Labor Day marks the "end" of summer. Having just observed this holiday you might think the season is effectively over. Our yard's rampantly growing grass, my tan lines, and our 75 degree thermostat setting suggests other wise. As does my backyard garden, which is in FULL effect! One of the veggies I have growing in my garden this summer is zucchini. From baking to grilling, this guy is an all-star, versatile veggie of summer. Did you know squash is a member of the melon/cucumber family? It's also part of the ancient, sacred triad-corn, beans and squash-planted by the Native Americans. Coming in all shapes and sizes, summer squash is known for its prolific harvest. Unlike it's winter counterpart, this crop grows quickly and has thin, edible skins and seeds, however, its shelf life is significantly shorter, as it lasts only a week in the fridge.
Nutritionally speaking, summer squash is low in calories, with 1 cup yielding only 20 calories! Granted, the water content is more than 90%. All varieties are rich in vitamin C and potassium, as well as phytochemicals which help protect health and are part of a healthful diet.
Let's take a look as some of the possible varieties that are out there this time of year:
Pattypan- a very distinct shaped guy (some call it "flying saucer shaped") makes this squash stand out from the crowd. Slicing and pan frying is a popular way to prepare them, as well as scooping out the inside and stuffing them!
Yellow crookneck- as its name describes, it's appearance involves a curved neck and is the squash most often pickled.
Costata Romanseco- ribbed and pale green flecks, this is an "Italian zucchini" and can be prepared very similarly to the traditional zucchini.
Zucchini-of course, the most popular of the summer squash! With a very mild flavor, this can be eaten raw or cooked. Also, the yellow and green varieties can be interchanged for different color accents and similar nutrition and flavor!
Here is an INVENTIVE recipe that is sweeping the produce aisles, utilizing this summer beauty in place of the traditional spaghetti noodle. This swap out will increase nutrient value while decreasing total overall calories and carbohydrate content. I give to you: Zoodles!
Zoodles (aka zucchini noodles)
- 1 lb fresh zucchinis
- 1-2 tbs salt
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- Wash the zucchinis and slice them julienne style. You could also use a vegetable peeler to get the desirable, "pasta like" thickness of these pieces.
- Place "zoodles" in a colander or mesh strainer, liberally salt them and let them sit for 20 minutes. Don't skip this step-it draws the water out, making the final product less "soupy."
- After 20 minutes have elapsed, rinse and drain the "zoodles", pat dry.
- Heat pan to medium-high and add oil and garlic; saute until fragrant.
- Add zoodles and saute for 3-4 minutes.
- Top with your choice of sauce, meat, vegetables, herbs and spices! The possibilities are endless!
(I used my homemade tomato sauce to top them in this picture.)