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Veggies of the Week: Zucchini!

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Old 06-27-2006, 10:16 AM   #1
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Talking Veggies of the Week: Zucchini!

Each week I'll post a new veggie along with information on nutritional value, how to cook it, and at least one recipe using that veggie. Then we can all add on to the thread with our experiences with that veggie, recipes we like, and more! When the week is up, I'll transfer the thread to the FAQ and the recipes to the recipe forum. Remember, if you add a recipe, try to include at least the number of servings and the nutritional information, if you can.
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This Week's Veggie is: Zucchini (Summer Squash)!



We planted zucchini in our garden last year and you would never believe how big they got! Here’s a pic of me holding one of them:


A friend of mine and I were talking last night about these veggies and how good they are on the grill. She said she didn’t really like them any other way…she steamed some and gave them to her 18 month-old son and she swears he actually learned to say the word ‘yuck’!

Truth be told, I think these are pretty easy to eat and add to your diet. They’re versatile, easy to find, and inexpensive in the summer. Hope you enjoy trying them if you haven’t before!

Quote:
From: About.com
Zucchini varieties
As implied by the term summer squash, zucchini's prime season is May to August, although they are now available year-round. Summer squash has a thin, soft skin and soft edible seeds, whereas winter squash has a hard skin. The zucchini is a long, cylindrical vegetable, slightly smaller at the stem end, usually dark green in color. The flesh is a pale greenish-white and has a delicate, almost sweet flavor. Zucchini fruit grows quickly and is harvested within 2 to 7 days of flowering. Over-ripe zucchini and those past their prime can be bitter, but that didn't stop a New York gardener from growing the world's longest zucchini, a whopping 69 and a half inches!
Newer varieties include the golden zucchini and the globe or round zucchini. The golden variety is somewhat milder in taste than the dark green. The globe variety is about the size of a softball, about 3 inches in diameter -- perfect for stuffing. Zucchini is not to be confused with marrow squash (also called vegetable marrow) which looks like a larger version of the zucchini with white stripes.

Zucchini selection
Handle zucchini with care as they are easily damaged. Look for a moist stem end and a slightly prickly, yet shiny skin as indicators of freshness. Ideally, green zucchini should be no more than 6 inches long and one to two inches in diameter, with firm skin free of cuts or bruises and at least one inch of stem still attached. Baby fingerling zucchini is a popular new item in the markets and with home gardeners who can pick them at any time. Fingerlings can be steamed, sautéed, or pickled whole. Another favorite with home gardeners is zucchini blossoms, stuffed or not, dipped in egg, spices, and flour, and fried golden. Picking the flowers actually encourages more fruit. Some markets are now carrying squash blossoms, often with a tiny zucchini attached. Look for bright, perky flowers with no wilting. Flowers should be sprinkled with water, wrapped gently in paper towels and refrigerated. Use as quickly as possible.
Zucchini storage
Store zucchini in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer four to five days and do not wash it until just before you are ready to use it. At the first sign of wilting, use immediately. Softness is a sign of deterioration. Cooked zucchini should be covered and refrigerated up to two days. To freeze, slice zucchini into rounds, blanch for two minutes, plunge into cold water, drain and seal in airtight containers or baggies. Frozen zucchini can be kept for ten to twelve months.
Zucchini cooking tips
If your zucchini is overly large, it will have more water. Some chefs prefer to drain large zucchini of its water before proceeding with a recipe, much like as is done with eggplant. To drain, cut into slices and arrange them in a shallow dish; sprinkle uniformly with coarse salt and let drain for 20 to 30 minutes. Strain under cold water, pat dry and proceed with recipe.
Zucchini is a good source of Vitamins A and C, and is low in calories making it an excellent choice for dieters. No need to peel or seed, and young zucchini can be eaten raw in salads. It's completely edible once the stem end is trimmed. Due to its high water content, zucchini is best steamed or cooked as quickly as possible with a minimum of water added. Ratatouille is a signature dish made with zucchini, sweet peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes. Just remember, overcook zucchini and you end up with mush. There is no way to salvage it other than to make soup.
More information on Zucchini:

Basic info on Zucchini from Produce Oasis Nutritional information is the best part here.

Comparison chart of vegetables Fantastic information on a variety of veggies, including nutritional information.

Basic information on Zucchinis

Good basic information from Produce Oasis about artichokes.



Other information on Veggies:

Better Homes and Gardens Slide Show on using spring vegetables, including recipes and info on veggies

FAQ for the 5-a-day program on Fruits and Veggies

Tips on Fruits and Veggies from the CDC

Vegetables: How to cook, serve, and store these healthy foods from Mayo Clinic


Recipes:
Lemon Rosemary Zucchini This Phase 1 recipe sounds really tasty!

Zucchini Patties Phase 2 recipe that is incredible…like potato pancakes, but healthier, cheesier and almost starch-free!

Lots of Zucchini Recipes from About.com
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Old 06-27-2006, 10:29 AM   #2
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Thumbs up I <3 Zucchini!

Of course, I'm in the midwest, and during high season there's certainly not a shortage of zucchini anywhere!

My favorite way to prepare zucchini is to marinate it with garlic, balsamic vinegar, and a dash of olive oil (and add other vegetables if you have them), and then roast it.

I used to only make zucchini bread with it! Ha ha, thankfully my cooking methods have changed.

What a great thread!
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Old 06-27-2006, 10:59 AM   #3
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My favorite way is similar to phantastica's.

Baked / Roasted Zucchini

Cut zucchini into pieces and put on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix with hands until all pieces are coated.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until pieces are tender enough for your liking.

This is so yummy and good for you!! I even add in yellow squash and other veggies if I'm feeling adventurous.
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Old 06-27-2006, 11:21 AM   #4
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hey wannabehotagain that zucchini recipe, is it good for phase 1??
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Old 06-27-2006, 11:31 AM   #5
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Dinach, yes it is. All the ingredients are on the Phase I food list! It's even better with a bit of Parmesan cheese.
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Old 06-27-2006, 03:04 PM   #6
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I just made some lastnight with some yellow squash. I just sliced them up and cooked in a skillet with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic until soft. I served with a little parmesan on top. Very good! I've done the same thing on foil on the grill and it's even better!
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Old 06-27-2006, 08:17 PM   #7
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Yum! I am definitely trying the patties- they sounds delish!!
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Old 07-17-2006, 08:25 AM   #8
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I think I posted a recipe for this in "phase 1 breakfasts," but you can mix grated zucchini, egg white, and parmesan, shape them into patties, and have delicious zucchini fritters by sauteeing them in a non-stick pan. YUM. And Phase 1 breakfast that isn't very eggy at all, the egg just helps it stick together.

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Old 08-29-2006, 12:27 PM   #9
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Laurie, I am a newbie, but is spaghetti squash allowed on Phase I and how the heck do you cook it? I have some friends who swear by it as a replacement to pasta and though I know what the darn thing looks like, I have NO idea how to cook it. I thought since your veggie this week is a type of squash, I would just mess up the thread and ask a related ?

I grew up eating squash of several varieties and absolutely hate the stuff, but am trying to find recipes where I can cover up the taste with sauce, vinagrette or something else to get the nutrional value out of the stuff!

Thanks!
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:28 PM   #10
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Check out the first section on Cooking Hints. I think there's something there. Otherwise, I'll post it.
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