Zucchini is a favorite summer squash of gardeners because they grow so well in BC. You do need some space in your garden but it’s worth the sacrifice as the bounty is plentiful. Zucchinis have a mild flavour with an edible green or yellow skin and a creamy white flesh. Zucchinis are related to cucumbers. There are several varieties of summer squash such as crookneck and straight-neck as well as pattypan squash.
½ cup cooked zucchini contains only 10 kcal, 1g fibre, less than 3g carbs and are fat free. They also contain 15% of your DV for vitamin C, a potent antioxidant involved in fighting disease, certain cancers and preventing colds and flus. The skin is also a source of lutein and zeaxanthin, 2 antioxidants shown to help prevent macular degeneration. Zucchinis also contain pectin, a soluble fibre known to help manage blood sugars and reduce cholesterol.
When buying zucchini, look for squash that aren’t too big. Maximum 6-8 inches long and 1-2 inches in diameter. The smaller zucchini have better flavour and texture. They should have a firm 1 inch stem and intact skin without gashes or bruises.
Store zucchini in the refrigerator for up to one week. To freeze, chop zucchini into chunks, blanch in boiling water 2 minutes, drain and plunge into ice water bath. Then drain and freeze in an airtight container for up to 10 months. Be sure to label it.
To prepare zucchini simply wash and cut off the ends. Don’t peel as you will lose many of the nutrients and fibre. You can eat the seeds and the flowers of zucchinis. Zucchinis are great grilled. Slice them lengthwise into 1/2cm thick strips, toss with olive oil, season with fresh herbs and grill. They can also be steamed, sautéed, baked or microwaved. Research shows that zucchini maintain more of their antioxidant activity when steamed vs boiled or microwaved.
Add sautéed zucchini to an omelet. Add grated zucchini to baked muffins or loaves, dice zucchini and toss into pasta sauce, curry or soup. Zoodles or zucchini noodles are ribbons of zucchini that are a great low calorie substitute for pasta. Stuff half a hollowed-out zucchini with cooked ground turkey, diced tomato and fresh herbs and cheese for an easy dinner. I love sliced zucchini cooked on a cookie sheet tossed with pesto and sprinkled with panko crumbs and parmesan. The options are endless and so too are the zucchinis if you happen to be growing them yourself.