Every year I tell myself I won’t plant too many zucchini and then, by the end of summer, I have zucchini everywhere! I have given a lot away, but sometimes still find a giant one, looking like a torpedo hiding under its big, prickly leaves.
Zucchini are low in calories and sodium with good amounts of vitamins A and C. Just a cup gives you about 20 percent of your daily vitamin needs. All of the vitamin A is in the skin, so don’t peel zucchini if you can avoid it.
The easiest way to fix zucchini is also one of the best. Cut it into one-half inch to inch cubes. Saute finely chopped onion in olive oil, and then stir in the zucchini while the oil is quite hot. Cover and steam until tender. The searing seals the juices inside so the squash holds its shape and flavor.
What to do with a huge zucchini? Stuff it and use it to serve the summer’s bounty. If yours are small, make a quick salad by slicing them thinly, tossing with rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, and red peppers, if you like. You can also grate and freeze zucchini, and then save it for cinnamon-spiced zucchini bread in the dead of winter.
1 12-ounce can low-sodium diced tomatoes
¼ cup mixed fresh herbs (any combination of oregano, thyme, and sage) or 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped finely
1 very large zucchini or 3-5 small ones
1 onion, diced finely
6–8 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2–3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 350 degrees. If using a large zucchini, slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inside and cube, discarding any parts with very large seeds. If using small zucchini, peel and cube. In a medium saucepan, add tomatoes, fresh herbs, and parsley, and then simmer.
Meanwhile, saute onion and garlic in olive oil in a frying pan. Add cubed zucchini and saute until golden on the edges. Mix in tomato sauce. If using large zucchini, place halves cut side up in greased baking pan and fill with zucchini and tomato mixture. If using small zucchini, fill a greased baking dish. Top with large shavings of Parmesan. Bake for about 15 minutes and serve. Makes 6–8 servings
Calories: 117, Carbohydrates: 13 grams, Protein: 4 grams, Sodium: 86 milligrams
Summer’s Harvest Zucchini Bread
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup grated zucchini, packed tightly
¼ cup milk with 1 teaspoon vinegar added
¾ cup white flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda (low-sodium preferred)
1 cup rolled oats
¾ cup fresh or dried apricots, finely cut
½ cup chopped walnuts
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan. In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar, then add eggs and beat. Mix zucchini with the milk and vinegar mixture, and add to butter and egg mixture. Next, add dry ingredients and nuts to batter. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean. Makes one loaf. It’s easy to double the ingredients and then freeze or give away the second loaf.
Calories: 232, Carbohydrates: 33 grams, Protein: 5 grams, Sodium: 112 milligrams
Contributor Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. The National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition has honored her with its highest awards—the Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award and the Joel D. Kopple Award for significant contributions in renal nutrition. See more recipes at www.nwkidney.org.