My backyard garden is just bursting all over with an abundance of Zucchini, as they are reaching their peak this summer.
But did you know that zucchinis are actually fruits and not a true vegetable?
However, in the culinary world, it is treated as a vegetable. Like all squash, and being a member of the gourd family, zucchini has its ancestry in the Americas. More specifically, they are native to Central America and Mexico. The varieties of squash typically called “zucchini” were further cultivated and developed in Italy, many generations after their introduction from the New World.
As a food, Zucchini are so versatile. It can be prepared using a variety of cooking techniques, including steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed and baked, barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as soufflés. Mature (larger sized) zucchini are well suited for cooking in breads, similar to banana bread or incorporated into a cake batter. Even Its flowers can be eaten stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried, as tempura.Zucchini can also be eaten raw, sliced or shredded in a cold salad, as well as lightly cooked in hot salads, as in Thai or Vietnamese recipes.
Zucchini has a delicate flavor and requires little more than quick cooking with butter or olive oil, with or without fresh herbs.] The skin is left in place. Quick cooking of barely wet zucchini in oil or butter allows the fruit to partially boil and steam, with the juices concentrated in the final moments of frying when the water has gone, prior to serving, making it a perfect base for gluten free or paleo dishes.
For this dish, you can use a mandolin or a juilenne peeler to make the zucchini noodles.
There is even a new product on the market as seen on those late night infomercials. It is called the Veggetti Spiral Vegetable Slicer.
I prefer using the Paderno Spiralizer from Italy. The spiralizer is available at Williams-Sonoma (www. williams-sonoma.com). Unlike the mandolin, the spiralizer will give you a continuous spiral that resembles cooked spaghetti, rather than a julienne effect that you would get with using a mandolin or a peeler.
I gathered the ingredients I had on hand: Shrimp, garlic, fresh herbs, 1 small lemon, 1/2 small onion, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and butter.
The large mature zucchini was taken straight from my back yard garden and washed. Using the spiralizer, the zucchini was cut.Paper towels were used to remove excess moisture. The zucchini was then placed in a glass bowl.
My recipe calls for the spiral zucchini to be “raw”, seasoned with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper, chopped parsley and torn Thai Basil leaves. which were added to the zucchini and tossed well to mix and set aside.
For the shrimp, The shellfish were deveined, with the tail left intact. Two cloves of garlic, roughly chopped and a small onion were added to a skillet with 1 tablespoon of butter. The garlic and onions were sauteed until the onions were translucent and the garlic was fragrant.The shrimp were added to the skillet, along with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and lemon zest. The shrimp were cooked until pale pink, about 2-3 minutes each side.
The zucchini linguine was swirled onto a plate. The shrimp.garlic and onions were arranged on top of the zucchini noodles and a dusting of grated Parmesan cheese was sprinkled on the finished plate.
From prep time to cooking time, the entire dish only took 25 minutes, with very little cooking involved. I am sure that you can add any mix of summer vegetables, like tomatoes to the dish.
Quick, light, and easy summer cooking……..as I enjoy the fruits of my labor from my back yard garden!