If you have an excess of zucchini this recipe is for you. Not only does it produce a wonderful zucchini side dish, it works for large, flavourless zucchini too and uses up a lot of zucchini!
Zucchini or courgette is one of those vegetables that proliferate profusely and before long anyone growing it will have a whole lot of zucchini that they find themselves giving away to anyone that will take it.
Zucchini is a vegetable high in water and fibre, Vitamins C and A, potassium and folate that isn't particularly strong in flavour so it makes for a good background player to boost the vegetable content without altering flavour. Roasting or baking zucchini draws out the water and concentrates the flavours so that they caramelise. You'll be surprised at how quickly 6-7 zucchinis cook down to a side dish that can feed 2 people. This is another recipe from my chef friend Monica whose mother used to make this. She says the key to this is to not be afraid of the zucchini getting soft.
Readers may know what a fan I am of roasting vegetables. I often have a container of roasted vegetables in my fridge especially during winter that I throw into salads. Roasting caramelises the natural sugars in vegetables so that they're sweet and delicious and you barely have to do anything except cut them up and pop them in the oven.
How to pick zucchini and store it: look for the stems of the zucchini. If they are soft or mushy or discoloured, the zucchini is getting old. Also the freshest zucchini feels heavy for its weight. Look for smaller, slender zucchini-the larger the zucchini the less flavour it has! Store your zucchini in a paper bag. I am always amazed when zucchini remains unbruised because whenever I touch it I nick my nail on it and scratch the skin!
Condiment vs vinegar: Condiment is vinegar with added sugars or honey to reduce and make it a sweet vinegar condiment. It's more viscous than straight vinegar because it has been cooked down with sugars. It somewhat mimics the flavour of an aged balsamic vinegar but is obviously much less expensive because it is not aged at all.
What else to make with excess zucchini? Zucchini slice, zucchini gratin, zucchini pickles, Zucchini, Fig and Goat's Cheese Salad, Parsnip Zucchini Fritters, BBQ'd Zucchini, Pearl Barley & Whipped Feta Salad or zucchini coconut bread are all deliciously wonderful ways of using up zucchini!
I waited until I had stockpiled way too many zucchini to fit in my crisper to make this recipe. I know that this recipe isn't the easiest sell visually because it doesn't look like much nor does it have a lot of ingredients but when my friend Monica says that it is good, I know that it will be because she and I are food twins.
We are linked in other ways. For example I recently learned that I share my birthday with her father whom she loves but has an challenging relationship with. When she told me I gave her a look that said, "Eeeek!" and she laughed and said, "Don't worry, I share a birthday with Bill Cosby!". Touché!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you ever have an excess of zucchini? And who do you share your birthday with?
Italian Roasted Zucchini
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott from Monica Luppi
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 1:5 hours
- 6-7 zucchini (around 750g/26.5ozs.)
- 4 tablespoons/80ml/2.8flozs. olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
- 3 teaspoons/15ml/0.5oz. balsamic condiment, red wine vinegar or white wine condiment
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 170C/340F and line 2 baking trays with parchment. Top and tail the zucchini and then cut into large pieces (they will shrink a lot). I basically cut one down the centre and then cut into 1cm/half inch pieces. Toss in olive oil and salt. Roast for 30 minutes, then turn over and roast for another 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes
Step 2 - Turn over again-you will cook it this for another 20-30 minutes. Don't be afraid for the zucchini to become mushy and soft. It will caramelise, some bits will be dark and they're also delicious. Cool for 10 minutes and then toss with balsamic or red or white wine vinegar condiment.
After 1.5 hours, zucchini is roasted and caramelised