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What Is a Zucchini?
Zucchini–also known as a courgette or marrow–is a summer squash with a smooth green or yellow skin. Typically, it is harvested early on–a medium cucumber is about 8 inches long–though the world’s largest zucchini measured over 8 feet. Because it develops from a flower and contains seeds, zucchinis–like pumpkins, tomatoes, and eggplants–are actually fruits that are considered akin to vegetables in the kitchen.
What Are the Characteristics of Zucchini?
Fresh zucchini appears firm, but even a dull knife can cut through the thin skin to pierce the buttery flesh. The gourd grown for its edible fruit looks similar to a cucumber, which has been known to give shoppers pause when examining their similar cylinder shapes, but zucchini is less juicy and more substantial for building a dish. It’s nutritional benefits boast as much potassium as a banana, along with calcium, magnesium, fiber, and vitamins B6, A, E, and K. Keep an eye out for darker-skinned zucchini to maximize health benefits, and don’t pass on picking up the flowers (blossoms) for frying.
How to Cook the Perfect Zucchini
Both yellow squash and green zucchini are often presented as savory dishes, but the versatile ingredient can also benefit breads, sweets, and desserts. For the most part, it can take on the flavors presented with it–ranging from brown sugar to a salty cheese. Depending on the recipe, sometimes it’s helpful to strain excess water out of the summer squash using a clean kitchen towel.
How to Sauté Zucchini: Sautéed Zucchini Recipe
An easy recipe for stovetop zucchini slices requires little prep time for a total cook time of less than 15 minutes. Place 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat then add the zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Use a wooden spoon to saute the zucchini until tender, about 5 minutes.
13 Ways to Cook Zucchini
The most impressive quality of the zucchini is its ability to incorporate it into a wide range of recipes.
- Roasted in the oven with herbs and garlic. Try Chef Thomas Keller's oven-roasted zucchini recipe here.
- Baked into savory or sweet bread then smeared with butter
- Sliced into matchsticks then battered for vegetable “fries”
- Spiralized into a linguine-like zucchini noodles for a pasta substitute
- Shaved into ribbons for a striking salad or rolled into pinwheels
- Scooped and stuffed with beef, peppers, and onions
- Layered and stacked as a casserole or lasagne
- Charred and complemented with lemon and feta
- Combined with beaten eggs for a broiled omelet
- Topped on a tartine or serving as a low-carb base
- Grilled zucchini on a hibachi
- Tossed with fusilli, olive oil, and summer vegetables
- Simmered in a slow cooker as a soup with Italian spices
Gluten-Free Baked Parmesan-Crusted Zucchini
Prep Time10 min
Total Time20 min
Cook Time10 min
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup almond flour (instead of bread crumbs)
- ½ cup almond milk
- 1 teaspoon potato starch
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (or vegan parmesan cheese or 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Olive oil cooking spray (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and, if using, coat with cooking spray.
- Prepare a dredging station with three small bowls. In the first bowl, place the almond flour for coating the zucchini. In the second bowl, whisk together the almond milk and potato starch. In the third bowl, combine the parmesan, oregano, and salt.
- In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini in the olive oil.
- Use your hands to fully coat the zucchini first in the almond flour, followed by the almond milk and potato starch mixture, then dip in the parmesan, oregano, and salt. Arrange the battered zucchini in single layer on the baking sheet. Continue this process with the remainder of the zucchini.
- Bake the zucchini for a cook time of 10 minutes on each side, or until crisp tender and golden brown.
- Serve warm.
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