small yellow onion, finely diced
8 large eggs
1 cup half and half
1 ½ cups favorite white shredded cheese, divided
Kosher salt and pepper
Grate zucchini on the largest holes of a grater. No need to peel first. Sprinkle with salt and mix in colander to drain. Let drain for 30 minutes. Then squeeze between layers of paper towels to get out as much moisture as possible.
Heat oven to 375. Spray an 8x8’ glass baking dish.
Finely dice your onion.
Whisk eggs, half and half, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in one cup of cheese, the grated zucchini, and the diced onion.
Pour carefully into baking dish and put in oven for 45 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake for 15 more minutes or until cheese is melted and center of quiche is not wobbly.
Cool on a baking rack or trivet for 15 minutes, slice and serve with toast and fruit.
1 cup warm water
One package yeast
Sprinkle Kosher salt
Sprinkle garlic powder
2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces feta or goat cheese
1 cup cooked, diced chicken or other meat (optional)
Sprinkle of cooked bacon (optional)
1 cup shredded gouda or other white cheese
Sprinkle of shredded parmesan
Kosher salt and pepper
To make the dough, place warm water in a large bowl. Whisk in the package of yeast, salt, and garlic powder. Let sit until the water looks foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir with a fork until it looks shaggy. Add more flour if necessary. As you stir, it should pull from the sides of the bowl and start to cling to itself. Pour olive oil onto dough, and quickly form into a ball with your hands. Place back in bowl, and cover with a dish towel and let sit in a warm spot for 30 minutes-an hour to rise.
Preheat oven as high as yours will go, minimum 425.
Slice zucchini and onion as thin as you can, preferably with a mandolin. Stir cream cheese and feta together in a small bowl, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Shred cheese if not pre-shredded (shredding your own is best as it will melt better and tastes more fresh).
Then, punch down dough with floured hands after the rise. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 2 minutes. If you have time, return to bowl to rise for another 30 minutes. If not, continue.
With floured hands, divide dough into two pieces. Form each into a ball. On the floured surface, roll into an oval or circle. OR in the air, grab the edges of the ball and turn quickly, letting gravity pull it down until it has grown into an oval shape. Leave the tossing to the professionals!
Place both crusts on a sprayed baking sheet or pizza pan. If you like crispier crust, put in oven at this point to pre-bake for 10 minutes.
Spread cheese evenly on both pizza doughs. Top with as much zucchini and onion as you like. Finish with any bits from the fridge. I had bacon bits and some chopped chicken. Top this with a sprinkle of Parmesan and bake for 15 more minutes until cheese is melted and golden and crust is crispy.
Remove and let cool for 10 minutes. Top with more Parmesan, salt and pepper, and pomegranate arils if you’re feeling festive.