Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Prepare for the Zucchini Influx!

This time of year, gardeners are starting to search for people to take the avalanche of zucchini that invariably comes to gardens across the country. So if a co-worker or relative approaches you bearing a long, green gift - don't say no! You've got some Clean Eating goodness in store!

1. Make pickles
Zucchini pickles are every bit as delicious as their cucumber counterparts.
Combine 4 cups 1/8-inch zucchini slices, 1 cup slivered sweet onion, and 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves in a glass bowl. Bring 1 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt to a boil; pour over zucchini mixture. Cover and chill 24 hours.

Note: don't shy away from the sugar in this case. Remember, you aren't going to drink the pickling liquid ( hopefully! ) Most of the sugar will remain in the liquid. 

2. Reinvent coleslaw
The neutral flavor and crisp texture of raw zucchini make it a great base for slaw. Try this savory-sweet version: Combine 1/4 cup organic canola mayonnaise , 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; toss with 4 cups shredded zucchini, 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, and 1/2 cup slivered red onion.

3. Moisten a lean meat loaf
Use the inherent moisture of shredded zucchini to make a juicy lower-fat meat loaf. Take your favorite beef-based meat loaf recipe, and substitute lean ground turkey breast for the beef. For every pound of meat, add 2 cups shredded zucchini. Bonus: Extra veggies in your dinner! Even in traditional beef meatloaf - added zucchini allows you to use a leaner beef mixture without the fat but with all the moisture.