Why is one of the easiest vegetables to grow the so under appreciated? It is kind of like the Rodney Dangerfield of vegetables, often joked about and gets no respect. I really don’t see why and will declare publicly: I am a fan.
The hardest thing about the zucchini is remembering how to spell it. A space commanding, super easy vegetable to grow, the green zucchini we know and love is actually a native of North America but part of an exotic squash family from Asia and Europe. Zucchini has a long growing season and is more prolific than a cat. (Weird fact: a cat can get pregnant the day it gives birth, thus can have kittens once every 63 days. Weirder fact: the kittens from the same litter may all look different because they may be from different fathers!)
The seeds can be planted as soon as the soil has properly warmed and replanted up to six weeks before frost. Getting us all excited, the male flowers show up attracting bees, which pollinate the female flowers that for me, first showed up recently! Once the flower emerges on the tip of a budding female fruit, the squash can be ready in 4 to 7 days. If you get a hard rain; don’t blink or you might miss your zucchini growing a few inches. Water makes the fruits grow nearly before your eyes, so pick the fruits while young for tender and seedless squash.
It is said the zucchini plant will produce as long as you pick. Not here. For some reason, probably the heat we have here, my plants tire and give out. I simply replant two plants half way through summer, in between my existing plants, and allow the old folks to retire and pick from the new. The old plants are pulled and discarded. I use zucchini mainly for breakfast. I know that sounds weird, but I eat an egg many mornings and anything that fills my omelets, thus filling my belly, is welcomed. Sautéed zucchini chunks with onions and a sprinkle of cheese, (isn’t everything better with cheese?) fresh grated black pepper and a dash of sea salt is delicious! If you are not keen on flipping omelets, you can make a sautéed vegetable “corral” and crack the egg in the middle of the veggies. The egg whites will cause the vegetables to cling together and you will have a lovely little zucchini and onion ring. Btw, sauté only to the point that the squash is still a bit crunchy because there is nothing worse than the mushy texture of overcooked squash.
I keep my semi-girlish figure (would that be middle aged?) with a low-carb diet. Zucchini is a great dipping vegetable, keeping the need for high calorie chips out of my diet. Cut in strips or sliced, zucchini is great for dipping in humus or a low cal dressing. With only 10 calories in a small plant, I figure I wear off all the calories simply chewing and can eat more dip! When you eat it, please leave the nice green peel on. Dark equals anti-oxidants, in the nutrition world and the peel is the only part of the squash with any real flavor. Picked young, the peel is smooth and sweet.
Zucchini can be grated and frozen for muffins, cakes or breads. It can be cubed for soups, sliced for salads or pickled any old way you want. I love it as a side vegetable for dinner, sauteed with garlic, onions and a dash of rosemary. Bottom line, zucchini is a great vegetable and deserves a little more respect. Below is a healthy ranch style recipe that can be used for dipping or dressing. I can’t wait to get lots!
Happy Homesteading, S
Homestead Skinny Dip
I t. vinegar
1 clove minced garlic
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 t. lemon juice
1 c. greek yogurt
½ T. mayo
1 t. fresh parsley or dill (Will give two totally different flavors)
2 t. parmesan cheese
1 t. water
½ t. lemon zest
½ t. Dijon mustard