Whoo Hoo! It’s Time for Summer Fest 2010!

by paige on July 28, 2010

IS IT POSSIBLE to plant the right amount of zucchini? I planted 3 plants. THREE. I skipped any other summer squash altogether. I congratulated myself on my behavior: sober, sensible, even restrained. I had learned, I thought, from my elders, from my own past experiences…

I have eight million zucchinis, give or take, all over the kitchen. Some, the ones I forgot to pick and left on the plant for, you know, an extra day, are as big as my arm. (My arms are not small.) What the hell is a waste-phobic cook and would-be gardener to do? I am trying not to be crabby; after all, this is an experience of bounty, not deprivation (even if it is, occasionally, one of aggravation.) My cache of ladies’ auxiliary cookbooks wasn’t much help: unlike Mae Reed Porter of Kansas City, MO, I do not feel the need to resort to name-calling; I do not find cooked zucchini “flabby” (at least not the way I cook it, ahem) though I do on occasion, grow weary of the same-old, same-old rotation of sautéed, grilled, sautéed some more.  Also unlike Mrs. Porter, I am not sure my personal solution lies in curry-flavored mayo.

Mayo be damned. Surplus like this means it’s time to can, baby, can. Pickle, preserve, jam (??), too. Hell–make a chutney.

But a girl (and her family) have to eat while busy doing all that alchemy.

This is a delicious, flexible vegetarian (sorry, neither vegan nor gluten free) recipe that is a great way to use up a bunch of squash, fast.

It uses a technique that I rely on for cooking summer squash and zucchini: julienning, salting, rinsing and draining. I prefer both the flavor and texture of squash prepared this way; I eat it often as a pasta substitute: sautéed quickly in a tiny bit of olive oil, then tossed with a bit of any kind of pesto. Heaven.

But for something more substantial, this savory bread pudding is perfect: a little decadent, thanks to the cheesy-dairyness, comforting thanks to the custard. And the recipe is adaptable, forgiving. The amounts below work, but you can meddle with it: use more or less squash and bread, for example.

You can even make a squash and rice gratin (Ta da! Gluten free!) Just make sure you have enough liquid to soak into the bread (or rice) and that the liquid is eggy enough (not too milky) to bind and set instead of just turning soggy. (In other words–if you up your quantities a lot, you may need to add another egg or two–use your judgment.)

Summer Squash Bread Pudding
Serves 8

8 cups zucchini or other summer squash, grated on the large holes of a box grater or food processor, or (my preference)  julienned (on a mandoline)  (about 4 medium squash)
2 T kosher salt
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 baguette, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup milk or cream
4 oz ricotta or farmer’s cheese (I like to use wonderful local-to-me farmer’s cheese from the Amazing Real Live Food Co.)
1 cup grated gruyere, cheddar or other firm cheese (I like to use the local-to-me Alpine cheese from Hawthorne Valley Farm)
freshly ground black pepper
dried or fresh herbs (optional)

Put half the julienned squash in a colander in the sink, and sprinkle with half the salt. Put the rest of the squash in the colander, and sprinkle with the remaining salt. Leave to drain in the sink for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile–preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Combine eggs, milk or cream and cheeses in a large bowl. Add a grind or two of freshly ground pepper, and, if you like, 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme or a tablespoon of fresh herbs of your choice (basil is lovely.) Stir gently to combine, fold in the bread cubes, and leave to soak all together.

Return to the squash. Rinse it thoroughly under running water and then squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Squeeze some more. You won’t get it dry, but you want it as firm and un-soaking-wet as possible. Sometimes I give it a whirl in a salad spinner for good measure. Squeeze one last time with paper or clean cloth towels to get the last of the possible-to-remove moisture out.

Stir the squash into the egg mixture, gently, and turn all into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown on top. Serve hot, warm or cold for dinner, lunch or brunch.

But wait, you say! I thought this week’s Fest was cukes and zukes? Indeed, you’re right. My current cuke-y faves: Arthur Schwarz’s fermented dill pickles, courtesy of David Lebovitz, and a crowd-pleaser, never-fail recipe for amazing Vietnamese-influenced summer rolls. Dive in!

HOW YOU CAN JOIN IN SUMMER FEST:
So now it’s your turn: Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? Starting today, for the next five Wednesdays,  you can contribute in various ways, big or small.

Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. The possibilities:

Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.

The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and some pretty great dialog starts simmering.

Or think bigger: Publish entire posts of your own, if you wish, and grab the juicy Summer Fest 2010 tomato badge (illustrated by Matt of Mattbites).

