My first year of “serious” gardening I didn’t actually know what I was doing. Yes, I knew how to plant and care for my garden, but I had no idea about a) how much to plant and b) the importance of harvesting in a timely fashion. And so, I planted six (yes, count ‘em: SIX) zucchini starts. Talk about being inundated. And of course, there were so many that I wasn’t that good at harvesting them right away. Anyone who’s grown zucchini will tell you… you must avoid acting on this impulse: I’ll just pick them tomorrow. Which, can turn into a day or two. Or three. Or four. And then you walk out into your garden and find gigantic squashes and lots of them. Pretty soon you’re giving them away. And then your neighbors start begging you to please, please stop leaving this beautiful green bounty on their doorsteps… True story!
So, that summer I explored as many zucchini dishes as I could think of…zucchini bread, zucchini lasagna, zucchini pickles. All of those were very good. My attempt at a zucchini salsa…not so much. I’ve since found recipes for such a thing, but my attempt…can I just say, “ugh.”
This year, I finally went out and bought myself a spiralizer and without exaggeration, this has been a game-changer. All those dishes I used to make with pasta I now make with spiralized vegetables. Zucchini is my go-to, but I’ve also been experimenting with carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squash.
Whether or not you grow your own, zucchini is abundant this time of year, and being in season, that means it’s plentiful and the prices go way down, so don’t miss a wonderful Conscious Shopping opportunity to add variety to your menu and stretch both your dollar and your kitchen skills at the same time.
Don’t be afraid of those huge zucchinis. They tend to be cheaper than the smaller ones (because they’re harder to sell) and you can still do a lot with them. These are the ones I use when I’m making zucchini bread or zucchini lasagna. I like the larger ones for lasagna because when you slice them lengthwise they are similar in size to traditional lasagna noodles. Also, they are good for stuffed zucchini boats (delicious!).
- 1 large or 2 medium zucchini
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 small yellow squash
- 1 pt mushrooms, sliced
- 10 to 12 plum tomatoes
- olive oil, butter for sauteing
- 1 T fresh thyme leaves
- 1 T fresh oregano, roughly chopped
- 1 container of ricotta cheese
- 1 bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Step 2 Peel zucchini and thinly slice lengthwise (the approximate thickness of a lasagna noodle). Set aside on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the moisture.
- Step 3 Heat oil in a pan over medium heat and sauté the onion until soft and translucent.
- Step 4 Add garlic and sauté another minute or so without letting the garlic brown.
- Step 5 Add butter and when it stops sizzling, add mushrooms and herbs and continue to cook until mushrooms soften and begin to release their juices.
- Step 6 Add yellow squash and tomatoes and let simmer until the sauce thickens.
- Step 7 Cover the bottom of an ovenproof baking dish with one layer of the zucchini “noodles.”
- Step 8 Spread a layer of ricotta cheese over the lasagna, then a layer of the thickened sauce and a layer of mozzarella cheese.
- Step 9 Continue to build layers in this order until the pan is full, ending with a top layer of mozzarella.
- Step 10 Bake in oven for one hour or until cheese is melted and the lasagna is bubbling.
- Step 11 Allow to cool a bit before serving.