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Food & Nutrition: Much more to make with zucchini than zucchini bread

This is great weather for zucchini. The wet and now warm weather is preferred for summer squash, and you can almost watch them grow.

The Spanish are credited with introducing squash to Europe; they believed the squash to be melons. The Italians downsized the huge gourds in the 18th century into the delicate green vegetables we know as zucchini.

Zucchini is best when eaten while young and tender and not in a baked good. Most people say there is no difference in flavor between green and yellow as long as the vegetable is young and tender. The difference in flavor is when the green variety grows large and the skin becomes tough. When choosing zucchini, select a small, green one.

Zucchini lends itself to many food preparation techniques such as grilling and stuffing.

To grill zucchini, work with a medium hot heat. Brush all vegetables generously with a seasoned oil or use Italian salad dressing. Plan on grilling the zucchini slices about five minutes on each side, and turn them only once. Grilled zucchini make a wonderful side dish with any grilled meat.

Summer squash varieties can also be sautéed, steamed or baked with seasoning such as cheese and crumbs. When hollowed out, they can be refilled with a seasoned stuffing of meat or their own flesh. Summer squash can also be puréed or eaten raw. The delicate squash blossoms can be stuffed, battered and deep-fried.

Other varieties of summer squash are crookneck, pattypan and scallopini. They all should have a thin, edible skin and soft, barely developed seeds.

Zucchini exist in a wide range of shapes, colors and sizes. Remember there is so much more to do with zucchini than to make zucchini bread.

For more recipes and tips from Purdue Extension Educator Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross, subscribe to the Food & Nutrition email newsletter.

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