Saturday, August 18, 2007

Recipes: Zucchini

I've been thinking about zucchini (aka courgettes and summer squash) lately. It's a great veg for baby food because it cooks quickly in a steamer and purees well, while being a great nutritional addition to his meal. It also mashes really well when cooked, so it's a popular addition to our baby food. That said, I've never spent much time craving or cooking it, so perhaps now is the time to start so we continue eating it beyond baby food.

Recently, I've prepared it by peeling and slicing thin rounds, then steaming the whole lot for about 10 minutes, or until cooked as desired. I then put it in a bowl, add in grated lime or lemon zest and juice, and toss. It's nice as is, or add a bit of salt as desired.

My mother-in-law made some by dry-grilling, and it was surprisingly good. I had never really appreciated the flavor of zucchini on its own. Slice into 1/4 inch rounds, sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice, then place directly on a hot grill until cooked. The presentation is also lovely because of the dark skin and grill marks. Easy, quick, fat-free...what more could you ask for?

The September 2007 issue of Cook's Illustrated has some additional suggestions on selecting and preparing zucchini.

Shopping Notes: Zucchini weighing less than 8 ounces are more flavorful and less watery than larger ones.

Preparation: Shred, discarding seeds and core, then salt and squeeze dry.

Basic Cooking Method: Shredding, salting (use 1 1/2 teaspoons salt with 2 1/2 pounds zucchini), and squeezing removes moisture from this watery vegetable, as does a dry-heat cooking method, like sauteing. Toss dried zucchini with 2 teaspoons olive oil and then cook in 12-inch nonstick skillet filmed with 2 teaspoons additional oil over high heat for 4 minutes. Stir infrequently as zucchini cooks to promote browning.