Recently, my roommates and I became part of a FarmShare. This means that for a fee paid upfront, we get to pick up a cartload of fresh, local, naturally grown produce each week. Because they are grown in our own community, the bounty is representative of what is currently in season: berries, peaches, basil, cabbage and zucchini. Let me say that last one again—zucchini. Seriously. Lots of zucchini.
Because the Farmshare fruits and vegetables now make up the bulk of our food consumption each week, we do a lot of research and use creative cooking techniques to find the best ways to prepare the produce we receive—sometimes we use things we have never cooked with before! Our biggest concern is preventing the food from going to waste and concocting dishes that are edible, despite their sometimes unusual ingredients.
At the height of zucchini season, we are looking for any and every way to prepare (or hide) zucchini. We have made dips, soups and stir-fries. Luckily for us, AND those who we force to eat with us, the vegetable is very low in calories, high in fiber and VERY high in vitamin C! Similar to carrots, zucchini are full of beta-carotene, which is “especially helpful in antioxidant protection of the eye, including protection against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts” (WHFoods).
The recipe below is a truly fantastic way to pack zucchini into your diet when—after several weeks of an exclusively zucchini diet—you are already tired of eating it (or if you have children who refuse to). This tasty dish is not only easy to make, but healthy, too. It's low in sugar and fat, and high in fiber and vitamin C! Plus, it is a fantastic way to clear zucchini out of your refrigerator.
Delicious Zucchini Crisp
(Adapted from http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes)
8 cups of chopped zucchini (about 4 medium-large zucchini)
½ cup of lemon juice
¾ cup of sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup oats
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) cold butter
¼ tsp. baking soda
dash of salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large saucepan, over medium-low heat, cook and stir the zucchini and lemon juice until the zucchini is tender. Add the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and allow it to simmer one minute longer. Remove from the heat and set it aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, salt and baking soda. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (sometimes this is best done with your hands—a great job for any young helpers).
4. Sprinkle the bottom of a baking pan with a little extra flour and cinnamon (for flavor and to prevent burning). Pour the zucchini into the pan (there will be a lot of extra zucchini juice in the saucepan—I recommend not adding all of it to your crisp because it will make things a little soggy.)
5. On top of the zucchini, sprinkle the crumbled oat mixture and press down gently. If desired, sprinkle more cinnamon on top for good measure, and put it in the oven to bake for 30-35 minutes.
This is a great dessert for potlucks—but beware. Anyone you share this delicious dessert with will look at you like you are crazy when you tell him/her what the main ingredient is.
Reviewed July 11, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Kate Kunkel