A colleague of mine who is a keen gardener and has an allotment, turned up to work one day with what he called “mutant zucchini”, offering them to anyone interested. I asked him why they were named so and if one should be eating them given they were mutant. Apparently they just grew really rapidly and doubled in size overnight, thus making them mutant. Convinced that I wasn’t going to be eating anything toxic, I brought home 1 giant yellow and 1 giant green zucchini.
That was the easy bit. The hard part was to figure out what to do with them. Zucchini bread maybe – but I didn’t ave the patience or the time to knead and allow the dough to rise. Zucchini cake – I didn’t think vegetable cakes would go down too well and I would end up with most of the cake in my belly. So I did the usual thing of querying fellow wordpressers for some ideas. Lots of great stuff out there but I settled on this one for proportions http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/zucchini_breakfast_casserole/. As with most recipes, I added my own things to it and removed things I didn’t feel like using. I served my zucchini bake with a tomato chutney (that I will provide a recipe for) and some rosemary bread (thank you Waitrose!) . Hope you like it.
Ingredients (Makes 4 large or 8 small servings):
For the zucchini bake
2 large zucchini, grated
10 sundried tomato, thinly sliced
20-25 green olives, chopped in half
200 grams of feta, chopped into small bits
1 cup of grated parmesan
4 slices of bread, chopped into cubes ( I used a pair of scissors to cut the bread)
10-15 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
Pepper to suit your taste
For the tomato chutney
1 can of chopped, roma tomatoes
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated
2.5 cm thick piece of ginger, finely chopped or grated
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of ground red chilli, garam masala or curry powder(optional)
salt to suit your taste
1 tablespoon of oil
1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC
2. Place the grated zucchini in a colander in your kitchen sink, sprinkle salt over it, toss the zucchini to coat it with salt. Allow to drain for 10-15 minutes. The salt, by the mechanism of osmosis (thank you high school biology), draws out the moisture from the zucchini. If you don’t squeeze the moisture out, you might have a slightly soggy zucchini bake (Picture 1).
3. Break 6 eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk lightly (Picture 2).
4. To the whisked eggs, add the feta, parmesan and pepper and whisk these ingredients into the eggs (Picture 3&4).
5. Add the chopped sundried tomatoes, olives and basil to the mixture in step 4 and mix well (Pictures 5 & 6).
6. Place the chopped bread in a small bowl and sprinkle just enough moisture to make it soft. Allow to soak for 5-10 minutes. Then squeeze the moisture out of the bread and add the softened bread to the mixture in step 5 above (Pictures 7, 8 and 9). The bread adds thickness to the bake and acts as a binding agent at the same time.
7. Finally, squeeze as much water out of the zucchini as you can, add it to the mixture in step 6 above and stir until well combined (Pictures 10 & 11). I’d take handfuls of grated zucchini in my palm and squeeze the water out using my fingers as if I were forming a ball out of the zucchini.
8. Line a large lasagne dish with non-stick baking paper. Just to make extra sure that the bake isn’t going to stick to the dish, grease the baking paper with vegetable oil (Picture 12). This will mean that washing up won’t be a hassle.
9. Pour the mixture from step 7 above into the lined baking tray and flatten the top with the palm of your hand (Picture 13). Wet your hands so that the mixture won’t stick to your palm when you flatten the top.
10. Bake at 175ºC for 30 minutes. If your oven is like mine and the bake is still wobbly and pale at this stage, increase the temperature to 200ºC and bake for another 15 minutes. The top should be golden brown and the whole bake should be firm when it is done (Picture 14).
11. Allow the bake to cool for 5 minutes before making 4 large or 8 small, rectangular slices with it (Picture 15).
12. To make the tomato chutney, heat the oil in a pot and add the ginger, garlic and onion to the oil. When the onion turns light brown, add the tomatoes, salt, sugar and mix well. Cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, until it is thick and most of the moisture has evaporated. Stir in the chill, garam masala or curry powder and take the pot off the heat.
13. Serve the zucchni bake with some tomato chutney and a piece of rosemary foccacia (shop-bought, see main picture) or any other bread .