Monday, August 8 is National Zucchini Day. Yes, there is an entire calendar out there of months and days celebrating food. (August is National Peach Month.) Actually I think there is more than one. Not that it actually matters, to me, these food ‘holidays’ are just a fun way to inspire trying new recipes.
So, back to NZD. I remember in summers past hauling from our garden hefty zucchinis that were half the bulk of a watermelon. They liked the red clay/top soil mix that my Dad cultivated and grew in abundance. So much so that we had to track down people to gift them to and think up new ways to use them.
Although the squash family (Cucurbita pepo) had its start in the Americas, zucchini originates from Italy and grows enthusiastically on every continent except Antarctica. While dark green is the most commonly seen type, they can also have white and green striping. In fact, Burpee has seeds for 14 types of zucchini, some with stripes, some round, some dark, and others a bright yellow or pale green.
Like tomatoes, zucchini is actually a fruit – a berry, botanically speaking – that is routinely treated as a vegetable. Nutritionally zucchini contains appreciable amounts of vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folate), C, and K; minerals magnesium, manganese, and potassium; protein, fiber, and water.
Our mega-chini inspired veggie boats containing diced zucchini, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cheese. I don’t recall trying zucchini bread but that must’ve been on the menu too. The garden is long gone but I still enjoy finding new ways to prepare zucchini. A favorite combo is to steam it with fresh carrots, broccoli, yellow squash, onion, and sometimes potatoes.
With a good steamer, nothing needs to be added but a fork. They hold up beautifully well on the grill too. Being popular the world ‘round, one can find this fruit baked, fried, stewed, boiled, barbequed, steamed and served with yogurt, spices, savory veggies, grains and minced meats; and served on every part of the menu from appetizers to dessert. The blossoms are also served up stuffed, battered and fried.
Here in the U.S., no doubt the introduction of veggie spiralizers has brought new popularity to squash and root vegetables in general. These gadgets transform solid vegetables into streaming strands which can be sautéed, stir-fried, or eaten raw.
There is quite a collection of ideas on Pinterest, from breads, muffins, and cakes to summer stews to slaws to chips, soups and pies.
Oh, where to begin?? Two less-than-common options:
• Ravioli. A filling is encased within thinly sliced strips laid crosswise, then baked or fried. Or eaten raw. Alternately, filling can be folded over by a thin slice or sandwiched between two zucchini rounds. You should see the Pinterest boards just on this!
• Tortilla. The Low Carb Maven presents relief for those who are limiting grain in their diet but are longing to sink their teeth into something bread-like. Plenty of takes on this, including a ooey-goodness grilled cheese sandwich which can bring a smile to your face just from the picture.
Well, the zucchini is in the kitchen, I gotta go. How will you enjoy your zucchini on and beyond National Zucchini Day?
The Nutritional Value of Zucchini. LIVESTRONG.com. March 2013.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Roxanne Corbin has lived most of her life in the mid-Atlantic. She is a latent artist and wistful-thinking gardener. An information hunter by trade, Roxanne is currently working to transition from the corporate world to managing a research and writing business of her own.