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.
Because 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.
So it has been a long time since I have been impressed by a zucchini recipe. 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 and baking them, no matter how much bacon, sausage 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 8-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.
The name doesn’t do it justice, hence I tried it somewhat reluctantly. 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.
What to do with it? It certainly would make 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.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Food Editor J.M. Hirsch is author of the cookbook “High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking.” Follow him to great eats on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JM–Hirsch or email him at jhirsch(at)ap.org.