As surely as the sun moves farther south in the sky, zucchini returns in abundance. I plant only one single zucchini plant, but even one can result in an overabundance. People always ask how to preserve zucchini and I tell them, you can preserve zucchini, but why bother? Zucchini pickles will always be mushier than cucumber pickles, frozen zucchini slices are too mushy to even consider eating, and grated frozen zucchini is a good only for zucchini breads and cakes. You can use it to add bulk and moisture, but it won't add anything in the way of flavor and very little in terms of nutrition.
Over the past few years, as I developed recipes using animal fats for my forthcoming book, The Fat Kitchen, I've taken a fresh look at all my favorite recipes and revised any that call for canola oil, which I no longer stock. Olive oil or melted butter works fine as the fat in the recipe below, and keeps it vegetarian. But -- and this should not be a surprise for anyone who is familiar with cooking with it -- duck fat, chicken fat, and bacon fat are all delicious here.
Zucchini Cheese Squares
My kids love these “zucchini pillows.” The texture is softer than a bread and denser than a soufflé, with just the trace of crunch from the onions. It makes a great side dish, especially on a picnic, where the squares can be eaten out of hand. You can use overgrown zucchini here.
3 cups grated zucchini or other summer squash
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil or melted and cooled butter or other animal fat (duck fat, chicken fat, goose fat, bacon fat, lard, or tallow).
3 large eggs, beaten
1. Combine the zucchini and salt in a colander and toss to mix. Set aside to drain for 30 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water.
2. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter a 7- by 11-inch or 9-inch round baking dish.
3. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add the zucchini, cheese, thyme, and pepper. Mix well with a fork, breaking up any clumps of zucchini. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil or fat and eggs. Pour into the zucchini mixture and mix well. Spread evenly in the baking dish.
4. Bake for about 35 minutes, until golden.
5. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from Serving Up the Harvest. © 2007, 2009 Andrea Chesman.