Culinary treats: A(sparagus) to Z(ucchini)

| April 5, 2020 1:00 AM

While asparagus graces spring market shelves, it’s generally a bit later before the zucchini comes on. However, the magic of modern food transit has supplied us with early “summer squash” — and who are we to argue? Nothing’s better for breakfast than zucchini bread!

In a backward twist, we’ll start our alphabetical duo with Z at the end — working forward to “A.”

This is probably the shortest recipe in the world — and the tastiest!

Mock Crab Cakes

2 cups grated zucchini

2 eggs

1 cup Italian bread crumbs*

1 Tbs. real mayonnaise (or a bit more if needed)

1 Tbs. Old Bay seasoning

Mix all together, make patties. Fry slowly in shortening. Makes 9 large patties.

* I use garlic croutons, ground with a rolling pin.

We give you two zucchini bread options — one for anything from breakfast (toasted) to tea with the girls — and one that’s definitely dessert!


Zucchini Bread

3 eggs

1¾ cup cane sugar

1 cup salad oil

2 tsp. vanilla

¼ tsp. baking powder

3 tsp. cinnamon

12 cup chopped nuts

2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini

2 tbs. grated orange rind

3 cups sifted flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. soda

½ cup raisins (optional)

Beat eggs until light and fluffy, Slowly add sugar and continue beating until well blended. Blend in salad oil, vanilla, orange rind and zucchini. Sift dry ingredients together; stir into egg mixture. Stir in nuts and raisins, if used.

Turn into 2 greased 8x4-inch loaf pans, Bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until bread tests done. Remove from pans, cool on racks.

Tip: If using raisins, pour boiling water over raisins and let stand until plumped up — about 15 minutes. Drain well.


Zucchini Bread

Beat 3 eggs, add 2 cups cane sugar

1 cup oil

Mix and add 3 cups shredded zucchini

2 ounces melted chocolate

Blend and add 3 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. soda

1 cup chopped walnuts

Beat well and pour into greased, floured loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Serve with ice cream, or glaze with chocolate if you wish.

The small illustration of our first asparagus dish doesn’t do justice to this amazing recipe!

Citrus Roasted


Serves 8

3 seedless oranges

2 lemons

5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

2 pounds asparagus spears

2 cloves garlic thinly sliced

2 tsps. tarragon leaves

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. From one orange and one lemon cut 1/8th by 2-inch strips, avoiding the bitter white pith. Set aside. From same orange and lemon, squeeze a total of 2 Tbs. juice; set aside.

Thinly slice remaining orange and lemon; drizzle slices with 1 Tb. of the olive oil. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper; set aside.

Rinse asparagus, break off woody ends. Place spears in 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with garlic, tarragon and citrus strips. Drizzle 2 Tbs. of the olive oil; toss to coat spears. Spread in single layer; season with salt and pepper. Roast asparagus and citrus in their individual pans 12 to 15 minutes, turning once or twice with tongs, until asparagus is tender and citrus begins to brown. Transfer to serving platter.

Meanwhile for vinaigrette, in small dish whisk together reserved juices and remaining 2 Tbs. oil; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over roasted asparagus, citrus strips and garlic. Top with roasted orange slices as shown. Serve warm.

Asparagus-Leek Risotto

3/4 lb. asparagus spears, washed, trimmed

2 Tbs. olive oil

Salt and pepper*

1 1/2 cups sliced leeks, including some light green

1 cup Arborio rice

3 cups vegetable broth or water

1/2 cup fresh-grated Parmesan cheese

2 Tbs. snipped fresh parsley

1/2 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel

1 Tbs. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. fresh ground coarse black pepper

Lemon slices and Lemon peel

Set oven at 450F. Place asparagus in single layer on baking sheet. Brush with 1 Tbs. olive oil; lightly sprinkle with salt and black pepper.

Bake, uncovered about 10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Cool slightly. Cut asparagus in 2-inch pieces, saving four whole spears; set aside.

Meanwhile, in large saucepan, cook leeks in remaining olive oil until tender. Stir in uncooked rice.

Cook and stir over medium heat about 5 minutes or until rice begins to turn golden brown.

In another saucepan bring broth or water to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer. Carefully stir 1 cup of liquid into rice mixture.

Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until liquid is absorbed. Then add 1/2 cup broth at a time, stirring each time until absorbed before adding more broth (about 20 minutes). Stir in any remaining broth. Cook and stir until rice is tender and cramy.

Stir in asparagus pieces, cheese, parsley, lemon peel, lemon juice and pepper.

* Taste for seasoning if using water instead of broth. Top with whole asparagus spears, lemon slices and lemon peel. Serves four.

Valle Novak writes the Country Chef and Weekend Gardener columns for the Daily Bee. She can be reached at or by phone at 208-265-4688 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.


A brand new take on spring’s tender asparagus.