Nutritionist’s Pantry — Zany Zucchini’s
- posted on: August 28, 2017
- posted by: Robin Crowder
By Amanda Bullat, MS RDN CN Amanda leads our culinary education program at 21 Acres.
Nothing says end of summer like the bounty of zucchini varieties that are available this time of year. Often considered a vegetable, but technically a fruit, zucchinis (aka summer squash) are members of the gourd family, known for their thin edible skin and seeds. Summer squash is actually one of the oldest cultivated crops in the Western Hemisphere, dating back 8,000 years or more. It’s a very common ingredient in Native American cuisine having been first planted in South and Central America.
Summer squash is part of the “three sisters” triad, which also includes corn and beans. The three crops are grown together as a form of companion planting meaning that each plant benefits each other as they grow. For example, corn is usually planted first. After it’s grown about 6 inches, beans and squash are planted. The beans utilize the corn to grow semi-straight and tall, eliminating the need for poles, while the squash leaves provide shade for the growing summer squash and trap moisture in the soil for all three crops to benefit from.
Nutritionally speaking, summer squash is only about 20 calories per cup due to its high water content. All varieties are great sources of vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants. My favorite way to use this late summer staple is by making zucchini fritters with Lisa Crawford’s recipe from The Tiny Kitchen. The 21 Acres Farm Market typically has a wide variety of summer squashes available including:
Costata Romanesco with distinct ribbed sides and pale green flecks on the skin
Yellow Crookneck with bumpy light yellow skin, often used in soups and also great for pickling
Pattypan looks more like a fancy flying saucer based on its shape and ruffled edges, seen as pale green or yellow most commonly
Zucchini, the classic dark green, cylinder-in-shape summer squash
RECIPE: Zucchini Fritters
Serves 4-6 Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 5 minutes
2 pounds zucchini (smaller are better), coarsely grated
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten (or 2 tablespoons ground camelina seeds for egg intolerant folks)
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, including 1-inch of green
1 cup finely ground dried breadcrumbs OR pumpkin seeds (for gluten-free adaptation)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground sumac, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sunflower (or other neutral) oil
Place the grated zucchini in a colander and toss gently with 1 teaspoon salt. Let sit for 10 minutes then using a clean kitchen towel, squeeze excess liquid from the zucchini.
In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, beaten eggs (or camelina seeds plus just a few tablespoons of water), green onion, breadcrumbs or pumpkin seeds, garlic, parsley, red pepper flake, sumac, a pinch of salt, and a grinding or two of black pepper. Thoroughly mix.
Scoop out 1/4-1/3 cups of the mix and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gently press each scoop into a 1/2-inch patty. Heat the butter and sunflower oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, carefully slide the patties into the pan, leaving room around each. (You could heat two skillets for this process.) Cook until the underside is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip patties to cook the other side.
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