Summer has arrived, and you know what that means: depending on where you live, you’re about to be gifted an abundance of zucchini (also known as courgette) and other types of summer squash. There are so many ways to creatively use these inexpensive, low-calorie and nutrient-packed vegetables, so what better way to celebrate seasonal produce than by experimenting with new — and easy-to-make — zucchini and summer squash recipes?
Fortunately, zucchini is a versatile vegetable that can be eaten raw, minimally cooked, sautéed, grilled or turned into soup. It comes from the same family as the cucumber, squash and melon and originates in North America. Botanically-speaking, this veggie is technically a fruit but has been treated as a veggie within a culinary context. Zucchini’s versatility makes it the most popular member of the squash family.
How to choose and store zucchini
Zucchinis are at their best from June until September. To select the perfect zucchini, opt for smaller ones that are firm to touch. If you notice that the skin looks waxy, then it’s likely been treated to extend shelf life. In this case, it’s best to peel the skin before you add them to your dish. Store zucchini in the crisper compartment in the fridge and eat them within 2-3 days. The same goes for summer squash (the yellow variety).
Health benefits of zucchini and summer squash
Zucchini and summer squash have a number of health benefits including aiding weight loss, supporting heart health and digestion. Here are the details:
- Weight loss: Zucchini is a low-starch vegetable with a low-calorie count, low glycemic index, high fiber content and high water content. These combined elements keep you full for longer without any post-meal cravings.
- Heart-health: Zucchini and summer squash are low in cholesterol, fat and sodium, and high in potassium, folate and magnesium content. What this means is a reduced risk of high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks.
- Digestion: Summer squashes like zucchini help maintain the digestive system with their anti-inflammatory electrolytes and high fiber content. If you don’t normally eat a lot of fiber, increase the amount of fibrous foods in your diet gradually so that you don’t shock your body.
- Skin vitality: Due to its high water, vitamin C and riboflavin content, summer squash helps speed the maturation of collagen, leaving you feeling fresh and giving you hydrated skin. Like its sister vegetable, cucumber, zucchini is over 90 percent water!
- Eye strength: Summer squash is full of carotenoids, including lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet sunlight and help prevent age-related eye diseases.
Now that you know how good they are for you let’s talk about how good they can taste! Here are eight zucchini and summer squash recipes for you to try out this season. All of our recipes call for zucchini, but you can substitute summer squash instead if that’s what you have at home.
Zucchini noodles with mozzarella and pesto
Make your very own zoodles (or courgetti) by peeling zucchini into thin ribbons. It’s a wonderful low-carb, gluten-free alternative to typical spaghetti, helping you feel extra healthy whilse you enjoy a bowlful of “pasta.” The pesto yogurt tops this recipe off perfectly.
We put a spin on the classic antipasto – and we promise you won’t miss the bread. Perfect as a light snack or as a canapé, the zucchini rounds are roasted and topped with fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic and balsamic vinegar. To finish them off, sprinkle some cheese and return to the oven until the cheese melts.
Zucchini grilled cheese sandwich
Grilled cheese, anyone? This cheesy sandwich is easy to make and tastes so indulgent it might make you feel a little bit naughty. It’s got lots of grated zucchini, two types of cheese and is toasted in just the right amount of butter. Zucchini grilled cheese is a perfect meal for one — especially if you’re busy or don’t have a lot in the fridge.
Almond-crusted zucchini sticks
These dainty sticks really hit the spot when you’re in the mood for a savory snack. Coated in almond flour and baked until crispy, even the pickiest of eaters are sure to enjoy them. You can serve them as an appetizer or side dish to your main meal. Once you’re comfortable with these zucchini sticks, experiment with other veggies too!
What’s a zucchini recipe list without fritters? Enjoyed by the whole family, fritters are a clever way to sneak extra veggies into meals. Mix them with eggs, flour and seasonings before pan frying until nicely browned. Serve the fritters with hummus and fresh spinach. If you fancy a change, any other summer squash works in this recipe.
Korean zucchini noodles with beef
Say “hello” to this Asian-inspired zucchini noodle dish. They are great on a warm summer’s day when you want something light, but high in flavor. Made from a blend of soy sauce, honey and sesame, the sauce is an umami pleasure with each mouthful. If you want a bit of variety, you can peel ribbons from other types of squash — maybe some carrots too.
Creamy zucchini soup
This main is soup-er hydrating and perfect for summer as you can savor it hot or cold. It cooks quickly because zucchini is a watery vegetable that breaks down rapidly during cooking.
Stuffed zucchini with beef
If you follow a standard diet in the 8fit app, it’s possible you already have this dish favorited. A yummy beef filling makes green zucchini a bit more flavorful. This protein-packed, paleo dish comes together in about 30 minutes and requires a limited amount of ingredients. Find it in the 8fit recipe book and make it today!