Whatever else you have planted in your garden this summer, I hope you threw a few zucchini seeds into the ground. Really, a few! This summer standby is a prolific producer. If you got excited and planted the entire packet of zucchini seeds, get ready to see a lot of green.
Give your squash plenty of space. Plant in hills no closer than three or four feet apart.
Zucchini likes warm, well-drained, fertile soil. When the weather is dry, give zucchini regular drinks of water. For best results, use a drip hose that will keep the leaves from getting wet and mildewed.
Check the vines daily and try to harvest the squash while they are still young.
Fortunately, there is a lot you can do with zucchini. Begin with ratatouille, a rustic French vegetable stew in which zucchini plays a starring role. Chop a squash into thin slices and sauté in olive oil along with some onion and garlic. Throw in chopped tomatoes, and—depending on what else you might have pulled out of the garden that day—eggplant, yellow squash, red or green peppers, maybe even string beans. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for ten or 15 minutes, until you are sure the veggies are tender. Season with salt and pepper and top with fresh chopped basil and parmesan cheese.
Grilled vegetables are another great way to sneak zucchini onto the menu. Cut them into ½ inch thick “planks” or disks and toss with some oil, salt, pepper, and any other spices of your choosing. Grill both sides over a medium fire for a few minutes, until you have a bit of char.
Here are a few other healthy and economical ways to put your zucchini to work for you:
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