Monday was National Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch Day. The Aug. 8 “holiday,” according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, was some Pennsylvania man’s dead-of-night way of getting rid of his garden’s excess zucchini output.
I’m sorry I missed it. I’ve got about six zucchini the size of my forearm that are stuffed into the vegetable bin of my refrigerator. About six pounds of shredded zucchini sit in plastic bags in my freezer. And more zukes are on the way. In a burst of optimism, I had planted three zucchini plants in my raised beds last spring, thinking I’d find plenty of ways to use up this summer staple.
I was wrong.
By the looks of things, I need National Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch Day. I’m even willing to extend the festivities to the entire month of August.
My only problem with a national day, or month, devoted to anonymous zucchini porch offerings is that my neighbor grows zucchini, too, and at a much more aggressive pace than my three plants. She was leaving zucchini on my kitchen counter in June. I’m certain if I left some on her porch, I’d find them returned, with interest.
I needed a zucchini intervention, some advice on what to do with all this green squash. I needed the zucchini equivalent of the “Turkey Talk” hotline that Butterball operates around Thanksgiving.
I called Jamie Fiene.
“I knew it was Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch Day,” she told me when I reached her.
Fiene lives near Kenton and is the co-creator of Foodwifery.com, an online course that teaches traditional foodways. She’s an excellent resource for ways to save the season through canning, preserving and fermenting. Her cellphone number was the closest thing to a zucchini hotline I could find.
Though aware of the holiday, Fiene said she didn’t celebrate this year.
“I started hording my zucchini when I learned how to turn them into noodles,” she said.
Others call them “zoodles.” It involves taking a kitchen gadget called a spiralizer, which cuts zucchini and other vegetables into long, spaghetti-like strips. A classic mandolin will also do the job, but the end product will look more like tagliatelle.
Once zoodled, the zucchini is salted and allowed to release its abundant liquid, then either parboiled in boiling water or quickly sautéed in a hot pan with a little olive oil and some smashed garlic cloves. Add your favorite marinara sauce and freshly-grated Parmesan cheese and you’ve got a pasta-like dish without the wheat, the carbs and the calories.
Did I mention calories? There’s plenty of them in Jamie’s next suggestion: zucchini cream pie, made with peeled and cooked zucchini, milk, cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla extract.
“It’s lovely,” said Jamie.
Also lovely, but in a savory way, is her suggestion for zucchini steak fries. It sounds like a great way to use the less flavorful, mealy monster zucchini in my refrigerator. Cut off the outer parts of the zucchini, avoiding the seedy center, and slice them into thick strips, like french fries.
“Dip them in an egg wash and roll them in panko or sourdough bread crumbs with some Italian spices and a little Parmesean cheese and bake it at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Flip it over and bake the other side,” Fiene instructed. “It’s akin to fried zucchini, but you don’t have the oil,” she said.
She also peels and cores the zucchini, dices them and dehydrates them. She tosses the dried zucchini cubes into soups.
I was starting to feel better, talking to my ad hoc Zucchini Helpline. I, too, was starting to think twice about leaving my zucchini on front stoops and porches around town.
Even if I were to embark on a full-fledged embrace of National Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch month, Jamie Fiene offered me another option.
“I have been known in the past to sneak them into their cars,” she said. It’s less obvious than leaving them on the porch, in her mind.
“And if it looks like a baseball bat, even better.”
Want more ideas? Read the online version of this story at limaohio.com, where you’ll find links to recipes such as Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread, Zucchini Noodles with Tomatoes and Corn and Summer Squash Custard Pie.
Reach Amy Eddings at 567-242-0379 or on Twitter, @lima_eddings.