Zucchini "Apple" Pie Bars

Happy Independence Day!  Mike and I have settled in for a very quiet end to a very busy, very hot, very fun day.  We spent the first half of this record-breaking, 101 degree day walking in a parade, and then spent the other half with my extended  family for our annual 4th of July party. And now we are content to simply listen and watch a few fireworks from the comfort of our home tonight as we rehydrate and recharge for the rest of the week.  
Of course when it comes to our family 4th of July celebration, such a celebration requires a dish-to-pass contribution that is as American as apple pie... but with a slight garden twist:  I substituted some of the zucchini that are threatening to take over my refrigerator for the apples.

The substitution works remarkably well!  Tried and true apple fans will notice that you can't quite achieve the same tartness of an apple, but for a sweeter recipe, the zucchini swap in almost seamlessly in taste, texture, and appearance.  Whether or not you choose to let people in on your little secret is up to you...

Zucchini "Apple" Pie Bars
4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
7 cups zucchini, peeled and sliced thin
Juice from 1 lemon
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Cinnamon for topping

In food processor, combine first three ingredients and pulse until the mixture starts to stick together coarsely.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside. 

Peel and thinly slice zucchini with food processor or by hand (quarter or half larger zucchini lengthwise first).  In a large sauce pan, combine zucchini, 1 cup of sugar, and lemon juice over medium heat.  Bring the juices to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the zucchini is softened (about 5 minutes).  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the prepared crust mix, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Set aside to cool (mixture will thicken as it cools). 

Press half of remaining prepared crust mixture into a greased baking pan.  Spread the cooled filling over the crust, and sprinkle with remaining prepared crust mixture and extra cinnamon, to taste.  

Bake for 30 minutes at 350, until the top is golden brown.  

Recipe adapted from the Saint Paul Farmer's Market Cookbook

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