Did you know zucchini is actually a fruit? No? Good. Me neither.
Zucchini is considered a type of botanical berry called a pepo – the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower. But by all culinary standards, it’s used as a vegetable.
The first summer we lived in our house, I planted a garden. And by "planted a garden," what I mean to say is I planted way too many zucchini plants and was eating the veggie until almost the new year. It took over. This is apparently a common problem for novice gardeners and might also explain why every farmer’s market is overwhelmed with baskets of zucchini during the late summer. They grow easily.
When it comes to cooking, zucchini is 95 percent water, which means it goes from tender to slop incredibly quickly. I prefer it roasted; I’ve found that gives it the best chance of staying tender. But I also love adding it to soups, chilis and pasta dishes as an easy way to add more veggies into my diet.
The smaller the zucchini, the less fibrous it will be on the inside and the less water it will hold. So if you are growing your own at home, you want to harvest them when they are between five and seven inches long (this is also the size you should be looking for at the grocery store or farmer’s market).
A roasting rack is an inexpensive addition to your kitchen that also makes a world of difference when it comes to roasting vegetables, especially zucchini. But lifting the zucchini up off of the baking sheet, you are giving the excess water a place to go and you’re keeping your zucchini from soaking in it while it is in the oven. Instead the zucchini stays nice and dry on the roasting rack.
Salt is also an important tool to use when making zucchini. Sprinkle a little on your slices ahead of time and after about 10 minutes, use a cheesecloth to absorb the excess before cooking.
Crispy Parmesan Zucchini Bites
- 2 to 3 zucchinis, sliced into ½ inch coins
- ½ cup shredded cheese (parmesan and mozzarella, recommended)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp ground oregano
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Set parchment paper over baking sheet. Add roasting rack.
- Lay out zucchini slices evenly.
- Sprinkle with salt.
- In small bowl, combine garlic powder, pepper and oregano. Mix well.
- Cover zucchini slices evenly with cheese.
- Sprinkle seasoning over the top.
- Roast for 10 minutes (use a fork to check tenderness before turning on broiler).
- Broil at 450° for 7 to 8 minutes or until cheese is at desired color.
- Serve hot.