Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarian Essays/Vegan Essays

The Great Zucchini Extravaganza!!!
Not Your Same Old Squash

Zucchini here, zucchini there, zucchini almost everywhere we turn! That's what many home gardeners may be feeling as they watch their abundant crop of homegrown zucchini and summer squashes ripen faster than they ever dreamed!

What a joy it is to see nature at its best, turning out plump squashes ripened by the sun--but what to do with so much zucchini! The market bins and farmers' markets are also overflowing with gorgeous varieties of summer squashes that ramp up any vegetable enthusiast to bring home bagsful of these summer delights.

Zucchini Because summer squashes, large, small, yellow, green, scalloped, and round have a similar texture as zucchini, they can be used interchangeably in almost any recipe that calls for zucchini.

We thought it would be a blast to reach out to some of the cyber world's innovative vegan chefs, recipe bloggers, and cookbook authors to gather-up a heaping bundle of great zucchini recipes.

Hopefully, these tempting, imaginative creations and stunning photos will inspire home chefs across the country and across the continents to bring some fresh, new dishes that showcase this humble, yet elegant vegetable--the beautiful zucchini--to the table.


Jennifer Cornbleet is well known for her innovative raw creations throughout the raw food community. She's the author of Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People and Raw for Dessert, both best-selling books on vegan raw cuisine. Her DVDs include Raw Food Made Easy, Raw Food in a Rush, and Raw Travel & Treats. She blogs at Raw Food Made Easy where you can find many more delicious recipes.

Jenny also travels the country sharing her expertise on the preparation and health benefits of raw cuisine. She now has a new raw food online course at

Sharing one of her raw zucchini creations, she says, "Zucchini noodles are the secret ingredient in this soothing bowl of broth. While not 100% raw, it's very, very close!

Zucchini Ramen


Yield: 2 1/2 cups (600 ml), 2 servings


    1 zucchini, peeled

    2 1/4 cups (320 ml) water
    1/2 cup (120 ml) baby spinach leaves, tightly packed
    1/2 cup (120 ml) thinly sliced carrot (1/2 carrot)
    1/2 cup (120 ml) thinly sliced cremini mushrooms

    2 tablespoons mellow white miso
    1/2 teaspoon shoyu or tamari
    pinch salt
    2 teaspoons thinly sliced green onion


    cutting board
    chef's knife, 8-inch (20 cm)
    vegetable spiral slicer
    measuring cups
    measuring spoons
    small saucepan
    small mixing bowl fork wooden spoon

  1. Cut the zucchini into thin noodles using a vegetable spiral slicer. Alternatively, use a vegetable peeler to create long ribbons by drawing the peeler down all sides of the zucchini until you reach the core.
  2. Place 2 cups (240 ml) of the water and the spinach, carrots, and mushrooms in a small saucepan. Cover and turn on the heat to medium high. Just as the vegetables and water begin to boil, remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to stand for 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup (60 ml) of water with the miso in a small mixing bowl. Whisk with a fork until blended. Add the miso mixture, zucchini noodles, green onions, shoyu, and salt to the water and vegetables and stir until well combined. Serve immediately.
See more at


Deborah Madison Deborah Madison is an icon in the vegetarian community. She cut, sliced, chopped, and came face to face with veggies long before many of today's vegan chefs appeared on the scene. She learned her craft at the San Francisco Zen Center where she prepared many of the meals. Her true passion was awakened when she began working in the kitchen at Chez Panisse in 1977. Early in her career she cooked at Chez Panisse and spent a year preparing food at the American Academy in Rome.

Today, Deborah is not only the author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, but she has also authored The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, The Green's Cookbook, This Can't be Tofu, Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen, and Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen among others. Her newest work is Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom.

Deborah is also a veteran food writer and has contributed articles to Gourmet, Saveur, Food and Wine, Fine Cooking, Orion, Organic Gardening, Eating Well, Vegetarian Times, and The Los Angeles Times.

Visit her website and blog at Deborah Madison.

She remains active in the Slow Food movement and Seed Savers Exchange and generously shares one of her zucchini recipes with our fans.

Deborah says a gentle slow cooking brings out the zucchini's full squash flavor, which quick cooking eclipses. Serve these golden coins as a dish on their own, or with pasta.

