Zucchini Oats

Get a cup of coffee, because this will take a while.

It’s high summer and the Zucchini are running, a relentless green tsunami that will soon carry away kitchen counters, refrigerators, freezers, wharfs, boats, and small homes. One can eat only so many Zucchini casseroles, one can add only so many to salads, one can give only so many to friends, and one can take only so many to church on Sundays. Besides, some churches have started warning their parishioners to lock their car doors. What to do, what to do?

Let’s try dehydrating them! Turn them into veggie-crisps! We have this Primo Dehydro thing that MJ uses to turn hot dogs into doggie treats. Let’s use it for other things, like Zucchini.

Easier said than done. Well, than done usefully. If you add oil, as some recipes would have you do, you end up with something best described as vegetable jerky. Like flavored bits of leather. Like, well, dwarfbread. Dwarfbread, for those who don’t know, is Pratchett’s answer to Tolkien’s lembas waybread, and serves the same purpose, as food for travelers. One bite of dwarfbread, and you find you weren’t nearly as hungry as you thought you were. Two bites, and you realize that it’s possible to go all day without taking another bite. Dehydrated Zucchini with oil is like that.

Dehydrated Zucchini without the oil tastes like little rounds of cardboard to which FDA Zucchini Flavor #7 has been added. But remember our motto “No ingredient is so bad that it won’t improve a dish of oatmeal.” So, here’s the plan:

  1. Take a largish Zucchini, say about a pound, and slice it into 1/8th inch rounds. Add a little salt, to bring out the moisture.
  2. Dry on the dehydrator of your choice. Six hours at 125F should do it. Your pound of 2″ diameter rounds is now down to about an ounce of 1/2″ diameter treats.
  3. Dump the treats into a small food processor and run for a minute or two. It will grind down into a granular mix with a largish proportion of 1/8″ chunks.
  4. Dump the grains and chunks into an electric coffee or spice grinder, set to fine. Grind for about a minute. You will come out with something under three measuring tablespoons of fine Z-Dust.
  5. Add this Z-Dust to your morning oatmeal, to taste. Remember, that’s a whole Zucchini’s worth of fiber there, and that it originally held almost a pint of water. Your oatmeal should be a little thin, going in.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of broth, salt, Zucchini powder to taste.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the Zucchini powder about a minute before it’s done, and the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Very good. Even my wife liked it. It’s what Zucchini would taste like if it were a root vegetable. A pat of butter helped, and it’s best eaten hot. As it cools, the Zucchini flavor becomes much stronger, and the bitterness of the skin starts to come through. I think it would make an excellent side dish at dinnertime, and you only have to clean four pots and appliances afterwards.

Rating: *****

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