Sneak some zucchini on your neighbor's porch night!
August 7, 2009 7:49 AM   Subscribe

Sneak some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night! On August 8th, participate in clandestine summer squash gifting.

What to do with an overabundant zucchini crop?

Well, you could carve it into a shark, or send it over a skateboard jump, make a musical instrument out of the stalk of the plant, or some other stuff.

And if you're not tired of it after that, you can always eat it. My personal favorite is zucchini bread, just slightly underdone so it's even more moist.
posted by sarahnade (39 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I remember overabundant zucchini being a standard joke back when I was a kid already (and probably sooner). Why do people still plant so much of it? Or any, given it has pretty much zero flavor or nutritional value? (Zucchini bread is good, but that has nothing to do with zucchini and everything to do with sweet breads.)
posted by DU at 7:54 AM on August 7, 2009

DU, the plants grow like crazy with little effort, so if you plant any zucchini at all, you have probably planted too much.
posted by molecicco at 7:57 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

We had an overabundance of zucchini early in the season, but then we got hit with squash borers and every one of our squash plants died.

Sort of a mixed blessing really.
posted by electroboy at 7:58 AM on August 7, 2009

the plants grow like crazy with little effort

Damnit, I am seriously doing something wrong.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:59 AM on August 7, 2009

Why do people still plant so much of it? Or any, given it has pretty much zero flavor or nutritional value?

This food is low in Saturated Fat and Sodium, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Protein, Vitamin A, Thiamin, Niacin, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese.

That sounds like it has nutritional value. As to why people plant it -- the fourth link there says that it grows very quickly, so -- hey, abundant cheap food! Score!

As for the "no flavor" -- I beg to differ on that point as well. It is a necessary part of my ratatouille, for one; it's also found its way into a Mexican dish I made recently (chicken sauted with zucchini, chili, and lime), as well as a Spanish torta (zucchini sliced up with potato -- this also used up 6 eggs, which I also had to go through in a hurry). It's also great for the "I need to whip something up in a hurry" dinner emergencies -- slice up or grate some zucchini, and either simmer it with rice for a rice pilaf or toss it with pasta and drizzle in a little olive oil, and ta-da, you've gotten one of your servings of vegetables for the day.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:00 AM on August 7, 2009 [5 favorites]

Also, if you slice zucchini and salt it to draw the moisture out, it grills really well. We made pasta with garlic scape pesto, grilled zucchini and chicken and it was phenomenal.
posted by electroboy at 8:05 AM on August 7, 2009

Also, if you have a sweet tooth, finely shredded zucchini makes a fantastic addition to just about any kind of banana bread or cupcake recipe. Extra vitamins! Makes it moist! Leave the skin on for amusing green bits! Good stuff.
posted by at 8:05 AM on August 7, 2009

I have never understood the problem of overabundant zucchini and summer squash. If your plants are too productive, why not pluck the blossoms and have stuffed squash blossoms for dinner one night? That's what I used to do.

That said, I nominate my porch as a deliver site for local clandestine squash delivery. I've lived too long without a garden, and my garden-blessed friends, wary of growing "too much squash," rarely plant it. I buy my all summer squash at the farmers' market. I will gladly take your basket of offloaded squash.

Summer frittata, garlicky grilled zucchini, thinly sliced squash tossed with beans and tomatoes in lemony dressing, pan-seared squash with cumin and chili powder, zucchini fritters --- oh, I could go on.
posted by Elsa at 8:10 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

Ooooh yes. I have heard of this zucchini blossom eating phenomenon. Sounds good!
posted by molecicco at 8:12 AM on August 7, 2009

Oh, man, have I done this before. Maybe 15 years ago, we Rototilled a patch of lawn into a big ol' garden, and trucked in some fertilizer to compensate for the very rocky, slightly-sandy soil. Then we planted six zucchini plants, and 24 tomato plants. It was like something out of James and the Giant Peach. The tomato plants shot up to seven feet tall, and produced something like 500 pounds of fruit; we froze enough tomato sauce that we were still unthawing it to spoon over pasta four years later. And that was nothing next to the zucchini plants. We'd planted them too far apart, and those monsters spread to cover 15 square feet apiece. To this day, I can't fathom how they were able to wick nutrients out of the soil quickly enough to grow squash like they did. We'd go out every afternoon, and there'd be 3 fully-grown squash on every plant. 18 a day, for months. We put zucchini in everything. Every meal had big sides of steamed squash, and Mom started sneaking it into sweet dishes, too. Luckily, it works really well in any sort of cake-like confection, in place of part of the oil; zucchini-chocolate cake is fantastic and super-moist. My sister and I let two of the things grow for a full week, rather than plucking them off when they were ~12 inches long like prescribed, and then we used the three-foot-long, 8-pound-abominations-unto-god to hit softballs in the back yard.

And oh yes, did we ever spread the wealth. Friends stopped visiting because we wouldn't let them leave without taking a grocery bag full of zucchini. We canvassed the neighborhood a couple of times, asking if anyone wanted a few pounds of the stuff to serve with dinner--I don't think our reputation ever recovered.

