Now that late summer is here, many of us have gardens groaning under the weight of bumper zucchini crops. So much, in fact, that we often can’t find enough ways to use it. Family and friends start to give us a less than sincere “thank you” as we unload another basket of zucchini on their doorsteps.
How can those seedlings we planted in the spring turn out to be such prolific monsters in late summer? Who knows? Mother Nature is a funny gal. One thing for sure, though, you can’t throw out what you’ve worked so hard to cultivate.
That means you’ll have to find new and creative ways to use zucchini. That is, after you’ve tired of all the old ways.
Zucchini bread, zucchini soup, sautéed zucchini and steamed zucchini are all Zucchini 101. While these basic recipes are all good ones, perhaps you’re ready for a few new ideas. Zucchini fritters, zucchini noodles (cleverly named zoodles) or even zucchini chocolate cake may all be dishes your family hasn’t seen before, at least not this season.
I often use a vegetable peeler to shave off strips of zucchini to add to green salads or as a little extra crunch to sandwiches. Grilling zucchini, along with red peppers, red onion and corn, then chopping them up and tossing with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, turns them into a wonderful topping for bruschetta or polenta.
I’ve had zucchini at least three times this week, and one of my favorite meals is Lemon Garlic Chicken and Zucchini Pasta. This recipe has a lot to recommend it, not the least of which is that it can be done, from start to finish, in the time it takes to cook your pasta.
Chicken tenders are cut into bite-sized pieces and sautéed, along with sliced zucchini or yellow squash, or both. A quick pan sauce is made with garlic, lemon zest, chicken broth and cream. A splash of lemon juice is added before tossing the whole thing together with cooked pasta and Parmesan cheese.
So easy, so good and one more way to use a few zucchini. Win, win, win.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @meredithdeeds.
Lemon Garlic Chicken and Zucchini Pasta
Note: Done in less than 30 minutes, this quick and easy creamy pasta is packed with tender bites of chicken and zucchini, bathed in a garlicky lemon sauce. From Meredith Deeds.
• 12 oz. uncooked cavatappi, farfalle or penne pasta
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 lb. chicken tenders, cut into 1-in. pieces
• 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
• 3 medium zucchini or yellow squash, trimmed and cut into 1/4-in. slices
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 c. low-sodium chicken broth
• 3/4 c. heavy cream
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves
Cook pasta according to package directions, using the minimum time. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook chicken, stirring, until thoroughly cooked, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer chicken to a plate. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the broth, cream, zest and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Stir in the lemon juice. Add the cooked pasta, chicken, zucchini and Parmesan cheese to the sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until hot, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with parsley and more Parmesan cheese if desired.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 735 Fat 26 g Sodium 800 mg
Carbohydrates 79 g Saturated fat 12 g Total sugars 5 g
Protein 46 g Cholesterol 125 mg Dietary fiber 6 g
Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 5 starch, 4 lean protein, 2 ½ fat.