It’s that time of year. The lazy, hazy days of summer. The hammock and a tall, cold drink. And then there’s the zucchini. Don’t you love that first zucchini? You sauté it and relish its fresh, clean flavor, thinking, “I could eat these forever”. Two weeks later, you have 10 zucchini coming in daily off of the 3 plants you planted, you’re praying for squash borers will attack, and you don’t want to ever see another zucchini as long as you live. You’ve sliced, diced, steamed, sautéed, deep-fried, pan-fried, grilled, creamed, baked, roasted and stuffed the little dears. You’ve given them away to anyone within a mile of your house. You drop them into the open windows of cars in parking lots. You’re done with zucchini.
Then, you find that one, lurking under the leaves. You know what I mean. We’ve all been there. This thing is 16 inches long and about 4-5 inches in diameter. It’s a beast. It’s a monster. And you’re just about ready to lob it onto the compost heap, all the while wondering how you could possible have missed something the sized of a small dog. Wait! Wait! Wait! There’s another option. There really is. Make an “apple” crisp.
No, there’s no apples in this crisp. Only zucchini. And oddly enough, it works. It really does. Think about it. Cinnamon, sugar, allspice, arrowroot and then a nice crunchy crisp topping. It’s all the good stuff and zucchini has a similar texture…so why not? And you’ll be glad you did. A number of recipes on the internet suggest cooking the mixture first, but I couldn’t see any reason to do that, and it worked just fine. The zucchini still has a nice little bit of texture to it, that I think would be compromised if you pre-cooked it.
There is one caveat. The Goddess thinks it’s best not to mention the pesky little fact that this crisp actually contains NO apples. Nada. Nary a one. She keeps that little fact to herself. Some things just shouldn’t be shared, YET. And when her guests are deep into their crisps, with the vanilla ice cream meandering through the crispy topping, and lovingly caressing the bits of “apple”, then…and only then, does she let her guests know that she has been just a tad less than forthcoming with the truth. By this time, it’s too late…they’re hooked!
No-Apple, Apple Crisp
- 6-8 cups cubed peeled zucchini, peeled and seeds removed
- 1 handful dried cranberries (about 1/2 cup+-)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch (see NOTE)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (Vietnamese if possible)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- Large pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate (FAJC) or maple syrup
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup quick oats (not instant), rubbed between your fingers
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- Large pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans (optional)
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
Heat oven to 375°F. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
Thinly slice or dice the zucchini. Add to a large bowl, along with the dried cranberries, lemon juice, sugars, arrowroot, spices and salt. Pour into the prepared baking dish (or ramekins), drizzle with the FAJC or maple syrup and sprinkle on the topping to cover. Bake for 35-50 minutes or until the “apple” slices are just tender. Remove from the oven; cool at least 15 minutes or to room temperature. Excellent with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A drizzle of caramel sauce in nice, too.
To prepare the topping: Mix the dry ingredients together; stir in the butter. Crumble the mixture over the prepared fruit in the baking pan, covering it completely or as well as possible. As it bakes, this will spread and become very crisp. Lay a sheet of foil on top, if you think the crisp is browning too fast.
NOTE: This recipe works well ONLY if you use the extra-large zucchini (14-20 inches). (Smaller zucchini contain too much water and you may end up with a soupy mess.) Large zukes have a tougher skin (that’s why we peel the beast). Remove the seeds, which are pretty much inedible. What you will end up with are half-moon slices of zucchini, which you just cut into “apple” like slices. If you use the larger amount of zucchini, use and extra teaspoon of arrowroot or cornstarch).
No-Apple Apple Crisp Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
Hopefully this will help you with your abundance of zucchini. Summer produce is wonderful, except when the garden over-produces. You become overwhelmed. It happens to anyone who gardens. There are only so many things you can make with zucchini and it doesn’t freeze well, at all. For those of you who can and preserve your summer abundance for the winter months, one thing to remember is…anything you can use cucumbers to make (pickles, chutney or relish), you can use zucchini for. It makes a great hot dog relish.
So relax, there’s no need to panic. There are plenty of interesting options to use up the ballast that can be zucchini.