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Bountiful zucchini, Fairbanks' all-purpose garden accessory

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Posted: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 10:15 pm | Updated: 8:31 am, Wed Jul 24, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — The zucchini is, without a doubt, the most prolific vegetable in Alaska, at least in Interior Alaska. OK, maybe not in stats or weight or the amount produced by farmers, but in my opinion, it’s the most grown, most talked about garden harvest. It’s everywhere. Sure, the giant cabbage is a spectacle at state fairs and everyone gawks at the weight, but c’mon. Giant cabbage? Pfft. It holds nothing on the zucchini.

With the zucchini, you’ve got the all-purpose vegetable. Eat it raw in a salad, turn it into a muffin, sweeten it up for dessert or a bread, grill it, stuff it, sauté it. The options are endless. My personal favorite is to slice two medium zucchini, quarter a sweet onion, sauté them both in a little olive oil until tender, throw in some fresh chopped thyme and basil from my garden, top it off with some sea salt, and you’ve got the perfect side dish for any meal.

Zucchini is so easy to grow, even the garden-challenged can manage to produce a healthy harvest. In a moment of insanity, I planted seven zucchini plants this summer, all of which are producing. I’m having trouble giving the things away. The upside, of course, is I’ve got zucchini for days. DAYS. I’m starting conversations with fellow gardeners with, “So, how are you fixing your zuccs this week?”

And since I’ve got so much, I’m in need of new recipes to try out, which is why our call went out over social media for your zucchini ideas. Like the zucchini fans you are, you responded. We’ve including a smattering here, as we received more than we could possibly print.

As a matter of fact, since Alaska has no state vegetable, I hereby nominate the zucchini to go down in the annals of statehood along with the forget-me-not, ptarmigan and the four-spot skimmer dragonfly — respectfully, the state flower, bird and insect. What better way to honor the prolific zucchini than with a state title? Here’s to the zucchini, however you choose to enjoy it.

Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or on Twitter at @FDNMfeatures

• Note: Some authors willingly submitted their names, others wished to remain anonymous when submitting their favorite zucchini recipes.

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

2 medium zucchini

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with foil and spray lightly with vegetable spray.

Slice zucchini or squash into 1/4 inch-thick rounds. Toss rounds with oil, coating well.

In a wide bowl or plate, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper.

Place rounds in Parmesan-breadcrumb mixture, coating both sides of each round, pressing to adhere. The mixture will not completely cover each round, but provides a light coating on each side.

Place rounds in a single layer on baking sheets. Sprinkle any remaining breadcrumb mixture over the rounds.

Bake for about 22 to 27 minutes, until golden brown. There is no need to flip them during baking — they crisp up on both sides as is.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread No. 1

This recipe started as a sugar- and fat-filled (but delicious) muffin. I’ve reduced the sugars and oils but kept the wonderful cake texture. Shred the zucchini very fine and it almost disappears. I’ve frosted these for school birthdays!

— Amy Lanam, Fairbanks

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup applesauce

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 tablespoons Dutch-process

(dark) cocoa

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups grated zucchini

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups flour

1 cup nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour bread pans, or line cupcake pans.

Sift all dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl combine sugars, oil, applesauce and eggs. Add dry ingredients, zucchini and nuts to egg mixture and mix until all are just moistened. Grease and flour bread pans. Bake in standard cupcakes tins about 18 minutes, mini bread pans for about 35 minutes. For large bread pans, bake about an hour. Use a cake tester to test for doneness.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread No. 2

— Julie Stricker, Two Rivers

2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate

3 eggs

2 cups white sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups grated zucchini

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 9x5-inch loaf pans. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate until melted. Stir occasionally until chocolate is smooth.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, grated zucchini, vanilla and chocolate; beat well. Stir in the flour baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf comes out clean.

• I saw the Facebook post on submitting zucchini recipes just as we are kicking off a seven-day raw food challenge at Elite Urban Fitness.

This recipe is part of our seven-day plan. I eat mostly raw and vegan the majority of the time and am leading this challenge to show those who work out with us how amazing you start feeling by eating more raw foods. This zucchini recipe is a weekly staple in my normal meal plan. Hope you enjoy.

— Stephanie Allen, Elite Urban Fitness, Fairbanks

Raw zucchini pasta

Use a spiralizer or a vegetable peeler and you can make long fettucini-like strips. I think Country Kitchen here in Fairbanks sells a similar one. Spiral your zucchini, and it comes out looking like spaghetti noodles. Put in a bowl — no cooking — and serve with these amazing raw sauce options.

Spicy Marinara

3 to 4 tomatoes

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 red pepper

1/4 onion

1 jalapeño

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon each, fresh oregano and basil (1-2 teaspoons dried)

1 teaspoon salt

Dash of cayenne (to taste)

Place all of the ingredients into the food processor and process all together until you get a chunky-fine consistency. You can make it in a blender, and it’s just as delicious done this way (It will just be a finer sauce, more pureed), and perhaps even quicker to make. Sauce will keep for 1-2 weeks refrigerated.

Cashew Alfredo

1/2 cup cashews

1/4 cup water

1 large clove garlic

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, to garnish (optional)

1 tablespoon parsley, to garnish (optional)

Using either a vegetable peeler or a spiralizer, peel zucchinis into long noodle shaped strips. Grind cashews to a fine powder in your blender, then add the water, garlic, lemon juice, pepper and salt. Process until a smooth and creamy consistency is reached, adding more water if needed.

Toss your noodles in the sauce, and add some chopped parsley and nutmeg to garnish.

Pesto Sauce

1 ripe avocado

1/2 cup fresh basil, tightly packed

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or more, to taste

Begin with the basil, lemon juice and garlic in a food processor. Process until the basil is broken down then add the avocado and sea salt and blend till smooth. You can also add 1/8 to 1/2 cup of pine nuts too (add these in the beginning with the basil if you want pine nuts)

Toss with the your zucchini pasta and enjoy.

Zucchini soup

Take two or three large zucchini, peeled and cooked in a can of low-fat chicken broth. Blend with an immersion blender to the consistency of Cream of Wheat. Add condensed milk to taste and to make creamy, and add salt and pepper and curry powder to taste. Top with a squeeze of lime. (Created for my dear friend Elsie Day.)

— Carla Browning

• This is very simple — and delicious.

Grill ribbons of zuchini. Once cooked, take a dollop of goat cheese, place on one ribbon and roll it up. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

— Kimberly Brock, Arlington, Va.

• I’m not much of a recipe person, but I loved grilled stuffed zucchini.

Use an ice cream scoop to hollow out halves of a large (Fairbanks large) zucchini. Chop the innards with onion, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil — sometimes other things, too, depending on your tastes. Place the stuffed zucchini halves on aluminum foil on the grill over medium heat for about half an hour.

— Frida Shroyer, Fairbanks

• I love to make zucchini straw fries, seasoned with fresh oregano salt. Zucchini slaw is amazing, and you make it like any regular coleslaw. You can even make a vegan friendly cake recipe with zucchini!!

— Kris Morton, Fairbanks

• Just grill up those bad boys — best way to eat it!

— Angela Somers Tritle, North Pole

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