As spring turns into summer, the bright yellow blossoms of zucchini, as well as other types of summer squash, begin to bloom. With the help of pollinators zucchini energetically produces an abundance of fruit, making it accessible at many markets and farm stands throughout the region from now until October.
Zucchini are a healthy summertime favorite that can be enjoyed raw or cooked. “All summer squash is low in calorie, high in fiber and are a good source of vitamin C and potassium” says Amy Autuori, Clinical Dietitian for Sodexo.
Autuori notes that a new trend hitting the Chattanooga area are “zoodles” or zucchini noodles. According to Autuori, “zoodles are a fantastic alternative to regular wheat or whole grain pasta.” Zucchini are 95% water; and at just 20 calories per ½ cup, they are filling while containing far less calories in comparison to regular pasta.
Zoodles can be made by cutting zucchini into spirals to be used as a substitute for spaghetti noodles or into long and thin, strips for lasagna. Zoodles also make a great addition to stir fries, or can be enjoyed raw to top salads and sandwiches, preserving all of the vitamins and minerals of the zucchini.
Small spiralizers are typically used to create thin curly noodles, similar to spaghetti. They are available at local drug and grocery stores to make zoodle making easier, and do not require a large amount of cabinet space. If unable to find, different kitchen utensils can be used to create different types of zucchini noodles, such as cheese graters or a small potato peeler.
Depending on their size, you may need to adjust your recipe. If the zucchini are smaller, you may need more in order to get the proper amount of noodles for which the recipe calls. Zoodles can be cooked on a baking sheet tossed in olive oil, sauteed, or boiled. Again, depending on the width and size of the noodles will require different cooking time. The thinner zoodles will cook quicker in comparison to thicker zoodles.
In addition to being a great alternative to pasta, zucchini, can be made into tasty chips and fries. Zucchini is also a great addition to baked goods, such as zucchini bread and cakes, as well as a great addition to dips, like hummus.
Zucchini are just starting to make an appearance at farmers markets and at farm stands- be sure to grab some for dinner this week!
Here is an easy recipe to help get you started.
Recipe: Zoodle Spaghetti with Shrimp
-3-4 medium sized local zucchini, cut into zoodles
-2-3 local roma or plum tomatoes, diced
-1/2 pound of shrimp
-3 cups of homemade marinara (or sauce of your choice)
-Salt and pepper, optional
Pre-heat oven for 350. Place the zoodles on a large baking sheet, toss lightly with olive oil. Bake for 15-25 minutes. (The cooking time will depend on the size of the zoodles, toss zoodles and check occasionally)
Heat olive oil on medium heat in a sauce pan. Add diced tomatoes and saute until tender. Add shrimp to pan and cook through.
Add sauce to pan with shrimp and tomatoes, and reduce the heat to low.
Remove zoodles from the oven. Place zoodles in a bowl and top with sauce.
Guest Post by Victoria Jocsing, Crabtree Farms Intern