THE 2010 SCHEDULE:

• Wednesday, July 28: That’s today. CUKES ‘N ZUKES, baby.
• Wednesday, August 4: CORN. Not corny. Sweet…
• Wednesday, August 11: HERBS, GREENS & GREEN BEANS. That’s a whole lot of chlorophyll to play with.
• Wednesday, August 18: STONE FRUIT. I said “stone”, not “stoned”.
• Wednesday, August 25: TOMATOES. Assuming, unlike last summer, we are blight-free. Fingers and toes all crossed.

And in case I forget what week it is, won’t somebody remind me on Twitter? Thanks. We’ll be talking it up there, too.

That’s how a Summer Fest works.

Who’s coming to this party?

Glad you asked. An incredible line up of bloggers-extraordinaire:

More coming soon as everybody files their Week 1 posts! Now get cooking!

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Juls @ Juls' Kitchen July 28, 2010 at 3:42 am

Here I am, nice to meet you and…
As requested, let’s start cross commenting and visiting blogs! This is my post, a quinoa tart with raw baby zucchini and sun dried tomatoes!
http://en.julskitchen.com/vegetariano/gluten-free-summer-fest-quinoa-tart

Alison July 28, 2010 at 9:25 am

Yum – bread pudding is a great option for using up excess. Can’t wait to try out the recipe!

Judy July 28, 2010 at 9:28 am

Hey sistah! love your post and will try! have my first garden this year ” orto” in italian– and am loaded with zukes!
http://divinacucina.blogspot.com/2010/07/summer-fest-2010-lets-party-cukes-and.html

Ready for the summerfest!

Kate @ maître de moda July 28, 2010 at 10:14 am

you make a great point, why is there always excess?!
i really love this recipe for a shaved zucchini salad:

http://maitredemoda.wordpress.com/2010/07/28/shaved-zucchini-salad-with-parmesan-and-pine-nuts/

the cosmic cowgirl July 28, 2010 at 10:42 am

yea, summerfest is here! i had a blast participating last year and am so glad it’s been expanded to five weeks this time around. the squash bread pudding sounds amazing and very timely–i just brought home 10 pounds of summer squash from the farmer’s market (didn’t plant any this year-feast or famine, ya know!). here’s a link to my zucchini marmalade:

http://thecosmiccowgirl.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/zucchini-marmalade/

My Persian Kitchen July 28, 2010 at 11:47 am

LOVE summer squash! So many delicious possibilities with it!

My contribution to the Summer Fest is Cucumber, Feta, & Walnut. A very yummy and refreshing combination!

http://mypersiankitchen.com/cucumber-feta-walnut/

Terri July 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Wow, summerfest sounds like fun! I am excited to get a lot of new ideas and share some of my own. I’m a newbie blogger but really enjoying it so far!

Please check out my Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread:
http://urbanrecipe.com/2010/07/chocolate-chip-zucchini-bread/

Chris @ Lark July 28, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Going to make the Summer Squash Bread Pudding for a family thing we’re doing this weekend. because we can make it a day ahead and eat cold. Squash simplicity!

Contributing to the Summer Fest party, here’s my link to a recent post where I finally worked up a recipe for the Cucumber Wasabi Soup folks have been hounding me for for years. A summer orgy of cucumber and cultured dairy!

http://www.larkcrafts.com/uncategorized/cbs-cucumber-wasabi-soup/

Sarah B. Hood July 28, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Very exciting, this Summer Fest. No link to share, but just the news that I’m waiting to see how my own zucchini pickles turn out.

I was gifted with a nice yellow one from a friend at my organic community garden, so I sliced it up, salted it for about four hours, rinsed it well and canned it in a cider vinegar-brown sugar mixture laced with a big spoonful of one of the premixed, boxed Indian cooking spice mixes that are available for about $1 a box in the South Asian grocery shops that abound in my neighbourhood. I chose one that’s meant for veggies; I’m very curious to find out how it tastes.

Michelle July 28, 2010 at 2:20 pm

This looks amazing! (though I say that about nearly everything that includes lots of cheese . . .) Can’t wait to try, and may I say that I hope zucchini season never ends?

One Hungry Mama July 28, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Excited to join the Summer Fest fray this year! Just posted my tangy Wilted Cucumber & Radish Salad:
http://onehungrymama.com/2010/07/recipe-summer-fest-wednesday-wilted-cucumber-radish-salad/

And Paula Deen’s zucchini bread, also part of the Summer Fest fun, reminded me of my perfect family finger food, Zucchini Muffins, great for toddlers up to big kids (including the big kid in you!):
http://onehungrymama.com/2010/04/food-learning-recipe-zucchini-muffins/

Can’t wait to try the other zukes and cukes recipe!

