There is a single vegetable in every garden that grows exceedingly well. The abundance of this tubular fruit is so prolific, friends will sneak them out of their gardens and ‘gift’ them freely. The gift? Zucchini.
This is a fruit that I was not truly familiar with until I met my mother-in-law, who as a true country wife, had an old, brown-paged recipe book titled, 101 ways to Prepare Zucchini. This issue of zucchini-abundance is obviously not a new one.
The beauty of the zucchini is that it is edible at any size, from the younger 8-inch fruits to the canoe-sized ones that are found hiding under the massive leaves of the plant. A single warm, sunny day can double the size of a zucchini.
I have come to believe that the zucchini plant is God’s answer to preventing starvation and a lack of vitamins and minerals. In addition to its versatility in culinary arts, the zucchini is a wonderful source of fiber, zinc, Vitamin A, Manganese, and Magnesium. The skin of a zucchini and yellow squash is high in antioxidants and carotenoids, which benefit the eyes, skin and heart and offers protection against certain types of cancer, such as prostate. The soluble and insoluble fibers aid in digestion, providing bulk to the stools, as well as beneficial bacteria. The short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) found in zucchini may help reduce inflammation in the gut, which benefits issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, and ulcerative colitis. Years ago, our Chiropractor noticed white spots on my daughter’s fingernails and informed us that that was an indication of a zinc deficiency. We added zucchini to several of our meals over that summer, and the spots slowly disappeared.
As a diabetic, zucchini is the answer to the pasta replacement. I have a noodler, a handheld peeler from Pampered Chef, that slices the zucchini into long, spaghetti-like noodles. When I serve a pasta side-dish, I replace the wheat-noodles with zucchini noodles simply by stir-frying them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. The fiber in zucchini helps stabilize blood sugars in Type 2 diabetics by increasing insulin sensitivity.
A few ways to utilize Zucchini:
· Dice and add raw to salads
· Stew with other summer vegetables to make Ratatouille
· Stuff over-sized zucchini with rice, lentils and veggies and top with a light cheese. Or stuff with ground beef or turkey, pasta sauce and parmesan cheese. Roast in the oven @ 350 until the zucchini is slightly softened.
· Stir-fry in olive oil with onion, salt, pepper and turmeric – use that as a filling for an omelet.
· Boil, then add to soups.
· Slice length-wise or noodle, dry on paper towels to reduce water content, then use as a lasagna noodle or spaghetti noodle replacement.
· Bake into breads, pancakes and muffins.
· Dice, slice or noodle; dehydrate then freeze for use during the winter.
· A Schaub Family Favorite: grate several zucchini and set in a colander to drain. Or, place in a cheesecloth and squeeze out as much water as possible. In a large bowl, mix the zucchini (3-4 cups grated), 2 eggs, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Play around with spices. I like to add basil and oregano. Spread onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake @ 350 until the top is golden. We call this Zucchini Flat Bread and serve it as a side dish with dinners, or I make this as my pizza crust and top with my favorite toppings. There is little you can do to this recipe that will ruin it—it’s very forgiving!