Zucchini Coins with Herbs & Pine Nuts


Serves 4 to 6

    2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 1/2 pounds (680g) zucchini, thinly sliced

    Sea salt and freshly milled pepper

    1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

    3 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs, such as dill, basil, parsley, and cilantro or marjoram
    2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted in a dry skillet until golden.

  1. Heat the oil in a wide skillet, and then add the zucchini.

  2. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook slowly over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring every so often.

  3. Add the garlic and cook another 5 to 10 minutes. The finished squash should have a light golden glaze over the surface and be golden brown in places.

  4. Taste for salt, and season with pepper. Toss with the herbs, turn onto a platter, and then garnish with the pine nuts.


Susanna Liang Susanna Liang is the creator of the blog aptly named Divine Healthy Food. She created her food blog on healthy eating after years of abusive eating that resulted in headaches, heart palpitations, and extreme lack of energy. Gradually she changed her diet and noticed positive improvements. Her PMS symptoms lessened, acne decreased, menstrual pain almost vanished, heartburn almost disappeared, and her energy improved.

Now she happily shares her healthy recipes like her green smoothie morning meal. She enjoys music, Anime, games, Wuxia and Ancient Chinese Series, and films about ancient Chinese chivalry and heroic martial arts, with settings surrounding lakes and rivers. Visit Susanna at Divine Healthy Food

Susanna says, "When you realise that raw vegan foods can be so flavourful like this, I think many people would open their eyes to it a lot more! Though the only thing is, raw garlic may not be for everyone, as sometimes eating raw garlic gives me a little stomachache. If you really can't stand raw garlic, perhaps you can even replace it with a couple of teaspoons of garlic powder.

"I would suggest you only really need half the amount of pesto to combine with the zucchini noodles. You can leave the other half for other recipes later. It can even be used for pizza!"


Serves 2


    2 to 3 zucchinis
    1/2 teaspoon Himalayan/Sea salt
    Extra basil for garnish
    1 cup (240 ml) firmly packed fresh basil
    1/2 cup (120 ml) extra virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    2 tablespoons pine nuts
    2 tablespoons almonds
    4 cloves garlic
    A sprinkle of Himalayan/Sea salt

  1. Use a julienne peeler or Spiralizer to turn zucchini into noodle-like strips. The julienne peeler can be bought in kitchen stores, and cuts things in long strips.
  2. Put all the zucchini noodles in a bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Use your hands and stir it well, mixing the salt evenly. Allow the noodles to sit for about half an hour so that water can be drained.
  3. To make the pesto: Combine the basil, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, pine nuts, almonds, garlic (peel first) and salt in the blender. Blend until it's completely smooth.
  4. Once you see water leave the zucchini noodles, drain out as much water as possible. If the noodles are too salty, you may want to rinse them. Pour the pesto into the zucchini and stir it well.
  5. Transfer it on a plate and add some extra basil leaves on top.


Bianca Phillips

Bianca Phillips is a Southern belle from Arkansas who now lives in Memphis where she works as associate editor at the Memphis Flyer. Hanging out in the kitchens of her mama and granny gave her an appreciation of what cooking soul food with love is all about.

After work Bianca enjoys writing about her adventures in the kitchen with tasty Southern eats at Vegan Crunk food blog that attracts a flock of avid followers. Bianca's ability to turn traditional Southern cuisine into delicious vegan dishes led her to gain popularity resulting in her cookbook Cookin' Crunk: Eatin' Vegan in the Dirty South.

To enjoy Bianca's up-to-date kitchen fun, visit Vegan Crunk.

Bianca shares her recipe for a delicious, Southern-style squash casserole just made for summer-ripe zucchini or summer squash.

Creamy Squash Casserole


Makes 6 to 8 helpin's

    1 cup (240 ml) vegetable broth
    1/4 cup (60 ml) water
    2 tablespoons cornstarch

    1 tablespoon non-hydrogenated vegan margarine
    1 onion, diced

    3 medium summer squash (or zucchini), thinly sliced
    2 cups (480 ml) unsweetened soy milk
    1 cup (240 ml) brown rice
    1 teaspoon salt
    Ground pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (Gas Mark 5). Spray a 4-quart (4 liter) casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Bring the broth to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Put the water and cornstarch in a small bowl and mix well. Pour into the broth and whisk until thoroughly blended. Decrease the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly with the whisk, until thick and creamy, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. Melt the margarine in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish and add the broth mixture, squash, soymilk, rice, salt, and as much pepper as desired. Mix well, then spread the mixture in an even layer.
  4. Cover and bake for about 90 minutes, stirring every 30 minutes and then covering again, until the rice is tender.


