By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.com
If you have even grown zucchini you know that when Mother Nature works her magic the zucchini harvest is overflowing. What to do with all those green squash? (If you're not growing zucchini, chances are a neighbor, friend or co-worker is. Just today a few zucchini and summer squash showed up at the SparkPeople offices with a sign that said "Free to a good home"!)
Zucchini not only grow in abundance, they also grow in size rather quickly. You can clear your zucchini plants of mature squash one day, only to find one the size of your arm the next.
With zucchini, bigger doesn't mean better. In fact, bigger zucchini are overly fibrous, with larger seeds and sometimes spongy flesh.
Use large zucchini in baked goods only. (Cut them open scoop out the seeds and grate or shred them.)
For all other dishes, choose the smallest zucchini you can. The white flesh is firm and creamy.
Today, I have three new zucchini recipes for you: Try Grilled Zucchini with Feta and Pesto as an appetizer, Zucchini Ribbons with Lemony Bread Crumbs as a side dish or Simple Zucchini Caponata as topper for grilled protein and whole wheat pasta. They are all under 100 calories with at least two servings of vegetables per serving and are ready in 15 minutes or less.
Caponata is a Mediterranean vegetable stew. Eat it as is, or atop toasted whole-wheat bread or pasta.
Minutes to Prepare: 10 Minutes to Cook: 5 Number of Servings: 4
Ingredients 1 teaspoon olive oil
4 small zucchini (about 1 1/4 pounds), ends trimmed, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
1 small eggplant (about 1 pound), ends trimmed, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
Pinch black pepper
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Directions Place the oil in a nonstick sauté pan, and warm over medium heat. Add the zucchini and eggplant, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the tomatoes and the black pepper, then cook 2 minutes.
Add the vinegar, stir to combine, and remove from heat.
**Yields three servings of vegetables per portion!**
Grilled Zucchini with Feta and Pesto
Take some help from the store: Feta and pesto dress up grilled zucchini. Take some help from the store: Feta and pesto dress up grilled zucchini.
Minutes to Prepare: 2 Minutes to Cook: 8 Number of Servings: 4
Ingredients 4 small zucchini (about 1 1/4 pounds), ends trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon pesto
2 tablespoons crumbled feta Directions
Prepare a gas or charcoal grill to moderate heat.
Spray the zucchini with non-stick cooking spray. Place on grill cut side down, and grill for 4-5 minutes. Flip over, then spread on the pesto and cheese. Cook another 3-4 minutes, until cheese is starting to melt and pesto is warmed.
**Two servings of vegetables per portion! **
Zucchini Ribbons with Lemony Bread Crumbs Ever tried turning zucchini into "pasta"? With a vegetable peeler, it's easy to create ribbons of squash.
Minutes to Prepare: 5 Minutes to Cook: 8 Number of Servings: 4
Ingredients 1 teaspoon olive oil
4 small zucchini (about 1 1/4 pounds), ends trimmed and sliced into ribbons
1 small Vidalia onion, sliced
pinch black pepper
2 tablespoon whole wheat or panko bread crumbs
1 lemon, zested
Directions Use a vegetable peel to make ribbons from zucchini.
Place the oil into a non-stick sauté pan, and warm over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook another 3 minutes. Season with black pepper.
Set the vegetables aside. Place the pan back on the burner, and add the bread crumbs and lemon zest. Cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, about two minutes. Sprinkle the lemon crumbs over the vegetables and serve warm.
Makes four 1-cup servings
(two servings of vegetables per portion)
A Pair of Easy Summer Corn Recipes
10 Ways to Use Roasted Tomatoes
12 Savory Ways to Use Asparagus
SparkPeople Healthy Cooking Expert Meg Galvin is a World Master Chef, culinary instructor, and the author of " The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." A farmer's daughter and marathon runner, she lives in northern Kentucky with her husband and three teenage sons.