~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Monday, August 27, 2012

Zucchini Mock "Apple" Pie Filling... and Zucchini Mock "Apple" Strudel

Zucchini Mock "Apple" Pie Filling... and Zucchini Mock "Apple" Strudel I know, I know... yet another strudel recipe. But I had to share this recipe... just because it's not your normal everyday strudel. It's actually a strudel with a zucchini filling! Yes, zucchini of all things:). And the zucchini strudel isn't savory either, but rather a dessert strudel. The sweet kind:). Thought to share this recipe now, before the zucchini season is all over... 

As much as I never intended to use my zucchini in a dessert, I happened to have some phyllo sheets in my freezer(really needed to use them up as they had gotten a bit brittle)... wondered how I could possibly use them. I'm not the type of person to throw away ingredients just because they are not useable. I always challenge myself to somehow use them up in a decent manner:). In this case, I had a few outer phyllo sheets that were very brittle... with broken pieces. Wanted to use it in something worthy of being eaten. And looking in my fridge, I noticed a large zucchini I had bought for a single dollar at our local farmer's market. I had great plans for it. Really wanted that dollar to go a long way. I figured I'd use it in a savory dish, add a few other ingredients and make a meal out of it. But the phyllo sheets really needed to  be used up... 

I've known of the mock "apple" pie filling using zucchinis for some time now. Never really ventured out to try it. I guess I struggled with the idea that a pie with zucchinis wouldn't really taste like apple pie. And I also knew zucchini in an "apple" pie would never fly by my husband. I was sure he would pick it out immediately. What to do. Thought about it a bit... maybe, just maybe, it would work. I mean zucchini is pretty bland in taste, and will easily take on any flavor you add to it. Plus, I would be able to use my phyllo sheets. Loved the idea of trying out something new, and at the same time working with ingredients that needed to be used up. Decided to give it a try...

While making the zucchini filling, I had my doubts. At one point, I thought, "This will never taste like "apple" pie filling." Kept tasting it. The texture wasn't right. Decided to cook it down further hoping the flavors would penetrate the zucchini slices while the zucchini would soften up to the tenderness of apples. Towards the end, I began to really like the flavor... even though the zucchini still had that "bite" to them(maybe because my zucchini was rather large). Wasn't exactly sure if it was a good thing or bad thing. But I really wanted to make the strudel. Left the filling aside to cool, refrigerated it, and decided I'd work with it the following day.  

The next day, I took out my phyllo sheets and filling... by now the sauce had thickened up nicely and wasn't runny at all. I managed to find a few phyllo sheets that were still in tact. I chose to use the good, full sheets on the bottom and the top, while the brittle pieces went in the middle. Buttered the sheets and sprinkled a bit of finely ground almonds in between the layers, and continued to add the zucchini filling while rolling it up in a log. Made 2 strudels. Baked them. Sprinkled some powdered sugar on top. Served them to my husband. 

The result was simply amazing! It did taste like an apple strudel:). My husband's  remark was, "So... this is made with 100%  zucchinis? It's delicious! Reminds me of the black bean brownies... you'd never know." If you've haven't yet tried using zucchinis in place of apples, well, I think it's worth making at least once. Hope you enjoy...

Note: Feel free to adjust sugar amount, I'd start with 1/2 cup and add a TBS at a time, according to taste. Same with the lemon juice, add a bit more if you feel the filling needs it.

Zucchini Mock "Apple" Filling: makes about 3+/- cups of cooked filling

1 lb 8 oz.( 6-7 cups) zucchini, peeled, deseeded, and thinly sliced
4-5 TBS lemon juice
1/2-2/3 cup sugar, or to taste
2 TBS butter
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
few gratings of nutmeg, to taste   
lemon peel from 1/2 a lemon, or to taste
small pinch of salt
1 TBS+/- cornstarch(can use other thickener of choice) 

1. Peel zucchini, cut in half, and remove seeds. If your zucchini is extra large(like mine) you may need to cut the halves yet again( quartered)... 
2. Thinly slice the zucchini, about 1/8 inch or so. 
3. In a saucepan, add the zucchini slices, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon peel... oh, and the tiny pinch of salt  Mix to combine.
4. Cook zucchini pie filling for about 30 minutes... or until softish and translucent-looking. Depending how much liquid the zucchini releases, you may need to add a bit more cornstarch to thicken it... make a slurry of a bit of water and cornstarch and then add to the filling. Cook until thickened to your liking.
5. Allow to cool, and use in strudel recipes... or even in apple pie, crumble or crisp recipes. It would be wonderful in mini pies baked in muffin tins. I chose to use it in a phyllo strudel recipe.... see below.  
Zucchini Strudel: see my previous posted recipe for more detail Apple Strudel... my new favorite apple dessert.

Note: I used  13x9 phyllo sheets and ended up making two strudels... and used all of the filling from above recipe. If you only have 10 sheets of phyllo, opt to make 2 strudels with 5 sheets each.... and if your sheets are longer than 13x9 inches, it's ok... just adjust filling on each. 

You will need:
Phyllo Sheets 10-12 (13x9 sheets)
Melted butter
finely ground almonds*
Zucchini filling from above
*Opt to skip the nuts, if allergic.

1. Preheat oven to 375 deg F
2. Using a pastry brush, butter one phyllo sheet well. Sprinkle some finely ground almonds over the entire surface. Add a second sheet of buttered phyllo dough and sprinkle with finely ground almonds. Repeat until all 6 sheets have been used. I didn't add any extra ground almonds on the last sheet. Opt to skip the nuts, if allergic.
3. Place some of the zucchini filling in a strip along the long side of the phyllo sheets. Roll up jelly-style. Place the strudel unto a baking sheet and butter the top as well.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until nicely golden brown.
5. Cool strudel. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut 2 inch portions on a bias(be gentle). Sprinkle with powdered sugar...


KattyK said...

Hi! I just discovered your blog while looking for dumplings made with cream of wheat :) I just made them and it was my first time so I guess I used too much cream of wheat :) They were pretty hard :) I bought a matzo ball mix and probably should have used that... Oh well, I'll try again :) My mum is a very experienced cook and her dumplings don't always come out right, so I know it's a bit of risky job. Oh and btw, I am Romanian too, living in the USA ;)

Ellie said...

Hi Katty, I'm really glad you stopped by... As for the cream of wheat dumplings, I'm sorry they came out hard for you. You are right, they are a bit tricky. It's a fine line trying to get the dumpling mixture just right... A little too much semolina/cream of wheat and you'll end up with dumplings that are hard. The thing about measurement amounts is that it all depends on the size of the egg... not all eggs are the same, so the semolina needs to be added cautiously. But my best tip is to use less semolina, and allow the mixture to thicken as it sits( at least 10 minutes)... The mixture is softish and not overly firm. Hard to explain:).... But you know, I too have had my share of hard dumplings, so don't feel too discouraged. I know, for me personally, that I find the more I practice the better the outcome.
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to write... from a fellow Romanian:).

GratefulPrayerThankfulHeart said...

This is a delicious looking recipe and the use of zucchini is so unique.

Fun stopping by to visit with you!
Kindly, Lorraine

Ellie said...

Aww, thanks Lorraine! Glad you stopped by:). Hopefully one day you can try making an "apple"strudel using zucchinis... I think it's definitely worth trying once. For sure it's a different way of using the zucchini:). I hope you like it as well:)