Zucchini is the star of two dishes

August 21, 2010|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

WILLIAMSPORT - Nonie Johnson, 74, loves eating fresh foods.

Even when she and her husband of 54 years, Roger, moved from Martinsburg, W.Va., to Homewood at Williamsport, it was hard to give up their garden.

But at the retirement community, Johnson still has a little patch of land to cultivate.

"It's near the creek," she said. "We try to go there every day."

That's where she picked the zucchini she used for two dishes -zucchini pie and zucchini dessert. Although, she admits that this dry, hot summer limited the number of squash she was able to grow.

The zucchini pie is a favorite from her childhood. Back then, her mother would whip up a dish called impossible pies.


"They were called that because it was nearly impossible to mess it up," she said.

The version Johnson shares is similar to what her mother made. She likens it to a quiche.

"There are many versions out there," she said.

Johnson said some other versions add tomatoes and other types of vegetables as well as cheeses.

She said she likes the dish because it's tried and true.

"It always turns out the same," she said.

Extras or not, the flexibility of the zucchini pie is also the way the cook chooses to serve it - hot or cold.

Johnson said her husband prefers the dish to be served cold.

She said it's actually better when it's allowed to cool. "It allows it to set up," she said. "It also even has a different taste hot than it does cold."

As for the zucchini dessert, Johnson said most people call it a mock apple pie because of the flavoring.

"It really tastes like apple," she said.

One secret that Johnson has found to trick friend's palates is not only the traditional apple pie spices, but also the way to cut the squash.

She suggests to chunk the zucchini similar to apple bites to get the full mock apple experience.

Johnson said she likes the pie because it's simple. And it can be topped with nondairy topping or ice cream.

"It's just simple and seasonal," she said.

Chatting with Nonie Johnson

Q. Where did you get your love of gardening?

A. Mother and Dad always had a big garden when we grew up on Florida Avenue in Martinsburg.

Q. Have you always loved to cook?

A. After I got married I had to learn because I didn't know how to cook. But my husband ended up eating everything I fixed.

It's still that way. I love to try out new recipes.

Q. Why do you like zucchini as the foundation of these dishes?

A. Zucchini is made up of so much water that it really takes on the flavoring of spices and other things. That's why it's perfect for something like the dessert. And because it has so much water, it really doesn't freeze well so I like to eat it fresh.

Zucchini dessert

For crust:

4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups butter or margarine

For filling:

8 to 10 cups of peeled, seeded and cubed zucchini
2/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, optional
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
1/2 cup raisins, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon in bowl. Cut butter into mixture until crumbly. Reserve 3 cups of mixture. Press the remaining mixture into a greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Bake for about 12 minutes.

In saucepan, mix lemon juice, zucchini and bring to slow boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes until tender. Some of the zucchini will be translucent. Add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in walnuts and raisins. Spoon over crust. Sprinkle reserved 3 cups over top.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until top is light brown.

Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Top with non-dairy topping or ice cream.

Serves 12.

Zucchini pie

3 cups zucchini diced or shredded (see cook's note)
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3 to 4 teaspoons minced parsley
Dash salt and pepper
1 cup Bisquick
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In bowl mix together, zucchini, onion, cheddar and Parmesan, parsley and salt and pepper. In a separate bowl mix Bisquick, eggs, salad oil, salt and pepper.

Immediately mix zucchini mix into Bisquick mix.

Pour in 8-inch baking dish

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until set in middle and light brown around the edges.

Let stand to cool. Also good cold.

Serves 6.

Cook's note: Leave the skin on the zucchini if tender.

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