Nava Atlas is the creator of the Veg Kitchen and author and illustrator of many books on vegan and vegetarian cooking, most recently Wild About Greens and Vegan Holiday Kitchen. Her backlist includes Vegan Express, Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons, The Vegetarian Family Cookbook, and The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet. Her first book, Vegetariana, published in 1984, is considered a classic in its field.

Nava Atas Nava also has written scores of articles on healthful cooking with natural foods, which have appeared in Vegetarian Times, VegNews, Cooking Light, and numerous other publications. Nava is also a fine artist and has exhibited in Museums and universities across the U.S. Read more at

Nava says, "Making raw spaghetti-like "noodles" with a spiral slicer (I got the one made by World Cuisine and enjoy it quite a bit) is all the rage among those who have adopted raw food diets. It's also a boon to those who've gone gluten-free, as well as gardeners who have more squash than they know what to do with. For anyone else who just wants to eat lighter and fresher during the summer, it's just plain fun.

Granted, summer squashes aren't exactly powerhouse vegetables, but with a fresh tomato sauce and a tasty faux "Parmesan" made of all manner of good things, this is a nourishing dish. If you want to make this, but don't have spiral slicer, use a vegetable peeler to create long ribbons from the zucchini or summer squash, which will be more like fettuccine."

Raw Zucchini Noodles/Fresh Tomato Sauce


Serves: 3 to 4

    4 to 5 medium ripe, juicy tomatoes

    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 to 120 ml) fresh basil leaves, to taste
    1/3 cup (80 ml) moist sun-dried tomatoes. (oil-cured or not--reconstitute, if need be)
    1 to 2 scallions, coarsely chopped
    1 clove garlic, optional (if you like raw garlic)
    A squeeze or two of lemon juice
    Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    2 medium zucchini or yellow summer squashes, or 1 of each, about 10 to 12 ounces total (see note)

    Raw "Parmesan"-Style Cheez, as needed

  1. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, or if very large, into smaller sections. Place in a food processor and pulse on and off until coarsely chopped.
  2. Add the oil, basil, dried tomatoes, scallions, optional garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to the food processor and pulse on and off until everything is finely and evenly chopped, but don't puree.
  3. Cut the stem ends off the squashes. Cut them in half crosswise. Run the squashes through the spiral slicer with the fine blade to create long noodles (each spiral slicer will come with its own set of instructions for accomplishing this easy task).
  4. Transfer the strands of squash to a serving bowl. Top with some of the sauce, leaving some of the "noodles" showing, and sprinkle on some of the Cheez.
  5. Bring to the table, let everyone admire the dish, then toss the squash with the sauce until evenly coated. Pass around additional sauce and cheez for topping individual portions.

Raw Vegan Parmesan-Style "Cheese"

Makes: About 1 1/2 cups (360 ml)

    1 cup (240 ml) raw cashews or slivered almonds
    1/3 cup (80 ml) nutritional yeast
    1/3 cup (80 ml) hemp or sesame seeds
    1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Combine the ingredients in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse on and off until the mixture is finely and evenly ground.
  2. Transfer to a tightly lidded container and store any unused portion in the refrigerator, where it will keep for a few months.

Note: Yellow summer squash works well so long as it's not filled with large seeds.



Sara McMinn Sarah McMinn is a happy stay-at-home mom with a 2-year old and another sweet little bundle on the way. The creator of The Sweet Life Blog, she finds blogging one of the most satisfying ways to take her B.A. in photography and her culinary school training into the cyberworld where she finds warm connections to other bloggers and a community of friendly vegans.

The film Earthlings and The New Ethics of Eating by Erik Marcus were strong motivators that led her to adopt the vegan lifestyle. Still curious, she continued to read and learn about everything vegan. The transition was easy for her because of her conviction that all species deserve a chance to live a life free of torture, pain, and enslavement.

Look for her innovative recipes and even more enticing food photos on The Sweet Life Blog.

