Zucchini Empire

July 19, 2019

I swear those zucchini I planted are on steroids! You got to get them when they are small, not baseball size because small means not only tender, but a lot less of those pesky seeds and a not so watery texture. If I let my guard down, even for a day, they multiply like rabbits, creating an empire out to conquer my garden. So I snatch them when they are about 8 inches long. With small zucchini you can go wild; fry them like potato chips, grate them for a salad, use them as a sauce for pasta, make zucchini fritters, pancakes, muffins, bread and cookies. Use shredded zucchini in frittata, turn it into a crust for pizza and of course, add it to your smoothie. My favorite? Zucchini meatballs!They are a cinch to make, are light in texture, taste great, are perfect as an appetizer when made mini size and will satisfy the vegetarians among us. Change the texture by adding pine nuts or raisins or come up with your own additions. Leftover rice or quinoa could be substituted for the breadcrumbs. Zucchini rules the summer garden!

Zucchini Meatballs
Serves 8-10

2 medium size zucchini, shredded on the largest hole on a stand cheese grater
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced

1-1/4 cups fresh bread crumbs 

1/2 cup minced fresh Italian parsley leaves 

1 teaspoon fine sea salt 

1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

2/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese 

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Tomato sauce (optional)

Spread the zucchini out on non-stick bake sheets and place them in a pre-heated 350F. Turn off the heat and allow zucchini to “dry” out for a couple of hours. This step can be done a day ahead.

In a large bowl, 

combine the bread crumbs, parsley, salt, oregano, eggs, and cheese in a large bowl. Coarsely chop the zucchini and add to the bowl and mix well. Refrigerate mixture for 20 minutes.

Scoop small amounts of the mixture into your hands and form meatballs the size of a small egg (to make about 18) or make them bigger if you want. Roll the balls in the flour.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat, then fry the meatballs, turning them occasionally so they brown evenly, or bake them in an oiled casserole dish in a preheated 350°F oven until browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to the to sauce and serve hot.

Recipe from my new book,Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy.

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