Jane's Blog | janebutelcooking.com

From Zucchini to Cumin

By Jane Butel  September 23, 2020

If you have zucchini plants in your yard, you know how easy it is for you to have a runaway huge  guy.  That has happened to me twice this season and I have had fun with trying different ways to use that tender, flavorful squash.  However, you can use zucchini of any size.

Now, I bet you are wondering where cumin comes in.  Well, squeaky fresh cumin is so flavorful and is such a good friend to chiles--I want to pass on to you a great special.  We are placing our super fresh cumin that just came in two days ago on a special of 25% off so you can have plenty for fall recipes--soups, sauces and stews and especially chili.  Chili really is not chili unless it has a punch of fresh cumin.  For the best flavor, even if the recipe does not call for it--always put 1/2 the amount of cumin in when you prepare a dish and the other half just before serving.  Also,  always keep cumin in a glass jar in the refrigerator or freezer.  Cumin only grows in the Middle East, hence the price can be quite volatile, depending on the political situation there.   So when it is on special, be sure and  take advantage of it.

Here's some of my favorite ideas for using zucchini--especially if you are over stocked with big ones.  Using the grating blade on the food processor, you can grate the squash and freeze it in 1 cup or whatever amounts seem convenient for you.  The grated spirals are really great in zucchini fritters, where for every 1 cup of squash, you beat an egg in the bottom of a small bowl and whisk it with 1 clove minced garlic, a pinch or two  of cumin, salt to taste and about 2 or more Tablespoons each of grated Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.  Then fry fritters on an olive oil greased griddle or skillet using medium high heat.  Cook them until they are nicely browned and then flip to finish the second side. For variety, you can use half grated carrot if desired.

Grated zucchini is wonderful in cakes, breads or muffins.  Just substitute it for carrots in your favorite carrot cake recipe, use instead of bananas in your banana nut bread recipe and add some coconut.  For muffins, just bake the bread recipe, placing spoonfuls of batter in a muffin or cupcake tin that is either generously buttered or use cupcake liners.

Another idea is that you can make yummy Minestrone soup  just like vegetable soup, adding some white beans, basil and pasta.  Then if desired, serve with a heaping Tablespoon of Pesto in the middle. 

Our next full participation class is our ever popular Tamale Roll class which is at 11 AM on Thursday, October 8..  (The reason it is always at 11 AM on that Thursday is that we have scheduled it for years to fall after the special shapes rodeo of the Balloon Fiesta which unfortunately has been called off for this year due to the Pandemic.  I decided to keep the tradition any way. 

Our next weekend class is October 23-25 and the next day class is the Red Chile Fiesta on  November 19 at 5 PM.  Since I had set the week long class for the first week of November back in May, not thinking about the General Election falling on the Tuesday of that week, we are currently polling the people who had signed up and also those expressing interest for an alternate date, which we will announce shortly.

We are once again taking reservations for our Oaxaca week long in Old Mexico for the week of June 15-21, 2021.  

Here's two Zucchini recipes--


This cake was created to be baked on the grill in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. However, it bakes very well in an oven and is quite moist and flavorful, yet low fat. The fruits and zucchini add moistness. (It will bake fine on the grill when you are preparing a meat such as ribs or halves of chicken that take a moderate 350F temperature.) And, this is just one more way to cook zucchini! You can always substitute zucchini for carrot in breads and cakes and vice versa, carrot will substitute here for the zucchini.

Yield: 12 servings

Baking time: 45 minutes

Temperature: 350F

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (1 large or 2 small--can be previously frozen)

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

3 eggs

3 ½ cups shredded zucchini

½ cup (8-oz. can, drained) crushed pineapple

1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly grated nutmeg

Powdered sugar for dusting top (optional) 

1. Preheat the grill or oven to 350F if not already hot. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan that will not get damaged on the grill or cover the bottom with foil. Or use a foil pan. 

2.Combine bananas, oil and sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, bea until sugar dissolves. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in zucchini, pineapple and vanilla. In another bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients and stir until blended. Then add the dry ingredients one-quarter at a time, mixing after each addition. Mix only until all ingredients are well combined. 

3. Turn batter into prepared baking pan. Place on grill rack and cover grill. Bake about 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out cean and cake springs back when gently pressed. Cool on a cake rack. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. 

Reprinted with permission from Jane Butel’s Southwestern Grill.


Lemon in all of its wonderful forms is a zesty compliment to Zucchini, perhaps it’s because of their Mediterranean origins. For the most beautiful side dish and flavorful too, slice the zucchini either with a mandolin or a very sharp slicing knife into very thin diagonal slices and flash fry and top with zest. You will definitely fall in love with the flavor! 

Yield: 6 servings 

3 small zucchini, thinly sliced on a diagonal

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 large lemon, zested—some in a fine grate—a few in long curls

 Thinly slice the zucchini in angular slices. When almost through slicing—heat the oil in a large flat sauté pan or skillet. Add the zucchini and flash fry—stirring to prevent browning. Cook for only 2 to 3 minutes. Toss with the fine lemon zest. 

  1. Serve in a bowl or on the plates and garnish with the long “curls” of lemon.







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