Zucchini Delights with Shana from Three Forks Baking & Brewing Co.

June’s Harvest of the Month is zucchini! Have you seen them yet at the Farmers Market?  “I always get excited when the first summer squash arrive,” says co-owner and baker Shana Maziarz of Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co.  “Nothing else tastes like squash.  It’s fun to work with, it’s not fussy like a lot of the spring vegetables – just throw it in some oil and grill it and it tastes great.”

Shana has been a local food trailblazer in Nevada County, with her passion and dedication to sourcing the freshest, local food possible for the seasonal menu at the restaurant, so we wanted to ask her to share some of her favorite ways to prepare and eat zucchini.

Shana suggests cutting the zucchini lengthwise into fat strips, and then tossing them in a bowl with olive oil, fresh herbs, garlic, a touch of chili flakes, and let it sit for awhile so it can soak in. “We like to cook them in the wood fired oven, but at home you can put them on the grill or on a pan, and cook until it starts to ‘melt’ in the middle”.  She explains the most common mistake is to under cook summer squash and miss out on that “melt in your mouth” experience. 

If you want to dig into some delicious zucchini at Three Forks, they are currently serving up a Marinated Summer Squash & Pesto sandwich, with zucchini sourced from Giddings Family Farm in Auburn, Fog Dog Farm basil and garlic, Riverhill Farm herbs, Derby Orchards walnuts in the pesto, Starbright Acres arugula, Back to Basics eggs and Calolea olive oil in the aioli.  Are you salivating yet?! You can also enjoy shaved zucchini on one of their delicious wood-fired pizzas.

When asked if she ever gets tired of zucchini, Shana emphatically says no.   “I eat with the seasons, so I wait a long time for the zucchini to arrive, and I love it when it does”, pairing it with other fresh veggies as they come out through the summer season.   “It’s so exciting when the zucchini come because its marks the beginning of the summer vegetable frenzy – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers – all these veggies you can just eat fresh with a little bit of salt and they taste like heaven”.

Try this recipe from Shana’s kitchen and enjoy the deliciousness of summer squash all season long!

Stuffed Zucchini

2 large or 3 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup crusty Three Forks bread, crumbled
⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ garlic clove, minced
½ cup quartered cherry tomatoes
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup walnuts
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 475°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a small spoon to hollow out the flesh of the zucchini, leaving a little more than ¼-inch thickness around the edges. Place them cut side-up on the baking sheet.
Make the filling: Place the scooped-out zucchini flesh into a mesh strainer and gently press out any excess water. Chop any coarse pieces and transfer to a medium bowl with the egg, bread crumbs, cheese, garlic, tomatoes, lemon zest, thyme, walnuts, and a few pinches of salt. Mix until combined.
Drizzle the hollowed-out zucchini with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spoon in the filling and bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until the filling is set and is golden brown and crisp on top. Would be delightful served with a little pesto or some freshly chopped basil on top.