Zucchini is a summer squash that is mild in flavor and extremely versatile. It is used in breakfast recipes to suppertime desserts, and everything in between. In the video below, I’ve covered some interesting facts about zucchini including nutritional information, how to store and preserve zucchini, what herbs, spices and other foods pair well with it, and more! For your reference, my notes are below the video. Enjoy!
I hope this helps!
Zucchini 101 – The Basics
Zucchini is technically a fruit, but we typically eat it as a vegetable. It is a summer squash that looks similar to a cucumber. Zucchini are grown around the world and are harvested at different sizes from very tiny to very large. In fact, the longest zucchini on record was grown to 8 feet, 3.3 inches long, grown in Canada in August 2014. In the United States, zucchini are typically harvested when they are between 6 and 8 inches long.
There are many varieties of zucchini, differing in color, texture, size, shape, and length of time to maturity. The flavor of zucchini is mild, so it has been used in recipes from breakfast to suppertime desserts, and everything in between! The zucchini flowers are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked, and are typically stuffed and fried.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, zucchini is rich in minerals and vitamins including potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, fiber, vitamin C, and riboflavin. It also contains vitamin B6, A, E, and K, sodium, zinc, and iron. It is about 95% water with a lot of the nutrients found in the skin, so don’t peel your zucchini!
The high levels of manganese and vitamin C help protect our cardiovascular health, whereas the magnesium in zucchini helps keep our blood pressure under control. Recent research has also shown that zucchini can help reduce enlarged prostate glands in men. The nutrient profile of zucchini also is known to help regulate blood sugar, a real benefit for those with diabetes.
How to Select Zucchini
Choose zucchini that feel heavy for their size with little to no blemishes on the skin. They should feel smooth and firm. Smaller ones will be more tender and flavorful than larger ones.
How to Preserve Zucchini
Fresh: Store fresh zucchini whole, dry, and unwashed in the refrigerator. Store it in a plastic or paper bag with some ventilation. It will keep well for about 1 week, but will start to show signs of age after only a few days of storage.
Freeze: Sliced zucchini may be frozen by steam blanching for 3 minutes. Then submerge the zucchini in ice water for another 3 minutes. Drain well and place in freezer bags. Frozen zucchini will be softer when used than fresh zucchini, so the frozen vegetable may not be best for all applications.
Dehydrate: Zucchini may be dehydrated, but some resources do not recommend it because the outcome is “poor to fair.” If you want to dehydrate your zucchini, see your dehydrator manufacturer’s booklet for information.
Fresh vs Frozen
Fresh zucchini is the most versatile option and can be eaten raw, or used in any form of cooking, roasting, or baking option you can imagine. Frozen zucchini will be mushy when thawed, so it is only usable in ways that call for cooked zucchini.
How to Prepare Zucchini
Wash zucchini and cut both ends off just before using it. The skin of zucchini is edible and contains many of its nutrients, so it is beneficial to leave the peel on. Cut it into whatever size pieces you need. The seeds do not need to be removed.
Zucchini is mostly water, so you will notice it releases liquid and becomes soft quickly when cooked. Fast cooking methods using little water will result in less mushy squash after being cooked.
Zucchini can be grilled, boiled (briefly), steamed, roasted, sautéed, stir-fried, stir-steamed, added to casseroles and soups, added to warm or cold salads, eaten raw with dip, spiralized into noodles and eaten like a pasta, baked into breads, muffins and cakes, added to a pizza, and more. The uses for zucchini are only limited to your imagination!
Herbs and Spices That Go Well With Zucchini
Basil, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, dill, ginger, lemon thyme, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning blend, salt and pepper, onions and garlic, Cajun seasoning blends, garam masala (Indian spice blend)
Foods That Go With Zucchini
Tomatoes, eggplant (as in the Mediterranean dish ratatouille), eggs, seafood, bacon, pasta, roasted or grilled meats and poultry, cheese, lemon, mushrooms, bell pepper, corn, quinoa, rice, pecans, chocolate
Classic Zucchini Pairings Include:
Zucchini + basil + Parmesan
Zucchini + red peppers + eggplant + onions + tomatoes
Zucchini + olive oil + salt + pepper + oregano
Zucchini + feta + lemon + olive oil
Zucchini + cinnamon + chocolate
Summer Squash Rice Casserole https://www.spicesinc.com/p-3885-summer-squash-and-rice-casserole.aspx
Grilled Vegetable Burrito https://www.spicesinc.com/p-3793-grilled-vegetable-burrito.aspx
Cumin Seasoned Grilled Zucchini https://www.spicesinc.com/p-181-cumin-seasoned-grilled-zucchini.aspx
Zucchini and Ricotta Galette https://www.spicesinc.com/p-3883-zucchini-and-ricotta-galette.aspx
Any Time Frittata http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=124
Southwest Cod Sauté http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=134
Grandma’s Zucchini Cake Recipe https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/grandmas_zucchini_cake/
Zucchini and Tomatoes https://www.recipelink.com/msgbrd/board_31/2002/JUL/12015.html
Grilled Zucchini with Lemon and Herbs https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/grilled-zucchini-with-lemon-and-herbs
35 Delicious Ways to Use Zucchini https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/delicious-ways-to-use-zucchini-recipes
40 Healthy and Delicious Zucchini Recipes https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/g562/zucchini-recipes/
Basil, Squash, and Tomato Pasta Toss https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/basil-squash-tomato-pasta-toss
100+ Ways to Use Zucchini and Yellow Squash https://www.cookinglight.com/cooking-101/essential-ingredients/healthy-squash-zucchini-recipes