New ways to use your zukes
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
Late summer means zucchini season! Use this healthy vegetable in recipes for soup, spaghetti, and even pancakes.
Few crops can deliver the late summer abundance that zucchini can. For gardeners (and their neighbours, who might become the victims of a drive-by zucchini drop-off) it’s the vegetable that seemingly keeps on giving. Shop at local markets and you’re sure to come across buckets of the squash, from stinted to goliath varieties, with temptingly low price tags.
Yet zucchini overload can be a nutritional boon. While not often considered a superfood on par with kale or broccoli, zucchini does harbour a range of essential nutrients including vitamin B6, potassium, manganese, and vitamin C. And with only about 30 calories in a medium squash, indulging in the bounty of zucchini won’t do your waistline any harm.
A bumper crop of zucchini, or les courgettes in French parlance, can challenge the inventiveness of even the most hard-working home cook. After all, you can only hide so much in zucchini bread. Happily, there are many other tasty ways to put all that squash to good use.
Have a never-ending pile of zucchini? You can freeze shredded zucchini for later use in recipes. Simply grate your zucchini and measure it out in usable portion sizes, about 1 to 2 cups (250 to 500 mL). Then freeze and store in airtight containers until a craving for zucchini bread strikes. When ready to use, thaw the shreds in a colander to remove excess moisture.
While leg-sized zucchinis are impressive, small to medium-sized summer squashes tend to be more tender. Look for those that are firm to the touch with shiny, unblemished skin.
A world of squash
As implied by the term “summer squash,” zucchini’s prime season is July to September. This means you should keep an eye out at the local farmers’ market for these exciting varieties that you won’t see in the produce aisle come the winter chill.
This is a yellow heirloom squash with a distinctive curved stem-end; there are smooth-skin and warty-skin varieties. You can use crookneck squash as you would its more common counterpart in recipes such as frittatas, fritters, and gratins.
Also called eight-ball zucchini, the globe variety, with its pale to dark green skin, is about the size of a softball. When stuffed with everything from tabbouleh to meat sauce, it makes for a stunning presentation.
These whimsical “flying saucer” summer squashes have scalloped edges and most often come in yellow, green, or white hues. Their toy-top shape makes them great for grilling, roasting, or even pickling whole. Pattypan are also wonderful when chopped and sautéed or stir-fried.
The edible golden-orange flowering tip of the zucchini was once a gourmet delicacy, but now is showing up at an increasing number of farmers’ markets. The blossoms with their subtle squash flavour and delicate texture are often served stuffed and fried or baked, but they are also excellent when gently torn and served over summer salads, soups, and pasta dishes.