Zucchini is one of summer’s star veggies and a culinary workhorse of the kitchen. You can shred it for breads, muffins or pan-fried zucchini cakes. It can be sliced for gratins, casseroles and pasta dishes. You can thinly slice zucchini and use it raw in place of traditional pasta noodles and top it with a tomato sauce.
Zucchini takes to all cooking methods. You can grill, broil, saute and bake zucchini. Because of its length you can cut it in half, hollow out the center and fill it with a stuffing and bake it.
If you have a lot of zucchini, grill and serve it as a side dish, or add it to a mixed greens salad. Slice the zucchini at least one-quarter-inch thick on the diagonal. Brush with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher or sea salt and pepper.
Today’s recipe pairs zucchini with another summer gem, blueberries. The bread is lower in fat, relying on plain Greek-style yogurt for some of the oil and/or butter.
Here are a few zucchini tips:
Choose zucchini with skin that is a bright forest green color is best. Watch out for blemishes; its thin skin is easily damaged. Smaller zucchini is tender, has less seeds and is great for a quick saute or in a stir-fry. Medium size (about 8 inches long and 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter) are great for the grill. Large zucchini typically have more seeds and higher moisture content and are best shredded and used to make breads and muffins.
Store shredded zucchini in 1 or 2 cup amounts in a plastic sealable bag. Label, date and freeze the bag. When ready to use, thaw and pat dry the zucchini. To freeze slices, slightly blanch them, plunge in ice water, drain and pat dry. Place in a bag and freeze as directed above. It will keep 10 to 12 months in the freezer.
Blueberry Zuchini Bread
Floured baking spray
1 container (7 ounces) low-fat plain Greek-style yogurt
1/3 cup canola oil
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded zucchini, lightly squeezed
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon trans fat-free margarine, melted
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8-by-4-inch loaf pans with baking spray; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the yogurt and canola oil with an electric mixer on medium speed; add sugar and beat well. Add the egg, egg whites, lemon zest, vanilla extract and lemon extract and beat well.
In a separate bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, white whole-wheat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture until just moistened, being careful not to over mix. Gently fold in the shredded zucchini and blueberries.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. To prepare the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, water, margarine and lemon extract until smooth. Pour glaze over the top of each loaf while still warm.
Cool bread in pans on wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pans and cool completely on wire rack.
Makes 2 loaves and freezes well.