Zucchini plants are easy to grow and spectacularly abundant, which means, if you can’t find them for free, you can certainly find them at a good deal at local farm stands. At the same time, they are amazingly nutritious. That means zucchini is a vegetable whose season you can’t afford to miss.
Zucchini is high in vitamins and minerals, like folate, potassium, and Vitamin A. Nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin in zucchini protect eye health. It’s also high in antioxidants, which relates to cancer prevention. At the same time, it is low in calories, which helps zucchini eaters manage their weight.
Most importantly, in the right hands, a zucchini can also be absolutely delicious. It has a mild flavor that lends itself to many different types of recipes. Here are some ideas for preparing this versatile and abundant vegetable.
Try a healthy whole-wheat zucchini bread. Replace the vegetable oil with olive oil for even greater health benefit. You can also try grated zucchini in an egg bake or frittata; a smoothie with milk, berries, and banana; or in a sweet or savory zucchini pancake recipe.
For the midday meal, eat raw zucchini with hummus or Greek yogurt dip. Try one of many amazing salad recipes with zucchini or bake thinly sliced zucchini into chips for a satisfying crunch.
Dinner with zucchini is so easy, because zucchini makes an awesome replacement for noodles of all kinds. They are called zoodles. Cut zucchini thin with a vegetable peeler. Pat them between paper towels. Sprinkle with a little salt and allow to rest for 10 – 20 minutes. Pat with paper towels again, and sauté them for a few minutes on the stove. Top with any sauce you would typically top pasta with: garlic parmesan, tomato, you name it. Wide noodles can be layered raw into a vegetable lasagna.
Zucchini has a lot of possibilities, even without using them as a noodle replacement. If you like grilling, put zucchini cubes on skewers with grape tomatoes, red onion, and chicken or add shredded zucchini to veggie burgers. You can also make a delicious vegetable stew with onions, tomatoes, and zucchini. Think of it as an easier stovetop ratatouille.
The possibilities are endless, nutritious, and delicious. So when someone offers you the overflow of zucchini from their garden, say “yes, please!” Better yet, maybe you will become one of the brave zucchini growers next season.
Rachel Rodney, RD, is a registered dietitian who sees patients at primary care practices throughout the region, a service of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, which is part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, in Bennington.