While you could make this without zucchini, why not grate in this bountiful vegetable while it's so readily available. And if they are free (from your own garden or those of family and friends) or at a seasonally low cost at the local farmers' market or in the stores, all the better.
While we can joke about all this zucchini cooking, these fruits masquerading as vegetables are really great contributors to a healthy diet, with lots of fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C and key minerals and only a few calories--somewhere between 20 and 35 per cup, depending on how much you pack it in. (There are about 30 calories for a quarter pound according to most of the nutrition sites I checked.)
And if you are wondering about the wisdom of "hiding" veggies in food, you might want to look at this article:
So go ahead and get out that grater and grate some zucchini into anything you're making with a tomato or spaghetti sauce base!
South of the Border Hoppin' John
I happen to like the flavor of black-eyed peas and decided to try using them instead of the typical pinto beans in a summer spread for crisped tortillas. However, as I stirred it and the aroma filled the house, I realized that I had the start of a great main dish to be served over rice.
Note that this will be on the spicy side with most brands of tomatoes and chilies. If that is not to your liking, you could substitute an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes and chop a tablespoon or two of green bell peppers to saute with the onion.
canola oil for sauteeing--1 to 2 tablespoons at most
1 c coarsely chopped onion
2 c grated zucchini
5 garlic cloves, minced
10 ounce can tomatoes and green chilies
1 T cumin
3 c cooked black-eyed peas, including liquid (if using canned peas, use two 15 oz cans and omit salt)
salt to taste
1. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and add the onions. Saute lightly, for about 3 to 4 minutes, and then add the zucchini. Continue cooking on medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and starting to brown and the zucchini has softened and is also starting to take on a browned, golden appearance.
2. Stir in the garlic, tomatoes and chilies and cumin and stir well. When the mixture has returned to a simmer, turn heat to medium low and add the black-eyed peas. Continue heating until the mixture has thickened to your preference--as a dip, you will probably want it thicker than if you are serving it as a main dish over rice. After the mixture has cooked for a few minutes, taste for seasoning, adding salt as needed.
3. If desired, mash some of the peas with the back of a spoon to give a more "refried beans" consistency.
4. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro if desired. Other topping suggestions: grated cheese, sliced black olives, or yogurt. This amount serves 4 as a main dish and makes about 2 to 3 cups of dip.
Pinto beans, kidney beans, or any other favorite bean can be substituted for the black-eyed peas.
One More Zucchini Note
If you are not ready for even one more zucchini recipe, shred those extras, pack in freezer bags with a cup or two (depending on how much you usually use at a time) and freeze. No extra prep is required, and you'll be ready to make any of these recipes easily. . A one cup packet dropped into your usual winter vegetable soups will give added body too.