If only we'd known of this mystical holiday. So many could have been spared.
posted by Mayor West at 8:16 AM on August 7, 2009 [20 favorites]

Oh! What a zucchini!
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:18 AM on August 7, 2009

Fun! I didn't plant zucchini, so I'm going to sneak cucumbers instead.
posted by diogenes at 8:19 AM on August 7, 2009

if you plant any zucchini at all, you have probably planted too much

Amen! Thank the sweet lord for powdery mildew and its sweet relief from the speckled green blight! Zucchini (and brussel sprouts) are proof that god does make mistakes. Horrible, cruel, grotesque mistakes.

Anyone caught putting that crap on my porch had better be prepared to face the noisy end of a Mossberg!
posted by Pollomacho at 8:22 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I had a friend who did this to me, but with tomatoes instead of zukes.

She'd bought some tomato plants, but was going out of town that weekend, so she asked her boyfriend to plant them. He did, and thought the patch looked a little thin, so he went and bought some more plants and planted them.

She came home, saw what he'd done, and was all "You know we could feed the entire state on the tomatoes those are going to produce, right?"

Nearly every day that summer I'd get home from work to find a sack on tomatoes on my stoop. I've never eaten so many BLTs in my life. It was fantastic.
posted by rtha at 8:26 AM on August 7, 2009

Zucchini is probably one of the greatest garden veggies anyone can grow. It is good in everything and does not take a green thumb to grow. I would have to put tomatoes as 1# though.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:26 AM on August 7, 2009

My grandfather has always said that if you have to buy zucchini, you must not have any friends.

I love squash (every single kind) so much that I grow it in spite of getting ample quantities of it in my CSA box. Please feel free to come bring me your extras.
posted by padraigin at 8:29 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

Should I leave the porch light on? I'm going to go ahead and cross my fingers.
posted by Sailormom at 8:48 AM on August 7, 2009

The small town I lived in had this problem- one year had perfect growing conditions, and everyone's marginal zucchini garden turned superabundant. It got so bad that people had to start locking their car doors for the first time- otherwise, they'd get done shopping and find a half-dozen grocery bags of Z in the back seat.
posted by jenkinsEar at 8:51 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Timely. I planted one zucchini plant this year and then had the audacity to get sidetracked and stop paying attention to it for the past three days.

I was reminded of its existence again this morning when I went out to the car and tripped over a zucchini that had grown so long that it had erupted over the side of the bed and was laying across the driveway.

Of course there were several of them that had grown to epic proportions. I think I will be sneaking them on my neighbors' porches tonight indeed.
posted by howrobotsaremade at 8:52 AM on August 7, 2009

When I lived in South Dakota, the big joke was, "How can you find a loser in a grocery store? It's the person buying zucchini." Now, I barely even know anyone who lives in a house, so I am indeed the loser at the grocery store.

But the grocery store is a farmers market, so that's cool, right?
posted by roll truck roll at 8:58 AM on August 7, 2009

this is cute, we have been eating zooks almost every night for the past 2 months off 3 plants that just wont stop. yum!
posted by supermedusa at 9:02 AM on August 7, 2009

Zucchini were not the problem this year, the problem was patty pan squash. They look like flying saucers and grow to the same approximate proportions in about half a day. They're a big pain to peel and seed, which you have to do when they get big, which they do in, see above, about 4 hours or less, always when no one is watching. Not only did I have the two crazed, over producing plants I actually planted, but three volunteers, one smack dab in the center of the front yard. They are evil, I swear, and I'm totally sneaking some into people's cars tonight. I wish the problem had been zucchini. They at least are delicious and versatile.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:04 AM on August 7, 2009

One of the few vegetables I really dislike. Bring me your brussel sprouts, tomatoes, cukes, yellow summer squash, lettuce, etc., but compost those zooks.
posted by theora55 at 9:08 AM on August 7, 2009

Best grilled zucchini:

Slice zucchini.
Marinate in thai sweet chili sauce for 1 hour

I shit you not: this is the greatest grilled food in the world and I'll send anyone a dollar if they make it and disagree.
posted by The White Hat at 9:09 AM on August 7, 2009 [5 favorites]

I was at my cousin's wedding a couple weekends ago; it was a pretty casual affair, with a lot of food provided by a grill station the family had going.

They had grilled vegetables, and I noticed that they were grilling sliced zucchini amid all the vegetables -- but the zucchini slices were MONSTROUS, about four or five inches in diameter in some cases. I found out all the vegetables had come from another cousin's garden, and asked him what on earth he'd done to make them grow that big.

He just grinned and said, "Well, my father-in-law raises rabbits, and he said I could have as much manure as I wanted for fertilizer."

I think at least 30% of the food for this wedding was thus free.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:10 AM on August 7, 2009

Sneak some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor's Porch

Needs NFSW tag.

