Friday, August 13, 2010

Fruity Fun Friday- Zucchini! Whaaat?

Surprise! Zucchini is a fruit, which is really handy for today's Fruity Fun Friday since we have all that zucchini someone piled up on the front porch.

Botanically, anything with seeds is a fruit. All the other parts of a plant- stem, leaves, roots, etc- are vegetables. That's a pretty simplistic break down of fruit versus vegetable but it gets us mostly on the right road. Most of us know the botanical surprise that tomatoes are fruit but things like cucumbers, pumpkins, and green peppers are also fruit. That kind of flies in the traditional face of our understanding of fruit as being sweet but many fruit we treat, gastronomically, as vegetables. It doesn't really matter other than my trying to justify having zucchini as today's featured fruit. Just trying to get through the bounty.

Folks in South and Central American have been eating zucchini, which is a summer squash, for thousands of years. However, what we consider zucchini was probably developed in Italy. Christopher Columbus most likely took seeds back to the Mediterranean with him. Zucchino is the Italian word for small squash and squash comes from the Indian word skuatasquash, meaning "green thing eaten green." However, squash comes in a variety of shapes, from cucumber-like to bottle shaped to the blossom shaped patty pan squash. It's color ranges from deep green to light green to yellow to white. And of course it comes in a variety of sizes, depending on how many days- hours?- since you checked your garden.

One medium zucchini has about 20 calories and contains calcium, potassium, Vitamins A, B, and C as well as folic acid. Zucchini is a good source of dietary fiber.

 So- let's get rid of some zukes!

Garden Zucchini Pie

Zuke Pie

Recipe Book

This is another of those recipes that came from a magazine years ago but I am unable to tell you which one, where, or when. I can tell you that I've had it longer than eleven years because that was B.K. (before kid), when I had time to type up my recipes and add them to my binder. Now I just shove the recipe into the binder on whatever piece of paper it happens to be scribbled.

3 cups of frozen loose-packed shredded hash browns, thawed
4 eggs- total (you won't use these all at the same time in preparation)
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (or a tad more)
2-3 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 tbsp margarine or butter
3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese (about 3 oz)
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp snipped fresh oregano (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper (or to taste)

Hash brown crust

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 egg, onion,  and Parmesan cheese. Stir in the potatoes. Transfer potato mixture to a greased 9-inch pie plate or 10-inch square dish. Pat the mixture in the bottom and up the sides of the dish. Bake, uncovered, in at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until the potaotes are golden brown.

Reduce oven to 350 degrees.

Zuchinni Mixture

While the potatoes are baking, saute the garlic in butter. Add zucchini and cook until the zucchini is "crisp-tender." Arrange the zucchini mixture in the potato crust.

Egg and Cheese Mixture

In a small mixing bowl combine remaining 3 eggs, cheese, milk, oregano, salt, and pepper. Pour on top of zucchini. Confession- I usually sprinkle on some extra Parmesan at this stage.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the filling appears set when gently shaken. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Garden Zuke Pie

Notes- You can make the crust ahead of time- it freezes well. Just thaw it in the refrigerator before using. And off course you can use egg substitute instead of the real eggs.

Humor me- one more mosaic before we go.

Hey, it's been fun today. Keep working at that pile of zucchini. I'm going to go surfing for Curry Zucchini Pickles, pictured in the first mosaic of today's post.

Check back again for a new tutorial-
Faux Stained Glass.

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