I hated zucchini when I was a kid. My mom always let them grow to ginormous proportions in our garden before she picked them and then she would slice them and cook them a la 1950’s, until they lost all turgor, color and flavor. So there they would sit, all flaccid and grey on my plate, waiting for me to eat them. They looked like the slugs Mom salted on the sidewalk at night. To make matters worse, my parents grew up in the Depression-era and thought cleaning ones plate was the Eleventh Commandment, so my only hope was our miniature schnauzer, Felicia. I would silently beckon her from under the table, praying she would be in the mood for
slugs vegetables. Sometimes she was, and sometimes she just sniffed them and walked off. I don’t blame her. Those were the nights I had to excuse myself to “go to the bathroom” and then take a giant bite right before I went. (You know the drill – you were a kid once.)
Fast forward about 20 years: My kids’ dad and I were invited to the home of our friends, Bob and Vicky, for dinner. When we arrived, Vicky informed us that we were having, among other things, fresh zucchini. She was so perky and excited about it, like it was something to look forward to: I just smiled politely and steeled myself against the oncoming social demand to eat what I was served. So imagine my surprise when Vicky placed before me a dish of lovely little green and yellow coins, lightly seasoned and perfectly tender-crisp. I nearly asked her what they were – I didn’t recognize them as zucchini at all! And they were delicious! I mean, really, really delicious!!
A side note: That night over dinner, Vicky told us that those little zucchinis were from her very own garden and that it was the first time she had ever planted zucchini. She went on to say that she had no idea how prolific they were, so she had planted about twelve zucchini hills, if I remember right. If you’ve ever grown zucchini, you know what that means! She had piles of them!!! Mountains of them!!! Needless to say, we had a good laugh and went home with a bag of little zukes that night – and I was thrilled to have them!
It’s been a long time since I discovered my love for zucchini, and I’ve had lots of opportunities to learn how versatile they are. Last week I decided to come up with an easy-to-fix, low-fat, delicious zucchini main dish recipe, and I’m not bragging, but I completely nailed it!!! Enjoy!
Baked Zucchini Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Red Pepper Sauce
- 2 large red peppers sliced in half and deseeded
- 2 large tomatoes sliced in half
- 1 Anaheim pepper or 4 ounces canned mild green chilies
- 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Zest of one lemon
- 2 1/2 cups grated zucchini
- 1/2 roasted red pepper chopped fine
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs use gluten-free bread to make this recipe gluten-free
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
On a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, season vegetables peppers and tomatoes and broil on top rack - 8 minutes on each side. Allow to cool and then remove skins. Set aside 1/2 red pepper to use for Zucchini Cakes.
Put roasted peppers, tomatoes, Old Bay, lemon juice and zest in blender and blend until smooth.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).
In a medium bowl, combine grated zucchini, chopped roasted pepper, bread crumbs, minced onion, and Old Bay.
In a small bowl, beat egg and yogurt together. Pour egg mixture into zucchini mixture and stir to combine.
Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray it with cooking spray. (This is important.) Form into cakes and place on parchment. I use a wide-mouth canning lid to make perfectly-formed cakes. Bake for 12-15 minutes, turn and bake another 12-15 minutes.
Serve with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.
If you double this recipe, do not double the egg & yogurt - it will make the cakes too moist. (Lesson learned.)