Zucchini: July's Summertime Bounty

by Kerry Dunnington

Now through October, Farmers' Markets will be brimming with a variety of squash. Although squash has no outstanding nutritional virtues beyond being very low in calories (about 25 per cup), they are popular for their versatility. Zucchini is the favored jewel of summer squashes. Other varieties include, pattypan _shaped like a flying saucer, straight neck -a yellow version of the oblong green zucchini, and crooked neck-also a yellow version with a hooked neck. Also popular and relatively new is baby fingerling.

SELECTING
All summer squash are delicate and thin-skinned. Look for those that are firm, with unblemished bright and glossy skins. Unless you are planning to stuff them, choose small squash, about 6-inches long, they tend to be more flavorful and tender.

PREPARING
Young squash does not need to be pared and unless stuffing, keep seeds intact. Just wash and trim ends. If not using right away, store refrigerated and use within a week.

WORTH NOTING
Zucchin are also known as "courgettes," a French name recently adopted by American chefs, and often seen on American restaurant menus.

ENJOYING
Squash is the basis for all sorts of dishes. Raw or cooked, this versatile vegetable can be shredded, cubed, julienned, diced and sliced. It can be steamed, stuffed, boiled, fried, sautéed, grilled or baked. Generally, squash cooks very quickly, to avoid it from turning mushy, cook until just fork tender.

  • Julienne fresh zucchini and add to a raw vegetable platter
  • Saute slices and slightly brown squash in butter or olive oil, season with salt and pepper,
  • Shred and add to: tossed salads, spaghetti sauce, stews, casseroles, stir fry's, soups, quesadillas, scrambled eggs, meatloaf and the ricotta mixture for manicotti.
  • Steam slices until fork tender and season with butter, salt and pepper.
  • Cut lengthwise into thick slices and add to lasagna instead of noodles.
  • For extra moist cakes, muffins and savory or sweet pancakes and waffles, add shredded zucchini.
  • Add shredded zucchini to fritter batter.
  • Season squash with Bragg liquid aminos -an all natural, all purpose seasoning made from soy protein - available from most health-oriented grocery stores.For more recipes using the varieties of summer squash, as well as recipes that include some of the suggestions mentioned above, check out my cookbook, This Book Cooks.




ZUCCHINI "SLAW"


The secret to this delicious dish is the warm dressing. The key is to prepare the hot dressing and toss with the salad ingredients at room temperature, just before serving. Delicious accompaniments are seafood, pork, beef and/or chicken.

SLAW

  • 2 medium zucchini unpeeled -cut into thin julienne strips
  • 1 small red pepper -cut into thin julienne strips
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced


DRESSING

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl toss together zucchini, red pepper and shallots. In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat oil and sauté walnuts for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently so as not to burn the walnuts. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour over zucchini and toss; serve immediately.


Serves 4-6

 

Kerry Dunnington is author of "This Book Cooks" and is a member of the Chesapeake Sustainable Business Alliance and Slow Food International. Kerry's cooking demonstrations and presentations reflect and support her beliefs in local, sustainable, seasonal and organic.


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