“It’s a remarkably underappreciated product”
Harvesting zucchini can be like a game of whack-a-mole: for every one you pick, another seems to pop up. Trying to keep up might just drive you out of your gourd.
Karl MacKinnon (Cooking ’14) can help preserve your sanity. He's the central kitchen chef for Hoot, the company behind DOSC, a downtown Edmonton restaurant featuring Western European flavours, mainly French,where MacKinnon previously served as head chef.
Over his years in the industry he’s developed a deep respect for zucchini, including during half-a-year at the celebrated Septime in Paris, where “courgette is in everything,” says MacKinnon.
“There’s quite a bit of versatility with zucchini. It’s a remarkably underappreciated product.”
To help you get the upper hand on this highly productive plant, and turn garden excess into culinary success, MacKinnon offers six recipes.
6 ideas for cooking with fresh zucchini, from Chef Karl MacKinnon
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel long, even ribbons of zucchini, starting from the top, at the stem, to the root.
- Season the ribbons with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice.
- Stand them on their sides in a unique pattern on a plate and garnish with pea shoots and English peas.
- Grate pecorino romano cheese over the plate and finish with coarsely cracked black pepper.
- Lay parchment on the bottom of a baking tray and then evenly spread your preferred tomato sauce over the parchment.
- Using a mandolin, slice zucchini, tomato, white onion and Japanese eggplant into even rounds.
- Shingle the vegetables over the tomato sauce and then lightly coat with neutral cooking oil (such as canola, peanut or grape seed) and season with salt and pepper.
- Place a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme and 2 cloves of garlic over the vegetables and then cover the tray with tinfoil.
- Bake at 425 F for 12-15 minutes and then remove the tinfoil, the garlic and the herbs and bake for an additional 5-8 minutes.
- Cut a small eggplant, 2 zucchini, a red pepper and a white onion into small cubes and sauté them in a nonstick frying pan until they are fork tender.
- Transfer the vegetables to a pot and cover with tomato sauce.
- Cook the caponata down until it has reduced by half and then season with salt, pepper and red wine vinegar. (Go light on the vinegar – no more than a teaspoon per litre of caponata.)
- Garnish with mint, ricotta cheese, green olives, pine nuts and capers.
- Serve with a sturdy French bread or baguette.
Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms
- Carefully pull back the petals on a zucchini blossom and stuff with equal parts 'nduja (an Italian pork paste, which can be sourced from Italian Centre) and ricotta cheese.
- Carefully fold the petals back over the stuffing and then season with salt and pepper.
- Dredge the zucchini blossom through a light tempura batter that is equal parts flour to ice cold water, and 1 large egg.
- Deep fry at 325 F until the zucchini blossom is golden brown.
- (There’s a similar process going on in this video, which uses a different stuffing.)
- Slice the zucchini lengthwise and then season with salt, pepper and a light drizzle of neutral oil.
- Preheat your grill to 425 F and then grill the zucchini on both sides for 3 minutes in total.
- Consider serving with red meat and garnish with salsa verde.
How to make salsa verde
- Mix with the juice and zest of one lemon, half a cup of extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
- Finely chop by hand 1 bunch of parsley, 1 tbsp of fresh capers, 2 cloves of garlic, 8 thyme sprigs and 1 cup of basil.
- Cut a zucchini lengthwise into four even rectangles and then lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Toss the zucchini in all-purpose flour, then in whisked egg whites and finally coat with panko bread crumbs.
- Deep fry at 325 F in neutral oil for 4-5 minutes.
Bonus recipe: Classic, tried-and-true zucchini muffins
What article about zucchini would be complete without a recommendation for baking? Not this one! We asked Farrow head baker Amy Mancor (Baking '08), who offered this recipe for muffins.
“This is my mom's recipe,” says the mastermind behind the Edmonton-based coffeeshop’s cronuts and cookie sandwiches. “I've been eating these since I was very little!”
- 2 cups white sugar
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup oil (canola works well)
- 2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cardamom (“optional but it's amazing,” says Mancor)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (also optional)
- “I always start with my wet ingredients,” says Mancor. Mix them together lightly, mostly just to break up the eggs.
- Sift together dry ingredients and add them to wet ingredients.
- Scoop evenly into lined or greased muffin tins and bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Originally published Aug. 26, 2021
Banner image Olesia Shadrina/istockphoto.com