I’m a day late and a dollar short with the flavor of the week but here it is…zucchini! Granted it’s not really a flavor and not used to describe anything except actual zucchini, but our late-blooming zucchini plants have been producing and I thought I’d share some recipes this week to help get rid of any extra harvests from your garden.

It all starts here: the male flowers grow on skinny stems (left, yellow flower) while the female flower grows on a shorter mini-zucchini (right of male yellow flower.)

A couple of developing zucchini with their flowers closed.

Zucchini has never been my favorite, especially when served as enormous, unappetizing chunks in stir-frys or pasta primavera (it’s like cutting half a cabbage and asking everyone to dig in!) One way I did enjoy it was when my mother would make panko-crusted sticks of zucchini, deep fry it and serve it up with a mayo-shoyu dipping sauce on the side…delicious! But what am I doing with these zucchini plants if I don’t like to eat zucchini? Well, the initial idea was to mainly eat the flowers tempura-style, but I’ve been on a healthier-kick lately so no deep frying in the kitchen, at least for now. But there’s another way to enjoy zucchini on a healthier level, and that’s by making them into noodles!

Zucchini noodles are a great way to use up any extras you have lying around and, like any vegetable, is an extremely healthy addition to your diet. One large zucchini (about 3/4 pounds) has only 52 calories and is packed with fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Folate, and B6, to name a few. Imagine replacing your regular pasta with nutritious zucchini noodles. Not only do you get more nutrients, but you save over 200 calories per meal!!!

Ready for a step-by-step on making zucchini noodles?

If you don’t have a vegetable spiral slicer, you can achieve similar results with a sharp vegetable peeler and a good knife. First, remove the skin from the zucchini. Use the vegetable peeler to peel of wide slices of zucchini, rotating after every two “peels”:

Rotate and slice until you reach the seeds. Stack two or three zucchini slices and carefully slice them into thinner noodle-like strands.

Use these zucchini noodles in place of regular pasta, just add them to your sauce and cook them gently for about 3 minutes to heat through. Enjoy an almost raw Zucchini Salad with Peanut Satay Sauce, or add a handful to your favorite chicken soup.

What’s your favorite healthy way to enjoy zucchini?

Land and sea vegetable soup

This month’s Recipe Redux sponsored by The Professional Palate features the little underdogs of the sea: tiny fishes such as sardines and smelts, as well as sea vegetables, including kelp and seaweed. Initially I made a version of turkey bean burgers on a bed of  rice noodles and wakame, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with how it turned out. It was tasty, but I decided to scrap the whole project and start from scratch. This morning. :)

Here’s one of my favorite soup recipes that I’d normally make as soon as I got back from my evening exercise class. It takes about 30 minutes, and you can let it simmer while you jump in the shower (and your husband watches the stove,) so it’ll be ready when you are. It’s packed with land and sea vegetables, so you get the best of both worlds here. Sea veggies are a good source of minerals including iron, iodine and calcium, and even protein. They’re low in fat and calories, can be eaten dried (nori sprinkled on steamed rice or popcorn,) cooked (with braised vegetables, stews) and in desserts (where agar agar is used as a thickener to make jellys and yokan, a sweet bean dessert.) Check out this website for more information on sea vegetable varieties.

Turkey and Vegetable Seaweed Soup

1 teaspoon oil
1/4 lb. ground turkey
1/4 chopped onion
32 oz. chicken broth
1/4 cup dried wakame, nori, or any seaweed, cut into bite-sized pieces (not the nori used for sushi!)
1 small carrot, chopped
1 cup chopped kale leaves and stems
1 stem celery, chopped
1/2 cup cooked rice or barley
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 cup hot water

In a medium sized pot, cook turkey in oil until browned, breaking up chunks with wooden spoon. Add onion, sautee 1 minute. Add broth, bring to simmer. Add everything except rice (or barley) and miso paste. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat.

Add cooked rice or barley, stir and simmer for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Mix miso paste in 1 cup hot water, add to soup and stir well. Serve immediately.

Want to ‘sea’ what other reduxers have been making with the ocean’s bounty? Click on the link below:
http://professionalpalate.squarespace.com/blog/the-recipe-redux-little-fish-cakes.html