One of the most ubiquitous summer fruits, the zucchini (cucurbita pepo) is a long, green summer squash of Italian origin with many culinary uses. It’s usually prepared as a vegetable in savory dishes like ratatouille, casseroles and fritters, but it can also be shredded and used in sweeter dishes like zucchini bread. The best zucchini to purchase (or pick, if you have a garden of your own) are less than 8 inches long. This means the squash is immature and the seeds are still soft. Larger zucchini (They can grow up to a few feet in length!) tend to be more fibrous and woody than their smaller and more tender counterparts.
Zucchini is a healthful, low-calorie fruit containing folate, potassium and vitamin A. Like many other fruits and vegetables, much of the nutritional value is found in the peel, so keep it on to get all the nutrients you can. One whole zucchini is only 16 calories!
Zucchini squash blossoms are also edible. These grow directly on the plant and can be eaten raw or cooked. They are commonly stuffed with soft cheeses and fried. If you can find them, the flowers are a beautiful summer treat.
Cheesy Zucchini and Squash Casserole
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 pound zucchini squash, thinly sliced
- 1 pound yellow squash, thinly sliced
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 cup seasoned Panko crumbs
- 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 2 minutes. Stir in squash, cooking an additional 4 minutes or until squash is tender.
- Beat egg and sour cream in large bowl until well blended. Stir in cheeses, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir in squash mixture. Pour into 8×8-inch baking dish.
- Stir crumbs and butter in small bowl. Sprinkle over casserole.
- Bake 25-30 minutes or until crumbs are golden brown and casserole is cooked through.