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What to make with an onslaught of zucchini

Elspeth Hay

The other day I was chatting with farmer David Light at the Wellfleet Farmers Market and I happened to remark on his giant pile of zucchini.

"This is just the beginning. I've already thrown away about 50 to 80 pounds that got too big," David said.

I was shocked.

"It grows overnight. You miss a day of picking, and then you've got pregnant baseball bats," he explained.

Every gardener’s been there. You go away for a day, peer under the leaves, and are alarmed to find that the small, reasonable little squashes from yesterday have doubled in size. But I hate to see zucchini go to waste. So after talking with David, I roamed the market, asking vendors and customers for their best zucchini ideas.

"My favorite thing to do with zucchini is make zucchini noodles," Alyssa Staker, the Wellfleet Farmers Market manager said. She added, "we slice them really thin and then slice the thin slices into noodle-like pieces."

I asked her to explain.

"Yes, slice them thin and then slice them again, and you can blanch them or, you know, cook them up a little bit. I think keeping them a little crunchy is as good. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, any other veggies you want to throw in, maybe some meat or fish and you got a delicious healthy meal."

Another vendor had a similar idea — cut the zucchini into long thin slices and use them like sheets of pasta in a lasagna with ground beef, tomato sauce, and plenty of cheese. Greek food vendors Maria Lemanis and George Tselepis say in their home country, there’s a popular zucchini go-to.

It's like zucchini fritters.

George explained the Kolokithokeftedes recipe, "Shred the zucchini, baking powder, flour, onions, garlic, uh, eggs if you want parsley. And a little dill."

You form this mixture into balls or patties kind of like latkes and then fry them up in olive oil.

Elspeth Hay

Kolokithokeftedes is the Greek word. I had George repeat it one more time.

Maria says it basically just means zucchini balls. Diana Matherly of Truro prefers her zucchini cooked in the oven:

"I make fries out of it. Fries? Yeah. You can take and cut it up. Bread it a little bit. Panko crumbs, Parmesan cheese, a little olive oil. Put it in the oven. You eat it up," she explained.

It sounds delicious. Dicree Rai and her son David, who are farmers in Truro and are originally from Nepal, say they cook their zucchini the same way they do most veggies — in a stir fry:

"Not too long cook, very thin slice," Dicree said.

I asked if they add garlic.

"Garlic, yeah, onion, pepper, fenugreek, cumin! Most of our recipes have the five of those, the garlic, onion, pepper, and the cumin and fenugreek," Dicree and David explained.

I’ve had all sorts of different vegetables Dicree has cooked with this way — potatoes, beans, even a bitter squash, and they’re all addictively good with these traditional Nepalese spices. Now I want to try zucchini too. Last but not least, we have an idea for a baked good from Wellfleet teen Alyia Vasquez:

"My mom makes a chocolate zucchini cake. It's like a regular chocolate cake, but she puts a lot of zucchini in it," Alyia said.

That just so happens to be one of my favorite ways to use up a glut of zucchini too.


Kolokithokeftedes (Greek Zucchini Fritters): https://deliciouslittlebites.com/kolokithokeftedes/

Nepali Zucchini Stir Fry: https://medium.com/@mamta.basnet/zucchini-2f04b06444da

Zucchini Lasagna: https://healthyrecipesblogs.com/zucchini-lasagna/

Chocolate Zucchini Cake: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/chocolate-zucchini-cake/#tasty-recipes-67750

Pan Seared Halibut with Zucchini Noodles: https://www.feastingathome.com/pan-seared-halibut-with-lemony-zucchini-noodles/

An avid locavore, Elspeth lives in Wellfleet and writes a blog about food. Elspeth is constantly exploring the Cape, Islands, and South Coast and all our farmer's markets to find out what's good, what's growing and what to do with it. Her Local Food Report airs Thursdays at 8:30 on Morning Edition and 5:45pm on All Things Considered, as well as Saturday mornings at 9:30.