Now, now. Please don't get the wrong idea about this article. It is not perverse, or encouraging gourd haters to rebel. I am simply suggesting what to do with a vegetable that is so often dismissed as useless or unenjoyable. I personally remember sitting at the dinner table as a child, pushing mushy, over cooked zucchini back and forth on my plate, trying to decide how I could get out of eating it. It didn't help that my most vivid memories of this vegetable also included it smothered in crushed tomatoes, another vegetable (or fruit?) that I despised. I'll save that one for another article though.

After attempting my first backyard garden this summer, I put in a zucchini plant. After all, it grows well on the West Coast, it's relatively effortless to maintain, and zucchini is a useful vegetable, right? Well after the excitement of growing your first zucchini, and the rest swell to the size of large loaves of french bread, what do you do with it all?

Zucchini Brownies
Mmmmm... this was personally my favorite use for the enormous zucchini's that came out of my garden. After all, if you have to eat zucchini, why not bake it smothered in chocolate and sprinkled with chocolate chips! The key is to grate the zucchini nice and fine. It takes some time, but it helps produce nice moist brownies. Most importantly the zucchini is virtually undetectable, especially to someone who would never suspect such a sneaky addition. Now don't get me wrong. These brownies aren't as often as fudgy as some bakery brownies might be, but they're also not laden with the amount of fat and lard that that most contain. There are plenty of recipes available on the web and in cook books. Most should contain significantly less fat than traditional recipes as the moisture content of the zucchini helps to give the brownie it's consistancy.

Spaghetti Sauce
This suggestion is by no means limited to zucchini, but it's a great addition. Use your favorite (or your own) spaghetti sauce recipe. Vegetarian, Bolognese, whatever your family likes. I make a basic meat sauce, and again the key is to grate the zucchini. After you simmer up the meat and or vegetables (ie. onions, garlic, etc), thrown in a heap of zucchini, and give it a stir. Add in your tomatoes (crushed, diced, or sauce) along with some herbs and spices, and let it simmer away. The zucchini will for the most part break down and help to thicken the sauce, while adding valuable nutrients and fiber. I've had large, burly, meat-eating men compliment me on my spaghetti sauce, not knowing it was full of grated zucchini, as well as grated carrot and even finely chopped spinach (passed off as "herbs"). It's a great way to sneak in those extra servings of veggies that we can never seem to get enough of.

So this summer, when your zucchini begins to flourish (or your neighbors try to pawn theirs off on you), whip up a delicious dish that will impress everyone!