Now is peak season for the low-cal vitamin-packed zucchini squash
HUNTINGTON -- Late August is the peak season to savor the abundant crop of zucchini; however, it's available in some markets year-round.
Zucchini contains vitamins A and C, potassium and calcium. Also a good source of fiber, the vegetable is low in calories.
Somewhat like a cucumber with its slightly curved cylinder-like shape, zucchini is usually served cooked. The green summer squash can be prepared in a variety of cooking techniques, including stuffed, fried, steamed, boiled, grilled, baked, microwaved, or other ways. With its delicate flavor, it can also be eaten raw in vegetable platters, added to soups, stews and casseroles, or baked into bread or blended in with a cake mix.
Different countries prepare zucchini in various ways. Mexicans cook in soups or use as a filling for quesadillas. In Italy, breaded and pan-fried are among the favorites, while in France, it's stuffed with meat, tomatoes or bell peppers, used as a side dish or at lunch with bread. Egyptians cook it with tomato sauce, garlic and onions. Greeks usually fry or boil with green chili peppers and eggplants and served as hors d'oeuvre or main dish.
This recipe is from "Quick Cooking:"
ZUCCHINI TOMATO CASSEROLE
6 medium zucchini, diced
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup cubed Velveeta cheese
1 cup soft bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
In large skillet, saute zucchini in 2 tablespoons butter until crisp-tender; drain well. In bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Stir in zucchini and remaining butter. Transfer to ungreased two-quart baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees 25-30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Breaded, oven-fried zucchini chips taste like they are fried, yet are baked, making a healthy substitute for French fries or potato chips, provided by "Cooking Light:"
ZUCCHINI OVEN CHIPS
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
21/2 cups sliced zucchini
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine first five ingredients in medium bowl, stirring with whisk. Place milk in shallow bowl. Dip zucchini slices in milk; dredge in bread crumb mixture. Place coated slices on ovenproof wire rack coated with cooking spray; place rack on baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees 30 minutes or until browned and crisp. Serve immediately.
These recipes are also from "Cooking Light:"
ZUCCHINI-PINEAPPLE QUICK BREAD
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
11/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup egg substitute
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 (8-ounce) cans crushed pineapple in juice, drained
Baking spray with flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with knife. Combine flour, salt and next three ingredients (through ground cinnamon) in large bowl, stirring well with whisk. Beat eggs with mixer at medium speed until foamy. Add sugar, zucchini, oil, egg substitute and vanilla; beating until well blended. Add zucchini mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in pineapple. Spoon batter into two 9- by 5-inch loaf pans coated with baking spray. Bake at 325 degrees 1 hour or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.
2 cups chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 cups chopped zucchini
2 cups chopped yellow squash
2 cups thinly sliced carrot
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
31/2 cups 1 percent low-fat milk
1 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of nutmeg
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
11/2 cups 1 percent low-fat cottage cheese
2 cups pre-shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
12 precooked lasagna noodles, divided
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; saute 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add garlic; saute 1 minute. Spoon onion mixture into large bowl. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and yellow squash; saute 4 minutes or until tender and just beginning to brown. Add to onion mixture. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add sliced carrot; saute 4 minutes or until tender. Add chopped broccoli; saute 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add to onion mixture. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt; toss well to combine. Place flour in medium saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring with whisk until blended. Bring to boil over medium heat; cook 2 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and nutmeg; stir until smooth. Stir in spinach. Combine cottage cheese and 11/2 cups mozzarella; stir well. Spread 1/2 cup spinach mixture in bottom of 13- by 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange four noodles over spinach mixture in dish; top with half cottage cheese mixture, half vegetable mixture and about 1 cup spinach mixture. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Spread remaining spinach mixture over noodles; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Cover; bake at 375 degrees 20 minutes. Uncover; bake additional 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.