Isn’t it clear to everyone that those who don’t already love zucchini, just haven’t prepared it right? The seasonal summer squash peaks in June through August, but can sometimes be harvested year-round, making it convenient and affordable for the average consumer. Remember Grandma’s zucchini bread, where no vegetable could be detected whatsoever? Zucchini has long been coveted for its neutral taste and versatility. Not only is it rich in fiber, the starchy vegetable also contains essential nutrients like vitamin A and C, manganese and potassium (most hide in the skin, so try to keep it on)! Additionally, a high water content makes the zucchini low in calories while being filling at the same time. Whether it is a moisture additive, texture component, or low-carb starch replacement- a zucchini is sure to add to any meal- in color and health benefits. If you are not a fan, maybe it’s time to rekindle your relationship with the ever-so-lovely zucchini? Perhaps peering at our recipes below will make you want to give it a second chance!
If you have not yet experienced the magic of zoodles, here’s what I can tell you: it is a culinary life changer. The zucchini seamlessly cooks down into a soft, flexible “noodle”; perfect for decorating with sauces or garnishes you would find in any kind of pasta. This recipe in particular steers away from a classic pasta by incorporating zoodles in a vegetarian Pad Thai. It has just the right amount of spicy and sweet. Don’t have Menno’s? Feel free to use your own favorite peanut sauce, or plain peanut butter diluted with water for a milder taste. Need some meat to go with those veggies? Both shrimp and chicken work well with this recipe, as well as pack in some extra protein.
1. To clean and stuff flowers: snap stems off flowers, rinse well under cool water, carefully open each flower and remove insides. Set aside on towel to dry.
2. Set up your sauté station: shallow wide bowl for whisked eggs, large plate for seasoned flour, and large plate with paper towel for cooked flowers.
3. Once flowers are completely dry, carefully open and stuff about a tablespoon of cheese, closing petals if you can. Use judgment on amount of cheese based on size of flower.
4. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet. Using your fingers, carefully dip each stuffed flower into egg mixture and let extra drip off. Place egg covered flower into flour mixture and gently toss to coat, shaking off excess flour. Place into hot oil.
5. Once flowers are browned on bottom, about 3-4 minutes, carefully flip and cook other side. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until browned and then take out and place on paper towel so that extra oil will be absorbed. Repeat until all flowers are cooked. Adapted from http://aggieskitchen.com/cheese-stuffed-zucchini-flowers/
OK, let’s say you are already a zucchini fanatic and have cooked it as many ways as you possibly can. Have you ever thought about eating the flowers? This ingenious recipe could not be more delicious. Zucchini blossoms have a wonderfully delicate texture, and have been incorporated in traditional Latino dishes for quite some time. Even more interesting is that the flowers contain all of the same vitamins and minerals as the zucchini itself! Try out these nutrient-rich stuffed flowers the next time you’re craving something cheesy. If you’re not a gardener yourself, these blossoms may be hard to come by. Try asking your local farmers, searching a fruit stand, or stopping by a Hispanic food market if you’d like to give this recipe a try!
Happy cooking, squash connoisseurs (and zucchini lovers in the making)!
A place for our consultant Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) to share nutrition science, yummy and healthy recipes, tips on seasonal ingredients, and other nutritional musings. Enjoy!