The Health Benefits of Zucchini
Zucchini’s white flesh might make you think it’s a nutritional dud. But this green variety of summer squash—which, as opposed to the winter kind, is eaten before the seeds and rind have hardened—is as good for you as it is versatile. One cup of cooked zucchini is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, plus delivers more potassium than a banana, all for a mere 27 calories. And unlike winter squash like butternut and acorn, zucchini is low in carbs and can be eaten raw.
How Do You Prepare Zucchini?
After trimming off the ends, you can eat both small and medium zucchini whole. But if you’re working with a large zucchini, you may want to peel the tough skin and scoop out the center, as it can grow spongy and seedy. If you’ll be grating zucchini, wring out the shreds in a cheesecloth or clean dish towel to remove some of the moisture before cooking, or (for savory preparations), lightly salt them and set them in a colander for a few minutes to drain.
What Can You Do With Zucchini?
More like what can’t you do with it?
Spiralize it: To make zucchini noodles (i.e. zoodles), you can use a spiralizer, which will turn out spaghetti-type strands, or a julienne peeler. Don’t have either? Make pappardelle-like ribbons with a regular vegetable peeler. If you prefer softer zoodles, cook them for a minute or two, or leave them raw for a little more bite. Use them to replace noodles entirely, or in place of up to half of the traditional noodles in your favorite pasta dish. They pair particularly well with marinara and meatballs, sautéed shrimp, and pesto.
Grate It: Sauté grated zucchini for a few minutes before adding beaten eggs to bulk up your morning scramble. You can also mix it with shredded cheese as a filling for quesadillas, add up to 2 cups to your next batch of whole-wheat pancake batter, or combine it with ground turkey to make juicy burgers.
Grill It: You can grill zucchini that’s been halved, quartered, or sliced crosswise into disks or lengthwise into planks. Whatever shape you go with, toss the zucchini with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper; grill on each side until tender and lightly marked; then sprinkle with red pepper flakes and douse with fresh lemon juice. If the weather’s lousy or you don’t have a grill, use a grill pan or cast-iron skillet instead.