I’m a big fan of all types of veggies, but my husband is not so much. Oh he eats them alright, but has never been one to experiment much with them, so you can imagine his reaction when I said I was going to make these Grilled Pizza Zucchini Boats. Yep, he was thrilled … not, but I assured him he would like them. I mean, really what’s not to like about pizza sauce and ooey gooey melted mozzarella cheese. Who knew something so easy would be so delicious.
Did you know?
Zucchini is super low in calories – Zucchini makes the perfect light side dish for a heavy meal: One cup of sliced zucchini has about 19 calories. That’s 40 to 50% lower than the same serving size for other low-cal green veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. And because it’s so versatile, you can enjoy this low-calorie food in so many different recipes, from baked fries to pesto roll-ups, or grilled as I did.
You can eat the blossoms – Even though zucchini is served as a vegetable, it’s technically a fruit because it comes from a flower: it grows from a golden blossom that blooms under the leaves. They don’t normally sell the blooms in the grocery store, but you can find them at farmers’ markets. And these beauties aren’t just for looking at—you can eat them, too. The most popular way to prepare them is fried or stuffed, but our friends at Sunset magazine have a unique salad recipe to try. Check out Squash Blossom, Avocado, and Butter Lettuce Salad.
It may be good for your heart – Zucchini has a good amount of potassium: 295 milligrams per cup, or 8% of your recommended daily value. According to the American Heart Association, potassium can help control blood pressure because it lessens the harmful effects of salt on your body. Studies suggest boosting your potassium intake (while also curbing sodium) can slash your stroke risk and may also lower your odds of developing heart disease. Zucchini is also high in the antioxidant vitamin C, which may help the lining of your blood cells function better, lowering blood pressure and protecting against clogged arteries. One cup of sliced zucchini has 20 milligrams, or about 33% of your daily value.
You can substitute it for pasta – Sure, you can add zucchini to your spaghetti recipes, but you can also use it in place of noodles altogether. So-called “zoodles” are a great pasta alternative, and they’re easy to make with the help of some kitchen gadgets. With a mandolin or a spiral slicer, you secure the zucchini on prongs and push the veggie toward the blades. Not only does it make things easy, but it’s also kind of cool to see dozens of noodles cranked out at once. A smaller and less expensive option is a julienne peeler, which has a serrated blade to create thin strips.
It’s not always green – You may be used to seeing a vegetable that’s green and speckled, but there’s a yellow variety of zucchini, and it’s easy to confuse with yellow squash, a different type. The easiest way to tell the difference is to look at the shape. Yellow squash usually has a tapered neck, either crooked or straight, whereas zucchini of any color looks like a cylinder from end to end. Though not much is known about the difference between the varieties, some say golden zucchini has a sweeter flavor than the green kind. Because it retains its color after cooking, it also makes a sunny addition to any dish.
It has an international pedigree – Italians are thought to have bred modern zucchini from the squash they picked up in colonial America—zucca is actually the Italian word for squash. That’s why you’ll see zucchini referred to as “Italian squash” in some recipes. Still, both summer squash has been around for quite some time. The crop dates back to 5500 B.C. where it was integral in the diets of people living in Central America and South America, according to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. (And if you’re in Europe, it may appear on menus as “courgette”). (source: health.com)
These have quickly become a family favorite and one we prepare many times over the summer. They are a great side dish to grilled meats, or a fun little snack to add to any backyard cookout. Buy the freshest zucchini you can, preferably from a local farmers’ market for this dish. Look for squash that’s small, just 6- to 8-inches in length and still relatively thin. The zucchini should feel heavy for its size. The skin should be dark green and smooth and free of blemishes. If the skin looks slightly shriveled, it probably hasn’t been freshly picked.
4 medium zucchini, cut in half length-wise
1 tbls. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
4 tbls. pizza sauce (make your own pizza sauce)
Shredded Asiago or mozzarella cheese
Coat cut zucchini liberally with olive oil and dust with salt and pepper. Grill cut side down 3 to 4 minutes on medium direct high heat.
Turn zucchini cut side up, brush tops with pizza sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Close grill cover and cook just a few more minutes or until cheese is melted.
Serve immediately with your choice of grilled meats.
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