The Zuke-A-Mole Trick

Zucchini's in the house! Get ready, because once it starts, summer squash doesn't stop producing. As one of the most prolific items in the garden, it requires cooking ideas that go beyond the same ole zucchini bread and ratatouille.

zucchini
The zucchini, aka courgette, has arrived at local farm markets. (Kim O'Donnel)

Last summer, I came across this zinger, a unique dip that remarkably resembles guacamole. It's so similar in look and mouthfeel that you could almost fool people. Don't get me wrong; I love guacamole, but like it or not, the avocado is high in fat - about 25 grams each. Of course, if you're a vegan, this is a great way to get plant-based fatty acids, but the tendency among we fat-loving Americans is to add fat to the fat.

In the case of the guac, we like to add sour cream, cheese, even the dreaded mayo, and then we've got a fatty-licious snack.

Enter zuke-a-mole, the lower cal, lower fat stand-in that may surprise you tortilla chip fans. Seriously low in calories (about 35 calories per cup), the zucchini is chockfull of Vitamins A and C, minerals as well as a decent source of fiber.

The zucchini gets roasted with onions and garlic which allows natural sugars to release, resulting in a more intense flavor than simply sauteed zuke, which I find bland at best. After cooling, the veggies get whizzed in a blender or food processor, with a small amount of olive oil, lemon juice and herbs of your choice. Salt, pepper, even a little heat from hot sauce is nice, too.

Go on, I dare you. See if you can fool anyone this weekend, or at the very least, have a great thing to talk about over cocktails. Enjoy!

"Zuke-a-mole" aka Summer Squash "Guacamole"
Adapted from "Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini: the Essential Reference" by Elizabeth Schneider

Ingredients:
3 pounds summer squash
Approximately 1/2 head garlic
1 large onion (sweet varieties preferred, i.e. Vidalia, Walla Walla)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
1/2 cup basil and/or mint leaves
1/2 cup parsley, stemmed
2 tablespoons juice of lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Preheat oven to 375.
Slice zucchini in half, lengthwise. Separate garlic cloves but keep skins on. Quarter onion. Place vegetables in roasting pan and slather with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the teaspoon of salt. Roast until extremely tender, at least 1 hour and up to 90 minutes.
While vegetables are roasting, prepare herbs; pull leaves off stems and tear or chop coarsely. Let vegetables cool slightly and squeeze garlic from skins. Place all vegetables into bowl of food processor and pulse. Add herbs. Puree until smooth and combined. Add lemon juice and salt. Drizzle in remaining olive oil. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly.
Chill and serve with crackers, pita crisps, crudite or make as part of a sandwich. Makes about 1 quart.

P.S. I will be pulling the zuke-a-mole wool over the eyes of my on-air pal Sam Litzinger this afternoon at 2:20. Don't tell him, okay? (1500 AM, 107.7 FM, www.washingtonpostradio.com)

By Kim ODonnel |  July 7, 2006; 11:34 AM ET Entertaining , Seasonal Produce , Vegetarian/Vegan
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Comments

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Oh my, this is fabulous! My skeptical husband thought it needed some hot pepper but I loved it as is. It's definitely worth your time. Thanks Kim! This will be a new staple at parties.

Posted by: christine | July 10, 2006 8:23 AM

Hey Christine, tell hub that he could definitely play with this recipe and add heat of chiles if he wanted to. I think it would work nicely. Glad you enjoyed.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | July 10, 2006 9:50 AM

Thank you Kim. We joined a CSA this summer and seem to be ona bit of zuke/squash fatigue. This will certainly add a new twist.

Posted by: MD | July 10, 2006 2:42 PM

I'm excited to make this as soon as my (now flowering) zucchini plant produces!

Posted by: Jasmine | July 10, 2006 3:35 PM

I love guacamole and am looking forward to trying this healthy alternative. This may be a silly question, but do you leave the skin on the zukes thoughout the process or do you peel them before or after cooking. Thanks!

Posted by: Donna | July 11, 2006 3:09 PM

Donna, Skin on. No prob. The whole thing goes into food processor. Enjoy!

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | July 11, 2006 4:27 PM

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