Kathleen July 28, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Love this idea and will be something new for me. This year for the first time I made Chilled Zucchini Soup and it was delicious due to the sweetness of the zucchini http://2010/06/15/chilled-zucchini-soup/

Cristie July 28, 2010 at 3:20 pm

The bread pudding recipe sounds wonderful. I love bread pudding. Have never made it with zucchini…yet.

I didn’t get to plant zucchini this year. But I happily find myself receiving zucchinis grown in friends’ gardens. What fun.

I have fresh zucchini to make my favorite zucchini bread. I’ve used this recipe for years. I’ve tried others, but always come back to this Wisconsin farm-woman’s recipe. Here’s a link to the recipe and a story about garden-giving reciprocity. http://food-fun.wisconsinfood.com/edible_antics/2008/09/food-fun—givi.html

Stacey Ballis July 28, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Check out my post on Zucchini Pasta with Chicken…my favorite summer dinner!

http://thepolymathchronicles.blogspot.com/2010/06/feasting-friday-zucchini-pasta-with.html

Estyn July 28, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Must try the bread pudding, sounds delicious. Anything with eggs and cheese is good, but if it simultaneously absorbs 8 cups of flabbiness? Fantastic.

My contribution to Summer Fest is a cucumber salad with garlicky yogurt and dill
- http://boodely.com/2010/07/28/cukes/

Caroline Wright July 28, 2010 at 9:13 pm

You are too cute, I am so happy to have found your blog through this party of ours! I love that you used Gruyere in your bread pudding– too delicious.

Check out my Marinated Summer Squash Salad and my Cucumber Salad with Lemons and Poppy Seeds at my blog, http://www.thewrightrecipes.com.

So happy to be feasting at the Summer Fest 2010 with you!

diane/napa farmhouse 1885 July 28, 2010 at 11:09 pm

the pudding sounds amazing…will add this to the list as my squash appears to be multiplying! i posted a recipe for chocolate zucchini cake http://bit.ly/brDhRv made with balsamic vinegar and evoo…really moist & fudgy. a family fav this time of year…

Nicole July 28, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Who says you can’t eat comfort food in the summer? That summer squash bread pudding sounds fantastic! I was a little late to the party today, but my Summer Fest contribution of simple grilled zucchini can be found here: http://pinchmysalt.com/2010/07/28/summer-fest-grilled-zucchini-with-lemon-and-olive-oil/

Sarah July 28, 2010 at 11:52 pm

I’m so excited about SummerFest! My zucchini’s are going crazy so I’ve been constantly working on new recipes for them these past few weeks! This year, my favorites include:

Garlic Ginger Zucchini Pickles
http://heartlandrenaissance.com/2010/07/garlic-ginger-zucchini-pickles/

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chunks & Ginger
http://heartlandrenaissance.com/2010/07/whole-wheat-zucchini-bread-with-chocolate-chunks-and-ginger/

Southwestern Garden Succotash (which actually features a number of garden vegetables coming up on the SummerFest line-up)
http://heartlandrenaissance.com/2010/07/southwestern-garden-succotash/

and, from a previous post, my favorite lentil salad which is best with fresh cucumbers and basil from the garden
http://heartlandrenaissance.com/2008/01/super-fresh-and-tasty-lentil-salad/

Can’t wait to peruse the other recipes! I’m going to be eating our zucchini for weeks!

Best,
Sarah
http://twitter.com/HeartlandSarah

Purple Cook July 29, 2010 at 6:20 am

My friend and I had a Zucchini swap, Curried Zucchini Bread for Paula Deen’s Chocolate Chip Zucchini bread. We both enjoyed our swap.

http://purplecook.blogspot.com/2010/07/zucchini-trade-curried-zucchini-soup.html

Paige Orloff July 29, 2010 at 9:32 am

Juls–as I said over at your post, I cannot wait to try this. I’m a big quinoa booster, but have never cooked with quinoa flour before, so this will be a (no doubt delicious) experience.

Alison–Thanks! I’ll be making some of your awesome zucchni apps for an all-zuke meal. (We have a local Zucchini Festival coming up on August 14-what better way to celebrate?)

Judy–I am new to gardening myself; this is my vegetable garden’s second year, and it has become such a source of utter and unexpected joy, I can’t tell you. Enjoy!

