I've often thought farmers and gardeners must be the most creative chefs. They constantly face the challenge of coming up with new ways to eat copious amounts of the season's harvest. Take a walk at our local farmers' market or in any grocery store's produce department this time of year and you'll find zucchini in abundance. A green squash with mild flavor, in Georgia, zucchini is in season from May through October.
The word zucchini comes from "zucca," the Italian word for squash. I'd venture to say it may be one of the most versatile vegetables out there. Search the Internet and you'll find no shortage of recipes showcasing the ingredient, including every cooking technique from grilling and baking to sautéing and stuffing the popular squash. It's used in soups and casseroles, even shredded and added to baked goods. Complimentary in sweet or savory dishes, zucchini is kin to cucumber and melon and can be eaten raw or cooked.
For a quick weeknight side dish with grilled chicken, beef or fish, I enjoy slicing zucchini into small disks (sometimes I even add yellow squash), then sautéing it in a skillet with a touch of good quality olive oil and fresh herbs like thyme and rosemary. If you don't have fresh herbs on hand, dried herbs work just as well; just be sure to crush or chop dried herbs before sprinkling them in the pan to ensure all the flavors release. Sautéed zucchini tastes earthy and juicy with a slight crunch.
When researching the topic, I learned a few fun facts on WhereFoodComesFrom.com:
Zucchini contains 95 percent water. One zucchini has just 25 calories.
The flower of the zucchini plant is also edible. Fried squash blossoms are considered a delicacy.
Nutrients and vitamins found in zucchini can help prevent cancer and heart disease.
Bigger is not necessarily better. Small- to medium-sized zucchini are the most flavorful, and the darker the skin, the richer the nutrients.
Zucchini is fat free, cholesterol free, low in sodium, rich in manganese and vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana.
Zucchini was first brought to the United States in the 1920s by the Italians.
Zucchini bread is one of the most popular ways to use the vegetable.
The town of Obetz, Ohio, has an annual zucchini festival each year.
At the Statesboro Main Street Farmers' Market last Saturday, I picked up a basketful of Screven County's latest crop of zucchini. I've had some fun in my kitchen this week discovering fresh ways to prepare it, and I hope you've gained some inspiration from this article to begin experimenting with the healthy vegetable yourself.
My Zucchini Walnut Muffins with a Citrus Rosemary Glaze are a cinch to assemble and perfectly portion-controlled. Plus, there's nothing quite like a comforting muffin to welcome the fall season. Visit my blog at SomeKindaGood.com for this recipe and more, and be sure to let me know what you think. Share your food photos on social media using #SomeKindaGood or send me an email at SKGFoodBlog@gmail.com.
Zucchini Walnut Muffins with Citrus Rosemary Glaze
These sweet, nutty muffins make a delicious morning breakfast or afternoon snack with hot tea. The glaze is fragrant and simple to assemble.
1 cup of zucchini, grated
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Freshly squeezed juice of ½ an orange
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
Place a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the zucchini, sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the zucchini mixture just to combine. Divide the batter evenly into muffin cups and gently drop the muffin pan on the counter to remove any air.
Bake until golden brown, 35-40 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the glaze. Pop the muffins out of the pan and dip them one by one into the glaze, in a circular motion. Place dipped muffins on a wire rack to cool and set.
Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a food enthusiast, aspiring cooking show host and writer. The personality behind the blog SomeKindaGood.com, she is a student at Savannah Technical College's Culinary Institute of Savannah. Search Facebook for Some Kinda Good or tweet her @SKGFoodBlog.