Zucchini and blackberries — the two words don't quite roll off the tongue like "peanut butter and jelly" or "tomatoes and basil," but to my mind, they are forever linked. It's probably because zucchini is one of the few veggies I have successfully grown in my problematic Northwest garden, and even when I don't grow them, they're abundant.
Blackberries, of course, are everywhere and with a little, um, help from my berry-obsessed son, I've been putting away quarts of them, too. Here are ideas for family-friendly ways to use up a bounty of these humble-but-healthy summer goodies. (Psst — ideas on where to pick berries this summer.)
Editor's note: This story published in 2013 and was updated in June 2018.
Turning veggies into savory pancakes seems to be the get-kids-to-eat-greens idea du jour, and the zucchini — high water content and easily shreddable — is the ideal candidate.
I've made these fritters from Weelicious with great success, though I admit I liked them more than the two boys in the house (husband and son). But, hey, it's important that I also get my greens, right?
These broccoli-parmesan fritters from Smitten Kitchen also look detectable and could be adapted for zukes and other summer squash.
Speaking of pancakes and Smitten Kitchen, here's a lovely recipe for zucchini bread pancakes from Smitten Kitchen to jazz up your a special breakfast (first day of school, anyone?).
Turning veggies into pesto has been one of my most successful strategies to date, especially when I let the kid press the pulverize button on the food processor. We'll try this zuke pesto recipe from Epicurious this week, probably substituting chard for part of the basil. Yum!
When I was just out of college I had a roommate who would whip up a savory zucchini pie every August that involved Pillsbury crescent roll dough, lots of very thinly sliced zucchini and a lot of butter. Healthy, not so much, but absolutely delicious. (Feel free to ignore the brand names in the recipe.)
Here's a delectable-looking chocolate-zucchini cupcake recipe from Make-Ahead Mamas, a local cooking group of moms in Northeast Seattle whose blog also provides tips for starting a make-ahead group of your own.
There's nothing groundbreaking about mixing up spinach-and-fruit smoothies, but it's extra-satisfying to throw in some antioxidant-rich blackberries that you've picked, along with chard or spinach, frozen bananas, soy or dairy milk, peaches and other summer fruit.
It's really that easy, but if you want a recipe to get started, try this green smoothie recipe, or just Google "green smoothie." Talk about versatile!
Berries, lemon, and zucchini — those are the stars of this incredible-looking cake from Shutterbean.com recommended by a foodie friend of mine. Hmm, wonder if you could substitute blackberries?
What's a blackberry round-up with popsicles? Here's a yogurt-and-berry pop recipe from local food blogger Emmy Cooks. It only requires a few ingredients and little time.
Crumbles, crisps and pies
Moving into tried-and-true dessert territory, my favorite preparation for blackberries is a pie, and I'm currently partial to this berry pie recipe one from 101 Cookbooks. It's also hard to go wrong with a good, buttery, oat-y fruit crisp; I just adapt this peach recipe for blackberries (also from 101 Cookbooks, with yogurt). And this simple-and-delicious apricot-and-blackberry cobbler from Emmy Cooks can also be adapted, or kept as is.
I have not yet tried this unbelievable-looking recipe from Orangette, the Seattle-based blog by Molly Wizenberg, but I've just added it to my end-of-summer bucket list.
Blackberry gin fizz
This cocktail came out of Smitten Kitchen's tiny New York City kitchen, but I am adopting it as my Northwest cocktail of choice. They will be made on Labor Day weekend. 'Nuff said.