Ovegrown Zucchini with Tempeh Barbeque




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The zucchini plants in our garden got a little carried away this summer, as they are prone to do. You know the story: it starts out nice, with fresh young zucchini you pluck and cook up as a side dish. But then they start coming faster and faster, and you can't keep up. One day, you stroll out into the garden and encounter The Great Zucchino, huge, old, and full of attitude.

When zucchini get large, the seeds mature and become too tough to eat, and the skin thickens up. All is not lost, though, as the flesh is still tasty - you just need a clever way to prepare it to disguise the fact that you are making a meal from The Great One.

If you don't have overgrown zucchini at your disposal, you could try this with a winter squash like butternut, but you should increase the baking time to 45 minutes or so. You could also try the barbeque tempeh over rice.

Preparation (Serves 2)

Cut 1-inch slices (crosswise) from your overgrown zucchini. Remove seeds and pithy interior. Each slice is now a ring with an open center. If rings are small (3-4 inches across), make three per person. If they are truly gigantic, use one or two. Preheat oven to 375.

Tempeh Barbeque

1 8-oz. package tempeh, the multi-seed kind, cubed
1/2 onion, chopped
1 small bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic
canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (1 pepper, finely chopped, and a teaspoon or so of sauce)
1 tsp white vinegar or lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
a couple drops Liquid Smoke
1 small (8-oz.) can tomato sauce or 1/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup frozen corn
2 tsp muscovado sugar
olive oil

In a large frying pan, heat a little oil and sauté the onion until it starts to brown. Add tempeh and garlic and continue sautéing. Add bell pepper. When the tempeh and onion are getting nicely browned and the bell pepper is softening, add the tomato sauce, chipotle, vinegar, salt, Liquid Smoke, and sugar, with some water as needed to make a liquidy sauce that coats everything. Simmer 5 minutes or so, then add corn, and simmer another 5 minutes.

Assembly and cooking

Lay zucchini rings on a foil-lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Fill the center of each ring with barbeque mixture, heaping up if necessary. Put in oven and bake 30-35 minutes, until zucchini is tender. Remove from tray with spatula and serve.


You can try different things in the barbeque, of course. Instead of bell pepper, I've used fresh tomatoes (and cut down on the tomato sauce). Tabasco is a fine addition to the barbeque sauce. The key ingredients are the tempeh, chipotle, and corn. The rest is up for grabs.

Feel free to experiment with the sauce. Everyone has their own preferred blend of spicy, acid, and sweet.

Ingredient Corner

Tempeh is a fermented soy product, much firmer and nuttier than tofu. We like the multi-seed kind, that has lots of differen whole seeds in it. Look for it in the refrigerated section where you find tofu or fake meats.

Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce come in a small can in the Mexican food section. Chipotles are jalapeños that have been allowed to ripen red and are then dried. The sauce is very spicy, and has a rich, smoky flavor. Sample them before using, to make sure you can handle the heat!

Muscovado Sugar is very dark brown and vegan. It gives a molasses-like sweetness to the sauce.

From the Hearth is a regular feature of Starweaver's Gems from Earth and Sky

Copyright © 2007 Tom Waters