This is the time of year when summer squash is showing up all over the place. By summer’s end, we may be a bit tired of the large veggies still appearing in the garden or on the shelves at the market. So get creative now and embrace the versatility of this seasonal beauty.
Zucchinis are among a wide variety of summer squashes. All have a sweet and mild taste that pairs well with other flavors. I love what the food authority Rebecca Wood says about zucchini: “I’m lavish with zucchini in zucchini season; otherwise I have no use for them, for unless they are fresh, they taste insipid.”
Summer squashes have quite a high water content. They’ll help keep you hydrated during the warm summer months.
That high water content will also act as a diuretic when needed, to assist in alleviating edema or water retention.
Zucchinis contain a nice amount of vitamin C and some good trace minerals, though they are otherwise not one of the most nutrient-dense veggies.
Even with the above said, there are some sound studies showing the anti-cancer benefits of summer squashes. The juices of zucchini in particular appear to help prevent cell mutations.
Summer squashes also contain carotenes, an important nutrient for protecting ourselves from the damaging effects of the sun.
Uses for Summer Squash
Where to begin? Talk about versatility…
- Zucchini can be scooped, stuffed, and baked.
- Summer squashes are an integral part of ratatouille.
- Don’t forget the zucchini bread! The larger zucchinis are great for this purpose. Try chocolate zucchini bread.
- Zucchini dip can nicely replace hummus in your wraps and spreads.
- Grilled squash is delicious. Slice the small zucchinis in half, brush with olive oil, and cook it up. They’re perfect sprinkled with a little salt.
- Sautéed zucchini and tomatoes make a great addition to summer (gluten-free) pasta salad.
- Better yet, buy a spiralizer and turn your zucchini into angel-hair pasta.
- Have you ever worked with squash blossoms? You can sprinkle them on salads or search for recipes for stuffed blossoms.
- And don’t forget to include zucchini in your omelets, frittatas, and pizzas. How about grilled pizzas?!
Asian Zucchini Slaw
This recipe is adapted from a straight-up zucchini slaw I found in an old Martha Stewart Living magazine. As Martha states at the start of her recipe, “Pick small, firm zucchini—the flesh has a nice texture and a fresh greenish tint.”
The recipe stands well on its own as a zesty slaw, but would also work great on a sandwich or wrapped in a collard leaf with extra dressing for a delicious hot-weather raw wrap.
Makes: 5 cups
5 small zucchini
3 small carrots, peeled
6 small radishes, ends trimmed
1 thin leek
1/2 cup Asian dressing (recipe below)
2 tablespoons finely shredded coconut
1 teaspoon sea salt
Black sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
Cilantro for garnish (optional)
Pineapple slices for serving (optional)
Using the largest holes on a box grater, grate the zucchini, carrots, and radish into a large bowl. Cut the ends and tops off the leek, slice it in half, and then cut the halves into thin half-moons. Separate the slivers of sliced leek and add to the bowl.
Add the dressing, shredded coconut, and salt to the bowl and toss well to combine. Garnish with optional toppings and serve.
1/2 cup almond butter
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 cup wheat-free tamari
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
1/2 teaspoon miso paste
1 piece (1 1/2 inches) ginger peeled and chopped
Chili flakes to taste (optional)
Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until completely smooth, adding a small amount of water if necessary to create a creamy dressing. If not using a blender, be sure the ginger is chopped fine so that the dressing doesn’t contain overpowering bits of ginger.
With a career born of a personal family health crisis, functional nutritionist Andrea Nakayama takes the idea of food as personalized medicine beyond a clinical practice. Her online programs at ReplenishPDX.com and HolisticNutritionLab.com guide her clients in taking ownership over their health. She may be contacted at email@example.com