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Key ingredient

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Zucchinis: Make them sweat


In this story:

Grill it

Care and handling


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(CNN) -- My, how versatile zucchini has become. The squash has made a home for itself in bread, casseroles and vegetable steamers. A fellow cooking friend of mine likes to boil it in water before adding to spaghetti sauce.

Oh the tasteless horror.

"Most people don't cook it right; Don't steam or boil or braise," says cookbook author James Peterson.

Instead saute, grill or roast the light flesh of the zucchini. Making it sweat will reduce some of the water content and intensify flavor. And keep it over the heat long enough to get some color.

"It's good when it's been browned; it will caramelize to service," Peterson says.

In his book, "Essentials of Cooking" (Artisan), Peterson sautes zucchini to a golden brown, adding a sharp mix of garlic and parsley at the very end of cooking.

The result is a rich and hearty vegetable to top pasta or a respectable side to a simple meal.

  SAUTE ZUCCHINI
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  ROAST ZUCCHINI
  • 'Roasted Zucchini Vinaigrette with Basil and Mint,' recipe from 'Fresh & Fast: Inspired Cooking for Every Season and Every Day' by Marie Simmons
  • 'Roasted-Zucchini Pasta,' recipe from 'The Gardener's Table,' by Richard Merrill and Joe Ortiz
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    Grill it

    Joe Ortiz, co-author of "The Gardener's Table" (Ten Speed Press), says when grilling zucchini, hold off on the marinade and let the zucchini start cooking naked.

    Cut zucchini lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Lightly oil grill top with olive oil and place raw zucchini over very hot coals. Turn and grill the slices until they starts to dry out and turn brown. Brush with marinade and keep turning, keeping care not to burn, for 4 to 6 minutes.

    For a simple marinade, he recommends a mix of olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and herbs (basil, oregano or parsley).

    Care and handling

    Zucchinis are good for a beginning garden and grow well in most climates. They're a natural for summer gardens, usually ending the season with glorious glut.

    "They are extremely easy to grow," says Rich Merrill of "The Gardener's Table."

    He recommends eating the zucchini when small, not letting them grow too large.

    Zucchini is available in most supermarkets year-round. When picking, look for small to medium zucchini with no soft or extra dark spots. It should be firm, not withered or dried out.

    It's a summer squash, so take care not to knick its gentle skin while handling. You can easily peel the skin off with a knife, but it tastes great left on, softening along with the flesh in cooking.

    If you stir-fry zucchini, do it quickly so that it remains intact. Long slow cooking will surely turn it to goo.

    One cup of sliced raw zucchini is about 15 calories. It is high in potassium and vitamin A.



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