Or at least the old Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say-no-more.
posted by rokusan at 9:10 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Some unidentified beetle killed my broccoli plants, and I've got some white mold on the cantaloupe, but nothing can do in my zucchini and yellow squash plants. I almost wish something would kill them. There. I said it.
posted by workerant at 9:14 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is, of course, why we Mennonites lock our cars and buggies in the Meetinghouse parking lot.
posted by wfitzgerald at 9:41 AM on August 7, 2009

I personally don't like zucchini very much (although I make a very large exception for zucchini bread, which I baked my first batch of just last night). But I love growing zucchini plants. They're very satisfying. So every year, we are also blessed (?) with a superabundance of zucchini.

Although given that my main goal is just the fun of growing the things, I have no problem composting them if no one will take them off my hands. It's just a vegetable. If you don't need it and can't get rid of it, recycle it.
posted by rusty at 9:51 AM on August 7, 2009

Damnit, I am seriously doing something wrong.

Us, too. We planted four zucchini plants and we've gotten a total of 2 zukes out of them. Not each--TOTAL. Only one was hit with powdery mildew. The others have only made male flowers and have produced absolutely no zucchinis at all, despite being rather huge leaf-wise.
posted by elfgirl at 9:53 AM on August 7, 2009

I planted what I thought would be an overabundance of zucchini this year, but like electroboy, the borers got me, too.

For those who do have too much, though -- or zukes that are too big, which can taste a little wooden -- a good way to cook a huge amount down into a smaller, tastier amount is to grate them, drain them (either by salting or simply squeezing), and squish them into a skillet over some heated olive oil. Don't touch them and let them brown like hash browns. Nice simple summer side dish. Tastes like candy.
posted by Ladybug Parade at 10:30 AM on August 7, 2009

I am the only human on earth who can't grow zucchini. After years of living without a garden, a friend and I moved into a place with a massive veggie garden in the backyard: the Italian family who owned it had three or four houses in the neighborhood, and they planted out the yards tomatoes and peppers: they didn't have to cut a lawn and they got some food out of it.

I added 6 zucchini plants to the patch, and got *zero* zucchinis. The pots of basil grew like a weed, though, and we had awesome tomatoes.

To this day I have no idea what I did wrong.
posted by jrochest at 10:49 AM on August 7, 2009

My sister and I used to celebrate this holiday when we were younger! YAY! I'm so pleased to see that the holiday is still alive and well.

We used to slip zucchini onto people's porches at night in brown paper bags, with a recipe stapled onto the bag. We never grew our own zucchini - we were lazy and my father had long since given up gardening at that point - so we bought it from the store and shared the joy of a quirky holiday with our neighbors.

Thanks, MeFi, for bringing back silly memories from childhood, especially since my sister and I have drifted apart in the intervening years.
posted by greekphilosophy at 11:12 AM on August 7, 2009

I made a grilled vegetable dip last summer that turned out well when my produce co-op gave me an insane number of zucchini. It went something like this:
1. Prick the zucchini skins all over with a fork, rub with salt and oil.
2. Grill until they develop a good char, then turn the grill off and leave them on for an extra 10 minutes.
3. Split them in half, salt well, and put them on a drying rack for an hour.
4. Puree with roasted red peppers, olive oil, and garlic.
posted by TungstenChef at 11:41 AM on August 7, 2009

I, too, would participate, but our crop was annihilated by squash bugs. Little gray bastards. I didn't recognize them for what they were until it was too late, and they were infesting the leaves like roaches.

Inside, I breathed a sigh of relief. Growing zukes this year was fun - lots of yield with very little in the way of effort. Our yellow squash didn't grow nearly as much nor yield as much, but they also fell victim.

Tomatoes still going strong. And...uh...could anyone use some basil?
posted by jquinby at 1:56 PM on August 7, 2009

Take a zucchini, and take a vegetable peeler to it, essentially slicing thin ribbons. Use quick pan heat to cook, and use in place of pasta (or to augment it) in pretty much any dish. Deeelish.
posted by potch at 3:01 PM on August 7, 2009

Mr. Llama is profoundly allergic to raw zucchini. We found this out after I bought some one year and used it raw in a salad, I kissed him when he came home right after I ate it: first his lower lip swelled up, then the upper, both lips puffing forward, then his cheeks, then his eyeballs.

After a day or two of Benadryl he recovered. Eventually he went to an allergist and came home with little hives all over him from where he'd been pricked with allergens. He has a whole syndrome and everything, and an epi-pen, in case he goes into anaphylactic shock.

So I can't buy zucchini, ever. Every once in a while I think I'd like it in minestrone or ratatouille or something, and then remember. It's such an odd thing to be allergic to, because it's not a common enough thing (like peanuts) that you have to be constantly vigilant, and zucchinis are the bunnies of the vegetable world, they reproduce like mad. It's amazing anybody charges for them at all.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:30 PM on August 7, 2009

this is why i hate those CSA veggie boxes... wintertime is all squash all the time.

FYI, try to sneak that shit up to my porch, i'll be waiting 4 u with a shotgun
posted by jcruelty at 10:39 PM on August 7, 2009

This post is incomplete without a link to Marge Piercey's Attack of the Squash People.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:39 PM on August 8, 2009

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