Zucchini is a type of squash which has tons of health benefits. It is rather easy to cook these summer vegetables-and they taste great as a side dish, entré or in salads. Whether you want to cook zucchini or squash, always select the tender varieties. Over-mature vegetables have thicker rinds and their seeds are also tougher. The best part is that you can freeze, dry and even can these veggies to use them all year round. Today we will discuss some easy ways to cook zucchini and squash:
- Wash and dry the squash.
- Trim, slice or dice them.
- Blanch the slices for 3 minutes in boiling water. (For thicker slices, blanch for 6 minutes).
- Cool the slices in ice cold water immediately. Drain the water.
- Pat dry with paper towels and squeeze gently.
- Pack the slices in moisture and vapor-resistant freezer containers.
- Seal and store the containers below 0 degrees.
- You can even freeze grated zucchini for making zucchini bread (recipe below). Blanching is not needed in this case. When using frozen squash in recipes, you need to thaw them first. They will leave a little liquid which you can drain and use in your baking or soup recipes.(Throw the liquid out when sautéing or using in casseroles). Frozen squash is yummy in soups, pasta, sauces and stews.
2. Dehydrate (zucchini chips)
- Slice the zucchini or squash into ¼ inch slices.
- Spread the slices in single layers on drying trays.
- You can either dry the slices in the sun or in a dehydrator or oven at 140 F. The latter technique is especially used for making flavored zucchini chips. Simply use the herbs, spices and seasoning of your choice before dehydrating them. Barbecue flavor chips made in a dehydrator are fun snack for your parties.
3. Sauté or stir fry
Squash and zucchini can very easily get over cooked. So sautéing, grilling and roasting are the best ways of to cook zucchini as a side dish or entre.
- For sautéing or stir frying, trim and slice or dice the zucchini.
- Take some olive oil or butter in a pan. Add the slices and cook them stirring frequently.
- Cook them for about 3-5 minutes or until the edges are golden brown yet crispy.
- Season them with salt, pepper, garlic, onions, tomato sauce etc. You can also use cheese.
4. In the microwave
- Trim and cut the squash into chunks.
- In a covered microwave safe dish, add the chunks with ¼ cup of water and cook on full power for 4 to 6 minutes.
- Season them with salt, pepper, garlic, onions, tomato sauce etc.
- Never use large amounts of salt and fat to cook zucchini and squash as that would undo all of the health benefits of these vegetables.
Steamed squash is ideal in salads or main dishes.
- Steam the chopped or whole squash for 4-5 minutes.
- Season them with salt, pepper, garlic, onions, tomato sauce etc. This is a great way to cook zucchini for pasta.
6. Can you boil zucchini?
Yes you can! However, boiling tends to make these veggies rather soft. So do not over-boil them. If needed, place them in boiling water for no more than 3 minutes. Add these boiled veggies to salads or consume them as a side dish with light seasoning. This recipe is very healthy.
7. Simple skillet fries
- Slice the squash into ½ inch slices.
- Heat a skillet to medium high or 350 F and add some vegetable oil.
- Fry the slices until crispy and golden brown on both sides. Serve hot with brown bread, eggs etc as a healthy breakfast.
8. Stir fry
- Stir fry the squash slices or cubes with some onions. Make sure the heat is high in the beginning. Stir occasionally until veggies are cooked but slightly crunchy.
- Add some soy sauce. This is one of the ways to cook zucchini as a side dish.
9. Noodles with zucchini
- Cook some noodles, drain the water and add cheese of your liking (Monterey Jack or any other variety). Keep covered.
- In the meantime, make tomato sauce by frying the squash, green onions, green peppers etc and adding readymade tomato/pasta sauce.
- Add the sauce to the noodle-cheese mixture. Serve hot.
10. Zucchini pancakes
- Grate 2-3 zucchini and mix them with 2 beaten eggs.
- Add half a chopped onion, flour, baking powder, cheese, salt and pepper and mix well.
- Heat oil in a skillet and add a bit of the batter, spreading it to desired thickness. Cook the pancakes on both sides until brown.
- Serve with a dollop of sour cream.
11. Zucchini or squash bread
This is a sweet bread. Preheat oven to 325 F.
- Grease two 9×5 bread pans.
- In a bowl, beat 3 eggs until fluffy.
- Add 2 cups fine white sugar, 1 cup vegetable oil, and 2 tsp of vanilla extract. Beat well
- . Add 3 cups flour, 3 tsp baking powder, and 2 tsp each of cinnamon and nutmeg powders.
- Slowly mix the ingredients. Fold in the grated squash (2 cups).
- Transfer to the baking dishes. Bake for 45 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. You can add nuts of your choice to this recipe.
12. Zucchini casserole
- Slice 2-3 medium zucchini, 2-3 tomatoes and half a sweet onion.
- Layer the squash, tomatoes, onions and sharp cheddar cheese in a casserole dish and top it with crumbled bacon.
- Bake for 45 minutes at 350 F.
Try these easy ways to cook zucchini and squash for health and variety!