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Eating Well: Versatile zucchini great baking, grilling ingredient

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Contrary to what most people believe, zucchinis are great when it comes to versatility in cooking, perfect for a variety of sweet dishes as well as vegetable sides using the stovetop, oven or grill.

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The smaller ones are great for sautéing with all your favorite vegetables and cheeses and the larger ones are ideal for those breads, muffins, and cake recipes that are either perfect baked fresh and eaten or popped into the freezer for later use. Baked items with the shredded zucchini are always moisture laden and consequently freeze up well, and when thawed are just as good or even better than the freshly made. A prime example of that is the Zucchini Bread recipe featured below.

I wash the zucchini and leave the skin on in my recipes for a little extra color, but it is also okay to peel them before mixing in or sautéing.

Zucchini is also extremely good for you - one cup has 20 calories, and 35 percent of your daily allowance of vitamin C and 14 percent of Vitamin B6, plus other good nutrients.

It is also fairly bland, taking on the flavors of whatever you cook it with. That means you can hide it in a number of dishes and if your guests are not big zucchini fans, they won't even notice you're cooking with it.

The really nice thing about the Zucchini Skillet recipe is you can toss in pretty much what you like when it comes to additional vegetables. I many times eliminate the yellow squash and will add an onion or a red or green pepper. Fresh mushrooms are also wonderful sautéed into the mix. Anything is basically fair game when it comes to additions. I also like to throw in a little extra cheese, but it all boils down to personal preference and in that regard this recipe is certainly flexible and can be custom made.

Until next time, from my kitchen to yours, happy baking and cooking!

Zucchini Bread

Mix together:

3 eggs

1 cup oil

2 cups sugar

Add:

3 cups grated zucchini

½ tsp. salt

2 tsp. soda

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. cinnamon

3 ½ cups flour

½ tsp. vanilla

Optional add:

1 ½ cups raisins

1 cup chopped nuts

Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Skillet Zucchini

2 zucchini, sliced

2 yellow squash, sliced

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tbsp. olive oil

½ cup mozzarella cheese

2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil (dried basil also works)

2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese

Cook zucchini and squash in hot oil in skillet for about three minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook three minutes loner. Remove from heat and stir in mozzarella and basil. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve hot.

khuber@westfargopioneer.com

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