Sarah shares her tasty zucchini-moistened Chocolate Zucchini Cake.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake


Makes two 1/2-pint (240 ml) Mason jar cakes or four 1/4-pint (120 ml) mini cakes

    1/2 cup (120 ml) flour
    1/4 cup (60 ml) cocoa powder
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/4 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp salt

    2 tbsp canola oil
    1/2 cup (120 ml) granulated sugar
    1/4 cup (60 ml) applesauce
    1 tbsp plus 1 tsp instant coffee
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract

    3/4 cup (180 ml) finely shredded zucchini

    1/4 cup (60 ml) chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (Gas Mark 4). Lightly oil 2 half-pint (240 ml) Mason jars.
  2. In a small bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together canola oil, sugar, applesauce, instant coffee, and vanilla extract. Add shredded zucchini and mix until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture and stir together until just combined. Do not overmix. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Fill Mason jars about 3/4 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until knife comes out clean. Let cake cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Don't have Mason jars? Use a muffin tin to make about 1/2 dozen muffins. If you prefer, use very finely ground espresso in place of the instant coffee.


Sharon Palmer Sharon Palmer, RD is the Plant-Powered Dietitian. Her passion for food, nutrition, and writing during 16 years in the nutrition profession has inspired her to write over 850 articles that have appeared in Better Homes & Gardens, Oxygen, Prevention, Los Angeles Times, Cooking Smart, and Today's Dietitian. She blogs daily at the Plant-Powered Blog and is advisor for the Oldways Vegetarian Network and Today's Dietitian. In 2013 she received the Loma Linda University Distinguished Alumnus Award. Sharon is also the author of The Plant-Powered Diet and Plant-Powered for Life.

Sharon shares her zucchini-infused recipe for a delicious Mexican-inspired Tortilla Soup.

  • Active preparation time: 24 minutes
  • Total preparation time: 48 minutes
  • A traditional Mexican dish, tortilla soup is a spicy blend of tomatoes, vegetables, and crisp tortilla strips. This easy plant-powered version--you can whip it up in no time--throws protein-rich black beans into the mix. Best of all, this dish relies on preserved goods, such as canned tomatoes, frozen corn, and canned beans, so you can make it year-round from your pantry. And it's a great complement for a simple sandwich, burrito, or vegetable salad for lunch or dinner.

    Tortilla Soup


    Makes 10 servings (generous 1 cup/240 ml each)

    Tortilla Strips

      Three 6-inch (15 cm) corn tortillas
      2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
      1/2 teaspoon chili powder


      4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
      1 medium onion, diced
      1 medium garlic clove, minced
      1 medium green bell pepper, diced
      1 small jalapeño pepper, finely diced
      1 small zucchini, diced
      1 cup (240 ml) frozen corn
      1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
      2 teaspoons cumin
      4 cups (1 liter) water
      1 tablespoon reduced sodium vegetable broth base
      Two 14.5-ounce (411g) cans diced tomatoes, with liquid
      One 15-ounce (425g) can black beans, with liquid (or 1 3/4 cups/420 ml cooked, with 1/2 cup/120 ml water)

      2/3 cup (160 ml) plant-based cheese, optional
      2/3 cup (160 ml) chopped green onions, white and green parts

    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (Gas Mark 6).
    2. Slice the tortillas into thin strips. Place them on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil; then sprinkle the chili powder on top. Bake for about 5 to 8 minutes, until brown and crisp. Remove from oven and set aside. Turn off the oven.
    3. Meanwhile, prepare the soup by heating the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes.
    4. Add the garlic, bell pepper, jalapeño, zucchini, corn, crushed red pepper, and cumin and sauté for an additional 5 minutes.
    5. Add the water, broth base, tomatoes, and black beans. Stir well and cover. Simmer over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
    6. Ladle about 1 cup of soup into soup bowls, and garnish with a few tortilla strips, 1 tablespoon of plant-based cheese, and 1 tablespoon green onions. Serve immediately.
    7. Store leftover soup (without garnishes) in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat the soup and garnish with the tortilla strips, cheese, and green onions.

    Substitute cooked or canned white beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, or kidney beans for black beans, or use a combination.

    Per Serving: 148 calories, 5 g protein, 21 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 5 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 263 mg sodium Star Nutrients: vitamin C (40% DV), folate (12% DV), calcium (14% DV), manganese (11% DV), molybdenum (44% DV), phosphorus (10% DV), potassium (10% DV)


    Jason Wyrick Jason Wryick is the creator of The Vegan Taste where he shares his dramatic diabetes crisis and how his vegan path helped him return to health, reverse diabetes, and lose over 100 pounds. After he was diagnosed with diabetes, he realized his diet was the culprit and began learning how to prepare vegan dishes. His new vegan direction sparked his interest in cooking and started his career as a chef. His online magazine The Vegan Taste is the home of a plethora of outstanding vegan recipes, videos, cooking classes, home-delivered meals, vegan vacations, reviews of vegan books and products, and all things vegan.

