Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.
TIP: Use a julienne peeler to make long, thin matchstick-like strands with little effort.
It's the start of zucchini season. The easy-to-grow and inexpensive summer vegetable can get boring by the end of its long season if you don't find new ways to prepare it. The good news: zucchini can take many forms: it can be pureed (for soups, patties and more), julienned (salads, sautés and pasta dishes), served in wide ribbons and, of course, sliced across into rounds.
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces) cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large tomato, halved and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup loosely packed whole basil leaves
5 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut in half and then into 1/4-inch slices
1. Bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil; continue boiling until it coats the back of a spoon and is reduced by about half; about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Coat grill rack with cooking spray. Lightly brush zucchini slices on both sides with oil, reserving remaining oil. Sprinkle the zucchini and tomato slices with the salt. Place the zucchini on the grill and cook 2 minutes on each side, or until lightly marked and crisp-tender.
3. Alternate basil leaves with tomato, mozzarella and zucchini slices in an overlapping layer on a platter. Garnish with small basil leaves, if desired. Drizzle with the remaining oil and the balsamic.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutritional analysis per serving 122 calories, 5 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 8 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 213 mg sodium
ZUCCHINI RIBBONS WITH FETA-MINT VINAIGRETTE
1 pound zucchini (preferably small ones)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons mint leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1. Use a vegetable peeler to peel long wide strips from the zucchini (these are the ribbons). Toss with the salt.
2. Combine lemon juice and mint; whisk in olive oil and stir in feta. Toss with zucchini, season to taste with additional salt and pepper and serve.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis per serving 133 calories, 4 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 11 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 364 mg sodium
LINGUINE WITH ZUCCHINI AND WALNUTS
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 pound zucchini, shredded with a vegetable or julienne peeler
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces mixed-grain linguine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, place the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium high, shaking occasionally, until the nuts become fragrant and lightly browned. Transfer to a plate to cool.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan and reduce heat to medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is light brown and very tender, about 10 minutes. When the onion is soft, add the zucchini and salt, and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer, until it is soft but not mushy.
4. Meanwhile, add the linguine to the pot of boiling water and cook according to package directions. Drain and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir in the walnuts, vegetables and Parmesan cheese.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving 375 calories, 13 g protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 24 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 467 mg sodium