Too Much of a Gourd Thing

Recipes to celebrate national “sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor’s porch” day.

August in Virginia means big, bountiful veggies from gardens lovingly tended all summer long. But there’s one vegetable which oftentimes proves so abundant that growers find themselves puzzling over how to use the excess: zucchini.

In an effort to divest their plenty, garden growers around the Commonwealth take advantage of the free pass that is August 8—National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day. So to the zucchini sneakers, we recommend waiting until your neighbors leave for work; and for all of you zucchini recipients with too many delicious vegetables on your hands, whether you want to bake it, fry it or spiralize it—we’ve got four great recipes for making the most of it.

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Casserole

1 ½ pounds zucchini

1 ½ pounds yellow squash

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 mid-sized red pepper, cut into medium dice

½ pound shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup sour cream

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons chopped chives

½ cup chicken stock

1 cup bread crumbs

Wash and slice the squash into ¼-inch rounds, then steam for 1 to 2 minutes. Sauté the onion, garlic and red pepper and season with salt and pepper. Add the squash to the onion mixture and mix well. Correct seasoning and add chives. Layer the vegetables into a casserole or other oven-proof dish. In a saucepan, heat chicken stock and cheddar until cheese melts, then fold in sour cream and heavy cream and warm gently so the cream doesn’t curdle. Add salt and pepper, and a little cayenne and/or nutmeg, if desired. Pour over casserole, then sprinkle with Parmesan and bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

Clay Trainum’s Pasta Al Amatriciana

1 quart tomato sauce

1 pound guanciale, cut into ¼” x 1” pieces

1 dried red pepper pod, no seeds, chopped

2 teaspoons raw sugar

2 pound spaghetti, bucatini or spiralized zucchini

Pecorino-Romano cheese

Photo by Jeff Farmer

Reduce the tomato sauce and chopped red pepper down to a thick sauce. In a separate pan, brown the guanciale nicely but don’t render out too much of the fat. Add the guanciale to the sauce along with 2-3 tablespoons of the rendered guanciale fat. Add the raw sugar, mix well and serve over your noodle of choice. Grate Pecorino-Romano cheese on top and enjoy.

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers with Ricotta, Hazelnuts and Mint

Photo by Fred + Elliott Photography

1 ounce chopped hazelnuts

8 zucchini flowers

8 ounces ricotta

1 egg

3 teaspoons fresh mint, chopped

6 ounces ice cold sparkling water

3 ½ ounces tempura flour

oil for frying

salt to taste

lemon wedges for garnish

In a dry skillet over low heat, lightly toast the hazelnuts and remove from heat to let cool. Remove the stamens from the flowers. Mix together the ricotta, hazelnuts, egg and mint. Add salt and pepper to taste, and blend well. Load the mixture into a pastry bag, and fill the flowers ¾ full, pinching or twisting the ends to seal them closed. Mix the sparkling water and tempura flour very lightly to make a batter – do not overmix. Pour canola oil into a deep pan or pot large enough to hold an inch or two of oil. Heat oil on medium-high until a few drops of tempura batter added to the oil crisp immediately. Lightly dip the flowers into the batter and carefully lower into the oil. Fry approximately 1 minute per side, then drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt while still hot, serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Pasta Primavera

For sauce:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, diced

1 large shallot, diced

1 cup chicken stock

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet, then add garlic and shallot and sauté until soft (not brown), approximately 1 minute. Add the stock and bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the cream and reduce for 3 to 4 minutes until slightly thick. Add ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

For vegetable mixture:

Photo by Fred + Elliott Photography

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 garlic clove, diced fine

6-8 button mushrooms, sliced

2 zucchinis, cut into desired shape

½ cup peas, blanched

½ cup asparagus spears, blanched

1 red pepper, sliced fine

½ cup tomato slices

1 tablespoon chopped chives for garnish

1 tablespoon chopped parsley for garnish 

Heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft. Add mushrooms and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the zucchini, peas, asparagus and red pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomato slices and season with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

For pasta:

1 pound, mixed, of fresh spinach, roasted red pepper and plain fettuccine pasta

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook pasta approximately 1 minute or until al dente. Drain and mix the vegetables and sauce together with the pasta. Garnish with remaining cheese and herbs.

Serves 4

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