Zucchini is in abundance this time of year. When a fruit or veggie is in season it’s much cheaper at the store or farmer’s market. My neighbor and another friend get a couple of new ones every few days. These green squash are the same color as their leaves so if you walk down the row or quickly glance at the plant you won’t see them. You have to lift the leaves up or you’ll end up with a twenty inch long behemoth. The best tasting zucchini are much smaller since the seeds are tiny and the skin is tender. Summer squashes don’t store on the shelf as well as winter squash. I’ll be slicing up all the extra zucchini folks have given me, giving it a quick boil, then laying it flat in the freezer so it will chill faster.
Zuccini vegetable with spent orange flower and big green leaves. (Wikipedia)
Zucchini has lots of minerals and vitamins. A cup of zucchini has about 20 percent of your daily value of manganese which helps create “connective tissue, bones, blood-clotting factors, and sex hormones.” Zuccini has a high vitamin C content, A, and a wide range of B vitamins. “vitamins are important in metabolism and energy as well as nerve and blood health.” (livestrong.com)
There are a lot of ways to prepare zucchini and some are healthier then others. It can be fried, cut into strips to eat as finger food, stir fried and much more. I volunteer for story time at the local library. A little girl and her mom informed me there is even zucchini pie and cupcakes. (26 Zucchini Recipes by Ella Quittner)
Quite a few of the zucchini I ended up with are huge. My friend with a wheat allergy said zucchini can be used as an alternative to noodles in lasagna. She and I cook a lot by taste and instinct so I’m combining her recipe and the one from food.com so you could get measurements.
1 overgrown zucchini or 5 small
1 lb ground meat (beef, chicken, or turkey)
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 small tomatoes, cut up
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 garlic clove, minced
This time of year I’ll use fresh herbs from the garden.
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup cottage cheese (drained)
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup asiago
1/4 cup fresh parmesan
1/2 teaspoon parsley
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the zucchini into long thin lasagna noodle size portions. If it is overgrown, prepare the vegetable by peeling it. Next slice it long ways down the middle and scoop out the seed.
Boil zucchini for three minutes until tender, drain and set aside.
Fry meat and onions until meat is brown and onions are tender; drain fat. Add the tomato and paste, water, garlic, and first list of herbs.
Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered 10 minutes or until reduced to 2 cups.
In small bowl slightly beat egg. Add the parsley cottage cheese, ricotta, and 3/4 of the shredded cheeses.
In (1 1/2-qt.) baking-roasting pan arrange half of the meat mixture. Top with half of the zucchini and all the cottage cheese mixture. Top with remaining meat and zucchini.
Bake uncovered or 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer.
Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
The recipe is diverse. You can use less cheese if you are watching fat intake or use 3/4 cup low fat cottage cheese instead of the regular and ricotta.
If you try out the recipe, let me know if you liked it or not.