Written by Desireeh Chevere | Reviewed by Jennifer Calo, MS, RDN, CDN, CLT
Zucchini is a type of summer squash, which can be found at your local farmers market or at the grocery store. It is mostly water and has a tender texture with a slightly sweet flavor. Raw zucchini is calorie friendly, only containing 21 calories per cup! It is an excellent source of Vitamin A and C, which are necessary for growth and proper immune system function. Zucchini also provides lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytonutrients that belong to the carotenoid family that promotes healthy eyesight. The fun part about zucchini is that it can be eaten in different ways, whether it is raw or cooked. Here are a few healthy recipes to help you incorporate zucchini, a delicious antioxidant rich vegetable, into your diet!
1. Zucchini Noodles With Almond Pesto
- 3 small zucchini (about 1 1/4 pounds total), ends trimmed
- 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted whole almonds
- 1 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, divided
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove long strips from 1 zucchini and place in a bowl; when you reach the soft, seedy core, place it in a food processor. Repeat with remaining zucchini. Refrigerate zucchini “noodles.”
2. Add almonds, 1 cup of the basil, vinegar and salt to the food processor with zucchini cores.
3. Pulse, scraping down sides of the food processor frequently, until a chunky purée forms.
4. Toss noodles with almond pesto.
5. Slice remaining 1/4 cup basil and sprinkle on top.
2. Baked Zucchini With Goat Cheese
- 8 medium zucchini
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for the parchment paper
- 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint, chopped
- Ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F or prepare a grill for medium-high heat cooking.
2. Cut 8 squares of foil, each big enough to completely wrap a zucchini, and line foil with parchment paper. Brush each square lightly with oil.
3. Cut a skinny wedge from the length of each zucchini. Divide cheese among zucchini, pressing into the openings.
4. Divide mint among zucchini and press into cheese. Drizzle each zucchini with oil and sprinkle with pepper.
5. Wrap each zucchini in foil and bake or grill until tender, turning zucchini frequently, about 15 minutes on the grill or 25 minutes in the oven.
3. Minted Orzo And Zucchini Salad
- 1 cup dried orzo
- 2 large zucchini, thickly sliced
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 6 ounces feta cheese, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
- Ground black pepper, to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add orzo and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well, rinse in cold water and drain again.
2. Meanwhile, arrange a rack about 6 inches from the heating element and preheat broiler. Brush zucchini with 1 Tablespoon oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Broil, flipping halfway through, until tender and deep golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
3. Set aside to let cool and then roughly chop and transfer to a large bowl. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, orzo, lemon juice, mint, garlic, feta, olives, tomatoes and black pepper and gently toss to combine.
4. Cover and chill for several hours until flavors blend.