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Zucchini

All about Zucchini!

Tossed in salads, grilled in dishes and hidden in desserts, here are some ways to get creative with using zucchini in your dishes.


The "Little Squash"

Zucchini is the king of the group of vegetables known as summer squash. Even its name comes from the Italian “zucchino” or “little squash”. The French term for zucchini is “courgette” and you will often see this term used, especially in European-based dishes.

The zucchini is often dark green with thin, vertical stripes of lighter green, but it’s also found in yellow with green stripes. For thousands of years, people in Central and South America have been dining on zucchini, but the kind we eat in North American today descends from Italian summer squash. The term “summer squash” represents a number of squashes, such as the patty pan and yellow crookneck, and the various squashes in this category can usually be used interchangeably in recipes.

It wasn't long ago that we called zucchini "Italian green squash"; it was rarely eaten or recognized in Canada or the United States. Today, it’s a favourite of both home cooks and gardeners. Its prolific, robust nature makes it a perfect crop to grow. And its versatility and mild, unique taste make it a perfect canvas to inspire everyday gourmets!


In season during the summer, zucchini is a versatile vegetable that can be used in many dishes.

Health Benefits:

Low in calories, with just 20 calories per cup, zucchini is rich in vitamin C, folate and antioxidants. A medium-sized zucchini contains more potassium (514mg) than a banana of the same size.

Yellow zucchini are rich in a type of antioxidants that help fight free radicals that can play a part in aging and various diseases.


1Choosing them

If left to maturity, zucchini will grow very large, but they’re at their best when they’re young and tender. Opt for small, firm, brightly coloured zucchinis that are free from spots and bruises, especially near the stem. As its tender skin bruises easily, handle with care.

2Cooking them

Raw or cooked, grilled or mashed, fried or stuffed, in a main dish or a dessert… zucchini inspires all types of cooking!

Some ideas to break the routine? Make bruschetta with gouda and red onions. Add thinly sliced raw zucchini to your sandwiches. Served with dip, they make a delicious addition to your veggie platter.

Zucchini can also be grated and incorporated into muffins, cakes or breads.

For impeccable grilled zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and cook on the BBQ until slightly crisp. Top with pesto or a bit of oil just before serving. You can also skewer it with eggplant, onions and peppers for great-tasting kababs.

Reduce it with some onions into a silky, sumptuous purée. Add radishes and hazelnut oil for a truly original dish. Perfect for those autumn dinners on the patio!

Ever thought of replacing pasta with zucchini? Simply cut them into thin strips with a vegetable peeler and serve with basil pesto or a marinara sauce. Enjoy!

 

3Storing them

Zucchini can be stored up to five days in the fridge. To prevent them from getting soft, wrap them in plastic wrap.

Serve zucchini tonight

Zucchini is an incredibly versatile vegetable - there is no end to the ways it can be enjoyed. Raw, cooked, grilled, pureed...fried, stuffed or baked into a cake! Here are some ideas to inspire you:

  • Try it raw; grated or sliced in salads, or sliced and served on a plate of crudities with dip.
  • Grate it and use it in muffins or quick breads.
  • Steam it - until it’s tender crisp and toss with fresh herbs (chives, dill, parsley or thyme), salt and pepper. Or sauté it gently in garlic butter
  • Combine it with other fresh vegetables and lightly sauté in olive oil with garlic, fresh basil and oregano - use as a primavera topping for pasta, along with grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Grill it - sliced in half lengthways, zucchini or yellow squash can be barbecued until tender crisp, and topped with basil pesto.
  • Simmer it - with potatoes, onions and chicken broth and puree for creamy zucchini soup
  • Cut it - into chunks and thread on skewers with eggplant, onion and peppers. Grill under tender to make vegetable kabobs.
  • Slice it - in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh. Stuff the zucchini shell with the chopped zucchini combined with sautéed onions, diced sweet red peppers and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for stuffed zucchini.

Beautiful and Refreshing

Chilled Avocado-Zucchini Soup

This incredibly gorgeous chilled avocado-zucchini soup is a wonderful first course for a dinner party on the deck or a light lunch just for you. This soup satisfies, yet is still light.

See the recipe for chilled avocado-zucchini soup

Chilled Avocado-Zucchini Soup

Serve it hot

Lentil-stuffed Zucchini

Lentil Stuffed Zucchini

As a side dish or a light main course, this cheese and vegetable filled Lentil Stuffed Zucchini is summer comfort food at its best. If you’d like, sprinkle the zucchini with some crumbled cooked pancetta five minutes before the dish comes out of the oven.

See the recipe for lentil-stuffed zucchini.


My Healthy Plate with Metro

Try zucchini noodles

Replace pasta with zucchini "noodles" and mix them with your favourite pesto or marinara sauce. A cup of zucchini only has 20 calories, whereas a cup of cooked spaghetti has 234. To make long noodles out of zucchini, cut the zucchini with a vegetable peeler (as though you were peeling a carrot). Zucchini is also a source of vitamin C and folate.


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