Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Zucchini "Apple" Pie Filling

    Do you have so much zucchini that you don't know what to do with it? Or maybe you left your zucchini in the garden too long, and now it's overgrown to the size of a small human?? What do you do?
 You make apple pie, of course! Apple pie out of zucchini? ABSOLUTELY!
  Let me explain. I don't have a garden, but I have friends and relatives who do. Very often, they'll send over their surplus crop of zucchini, and I'm always trying to think of new things to do with it. Side note, if I'm being totally honest, very often, the zucchini is MASSIVE, which is much tougher and isn't as desirable as the smaller more tender zucchini, but hey, who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth?
 Anyway, recently, I was given a large zucchini, several yellow squash, some eggplant, and tomatoes. Naturally, I made a big pot of ratatouille (as one does), and then froze it in containers. Great. But then another zucchini came in.... well, I can't make ratatouille every time....ok.... um... lets try a dessert this time! So, I hollowed out the center of the zucchini, sliced it just as I would slice apples, cooked it until tender and then added sugar, spices, lemon juice, and corn starch. Presto! Apple pie filling! You"ll be absolutely amazed at how much it tastes like sliced apples instead of sliced zucchini. The texture, specifically, is exactly that of an apple or pear.
 So now the doors are wide open! Make a pie! Make a crisp! Make a cobbler! Use it any way you'd use a can of apple pie filling. If you bake it with a buttered bread crumb topping, you have a Brown Betty. If you put it in a pan and lay a pie crust on top and then bake it..well, now you have a Pan Dowdy! And of course, pie, crisp, cobbler, or MUST serve it with a big scoop of ice cream on top. I'm pretty sure that's a law. 
 Since the amounts of all of your ingredients will depend on the your amount of zucchini, you may have to tweak an amount here or there. But don't panic, it will all turn out fine!

1 giant zucchini, or 2-3 regular ones
1/2 cup water
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tbs corn starch
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp apple pie spice blend
pinch salt

 Peel zucchini and slice off the ends. Slice it in half lengthwise. Using a metal spoon, hollow out the seeds, just like you would do with a pumpkin. Slice the zucchini into small dice or slices, just as you would do with apples. Place the zucchini slices in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add water, and cover. Let it steam for a while until it becomes tender. Now add the remaining ingredients. Stir until it thickens. It only takes a minute or two. Now taste it. Is it tart enough? Add more lemon juice. is it sweet enough? Add more sugar. Is it bland? Add another pinch of salt. Want more cinnamon? Go for it. If it still tastes like squash, add more of everything. When it tastes just as you like it, that's all there is to it!

To make the crisp as you see pictured:

1/3 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c granulated sugar
1/3 c rolled oats
4 tbs cold butter (1/2 stick)
Use your hands to combine all ingredients until they come together when squeezed in your hand. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the filling in a pan. Bake at 350ºF until bubbly, about 30 minutes. 
The key to success here is the lemon juice. Usually, many people choose Granny Smith apples for baking because they're very tart. So you really need that lemon juice to make up for the zucchini's lack of tartness. 
The other key is the brown sugar. I tried it with regular sugar, and it just wasn't the same.
And be generous with the cinnamon and nutmeg!

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