Nutrition Corner: Get ready for overflow of zucchini

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Backyard gardens are already taking off. I have heard some folks say they have not planted zucchini this year because they do not know what to do with the overflow of vegetables.

Summer squashes are great foods to add to healthy diets because they are high in water content, but low in calories. The skins add fiber, vitamin A and potassium. They are an everyday food, especially when they are plentiful like now.

There are a variety of squashes that fit the “summer” squash name. Chayote, Patty Pan, Yellow crookneck, Yellow straight neck and Zucchini are just a few.

Chayote is becoming more popular in our area. It is a pale green, dark green or white pear-shaped summer squash and is also called mirliton, vegetable pear, and christophene. Unlike other summer squashes, it has a large seed and thick-ridged skin. This type of squash needs a longer cooking time.

Patty Pan is also called cymling or scallop squash. This a green-white, disk-shaped squash. Its flesh is white and tender.

The most popular summer squash is zucchini. To prepare zucchini, simply rinse off right before using. There is no need to peel. They can add be grated and added to soups, salads, and even used as a substitute for potatoes in potato pancakes. If you are grilling other foods, slice lengthwise and lightly brush with olive oil. Place the zucchini face down until lightly browned.

If you have an overabundance, zucchini and summer squash are sometimes difficult to use because they do not freeze well. Find new recipes to enjoy your harvest.

“Squash the Garden Hero” is an old favorite and is once again available to readers by calling the Penn State Cooperative Extension Office located in West Pittston at 570-825-1701 or emailing LuzerneExt@psu.edu. The booklet offers over 25 recipes from entrees to desserts, with squash as the main ingredient.

To get you started, try this delicious recipe.

Zucchini and Tomatoes

1 medium zucchini, sliced

1 tsp. olive oil

1 large tomato, chopped

1 1/2 tsp. fresh oregano

1 1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary

1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme

½ tsp. minced garlic

¼ tsp. sugar

Sauté zucchini with olive oil until slightly tender. Add tomatoes and other ingredients. Stir, cover and simmer until other ingredients are soft. Enjoy the health benefits of summer squash and zucchini this year.

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