Food Columnist Judi Leaming welcomes the addition of three zucchini recipes, including Zucchini Apple Soup, Zucchinin Pie, and Quick Zucchini Cake.


Earlier this summer I was invited to join with a group of ladies here in Cambridge, Md., for a monthly Lunch Bunch gathering hosted by Julianna Pax. Julie earned a doctoral degree from the University of Maryland in nutrition science and she and her husband Charlie moved to Cambridge to enjoy their retirement years. Julie may have retired from the Montgomery County (Maryland) Public School system but she continues to share her skills with students at Chesapeake College, through her volunteer work at the Adkins Arboretum and with the friends that she hosts around her dining room table for her Lunch Bunch gatherings.

Julie analyzes recipes (many from the cookbooks that she has written), plans the menus and then hands out copies of the recipes for Lunch Bunch volunteers to prepare and enjoy together at the monthly lunches. Back in June I had nervously raised my hand and volunteered to make the Zucchini Apple Soup recipe for the August luncheon. The day before the scheduled luncheon I set about preparing the soup and was astounded at how easy it was to make and how amazingly delicious it smelled. I admit that Spicer and I both took a few spoonfuls when it was hot off the stove and neither of us was overwhelmed. How could something that smelled so good taste so blah?

I did not look forward to sharing my soup with a group of very new friends but what choice did I have? I knew that I had followed the recipe exactly as written and I reluctantly set off for Julie’s with containers of the chilled soup – and a feeling of failure. The soup was served in the white bowls that Julie provided and the color certainly was pleasing. Nervously I tasted my offering and overnight my failure had turned into a culinary success! What a difference a day makes! Overnight, the ingredients had mellowed into a most wonderful palate pleasing soup that I am pleased to share here with you.

The Zucchini Pie recipe called for using just 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese but we were enjoying a meatless meal and so I changed the type of cheese and added extra to get a little more protein into the recipe. I think you’ll even find that this appeals to the many folks who might otherwise say, “I don’t eat zucchini.” Further, they won’t even realize that the “hidden” ingredient (rich in fiber content) in the Quick Zucchini Cake is the zucchini. Just pass this off as a spice cake and everyone should be more than happy.

ZUCCHINI APPLE SOUP
(adapted from recipe shared by Julianna Pax)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon canola oil (*)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup chopped shallots or green onions
3 medium size zucchini, scrubbed, unpeeled and cut into small chunks
4 cups (32-ounces) low sodium chicken broth
3 green apples, unpeeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Place butter and oil in a soup pot and heat. Add the dry spices and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the scallions (or green onions) and sauté for 2 minutes more. Add the zucchini and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add the chicken broth and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the apples and simmer for 3 more minutes until apples become soft. Remove from heat. Carefully pour portions of the hot mixture into a food processor or blender to no more than half full and process until smooth. Pour into large bowl and continue until all of the soup is processed and smooth. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to blend. Serve cold. Can be frozen. Serves 4 to 6.
* Very important info: Purchase Canola oil in small size bottle and always refrigerate after it has been opened!

ZUCCHINI “PIE”
(adapted from www.allrecipes.com
3 cups unpeeled zucchini, diced
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
1 cup buttermilk baking mix
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Canola or vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-by-6-inch baking dish or 12-inch pie plate and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl combine zucchini, onion, dry baking mix, marjoram and cheese and stir together to mix. Make a well in the center and stir in the beaten eggs and vegetable oil until well mixed and moistened. Spread in prepared baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

QUICK ZUCCHINI CAKE
(from “The Best of Country Cooking”)
1 (18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups unpeeled, grated zucchini
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a standard tube pan and set aside. In a large mixing bowl combine dry cake mix, beaten eggs, vegetable oil, cinnamon and vanilla and beat with mixer for 4 to 6 minutes. Fold in zucchini, raisins and nuts. (If the zucchini seems to have a high water content after it is grated, place it in a colander and allow it to drain for about 15 minutes before using.) Spread mixed batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes then remove from pan and place on wire rack to cool completely.