Don’t skip the skins!
That’s where the fiber, flavor and lovely summer green color is found.
All zucchini has the best flavor and texture when the skin is tender and the flavor is delicate, so pick it small or- at the very most, medium size, 6 to 8 inches long.
- Zucchini was first cultivated by native people in North America- Christopher Columbus brought seeds back to the Mediterranean region and Africa.
- The word zucchini comes from the Italian zucchino, meaning small squash and from the Indian skutasquash meaning "green thing eaten green."
- Fast-growing and prolific, zucchini is a home gardeners delight. From the same family as yellow summer and pattypan squash, its green color and familiar cylindrical shape is a classic, but new varieties may be round, miniature or yellow.
Did you know?
- Zucchini is identified by its thin skin and mild flavor.
- The entire squash is edible, including the blossom, skin and seeds.
- Peak season is July through Sept.
- Golden zucchini is a spectacular color with a bit more flavor than green and retains its vibrant color and light, buttery flavor when cooked.
- The bigger the zucchini, the tougher it is, and the more seeds it contains.
The most common, best-tasting varieties are 'Costata Romanesca','which has a distinctive nutty quality, and 'Tromboncino', which is incredibly rich for a summer squash.
Zucchini should be firm and feel heavy for its size (it’s 95% water!) Look for glossy skin with no cuts, bruises or discoloration.
Kept unwashed in a plastic bag or in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator, zucchini usually lasts 4 or 5 days.
These ready-to-cook vegetables need only a light scrubbing with a soft brush under running water to remove prickly stubble. To trim, cut 1/4 to 1/2 inch off the ends.
Grilling or roasting are excellent ways to prepare zucchini, because the intense heat reduces the amount of water and concentrates the flavor.
Zucchini can be prepared in most any other way: steamed, fried, sautéed, baked, marinated, stuffed, mashed or braised. Cook until barely fork-tender. Allow about 8 ounces per serving.
To avoid adding extra liquid to a baked recipe, (as in adding to lasagna), grate and salt zucchini first, let it drain for a few minutes, then pat dry with a towel.
Add zucchini to your table:
Grill: Lightly brush zucchini chunks with oil or marinate in fat-free Italian dressing; drain.
Roast: Heat oven to 450°. Lightly brush zucchini chunks with olive oil and roast for 15 to 20 minutes.
Sauté: Chop or slice and lightly saute’ with a bit of olive oil, chopped garlic and onion.
Stir-fry: Fry zucchini slices alone, with other sliced veggies or with cooked rice.
Microwave: Microwave sliced zucchini tossed with fresh herbs and black pepper.
Sliced: Add to soups, stews, salads and casseroles.
Shred: Use in meat loaf, zucchini bread or cake, cookies and brownies.
Breaded: Slice and roll in a mixture of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and sauté.
Stuffed: A perfect use for larger zucchini. After stuffing, bake at 375° until tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Freezing zucchini: Zucchini loses its firmness and crispness when frozen, so blanching is recommended before freezing to retain its texture. To blanch, lower sliced or cubed zucchini, about 1 pound at a time, into boiling water and boil about 3 minutes. Drain, then place in ice water for 5 minutes and drain again. Place in a zip-type bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
Quick Grated Zucchini: Place chunks of zucchini in a blender and cover with water. Blend on Chop for 3 to 5 seconds and drain, pressing out as much water as possible, then pat with a paper towel. Use grated zucchini in breads or cake.