I’m pretty sure we all have vegetables we love to hide. You know what I’m talking about. The vegetables that you’d just as soon not eat. The vegetable you had so many negative encounters with that just the memory of it makes you shudder. You can remember the yucky texture, the yucky flavor, the overwhelmingly yucky essence of it. And, now that you’re a grown up, you think you’re out of the danger zone and just maybe never have to eat that vegetable ever again, if you play your cards right. But a little part of you says- but… isn’t that vegetable good for me? Isn’t it gluten free and full of vitamins and minerals- so, shouldn’t I try to make it palatable somehow? My vegetable that I love to hate and love to hide is the zucchini. I remember it as the mushy squash tainting sautes and curries, the bland illegitimate child of the sweet pumpkin and bland cucumber- the squash that squishes in your teeth and has that underlying bitterness under its watery sweetness. Yes, I have had my fair share of traumatic zucchini experiences, to the point that I generally beg servers to just “leave it out! leave it out” of green thai curries or (if they will permit it) vegetable fajita stir fries.But, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, the farmer’s market is quite beguiling, and when I see the latest in season vegetable piled up so beautifully on the farmers’ tables, sometimes I just can’t resist them. Even when, in my secret hearts of hearts, I have serious doubts about their yum factor. I was astonished to find myself enjoying zucchini recently, along with the equally skeptical DH, in a delicious recipe for a grilled zucchini salad. This gave me hope- maybe zucchini could actually be a yum, prepared in the right way. As I was flipping through my Moosewood Cafe cookbook, I came across an intriguing recipe using zucchini as the base for a pizza crust. It combined cheese, zucchini, eggs, and just a little bit of flour, which meant to me that gluten probably played a minor role in the recipe and the flour could easily be exchanged with a gluten free flour. Also, the protein of the cheese and eggs combined would make the low protein content of the flour I chose inconsequential. So, I boldly went ahead with yet another sneaky wife attempt to get the DH to eat zucchini. Ok, I was also trying to trick myself into it, but it’s more fun if the DH is involved in these little experiments. I made up my crust, baked it up and tried a little sliver before topping it. It was very, very good! Actually, it would have been good just like that as a cheesy “flatbread/quiche” type thing, but I wanted to really go all out, so I topped it with marinara sauce ,veggies, and cheese and baked it until it was almost unrecognizable as a zucchini dish. My face gave it away to DH, though, who right before he bit in, said “OK! What are you trying to hide in this dish???” He knows me too well. And, actually, he did guess that it was made from zucchini. But, that didn’t stop him from gobbling up the pizza and complaining when I tried to take part of his pizza. Apparently cheese will hide a multitude of sins, and this recipe turned zucchini from a yuck to a resounding yum, not unlike the magic of zucchini bread that transforms it into a moist, delicious, sweet bread ingredient. So, the next time you have a surplus of zucchini in your fridge that you would rather hide than eat, how about instead of making yet another sweet zucchini bread, trying it in a savory, delicious pizza crust or flatbread?
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olive oil and superfine brown rice flour to coat pan
2 cups packed grated zucchini (about 3 small zucchini)
2 egg whites (+1 egg yolk, optional)
1/4 cup +1 tbsp superfine brown rice flour or Bette Hagman Gluten free gourmet blend (I used the former, this time)
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan
pinch of basil, marjoram, rosemary
Healthy sprinkling of pasta seasoning blend(I use trader joe’s)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tomato or basil pesto (optional!!!)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and oil or spray pan of your choice and sprinkle with flour. If you want a thinner crust, use a pizza pan with slightly raised edges. If you want a thicker crust, it’s ok to use a jelly roll man or pie pan. A nonstick pan might be a good idea!
Mix together zucchini, eggs, flour, cheeses, herbs, seasoning, and 1 tbsp olive oil thoroughly. Bake until golden brown. (Cooking time will depend on thickness of crust, but around 35-40 minutes.) Halfway through baking you can brush with a little olive oil OR with pesto and place back in oven. Remove from oven when done, let rest and cool for 10 minutes and then carefully loosen from pan with your favorite spatula. *note: if you used a pan with tall sides this may be a challenge. Go slowly and use the right tool for the job! You can also cut the pizza into large “slices” if that will make it easier to get out of the pan. You should be able to completely remove pizza from pan at this point. (But leave it in the pan!) Top with whatever you like on your pizza and bake at 400 degrees f (or 350) until cheese is melted and golden brown but crust doesn’t burn.
Also good with no toppings or as a white pizza, as a kind of flatbread/ focaccio.
PS Don’t use a pan like the one I used- it was a real pain getting it out of the pan.