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Prolific Zucchini Has Many Uses

zucchini

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

Prolific Zucchini Has Many Uses

A native vegetable of the Americas, zucchini has had several names through the years. Early American colonists called it "squash" based on several Native American words. Italians named it "zucchino" and the French named it "courgette."

Zucchini also was known as vegetable marrow or Italian marrow. It can be served raw, boiled, baked, fried, steamed or stuffed. It's used in numerous quick-bread recipes as creative cooks experiment with bounteous zucchini.

Zucchini is about 95 percent water. A 1/2-cup serving has about 15 calories, plus it contributes some fiber, vitamin C, potassium, B vitamins and beta carotene to the diet.

Zucchini's mild flavor makes it useful in a variety of foods from salads to dessert. When selecting zucchini in a garden, farmers market or at the store, choose zucchini that is heavy for its size with a narrow diameter. The nutritional value is basically the same for large and small zucchini; however, the extremely large ones tend to have a less desirable texture and quality. Your idea to use them in bread is probably the best use for larger zucchini. Stewing would also be a good preparation for large zucchini.

Smaller zucchini are tenderer and can be sliced for use in soups and lasagna. Zucchini's mild flavor allows blending with ingredients such as tomatoes, cheese and onions.

Mature zucchini is tougher and has large seeds. After removing the seeds, zucchini can be grated and used in bread, muffins and other foods. Rinse zucchini under running water just before you plan to use it in a recipe. Use fresh zucchini within a few days for best quality.

Here's a recipe retrieved from the national "More Matters" program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The program reminds us that most people need to eat more fruits and vegetables. You can have this vitamin C-rich recipe ready to eat in about 20 minutes from garden to table. I like to sprinkle it with Parmesan cheese.

Skillet Zucchini With Chopped Tomatoes

1 tsp. olive oil or canola oil

1 c. chopped onion

4 small (6-inch) zucchini, thinly sliced

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

Freshly ground pepper

Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat; add onions and cook, stirring until softened. Add zucchini and cook for two minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for three to five minutes or until zucchini is tender-crisp. Season to taste with pepper and add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese if you wish.

Makes four servings. Each (1-cup) serving has 70 calories, 2 grams (g) of fat, 12 g of carbohydrate, 3 g of protein, 15 milligrams of sodium and 70 percent of the daily recommendation for vitamin C.

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist

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