What to Do With a Round Zucchini?
By Joy Johnson, Master Gardener
Have you ever been gifted with a vegetable that you didn’t know what to do with? Read this entertaining article to find out what Master Gardener Joy Johnson made with the large, round zucchini she received from a family member. Her clever recipe will inspire you!
My brother-in-law stopped by for a visit on Monday. He handed me a round zucchini when he walked in the door with a big grin on his face. I didn’t know what it was at first. It was the size of a cantaloupe, dark green with dark orange stripes. I didn’t believe him when he said it was a zucchini. Have you ever been gifted with an interesting vegetable that you didn’t know what to do with? I gave my neighbor a kohlrabi last summer and she had the same look on her face that I gave my brother-in-law when I handed it to her.
I love to share my garden produce and I also enjoy trying new foods and veggies. I watched the large round zucchini for a couple of days as it sat on my counter staring back at me. It seemed friendly enough. I was scheduled to make dinner at my dad’s apartment on Thursday evening. I needed to come up with something I could make at his place that wouldn’t take too long, use too many dishes and utensils but would be healthy and tasty.
I grabbed the zucchini, a half-used package of Cotija cheese (that was left from when I made Chile Rellenos), a handful of dried parsley. I stopped at the grocery store and bought a package of Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice (Red Beans & Rice flavor). That is something I’ve never used before. I usually make rice from scratch, but that takes time, and I knew I’d need something with a lot of flavors because zucchini is so mild. I also had a couple of slices of leftover ham. Now I just needed some side dishes to serve with the zucchini. I quickly made a lettuce salad and grabbed some leftover butternut squash. So, this was going to be a summer and winter squash supper!
Here's my improvised recipe for the large round zucchini.
1 large round zucchini
1 pack Uncle Bens Ready Rice, Red Beans & Rice flavor
1 handful of dried parsley
2 thick pieces of ham, diced
½ cup Cotija cheese, crumbled
Slice the top off the zucchini as if you are going to carve it like a Jack-o’-lantern.
Scoop out the seeds and stringy middle flesh and discard.
Scoop out a little more flesh so you have about a 2-cup hollow.
Cover the zucchini with its lid. Cook it in the microwave or oven until it just starts to get tender. It took mine 20 minutes in the oven, then 5 minutes in the microwave. If you bake it in the oven, put it in a pie plate and add water to the pie plate before putting it in to bake at 350 degrees.
Dice the extra zucchini flesh that you scooped out.
Cook the rice according to package directions, add the diced zucchini, the handful of dried parsley and the chopped ham. You may need to add 1/3 cup water or broth. You don’t want it soupy, but you need to cook the ham and the diced zucchini.
Remove the large round zucchini from the oven or microwave.
Scoop the cooked rice mixture into the zucchini, stir in the crumbled cheese, put the lid on it and heat it through in the microwave for about 3-5 minutes.
Eat and enjoy!
Photo credits: Joy Johnson (1,2)