I’d like to start off with a zucchini quote of my own:
“A noticeable odor during the late summer months is the stink of zucchinis rotting in the landfills.”
The Rodney Dangerfield of Vegetables
A zucchini gets no respect. It isn’t as cool as a cucumber, as colorful as a carrot, or as sexy a tomato. It’s not as versatile as a potato. It’s also not as useful as an ochre, nor does it have a rich history like that of the noble leek. As a matter of fact, it’s not even my favorite squash.
During summer when I arrive at work, there might be a box of mixed vegetables with a sign “Help Yourself.” When I leave at the end of the day, if anything’s left in the box, it’s always the zucchinis.
What can one do with zucchinis? Lots actually, although I’m sure this has caused lots of head-scratching at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute. I’ve noticed zucchini recipes over the years, but they have never quite captured my imagination. As a result, it’s one of the vegetables I’ve been guilty of avoiding.
My Zucchini Breakthrough – the Soufflé
My attitude changed when I saw a zucchini soufflé listed as a side dish on a restaurant menu. I thought zucchini in a soufflé sounded interesting and intriguing, so I ordered it. Much to my surprise I found it to be delicious. I did an internet search for “zucchini soufflé” and found the following recipe. Because of the heaviness of the ingredients, it is not as light and airy as a cheese soufflé. But it does puff up never the less.
The flavors are delightful, and it makes for an interesting presentation having a ramekin containing a soufflé in front of each guest. I usually serve it with a white fish and coarsely mashed red potatoes. I pair it with a glass of chardonnay, and it is one of my favorite meals.
Some butterFor greasing ramekins
1Onion large white finely chopped
1 tspGarlic minced
2-3Zucchinis (medium) finely grated
To tasteSalt and pepper
8 oz.Gruyere cheese grated
1/4 cupParsley chopped
You can substitute the zucchini with a 10 oz. bag of spinach, chopped and cooked the same way. Drain the liquid if there is any.
Ahead of time liberally butter the 1 1/2 cup soufflé ramekins.
Be sure everything is finely chopped or the soufflé will have difficulty rising.
Enter target time ___________.
Time: 60 Minutes before target time
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Put oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
When it’s hot, add the onion and cook about 5 minutes. Add the garlic after the onions have cooked a bit.
Add the zucchini to the skillet. Add salt and pepper. Continue stirring occasionally until very tender, about another 8 minutes. Let it cool.
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and cheese with some salt and pepper.
Add the vegetables and parsley to the egg/cheese mixture and stir.
In a clean, dry bowl (preferably copper), beat the egg whites with a whisk until they are light and fluffy. When lifting the whisk out of the bowl, the egg whites should be stiff enough to hold.
Add about 1/3 of the egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it.
VERY gently fold the rest of the whites using a cut-and-fold technique. Note: Try not to deflate the egg whites too much. The egg whites don’t have to be completely incorporated.
Pour the soufflé mixture into the ramekins. Note: I run a sharp knife between the sides of the soufflé and the ramekins. Bake until golden and puffy, about 30 minutes, and serve immediately. The soufflés will not puff up like a cheese soufflé because it is carrying the onions, garlic, and the zucchinis. Within minutes out of the oven it will probably fall a bit, but that’s okay. It won’t affect the taste.
And surprise. Elegance from the lowly zucchini. Aren’t they lovely?