    Jason says, "I developed this recipe while I was in Italy. We had picked up some zucchini and blood oranges from the market that had just been picked that morning. Originally the oranges were going to be for breakfast, but I wanted to do something special for everyone. This is what I came up with. Serve this with lightly grilled bread and dip it in any leftover sauce."

    Zucchini Alla Griglia/Blood Orange Balsamic


    Makes 8 servings as a side or appetizer

      1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh blood orange juice (you can substitute other oranges if necessary)
      3 tablespoons balsamic glaze (balsamic vinegar reduction)
      4 large zucchini, ends removed and sliced in half lengthwise

      2 tablespoons olive oil
      1/2 teaspoon crumbly sea salt

    1. Combine the orange juice and balsamic glaze. Toss the halved
    2. zucchini in it and let the zucchini marinate for about 30 minutes.

    3. Light a wood fire or charcoal grill and let the flames die down to a medium heat while the zucchini marinates.
    4. After it is done marinating, toss the zucchini in the olive oil and salt.
    5. Grill the zucchini on both sides until it is soft and very lightly charred. Remove them from the grill and serve with a side of toasted bread and any of the leftover sauce.

    Note: To make balsamic vinegar reduction, put about 1/2 cup (120 ml) of good quality balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan, uncovered. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and boil for about 10 minutes, or until the vinegar is reduced to about 1/4 cup (60 ml).


    Denise Bird Denise Bird started the Pink Vegan blog because she was always modifying recipes and usually did not write down the changes she made; therefore, it was hard to recreate the recipe again… Or, she couldn't even find the original recipe she modified. She decided if she started a blog, she could easily find her recipes! Also, instead of e-mailing recipes to friends and family, she could invite them to just look at the blog. She says, "As a vegan, I am always looking for healthy recipes that are easy to make and taste good. I try to make all my recipes without any added oil. I hope you enjoy the recipe!!!"

    Denise tells us, "These are REALLY REALLY good…nice and moist and chocolaty !!! If I wasn't planning on having these for breakfast this week, they'd be GONE in a couple of days!!!!! I think each day these muffins just keep getting better!!! They continue to stay moist and the flavor seems to increase with each day."

    This is a thicker batter.

    Chocolate Zucchini Nut Muffins


    Yield: makes 12 muffins

      2 cups (480 ml) grated zucchini
      1/2 cup (120 ml) almond milk
      1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened applesauce
      1 tsp vanilla extract
      2 medium to large very ripe bananas, mashed (If your bananas are smaller or not as ripe, you will probably need to add 2 to 4 Tbsp liquid)

      1 cup (240 ml) whole wheat flour
      1/2 cup (120 ml) corn flour
      1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped walnuts
      1/4 cup (60 ml) Sucanat (or brown sugar)
      1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened cocoa powder
      2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
      2 tsp baking powder
      1 tsp baking soda
      1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
      1/2 tsp ground cardamom
      1/4 tsp salt

    1. Mix the zucchini, almond milk, applesauce, vanilla extract and mashed bananas in one bowl.
    2. Mix the dry ingredients in another bowl.
    3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
    4. Pour into muffin pan (preferably a silicone pan) and bake at 350 degrees F. (Gas Mark 4) for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


    Brandi Doming is the creator of The Vegan 8 blog and loves a challenge. She's chosen to create a vegan blog with healthy recipes that contain only 8 ingredients or less. The recipes are also gluten-free, oil-free, dairy-free, tofu-free, soy-free, and gum-free. Recognizing her readers wanted recipes that are easy to prepare and do not contain daunting lists of ingredients, she concluded that 8 ingredients would be the maximum in her recipes, excluding salt and water.

    The recipes in her "kid friendly" section are also nut-free or have nut-free options. Visit The Vegan 8 for her beautifully photographed and utterly tempting recipes.

    Brandi says this whole recipe contains only 8 ingredients and is made possible by repeating some of those ingredients in both the crust and the filling.

