By Vicky Babcock
Save your grocery bags. Practice your stealth. It’s nearly upon us! August 8 is “sneak some zucchini onto your neighbors porch day”. Non-growing neighbors are likely to appreciate the shared largess—-that first time. Okay, maybe the second. Wait! They’re locking the car and leaving the light on. And they’ve just acquired a big dog.
All kidding aside, this prolific grower is a tasty and nutritious treat. One medium fruit provides about 58% of your daily requirements of Vitamin C and about 14% of potassium.
Small, tender squash are best and can be consumed uncooked in salads and cut into sticks for dips. Or skip the dip—it’s not needed. And one medium fruit contains only 33 calories, a dieter’s dream! Leave the skin intact for a healthy snack—much of the nutrition is concentrated within the peel. It can be sliced and stir-fried for a tasty side. (I use salt, pepper and garlic) But pick often. Larger fruit are only good shredded for breads, cakes and soups, as the skin becomes tough and the fruit seedy.
Zucchini fruit is more versatile than most people realize. It can be fried, baked, broiled or consumed raw. Try zucchini fries or quiche, cookies or pancakes. Zucchini fritters are another way to use up the squash. For some tasty zucchini recipes, check out www.MomOnTimeout (Google zucchini recipes)
Zucchini is Native American and was cultivated by the Indians long before Columbus set sail on his monumental voyage. Much lore abounds with its medicinal value. Toothache suffers could chew on a piece to find relief and it was said that a paste of the boiled fruit could sooth the sting of running eyes. Consumption of great quantities, it was said, would prevent the deadly consequences of snakebite. To remove a troublesome wart, touch the affliction with the cut end of a zucchini by the light of a full moon and bury the squash in a field that faces north. While we can’t guarantee the results, you’re likely to get a good crop of zucchini! Linda Jean Morris— The Times Weds. 9-2-1987.
That excess of squash can be shredded and frozen for later use. Or maybe its time to start a new tradition. How about, “bring some zucchini to work, day.”
Easy Garden Lasagna
1 lb. Italian bulk sausage
3 1/2 cups chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped carrot
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1/4 cup flour
3 cups skim milk
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 or 9- no-boil lasagna noodles (such as Barilla)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. In a large skillet, cook bulk sausage until browned through. Pour off excess grease—remove sausage and set aside. Add zucchini, onion, and carrot to the pan; sauté over med-high heat about 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from heat; stir in reserved sausage, corn, basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
3. In a large saucepan, combine flour, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in ricotta cheese, Parmesan and nutmeg.
4. Spread 1/3 of the sausage mixture in the bottom of an 11×7-inch baking pan. Layer half the noodles, 1/3 sausage, ½ white sauce, remaining noodles, remaining sausage and remaining white sauce. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with mozzarella, and bake an additional 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes.
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