Did you know that a favorite summer staple, zucchini, is actually a fruit? Of course, it’s normally used as a vegetable and has tremendous versatility. It’s easy to grow and is usually inexpensive. Many cooks love zucchini because it can be used in countless recipes and a variety of global cuisines.
Nutritionally, zucchini is great for heart health because of its potassium content, which helps normalize blood pressure, and fiber, which helps to rid the body of excess cholesterol. It’s nutrient-dense and low in calories, which makes it an outstanding food for weight management.
Are you looking for inspiration to use up all that zucchini in your garden? Zucchini can enhance almost any meal. Here are some ideas:
- Perfect as a vegetable side dish — you can sauté, steam or bake zucchini
- Replace your pasta with the ever-popular and yummy zoodles
- Grate and make into zucchini pancakes
- Add it to your favorite baked recipe (bread, muffins, cookies)
- Make a zucchini soup or stew
- Add cooked zucchini to smoothies
- Eat raw and sliced — it’s a great addition to salads or dipped in hummus
Despite your best efforts, you may not make it through the big pile of summer zucchini in your kitchen. If that’s the case, freeze this bountiful squash to use later in the year. Here’s how:
- Wash and cut zucchini into chunks (whatever size you think you’ll use later) and blanch them. Blanching is a quick 45-second dip in boiling water that helps to neutralize enzymes that can cause produce to become mushy or discolored. This isn’t absolutely necessary but helps to preserve them.
- After blanching, dip the zucchini chunks in ice-cold water for 30 to 60 seconds to cool.
- Arrange on a baking sheet, pat dry and place into freezer. Remove them the next morning after they have frozen solid and place into freezer bags or containers.
- When ready to use, thaw zucchini in the fridge or on the counter. Thawed zucchini is best used in dishes like a mixed veggie stir-fry, soups and chilis. Also, because some of the water will be pulled to the surface during thawing, pat your thawed zucchini dry before using it in bread or baked goods.
Frozen zucchini should last at least three months — after that, freezer burn may affect the texture and flavor.
And finally, here’s a recipe for Savory Breakfast Zucchini Muffins that are incredibly delicious and filling. Plus, you get a serving of those precious veggies before lunchtime! Protein from the eggs is satiating, the oatmeal adds additional fiber and the zucchini gives great taste and texture.
Savory Zucchini Egg Breakfast Muffins
Makes 12 small muffins
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, for coating muffin tin
- 3 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 7 eggs, beaten
- ¼ cup almond milk
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, or other favorite herb
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup grated manchego or cheddar cheese (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat muffin tins with coconut oil.
- Place zucchini in a strainer and sprinkle with ⅛teaspoon salt and let sit. Squeeze excess water out of zucchini after 5 to 10 minutes; this prevents the muffins from being soggy.
- Saute onion in olive oil for 2 minutes over medium heat, then allow to cool.
- In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and almond milk.
- Add zucchini, onion, rosemary, oats, salt and pepper and cheese if desired and stir until combined.
- Pour mix into muffin cups.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly golden.
NOTE: These muffins can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 to 4 days. Just pop them in the microwave for 20 seconds to reheat and enjoy!