It’s prime season for summer squash, and like most folks, I get all jazzed up when the zucchini harvest arrives. Here are 22 healthy ways to devour this summer goodie.
Soups, Salads, Snacks … and a Cocktail!
Zucchini is the chameleon of the produce world, adapting to any surrounding flavor and texture. It’s tremendously delish raw or cooked, shredded or sliced, roasted or pureed.
Who says a zucchini can’t be a meal?! These recipes prove this veggie is up to the challenge.
There’s nothing wrong with going the more traditional route. These simple side dishes turn up the flavor.
Breads and Muffins
Don’t count out the baked goods. Zucchini adds a subtle sweetness and helps keeps breads and muffins moist.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »
Pick up a bunch (or two!) of this fragrant herb while it’s in season. And don’t worry about how you’ll manage to use it all—there are just so many delicious ways.
Go the traditional route and whip up a mean pesto sauce. Use as a condiment or as a sauce for fish or pasta dishes.
Recipe: Ina’s Pesto
Infuse your favorite olive oil with basil. It only takes a few minutes!
Recipe: Basil Oil
Having a few guests over? Whip up simple finger foods using fresh basil leaves.
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This lesser-known herb is a must-have in my garden. Learn more about the flavor of marjoram, plus find out why the ancient Greeks would stock up on it for funerals.
According to the Food Lovers’ Companion, marjoram was used in funeral wreaths to symbolize happiness in life and the afterlife. Sprigs of this herb tout small and delicate oval-shaped leaves that are bright green.
The most common variety is called sweet marjoram. It’s a member of the mint family but it has a flavor similar to oregano, only sweeter. It can be found both fresh and dried in large markets and specialty grocery stores – look for it fresh at the farmers’ market during the spring and summer months.
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Green peas are sitting in natural, pretty little packages just waiting to be plucked. Visit your local farmers’ market and dive into a basket of this spring treasure.
Also known as English Peas, inside the inedible pods are tender and succulent peas. Shelling them does take bit of elbow grease and patience, but the sweet, fresh flavor is totally worth it. Use them in any recipe that calls for fresh or frozen peas. You can also munch on them raw or blanch and freeze them for later.
One cup of shelled green peas has 117 calories and one gram of fat. It also has 7 grams of hunger-fighting fiber and 8 grams of muscle-building protein. Don’t forget about vitamins and minerals – calcium, iron, magnesium, folate, thiamin and vitamins A, C and K can all be found in peas.
Recipes To Try:
Fresh Pea Ravioli With Crispy Prosciutto
Pasta With Tomato and Peas
Tuna Pasta Salad
Spicy Cheesy Rice
Asparagus and Fresh Pea Frittata With Tomato-Basil Concasse
What They Are and When to Enjoy:
Radishes belong to the cruciferous vegetable family which takes its name from the Latin root crux, meaning cross. But rest assured, eating them is no cross to bear! They are deliciously crisp and fresh tasting with a subtle spiciness.
Enjoy radishes at their finest in April, May and June. Red Globe are the most common variety in the U.S and are frequently sold with their greens attached. To choose the best ones give them a squeeze. The bulbs should feel firm, not soft. Crisp, green leaves and medium-sized roots are also good indicators of a winning bunch.
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This spinach-like, tart herb is now in season. Pick up a bunch and get cooking!
Although commonly defined as an herb, sorrel is part of the buckwheat family. It was used by the Greeks and Romans to help digestion. It was also wrapped around meat to help tenderize it. During the Middle Ages, before citrus fruit was brought to Europe, folks used this green herb to add a sour punch to dishes. Once citrus fruit reached Europe, poor sorrel was cast aside. Only recently has this citrus-flavored herb been gaining popularity.
Its tart flavor and tenderizing capabilities come from a compound called oxalic acid, which can also be found in spinach and black tea.
Your best bet is checking your local farmer’s market for sorrel starting in mid-May. Its leaves can either be shaped like a shield or rounded. The color can range from pale to dark green and range from 2 to 12-inches in length. Keep your eyes peeled though, sometimes the young leaves are tossed together with the salad greens. As the herb ages, the acidic flavor becomes stronger.
Varieties also vary in sourness with Garden and Belleville being the strongest flavored, while Dock sorrel is one of the mildest varieties.
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Also known as Italian broccoli, I grew up calling this veggie rapini. It has a pungent and bitter flavor similar to turnips and cabbage that gets mellowed out by cooking. It’s also a nutrient powerhouse, packed with calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron and vitamins A, C and K.
When at the market, look for a nestled bunch of bright leafy greens, with tiny broccoli-like buds peaking out. To prepare, steam or blanche in boiling water, then sauté in olive oil and garlic. Finish with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan, a pinch of red pepper flakes and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve as a side dish or incorporate into soup, quiche or pasta.
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A true sign of spring, this specialty produce can only be found for a limited time.
What, Where & When
A member of the Allium family along with onion and garlic, this wild variety of onion is sometimes referred to as a “wild leek.” Looking much like a scallion, a tiny bulb elongates to a skinny stalk with green feathery leaves (all parts are edible).
Lovers of this spring goodie are fans of its fresh onion and garlic flavor. Cooking will mellow out the pungent flavor of a raw ramp.
A serious farmers’ market treasure, ramps are harvested through the spring and early summer– look for them at markets from April through May or early June.
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This unique variety of oranges has been gaining popularity. But if you want to catch them, get to the market now; they’re only in season for a short time.
What, Where, & When?
These oranges were first discovered in 1976 at Hacienda Cara Cara in Venezuela (hence the name) and are now grown in California. They’re a type of navel orange that’s a cross between the Washington and Brazilian Bahia navel oranges.
The seedless orange has reddish-pink flesh and a sweet yet tangy flavor similar to cranberries, strawberries and raspberries. They’re available December through April.
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Packed with vitamin A, pumpkins are good for more than carving, and it’s time to expand your palate beyond pumpkin pie. They’re absolutely delicious in any of these 8 healthy recipes.
Both fresh and canned pumpkins are packed with nutritional goodness. Oftentimes, recipes will use the canned pumpkin since it takes a little work to use fresh. If you choose canned pumpkin, make sure to purchase 100% pureed pumpkin, not pie filling (check the ingredient list).
One cup of canned pumpkin has 83 calories, 1 gram of fat and 7 grams of fiber. It also has close to 800% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin A, 49% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin K and 19% of your daily recommended amount of iron. It also has a good amount of vitamins E and C, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese.
This recipe uses a combo of diced and pureed pumpkin. Combined with mascarpone and fresh Parmesan cheese, it’s heavenly.
Recipe: Creamy Baked Pumpkin Risotto (above)
Pureed pumpkin mixed with brown sugar, cinnamon and a splash of rum (for the adults) will help warm you up on a chilly night.
Recipe: Mexican Pumpkin Punch
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