Farmers and gardeners are constantly facing 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, zucchini is in season in Georgia 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, baking and sautéing to 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. 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:
Zucchini contains 95% 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.
My Chocolate Chip Zucchini Mini-Muffins 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 food 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.
Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a private chef and the author of the best-selling memoir “Some Kinda Good.” Featured in Forbes, on Food Network and ABC, she writes about Southern, coastal cuisine, locally sourced and in season.
Connect with her on social media by liking Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow @SKGFoodBlog on Instagram and Twitter. To learn more, visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Mini Muffins
These sweet muffins make a delicious morning breakfast or afternoon snack with hot tea.
1 cup of zucchini, grated
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Place a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease a 24-cup mini-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, 10 – 12 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.