Friday, July 22, 2011

Farm Fresh: The Zucchini!

Welcome to my Summertime Foodie Friday series: Farm Fresh!

I decided to take advantage of the abundance of the Summer growing season by featuring a new unusual vegetable each week. These vegetables may be ones you've had before, or ones you've heard of but never dared to taste. Or, they may be ones you had no idea how to prepare to eat. I'll include a bit of information about the vegetable, a simple recipe, and a linky so you can share your favorite recipe featuring the vegetable of the week. The link collections will be open for a full month after I feature a vegetable, so you can experiment with it and then come back here and link up your successes!

The series will run through the end of August, and I'll publish a post every week or two. So far, I've featured artichoke, kale, eggplant, beet, and this week, the zucchini!

If there's a vegetable you'd like to see featured in the series, or if you have a preparation tip to add, please let me know in the comments. And don't forget to link up your zucchini recipes in the linky below!

Zucchinis from the farmer's market next to
the zucchini plants in my garden
Oh man, I feel like I'm totally cheating by featuring the zucchini this week. I cook and eat it all the time. It's definitely one of my most favorite vegetables, (though I'm sure my mom would tell you I wouldn't so much as touch it when I was a kid)! Here's a little more information about this wonderful seasonal vegetable:

Zucchini is a type of Summer squash. The zucchini, botanically speaking, is a fruit (like the tomato and many other vegetables), being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower. I bet you didn't know you've been eating ovaries all this time!
Besides the zucchini fruit itself, zucchini blossoms (like other squash blossoms) can also be eaten. Zucchini is low in calories, and has significant amounts of folate, potassium, vitamin A, and manganese.

Zucchini can grow to be nearly three feet long, but they're much tastier (more tender, with smaller, softer, edible seeds) if picked earlier than that. Zucchini are the most delicious if they're picked when the flower is still attached. It is one of the easiest vegetables to grow, but it requires the presence of bees for it to be able to bear fruit. Alternatively, you can "hand pollinate" to fertilize the female flowers so that they will bear fruit...you know, if you're hardcore about gardening like that. (From Wikipedia's Zucchini article.)

So, seeing as zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables, I've already published lots of recipes here that include it. In fact, it might be my most often used ingredient (second, perhaps, to cheese).

Here are a few of them:
  • Ratatouille: A delicious way to feature all your favorite kinds of Summer squash, including zucchini and eggplant.
  • Whatever-You've-Got Lasagna: So simple and hearty (and easily modifiable for dietary restrictions)! You can throw zucchini in this and make it even better.
  • Zucchini Quick Breads: Zucchini bread and muffins, galore! These are great to make if you have one of those giant, fibrous zucchinis that wouldn't be as good in a stir fry.
  • Zucchini Bread Pudding: One of my most popular recipes, this is what you do when you made too much zucchini bread (see above).
  • Zucchini Brownies: Oh my goodness, these are so good! There's just nothing like chocolate and zucchini—trust me, you'll love them.
  • Zucchini Casserole: A recipe from my mother-in-law, this is definitely comfort food like mom makes it. It's easy, full of veggies, and quick to whip up on a warm Summer evening.
It seems only fitting that since I've already published plenty of other zucchini recipes, that I share with you the most simple zucchini recipe ever, and the way that I eat it most: sauteed with onions, garlic, and some type of leafy greens. (This time I decided to use chard, which I learned two weeks ago is a type of beet.) It's so simple and delicious!

You will need:

Zucchini (as many as you want)
An onion (I highly recommend a sweet onion, like the Walla Walla that I used)
Some leafy greens (chard, kale, spinach...whatever you like! You'll need much more than you think, so go for it—grab a big bunch of something.)
Garlic (as much as you want) minced
Some fat for cooking with, like olive oil or butter
(Salt and pepper to taste)

Here's how:
  • Chop an onion coarsely (or, you know, however you like your onions) and add it to an oiled skillet heated to medium. Add the minced garlic and stir:
  • While the onion is cooking a bit, slice the zucchini into smaller pieces. Round slices are good, or smallish (4") sticks would work, too. (There's no need to peel the skin, just slice up those zucchinis!) Add your zucchini to the pan with the onion and garlic:
  • While that is cooking, prepare your leafy veggies: Spinach just needs to be washed before adding it to the skillet, but kale and chard both have to have their tougher stems removed before being cooked. I took some photos of Jaymz's chard-stem-removal technique:
    (Optionally, you may also want to coarsely chop your leafy greens,
    so the pieces aren't quite as big for you to eat.)
  • When the zucchini is beginning to get tender, add the greens on top of all of it, allowing it to wilt down some from the heat before stirring it all together.
  • Cook while stirring, until the greens have reached your desired tenderness, then serve hot!

How do you like to eat zucchini?

3 comments:

  1. I love to (sneakily) grate zucchini into my spaghetti sauce. It is the only vegetable that makes it into my husband's diet!

    Then I slice up the rest and steam it. I love it with marinara over it! It is actually BETTER than spaghetti!! (Which is convenient since I'm diabetic.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. fabulous again!!! Zucchini is one of our staples.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've been making zucchini frittatas for Heidi and Piper..I shred the zucchini and saute it in oil with some minced garlic, then pour that egg over it and they eat it like crazy!

    ReplyDelete

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