My zuke glut this year was enjoyable to start with, but I soon got to the point of almost weeping to see those that I’d missed picking the morning before were doubled or tripled in size the following day. All the neighbours ended up with furtive deliveries to their doorsteps.
Still, my favorite ways of eating zuke are: raw, grated, in rice paper rolls (along with other fillings) or alone, grated with a scattering of finely chopped sage; fat slices drizzled with oil and tamari and grilled until blistered and browned (lovely meaty texture), or with pasta, lightly steamed or sauted with herbs.
Then there’s Annie Smither’s delicate soup recipe (see in epicure) – “…sweat off some onions, garlic and herbs in a little olive oil, add water, bring it to the boil and let it simmer for 15 minutes to develop a little flavour. Add finely sliced zucchinis, return them to the boil and simmer for a few minutes until just cooked. Blend in batches immediately and you will have preserved the colour and the sweetness of the vegetables. Season to taste….”
Then the cakes, my last resort/retort, made for our recent working bee. I used a mix of both carrot and zuke. Based on Stephanie’s recipes, one is gluten free. The other could be, but I used spelt flour from local Powlett Hill. The gluten free one could be vegan adapted by omiting the egg – will be moist enough without it, if zuke is included.
Stephanie Alexander’s Zucchini Cake :
220g unsalted butter, melted
1 cup castor sugar (I used raw, 3/4 cup is ample)
few drops of pure vanilla
2 cups of plain flour (I used wholemeal spelt)
pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
300g zucchini, roughly grated (I added a small grated carrot as well)
2/3 cup walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 220′C. Brush base and sides of a 1.5 litre loaf tin with a little of the melted butter and line base with baking paper.
In a food processor, blend eggs, sugar, vanilla and remaining butter. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together, then add to butter mixture and blend briefly until smooth. Tip into a bowl and fold in zucchini and walnuts.
Pour into prepared tin (I topped the mix with extra nuts for decoration) and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 180′C and bake for a further 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature before cutting.
Carrot (and Zuke) Cake, adapted from Stephanie
- 125g self raising flour (I used gluten free)
- ¾ brown sugar (1/2 cup is plenty, or instead of sugar use soaked raisins, apricots, or similar dried fruit, or a couple of tbsp of honey)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten (omit eggs for vegan cake; the extra zuke will provide moistness)
- 2 cups grated carrot (I added grated zuchinni, about 1 cup)
- ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts (I used suflower seeds and pumpkin seeds instead of nuts)
Preheat oven to 180C. Mix together flour, sugar and spices. Add oil and eggs and beat well. Stir in the carrot and walnuts, then pour the whole lot into a springform tin. Cook for about an hour. Cool it in the tin before turning it out.
(I probably adapted this cake way beyond the recipe, so good luck!)