Cooking with Claire: The wonders of zucchini

The finished product of zucchini pizza boats. The main ingredients pictures are zucchini, cheese and marinara sauce. (Claire Galvin/The Daily Campus)

“Cooking with Claire” is an introduction to dining beyond the dining hall using easy, fast and cheap recipes.

When I was a kid, my mom was the type of mom to sneak vegetables into seemingly harmless treats. When I bit into a warm banana muffin to see the green inside, I knew I had been tricked. Zucchini bread and muffins tow the line between sweet and healthy. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized how amazing zucchini could be- my mother is going to love this week’s column.

My grandmother’s zucchini bread recipe is well used in my mom’s house and my apartment. The beige index card is stained, oily and bent- the tell-tale sign of a family recipe.

As I got older, I realized my mom wasn’t keen on vegetables either. In fact, I probably enjoy eating them more than she does now. Zucchini bread is the perfect recipe to convince yourself you’re eating enough daily vegetables. No wonder she loves the recipe.

Thankfully, I’ve learned to do a little more with zucchini than baking them into sugary breads. Last week I made zucchini pizza with my roommate, and the final product was delicious.

Zucchini Pizza Boats

Ingredients:

  • Three small zucchini
  • One tablespoon olive oil
  • One clove of garlic (garlic powder can be used instead)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • One-half cup marinara sauce
  • One cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Two tablespoons oregano (Italian seasonings can be used instead)
  • Optional: Pepperoni slices, mini meatballs, sausage pieces

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut each zucchini into halves through the length (if they don’t lie flat trim a thin portion from the bottom so they won’t rock or tip back and forth). Pat insides of zucchinis dry with paper towels, and place them on baking sheet. In a bowl, stir together olive oil and garlic. Brush mixture lightly over tops of zucchini. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brush a little more than one tablespoon marinara sauce over each zucchini half, leaving the edges bare. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over zucchini halves. Top with additional toppings, if desired. Bake 14-18 minutes in oven, depending on how crispy/tender you want the pizza. Sprinkle oregano or Italian seasonings on top of pizzas.

(This recipe adapted from @comfortofcooking via Instagram.)

A close up view of the finished zucchini pizza boats. The recipe is meant to be more of a guideline and readers are encouraged to adjust ingredients as they please in order to create their perfect zucchini pizza boat. (Claire Galvin/The Daily Campus)

I included the ingredients to be thorough, but understand this recipe is about “eye-balling it.” If you love saucy pizza, dump a quarter cup of sauce onto each boat. If you want extra-cheesy pizza, scoop out a little of the insides of the zucchinis with a spoon so the cheese won’t fall off. Depending on how big your zucchinis are, you might need to adjust the ratio of sauce to cheese a little bit. My roommate had fresh zucchini from her garden at home, and it was one big zucchini, so we went with that. It fed me, her and her friend. After more than two months together, I hope my readers can have a little faith in “eye-balling it.”

The low-carb pizza was delicious, and I didn’t even mind that I wasn’t eating bread. I still felt like I was enjoying a cheesy Italian meal.

The possibilities for zucchini are endless. You can bake them into brownies, muffins, breads, “pizza,” “noodles” and so much more. And yet, they are still delicious sautéed alone with a little butter and garlic. The perfect vegetable.


Claire Galvin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at claire.galvin@uconn.edu.