The whole thing was sort of a mystery to me. Why was there so much zucchini? Why were people planting zucchini if they only ended up being burdened by so much zucchini? Was zucchini a force for good or evil? Inevitably, my mom would put a basket out on our front lawn, fill it with zucchinis, and put up a "free" sign. By the end of the day, they were usually gone. I was fascinated by the whole affair... some people would walk right by (no interest in zucchini!), and others would happily take one or two.
Every year, as you may have experienced yourself, life would get in the way... and suddenly there would be a few huge zucchinis floating around the kitchen. My grandparents would try to give us zucchini, we would try to give them zucchini, it was a mess! I remember that the giant zucchinis in particular always brought out a lot of humor and excitement, and so some how they felt very special and magical to me.
It turns out that we weren't the only family to suffer from the annual zucchini problem. So, my mom and some of her co-workers at Planned Parenthood, got to work making a little cookzine called "The Zucchini Cookbook." Yes, my mom is so cool that she was making zines before zines were zines. They published this little book in 1974... just as a local fundraising project. Before long, their story got picked up by the New York Times (!!), and in the end they sold over 25,000 copies. !!!!
One of the many family favorites to originate from this tiny tome was Stuffed Zucchini, and it is a particularly useful idea if you have a ginormous zucchini on hand. This was something we ate quite often in the summertime. This year, for the first time in my adult life, I actually grew zucchini. And then, sure enough, I got busy, and before long I had a giant zucchini! Luckily, I had a lifetime of preparation for this event, and I knew just what to make:
- a rough outline, not really a recipe
The Zucchini Cookbook suggested parboiling my zucchini for 7-10 minutes to soften it, but I did not have a pot big enough for my giant zucchini. So, I poured boiling water over it and let it soak for about 10 minutes. Not sure if this helped.
I cut the zuke in half lengthwise, scooped and discarded the seeds (the seeds are too woody when your zuke gets this big), and then also scooped out (and saved) a bunch of the flesh.
Then I sauteed some onion, garlic and Italian spices (basil/oregano/thyme/red pepper flakes/salt/black pepper). Then I chopped up and added in the extra zucchini bits. I mixed all that together with some slow-roasted tomatoes and tofu ricotta, and then filled my two zucchinis. On top, I added bread crumbs (mixed with a teaspoon of olive oil and a dash of salt). I baked it for about 45 minutes at 350, but I imagine it's quite variable. The main thing is to make sure your zucchini shell is tender and cooked through.
It was really delicious!
ps. I actually have one more GIANT zucchini that is so huge I feel threatened by it. I think a small tribe of people could sail across the Pacific in it. Perhaps I will make some zucchini bread with it (another family favorite).