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Archive for Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The inside scoop on zucchini

July 16, 2008

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Q: What size of zucchini is the best quality to buy?

A: Harvest or purchase zucchini that's about 6 to 8 inches long and about 2 inches in diameter. That's when it's the most tender. As zucchini gets longer and bigger around, it becomes tougher and develops more seeds. (These larger zucchini can be used in zucchini bread; scoop out seeds and pulp with the tip of a spoon.)

Also, choose firm, slender zucchini with a bright green color and free of wrinkled skin.

Q: I'm getting a ton of zucchini. I need some new ideas.

A: The Produce for Better Health Foundation at www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org suggests:

¢ Slice, marinate (try balsamic vinegar) and grill a variety of vegetables, including zucchini, asparagus, green onions, eggplant and mushrooms.

¢ Cut up veggies like carrots, zucchini and potatoes. Add them to your favorite meatloaf or soup recipes.

¢ Take your favorite lasagna recipe and try adding different combinations of your favorite vegetables between the layers: mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, onions or eggplant.

¢ Add raw zucchini to lettuce and pasta salads.

¢ Cut zucchini into sticks and serve with a dip.

¢ Slice zucchini, saute in oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes until tender crisp; toss into heated pasta sauce for a veggie-packed pasta topping.

Here are some recipes you may want to try:

Skillet Zucchini with Chopped Tomatoes

1 teaspoon whipped light butter or vegetable oil

1 cup chopped onion

4 small (6-inch) zucchini, thinly sliced

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

Freshly ground pepper

In a large nonstick skillet, melt margarine over medium heat; add onions and cook, stirring until softened. Add zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until zucchini is tender-crisp. Season to taste with pepper. Serves 4.

Lemon Rosemary Zucchini

Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced

2 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary

2 cups chopped zucchini (2 medium)

1 to 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In medium nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add yellow pepper and rosemary and saute 2 minutes. Add zucchini and salt and pepper, to taste. Continue to saute for another 4 to 5 minutes or until zucchini is just tender. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Makes 4 servings.

Beef & Parmesan Pasta

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 can (14 to 14-1/2 ounces) ready-to-serve beef broth

1 can (15-1/2 ounces) Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained

2 cups uncooked bow tie pasta

2 cups sliced zucchini (1/4-inch)

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Brown ground beef in large nonstick skillet over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until beef is not pink, breaking up into 3/4-inch crumbles. Remove from skillet with slotted spoon; drain in a colander and rinse with hot water. Plot with a paper towel. Set aside.

Combine broth, tomatoes and pasta in same skillet, pushing pasta into liquid; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in zucchini; continue cooking 5 minutes or until pasta is tender.

Return beef to skillet. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese; heat through.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese before serving. Makes 4 servings.

- Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.

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