Aug 28, 2018

Let’s Talk About Zucchini

By MaryAnn Miano

Zucchini Recipe New Jersey

The wonderfully versatile zucchini gets its own celebration day on Aug. 8. Anyone who grows zucchini knows they are abundant and prolific in summer and are worthy of celebrating, because so many dishes can be made with them!

Zucchini’s name is Italian (zucca means squash and zucchino means small squash.) There really is no English word for it, though it was known as courgettes by French and English-speaking people. Zucchini is a dark green cylinder “vegetable” with mild flavor, from the variety of summer squash Cucurbita pepe and belonging to the vegetable marrow group. Like tomatoes, zucchini is really a fruit that is treated like a veggie.

Zucchini is native to Mexico and northern parts of South America. Christopher Columbus brought seeds to the Mediterranean region and Italy. Italian immigrants brought zucchini to North America in the early 20th century. People in the United States, Australia and Canada use its Italian name. In South Africa, it is called “baby marrow.”

Today, zucchini is a favorite of home gardeners in the United States due to its prolific growing nature and abundant bounty in the summer. It’s a great versatile vegetable that is not only used for a main or side dish, but also a great choice to make quick breads and desserts with zucchini as the star ingredient.

This vegetable is low in calories (only 21 calories in every 1-cup raw serving) and high in nutritious value with vitamins A, B2, B6, C and K. The mineral content of zucchini is magnesium, manganese, and high potassium (more than a banana!) Protein, fiber, and water (95 percent) make up the rest of its nutritional package.

Zucchini are best and most flavorful when picked young and small, measuring about 4 to 6 inches in length. Look for firm specimens without bruises to the skin.

Zucchini can be served plain or with butter or herbs to emphasize its delicate flavor. Or it can be combined with bold flavors to make a more exciting dish. Poached, blanched, stuffed and baked, or cooked lightly with olive oil and garlic make for some enjoyable side dishes. Frying, grilling, roasting or sautéing usually brings out the flavor better than steaming or boiling. Zucchini’s mild flavor can be complemented with herbs, parsley, chives or basil.

The flower of the zucchini plant is also edible. The squash grows out of the female flowers. The flowers are sold in bunches in European markets. They are prepared by dipping them into a batter of egg and flour, and can also be stuffed and then fried. They are quite delicious!

Celebrate National Zucchini Day by planning a dinner menu full of this healthy vegetable. Try this recipe to get you started:

RECIPE OF THE MONTH

ZUCCHINI QUICHE

INGREDIENTS & DIRECTIONS

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cups thinly sliced zucchini

1 cup thinly sliced onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 ½ teaspoons salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 unbaked 10-inch pie shell

½ cup grated mozzarella, Swiss, mild Cheddar, or Fontina cheese

4 eggs, beaten

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, onion, and garlic. Saute until tender crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste, and spoon into the pie shell. Sprinkle cheese over the vegetables.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, cream, and milk. Pour into pie shell.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the quiche is set but still moist.

Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe from The Classic Zucchini Cookbook, page 88, by Nancy Ralston, Marynor Jordan, and Andrea Chesman, Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC, 2002.