Zucchini Houdini

My kid actually likes zucchini, and he came that way right out of the box. There was no coaxing or coaching or threatening dire consequences if he didn’t clean his plate. He’ll down an entire bowl of steamed zucchini straight–no salt, no oil, no seasoning, no sauce.

I, on the other hand, have had to force myself. I know it’s healthy. The emerald green exterior practically screams vitamins and minerals. It’s certainly easy to find and relatively inexpensive. Zucchini is a perfectly adequate accompaniment to standalone main dishes like steak or chicken breasts. But it’s not inspiring. It’s just there..

As a result, I find myself trapped in a shame spiral. I buy two or three zucchini at the store with great intentions. They sit in my fridge for a while because I never want to eat them. I know the clock is ticking. Next come the Negotiation and Bargaining stages. I think, “It doesn’t make sense to dirty another pan for just me tonight,” or “I’ll make stir-fry tomorrow, so we’ll eat them then.” Many a moldy zucchini has fallen prey to my procrastination.

As a result, I’ve started resorting to bribery. If I eat a little zucchini, I can have what I really want, no matter how incongruous the pairing. Pizza with a side of zucchini. Pan-fried zucchini with microwave burritos. Zucchini has been entirely repurposed into the ultimate meal mitigation strategy. It is no longer simply a vegetable; it is now an antidote for self-destructive eating. Accidentally consume an entire tube of Pringles? Have a zucchini!

A slight variation is sneaking zucchini into other less-healthy meals. I started adding it to fettuccini alfredo to justify having pasta. I put leftover oven roasted veggies into grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and rebranded them as panini. However, the best utilization so far, by far, is zucchini in sloppy joes. If you dice it fine enough and cook it long enough, it’s entirely indistinguishable from the also simmered-to-mush onions and peppers. Same goes for chili. Zucchini doesn’t have enough flavor by itself to significantly alter the overall taste. (Let’s just say my chili isn’t subtle–it’s POW! right in the kisser.)

My Chili Con Carnage with a hidden twist

My deviousness goes unrecognized in my own home because, as previously mentioned, I can get my kid to eat zucchini without resorting to chicanery. However, I thought you might appreciate the helpful hint if zucchini is still on your Never Tried It list.

There are even more thinly-justified examples, such as zucchini bread. Let’s be honest people, it’s cake (not bread) with most recipes calling for 1 cup of straight sugar to balance 2 cups of dreaded veg. I’m pretty sure any health benefits are entirely cancelled out by the diabetes, but you go ahead and have your little slice of hypocrisy just like the rest of us. Whatever you gotta do, right?

One Comment

  1. Tricia

    My grandpa greeted us at his door one time with a pie and dared us to guess what kind it was. When we talked it, clearly it was an apple pie. But no! It was a delicious zucchini pie, made in the style of apple pie. So there you go. Another alternative to zucchini bread!


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