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Our Zucchini Cookoff

Zucchini was the star of a noon potluck at the South Dakota Magazine office.

Zucchini overwhelmed the little garden in the backyard of our South Dakota Magazine headquarters in downtown Yankton. We stopped watering it as soon as we realized what was happening, but still the zucchini proliferated. Despite the lack of respect or water — and being rudely tread upon as we tended to the tomatoes and onions — the zucchini continued to grow.

We gave it to the neighbors until they would no longer answer their doorbells. All of our staff and their extended families were compelled to take a cube or two every day. As one reader commented on our website (where we’d advertised free garden produce), two never-watered zucchini plants will suffice for a family of 15. And we had four plants. Four well-tended plants.

Zucchini soon piled up on office tables, inboxes and file cabinets. I had been eating zucchini at every meal for over a month when our editor suggested a zucchini cook-off to use up some of the reserves.

There was just one rule for the contest. Anyone could enter but you must get your zucchini from the magazine garden. First prize? You guessed it: a summer supply of zucchini.

The contest was first met with some grumbling. Several staffers claimed to dislike zucchini, most of all Roger, our humor columnist. He is not a fussy eater, but never takes a bite of food at the office in the summer months without asking if zucchini is involved. Roger had a bad experience with zucchini bread some time ago and still hasn’t forgotten.

Zucchini recipes can be hit-or-miss. The high water content (about 95 percent) can potentially result in a mushy mess. So expectations were low, to say the least, on the day of the zucchini cook-off.

All six entries smelled good and looked tasty. More importantly, they were declared delicious by one and all. Mock its reproduction capacity if you must, but zucchini’s flavor enhances everything from pasta dishes to chocolate cake, plus it adds Vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium and is high in fiber.

Plucking the flowers from a zucchini plant will slow growth, but I’d consider curbing our zucchini production this year to be wasteful — especially with so many good recipes to make. The flowers themselves are an expensive delicacy in some cultures. But if you do harvest the flowers, you’ll still have plenty of zucchini for the little known “Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch night” holiday. Yes, this is an actual observance, held on August 8. If only we’d known about that last summer.

Every one of the zucchini dishes submitted by staff and friends was a hit, so we declared them all winners. Trying to award a “first” seemed irrelevant when everybody was enjoying seconds. Here are some of the recipes.


Italian Zucchini Pie

2 tablespoons butter

4 cups thinly sliced zucchini

1 cup chopped onions

2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

2 eggs, well beaten

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)

1 can (8 oz) crescent dinner rolls

2 teaspoons mustard

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and onions; cook 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in parsley flakes, salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil and oregano.

In large bowl, mix eggs and cheese. Add cooked vegetable mixture; stir gently to mix.

Separate dough into 8 triangles. Place in ungreased 10 inch glass pie plate, 12x8 inch (2-quart) glass baking dish or 11-inch quiche pan; press over bottom and up sides to form crust. Firmly press perforations to seal. Spread crust with mustard. Pour egg mixture evenly into crust-lined pie plate.

Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


Zucchini Bread

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup salad oil

2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated

3 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup nuts

Combine sugars, eggs and oil. Beat well. Add zucchini and vanilla. Sift and measure flour. Sift with salt, baking soda, cinnamon and baking powder. Stir into creamed mixture. Blend well. Add nuts. Pour into two greased and lightly floured large tin loaf pans. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes.


Zucchini Chili

27 ounce can chili beans in sauce

15 ounce can black beans drained

16 ounce can kidney beans drained

1 pound burger cooked and drained

2 cups grated zucchini

1 quart canned tomatoes with juice or 28 oz. can

1 cup canned tomato juice

2 bell peppers, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons chili powder

2 1/2 tablespoons cumin

2 1/2 tablespoons dried cilantro

2 teaspoons paprika

Add all ingredients to a 6-quart Dutch oven and cook over medium heat for 40-45 minutes.


Zucchini Cake

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup oil

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups grated zucchini

Mix all ingredients together. Bake in greased 9x13 inch pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Allow to cool, then frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.

Editor's Note: This story is revised from the July/August 2011 issue of South Dakota Magazine. To order a copy or to subscribe, call (800) 456-5117.


10:53 pm - Wed, December 23 2015
David Portillo said:
Was looking for pictures of Yeller but this caught my eye. Love zucchini and have been on a (pick a flavor here) bread kick lately along with some squash dishes. Will be making some of these treats, Thank you (and hey to Yeller, looking forward to his cover appearance!)

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