This time of year, the long-suffering zucchini is the butt of quite a few jokes. But we really don’t understand why. Here’s a vegetable (well, technically a fruit) that gets along with everyone and everything. It is genuinely the ever-generous "nice guy." This plant is so charitable that there is actually a national Surprise your Neighbor with a Zucchini on their Porch Day.
The beauty of a zucchini is that its unassuming, slightly nutty, slightly sweet flavor can play the lead actor or be the secret sidekick, with equal aplomb. With gentle culinary manipulation it can be an appetizer, soup, salad, main course, a side, or a dessert (and your guests/family probably wouldn’t even guess). Our vomFASS oils and vinegars can take its flavor from mild to spectacular in just seconds!
The flexibility of zucchini, or courgette as it is also called, is limited only by your (or the internet’s) imagination. Zucchini’s ability to shape-shift is unmatched by any other vegetable. As pasta under your favorite bolognese, soft and moist in a muffin, or deep fried as chips to dip in an aioli – the zucchini refuses restraint. Its mellow taste allows it to soak up any flavor thrown its way.
There are a couple of tricks to getting the most out of your zucchini harvest..
Roasting your zucchini caramelizes the innate sugars and adds a layer of flavor and texture. To roast your summer squash, first slice, dice, or julienne it, and then toss it in any vomFASS extra virgin olive oil, Grape Seed oil, Sun Meadow oil, Curry or Garlic Herb oil and some sea salt.
Spread the pieces out onto a baking sheet. You want to see a bit of space around the veggies — don’t be afraid to split them between two baking sheets if you need to. Crowding will make the vegetables steam instead of roast, and that’s the opposite of what we’re going for. Put them in a hot 425˚F oven (lower temperatures also result in steamed, rather than roasted vegetables). Roast until the squash are tender enough to pierce with a fork and you see some charred bits on the edges. Smaller pieces will also cook more quickly than larger pieces.
If roasting is new to you, start checking after about 15 minutes, and keep roasting until you see charred bits. Those charred bits are what make roasted vegetables so good, so even if the vegetables are already tender and cooked through, keep roasting until you see the vegetables start to turn toasty around the tips and edges. If in doubt, roast an extra 5 or 10 minutes — it’s unlikely the extra roasting will hurt, and very likely that your vegetable will be even more tasty.
Squeeze it to freeze it (or enjoy in casseroles).
To truly enjoy the versatility and extend the season of summer squash, some of the water should be drawn out. Easy-peasy, just get your zucchini into the form you want it (linguine, anyone?), put it in a colander, sprinkle with few teaspoons of salt, toss it around, let it set for 15-30 minutes and then squeeze excess water out (you can do this by hand or wring it out in a cheese cloth). Most of the salt goes with the zucchini juice, but enough stays that you don’t need to season your dish with more salt.
This keeps your zucchini zoodles (or courgette courgetti) from becoming too watery with sauce, or when they're used as lasagna ribbons or in other casseroles. It also allows you to successfully freeze your summer squash without it turning to mush when you defrost it. (Food Science Nerd Alert: water expands when it freezes and when this water freezes in cells it ruptures the cell walls. When water is drawn out from the plant cells through osmosis (here, caused by salting), there is less water in the cells to freeze and less cellular damage; therefore, the defrosted vegetables retain more integrity.)
If your intent is to freeze the summer squash for future use, spread it out on a baking sheet and let it freeze. Once frozen, break up any clumps and place in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. This squash can be defrosted and sautéed, sauced up, or used in casseroles.
Master of Disguise
Oh, zucchini, you truly are a culinary delight,
With your chameleon ways, you shine so bright.
From savory to sweet, you can transform with ease,
A vegetable that truly aims to please.
Grilled or roasted, you're a savory treat,
With olive oil and herbs, you can't be beat.
But wait, you're versatile beyond belief,
In desserts, you bring a touch of sweet relief.
Zucchini bread, moist and flavorful,
Incorporating health with taste so wonderful.
You hide in smoothies, adding nutrients anew,
A master of disguise, oh zucchini, it's true.
Share this post
- 0 comment
- Tags: #appetizers, #balsamic, #chips, #dessert, #dinner, #EVOO, #extravirginoliveoil, #madisonwi, #pasta, #truffles, #vomfassmadison, #Wisconsin, #zucchini