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5 Ways to Prepare Zucchini

zucchini, summer squash

Submitted by Dena Kemmet Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

What do you call zucchini that is made into a noodle?

A zoodle!

I saw the first “giveaway” of zucchini on Facebook, so it must be the season! I joked with the individual that in North Dakota we only lock our cars this time of year so people don’t put zucchini in them.

Zucchini is a type of summer squash that can be used in a variety of ways. Whether you make it sweet, spicy or savory, it provides a nourishing amount of vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium.

Be sure to rinse the zucchini under cold, running water just before you plan to use it in a recipe. You can eat zucchini raw or cook it in an oven, an air-fryer, a microwave, or on the stove or a grill. Here are five tips:

  • Use an oven as an efficient way to cook a large quantity of zucchini at one time. First, cut the squash in half and then scoop out the seeds, creating a “zucchini boat.” Drizzle the zucchini with olive oil and season to taste with salt and paper. Roast cut side down at 400 degrees until a fork inserts easily, about 30 to 60 minutes.
  • For a crunchy texture, consider using an air fryer. An air fryer commonly is used to create “zucchini chips.” Start by thinly slicing the zucchini, then pat dry with a paper towel to get rid of excess moisture. Next, drizzle the zucchini with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the slices of zucchini in the basket of the air fryer. Cook at 350 degrees for eight minutes. The cook time may vary, depending on the thickness of the zucchini slices.
  • Simply steam zucchini in the microwave. Cut the squash into bite-size pieces and place them into a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with a lid, but leave one corner of the lid slightly open. Cook the zucchini on high, until soft.
  • Enhance the flavor of zucchini by sautéing on a stovetop. Slice the squash into bite-size pieces or make zoodles, zucchini noodles, by slicing into thin strips with a knife or vegetable peeler. Next, mix the zucchini with 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a pan and cook over medium heat. The zucchini should be tender and lightly brown. Season to taste.
  • To cook zucchini on the grill, slice it into ½-inch-thick pieces. Place in a bowl, then add a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning. Place the zucchini on a grill pan or wrap in aluminum foil. If you want grill marks, slice the zucchini lengthwise and place over the grates. Grill zucchini over medium-low heat for three to four minutes per side.

You can also preserve the crop for year-round consumption. Freezing and drying are common preservation methods.

To See Field to Fork: Summer Squash (FN1837) under the “Squash” tab at www.ag.ndsu.edu/fieldtofork for more information about specialty crops, including zucchini.

Sources: Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist

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