    Nutella Zucchini Cream Pie Bars


    Yield: about ten bars, 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm) wide


      1 cup (240 ml) whole almonds
      1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped hazelnuts
      2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
      1 teaspoon vanilla


      1 cup (240 ml) dairy-free chocolate chips
      1/4 cup (60 ml) canned low-fat coconut milk, room temp!
      2 tablespoons creamy almond butter
      1 teaspoon vanilla
      1/4 cup (60 ml) finely grated, loosely packed zucchini (about 1/2 of a zucchini)
      1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped hazelnuts

    1. Line a 9-inch x 5-inch (23 x 13cm) loaf pan with plastic wrap with it hanging over the sides for easy removal later. Add the almonds to a food processor and process until a fine flour forms. Add the hazelnuts and pulse again until the mixture resembles almond meal. Add the syrup and vanilla and pulse a few times, just until clumps form. Press the dough into the prepared pan, flat and hard, evenly out to the edges. Really pat down hard and flat. Set aside.
    2. Add the chocolate chips to a cereal bowl, and melt either over a double boiler or in 30 second intervals in the microwave until melted, stirring after each 15-30 seconds. Stir the chocolate until completely smooth and pour into the food processor.
    3. Add the coconut milk, almond butter and vanilla and process until completely smooth.
    4. Finely grate 1/2 of a zucchini and measure a loosely packed 1/4 cup (60 ml) with the grated zucchini. Now, place the zucchini between 2 pieces of papertowel and squeeze all the excess water out really well. Add it to the food processor and process until it is blended and smooth.
    5. Add the 1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped hazelnuts and pulse a few times just until blended; you do not want them broken up. Pour the chocolate filling over the crust and smooth out evenly with a small spatula or back of a spoon. Sprinkle extra chopped hazelnuts over the top. Place in the fridge for about 4 hours to firm up. While still in the pan, slice into 10 bars, about 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm) wide each. Keep stored in the fridge.


    Zel Allen Zel Allen is co-publisher along with her husband, Reuben, of Vegetarians in Paradise monthly online vegan magazine packed with recipes, reviews, and helpful resources for vegan living. She is also the author of two vegan cookbooks. The first, The Nut Gourmet, spotlights the health benefits of nuts and features them in every form from whole, to chopped, to finely ground in the recipes. Her second cookbook, Vegan for the Holidays, is the perfect cookbook to carry vegan households through the holiday season, dining in grand style from Thanksgiving through New Years. Because so many of the recipes use year-round ingredients, the recipes can be enjoyed throughout the year, some with seasonal substitutions.

    Zel says, "Bless the versatile zucchini and the summer squash family for their ability to morph into almost everything from delicious, pungent appetizers to rich, indulgent desserts."

    Here's an almost whimsical looking appetizer that's just as tasty as it is inviting. It's a perfect finger food for parties where the guests are mingling before sitting down to dinner. If needed, the recipe can be prepared in steps over two days for convenience, and once prepared, this tasty prep can be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge until ready to serve. For tastier results, bring the finished zucchini to room temperature before serving or preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. and warm them gently for about 10 to 15 minutes.

    Seductive Stuffed Zucchini


    Yield: 10 to 15 servings

      3 large zucchini or 20 mini pattypan squashes

      1 (15-ounce/424g) can cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
      1/2 cup (120 ml) soft sun-dried tomatoes
      Juice of 1 lime or lemon
      1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
      2 cloves garlic
      1 teaspoon lemon pepper
      3/4 teaspoon salt

      10 to 12 Spanish olives, sliced thick, for garnish

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (Gas Mark 4) and have ready a large rimmed baking sheet.
    2. To prepare the zucchini, trim the ends and cut the squashes crosswise into 1-inch (2.5 cm) lengths. If using mini pattypan squashes, trim the ends and make sure they will stand straight. Use a melon baller to create cavities in the tops of the squashes.
    3. Put the squashes on the baking sheet and roast them for 20 to 25 minutes, or until fork tender. Set aside to cool completely.
    4. To make the filling, put all the ingredients, except the Spanish olives, in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. The mixture will be thick with many bits of tomato visible.
    5. To stuff the squashes, use your hands to form balls about 3/4-inch (1.9 cm) in diameter. Gently press a ball into each squash cavity.
    6. To garnish, poke a slice of Spanish olive standing upright into the top of each ball. Alternatively, lay the slices flat on top of the balls.

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