Kate–that kind of zuke carpaccio style salad is my hands-down favorite way to eat raw zucchini–thanks so much for sharing!

Cosmic Cowgirl–even if I didn’t love the looks of that marmalade (which I DO) I’d be swooning over you and your blog if only for the fab name. Thanks for reading, and can’t wait to see what’s next!

My Persian Kitchen–So happy to see your here, and to be reminded of how much I ADORE your blog. Thanks for chiming in, and see you (online, anyway) next week :-)

Terri–I’ve been off of zucchini bread for the last few years (no idea why–I love it) but your recipe has reminded me to dive back in. I always put chocolate chips in my banana bread, to great response, so I’m excited to try your version.

Winnie July 29, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Hooray for Summer Fest! I’d like to submit these zucchini “noodles” with avocado garlic dressing:

http://blog.healthy-green-lifestyle.com/zucchini-noodles-with-avocado-dressing-and-a-cookbook-giveaway.html

As well as this refreshing cucumber sorbet:

http://blog.healthy-green-lifestyle.com/cucumber-sorbet.html

And some good old reliable lacto-fermented pickles (a recipe that’s really adaptable; I just made a batch with garlic, tarragon and chile pepper)

http://blog.healthy-green-lifestyle.com/pickled-cukes-and-garlic-scapes.html

I’m really looking forward to reading everyone’s recipes…and I’ll try to do a dedicated Summer Fest post next week ;)

Jennie July 29, 2010 at 2:45 pm

A different take on baking with zucchini! So glad to join in this year’s SummerFest.
http://su.pr/1Lhonk

alana July 29, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Curry Flavored mayo? Is it possible that we might be overlooking a real treasure here? I think so!

Todd and Diane July 31, 2010 at 12:38 am

Amazing, summer squash pudding sounds divine and a perfect way to use up of surplus! This is definitely exciting for us because never, ever would we ever have thought of using summer squash in a pudding.
thank you!

Nancy (guinnah) July 31, 2010 at 4:54 pm

oh dear – I didn’t show as much restraint and am now fearful for what is about to descend upon us! I planted a raised bed for the first time (we have terrible clay soil) and guess what? The plants love it! But my usual approach of “plant ten and maybe one will live” has backfired.

I recently blogged a favorite way to use zucchini here:
http://guinnah.blogspot.com/2010/06/summer-squash-crab-cakes.html

Leslie August 1, 2010 at 12:37 pm

The best defense (against squash taking over) is a good offense.
1) Pick a bunch of the blooms BEFORE they make squash. I always pick some male blooms, but if you have way too many squash pick ANY blooms (female ones have tiny fruit attached). Rinse them well, stuff them (I like herbs and ricotta cheese) and batter them (I use biscuit mix and buttermilk) and fry them. They are great.
2) Pick the veggies as babies- it’s trendy, and makes you look like a gourmet; besides they taste great. It takes a little effort every day or two, but it prevents the giant squash thing.

Naseer August 1, 2010 at 9:05 pm

I feel your pain! We have maybe 20 zucchini and summer squash plants, and by your scale have probably harvested 80 million squashes, give or take. There was a few weeks there when we were eating at least 2 meals a day of squash. If nothing else, it forces you to get pretty creative, which you clearly have done with your bread pudding!

Over at our Green Thumb Geeks, my wife Emily just jumped into the Summer Fest fray with a great simple recipe for this week’s theme: Cucumber, Tomato, and Red Onion Salad:

http://www.greenthumbgeeks.com/2010/07/recipe-cucumber-tomato-and-red-onion-salad/

Also, we have a recipe for Bread and Butter pickles from a few weeks back that any pickle-lover would enjoy:

http://www.greenthumbgeeks.com/2010/07/recipe-bread-and-butter-pickles/

Finally, there’s our take on grilled zucchini and summer squash:

http://www.greenthumbgeeks.com/2010/07/recipe-grilled-zucchini-or-summer-squash/

Thanks for putting this together!

Melissa August 2, 2010 at 1:14 am

Can’t wait to try the bread pudding recipe.

I’m late joining the party but here’s my contribution to the fun… Ice Box Pickles and Zucchini Ribbons in a Hazelnut Butter Sauce.

http://itsthewayshe.blogspot.com/2010/08/encouraged-me-to-share-summerfest-2010.html

Michael Cavinta September 23, 2010 at 1:49 pm

One of my favorite recipes! I have tried making this the other day and it was definitely a hit amongst my family. I would surely make this one again to serve to my friends this coming weekend. It would really go well with a hot cup of coffee made from my new latte maker at home. Kudos!

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