Zucchini, Cucurbita pepo,is a member of the cucumber and melon family. Inhabitants of Central and South America have been eating zucchini for several thousand years, but the zucchini we know today is a variety of summer squash developed in Italy.
The word zucchini comes from the Italian zucchino,meaning a small squash. The term squash comes from the Indian skutasquash meaning "green thing eaten green." Christopher Columbus originally brought seeds to the Mediterranean region and Africa.
The French snubbed zucchini for a long time until chefs learned to choose small fruits which are less bland and watery. The French term for zucchini is courgette,which is often used interchangably for yellow squash as well.
Zucchini is mostly made up of water and so is very low in calories. They are also a good source of fiber, which promotes good digestive health and helps to lower cholesterol.
Zucchini and other dark green vegetables are a good source of vitamin A. Vitamin A is necessary for growth and development and for proper immune system function. Zucchini is also a source of vitamin C, which is a water-soluble vitamin that functions as an antioxidant.
Zucchini is a source of potassium, a mineral essential for the function of all organs, tissues and cells in your body. Zucchini also provides phosphorus, which is an important structural component of bones and cell membranes.
Addictive Baked Zucchini Chips
- 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 pound zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Vegetable cooking spray
Preheat oven to 450°. Process first 3 ingredients in a food processor 10 to 15 seconds or until finely ground. Stir together breadcrumb mixture and cheese in a medium bowl. Toss zucchini rounds with oil. Dredge zucchini, 1 round at time, in breadcrumb mixture, pressing gently to adhere. Place rounds in a single layer in a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake 30 minutes or until browned and crisp. Serve hot.
This versatile summer recipe is always a flavorful hit. Serve over rice, with pasta, as a topping for quiche or omelets, as a pizza sauce...the options are endless. The ingredients can be used in any combination or quantities.
- 2 onions, chopped
- olive oil
- 1 large eggplant, cubed
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 5 tomatoes, chopped (optional to peel and seed them)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper
- fresh basil for garnish
Preheat oven to 35o. Saute the onions, eggplant, zucchini, green pepper, and tomatoes separately in a generous amount of olive oil and then combine with the garlic and thyme on a baking sheet. Bake uncovered for about an hour. Season with salt, pepper, and fresh basil.
Grilled Zucchini Pizza Slices
- large zucchini slices, cut 3/4 inch thick
- olive oil, for lightly brushing both sides of pizza and oiling grill grate
- pizza sauce of your choice, we prefer homemade!
- grated cheese
- pizza toppings of your choice (mushrooms, Canadian bacon, cooked sausage, caramelized onions, sliced olives, anchovies, sauteed bell peppers, or any other toppings you'd like on pizza.)
Oil the grill grates (can use a bit of oil on a paper towel), then preheat grill to medium-high. (If using a broiler, it should be reheated as well.)
Cut zucchini into thick slices about 3/4 inch thick. (you can cut the zucchini into round slices or lengthwise slices, depending on what shape the zucchini is. I wouldn't use enormous zucchini with large seeds for this recipe.)
Grill the zucchini 7-8 minutes, or until there are some grill marks and it's starting to be tender. (If the zucchini has a side that's slightly larger, grill that first so it will be the "top.") If desired, you can heat the sauce while the zucchini grills.
Remove zucchini from the grill, putting them grilled-side up on a cutting board you can use to take them to the kitchen. Add sauce, cheese, and other toppings as desired.
Put loaded zucchini slices back on the grill and cook 7-8 minutes more with the grill lid closed. (Check them every few minutes to see when the cheese is melted and the toppings are lightly browned, especially if you're using a broiler. If you have a gas grill where you can regulate the heat, I turned it to high when I put the pizza back on.)
Remove zucchini pizzas from grill and serve hot.
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
- 3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 eggs
- 2 cup white sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cup grated zucchini
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- whipped cream, for serving
- zucchini ribbons, for serving
Preheat oven at 350 degrees F. Grease (2) 9 by 5-inch loaf pans.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, spices and baking soda.
In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and fluffy. Add sugar, and continue beating until well blended. Stir in oil, vanilla, zucchini, pecans, chocolate chips, and orange zest. Stir in sifted ingredients. Pour into prepared loaf pans.
Bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove loaves from pans and cool. Chill before slicing. Serve with whipped cream and ribbons of zucchini.
*Can also use to make muffins :)
A quesadilla is a tortilla typically filled with beans and shredded cheese then folded before being toasted or fried. Our version features cheese and cooked vegetables. Sour cream, shredded lettuce, sliced avocado, and bottled salsa make great accompaniments to quesadillas, so serve them on the side.
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup frozen corn kernels (4 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
2 cups grated pepper jack cheese
Shredded cooked chicken or sauteed shrimp are also delicious variations in quesadillas, as are roasted red peppers; peppers packed in oil have the best flavor.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic; cook 1 minute more.
Add zucchini and frozen corn kernels; cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is soft and corn is tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro, if using.
Brush one side of all tortillas with remaining tablespoon oil; lay 2 tortillas, oiled side down, on a baking sheet. Place half of the filling on each, and sprinkle with half the cheese. Place remaining 2 tortillas on top, oiled side up; press down gently with a spatula to seal.
Bake until cheese has melted and tortillas are golden brown, turning once, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool slightly. To serve, slice each quesadilla into wedges.