This garden-fresh glory has the ability to add its distinct flavour to hearty pastas, scrumptious casseroles and even moist chocolate cake.
When zucchini surfaced in the Indian consciousness and kitchens, it was merely perceived as a bland yet nutritious addition to salads. But soon enough, it metamorphasised into various avatars — baked to a crisp, sliced, grilled and stuffed with mysterious deliciousness, among others. This garden-fresh squash now has found itself in a range of menus for its singular ability to blend in and not shadow the flavour of the dish it’s being tossed into. It thus features in hearty pastas, scrumptious casseroles, and even moist chocolate cake. A rich source of potassium, Vitamin C and A, it also served as an ideal low-carb replacement for the calorie-conscious generation.
A study in The Ameri-can Journal of Clinical Nutrition exhorts the benefits of including zucchini in one's diet as it can reduce LDL cholesterol. “You might be surprised to know that consuming zucchini can actually help you lose weight considerably. It is ideal for Keto or low-carb meals and one can replace spaghetti, burger buns among other carb-heavy items with zucchini. Therefore, it is a great way to satisfy your appetite without exceeding your calorie-intake or opting for a crash diet plan,” says Chef Subhash Shirke, Executive Chef at Neighbourhood Hospitality.
The key to sourcing the best zucchini is by sticking to fresh produce. The zucchini squash that has flowers attached are generally considered fresh, sweet and juicy. Pick one that is sleek, smooth, and firm and has a bright-coloured skin. It is always advisable to store zucchini in perforated plastic bags in a refrigerator drawer.
High on heat
The best way to cook this delicate vegetable is by dry-heat cooking. Grilling or sautéing sears the vegetable and allows you to cook it quickly and avoid the dreaded mush. The vegetable’s water content is so high, that overcooking can easily turn it into a sodden mess. The trick is to salt it well in order to draw out some of the water. It is best to cook it over high heat as it caramelises the flesh before it gets a chance to steam and get soggy. Make sure to not skimp on the salt as it brings out the flavour of the squash and gives it a definitive edge.
A light and healthy take on pad Thai, this recipe uses zucchini instead of rice noodles. Zucchini noodles work perfectly since they're light and absorb the distinct flavors of the sauce.
Peanut butter dressing: 60 gm
Zucchini zoodles: 200gm
Pink salt: 3gm
Fresh red paprika: 10 gm
Chili flakes: 10gm
Salted peanuts: 10 gm
Mix of black/white sesame: 2gm
Lemon slice: half
Micro greens: 6gm
Salted peanut: 50gm
Tamarind paste: 10gm
Soya sauce: 3ml
Black jaggery: 5gm
Lemon juice: 2ml
Pink salt: 2 gm
Garlic peeled: 3 gm
For the peanut dressing, deseed tamarind and boil it in 2 cups of water over low flame for 8-10 mins. Once cooled, mash and strain.
Grind garlic peels, roasted peanut, jaggery, tamarind paste , soya sauce and until it has a medium coarse consistency. Now add lemon juice and grind again to a paste.
In a bowl, add peanut dressing, lime juice, chilli flakes, salt and water and whisk it to a slightly thinner texture.
Mix the fresh zucchini zoodles with the dressing and toss it properly.
Place the zoodles in a fresh bowl, add salted peanuts, red paprika, sesame seeds and microgreens as garnish. Place a slice of lemon on top and serve cold.
—Chef Subhash Shirke Executive Chef at Neighbourhood Hospitality
For the Cannelloni
Zucchini ribbons: 225 gms
Ricotta: 220 gms
Parmesan: 40 gms
Wilted spinach: 60 gms
Lemon rind: 2-3 gms
Salt & pepper: to taste
Roasted red bell pepper: 1
Almonds: 40 gms
Tomato paste: 30 gms
smoked paprika: 5 gms
Cayenne Pepper: 4 gms
Olive Oil: 30 ml
Sherry Vinegar: 8 ml
Combine Ricotta, Spinach, parmesan, lemon rind, salt, pepper and garlic
Spread the zucchini ribbons, fill in the ricotta and spinach stuffing and roll to form a cannelloni. Put it on a baking tray and heat in the oven.
Add roasted red bell pepper, garlic, almonds, tomato paste, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and sherry vinegar in a blender and grind to a smooth puree. Add the oil to form an emulsion n Heat the romesco sauce in a pan and put it onto a plate.
Place the cannelloni on top of the sauce and garnish with parmesan, micro basil and serve.
—Chef Hansel Baptista, Crafters Tap House
Zucchini Mushroom Pate
Chopped Onion: 10 gms
Chopped Garlic: 10 gms
Leeks: 10 gms
Celery: 10 gms
Chopped Carrot :20 gms
Button Mushrooms - 50 gms
Chopped Yellow Zucchini: 50 gms
Chopped Green Zucchini : 50 gms
Thyme: 5 gms
Olive Oil: 15 ml
Butter: 10 gms
Salt: to taste
Pepper: to taste
Mushroom: 1 Chives: for garnish
n Heat olive oil in pan and sauté chopped onion and garlic. Add roughly chopped all other vegetables to it. Season with salt and pepper
n Once it cools, blend it into fine paste
n Serve in bowl and garnish with a couple of sliced crispy mushrooms and chives
—Chef Sandip Dalvi, Jamjar Diner
Green zucchini: 1kg
Olive oil: 20ml
Butter: 10 gms
Garlic: 10 gms
Thai red chili: 5gms
Salt: 3 gms
Peel the zucchini and marinate with garlic and rosemary.
Load the mixture in a vacuum bag and add olive oil and butter, and seal the bag
Dip the bag in hot water and let the zucchini cook for about 8 minutes.
Once done, dip the bag cold water to retain the colour.
Blend the zucchini to get a paste like consistency. Mix in the chopped onions, tomatoes, parsley, chili and parsley.
Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper and olive oil if needed
—Executive Chef Aabhas Mehrotra, Sorrentina
Green zucchini, sliced: 120 gm
Tempura flour: 45 gm
Crushed ice: 30 gm
Hung curd: 10 gm
Mayonnaise: 10 gm
Garlic paste, roasted:
Oil: 200 ml
Cheddar powder: 5 gm
Red-yellow bell pepper, julienne 8 gm
Micro greens: 4 gm
Black pepper: 2 gm
Salt: 6 gm
Slice a zucchini into eight thinly-sliced 1 mm pieces. Marinate with salt and pepper and keep in the freezer.
For the batter, add crushed ice, tempura flour, salt, pepper and all other ingredients. Mix it well, stir it with whisk and let it rest for 5 minutes.
For frying, heat 200 ml oil in a pan; coat the zucchini pieces in tempura batter and fry. You need to twist zucchini from both sides until it gets golden brown.
Place it in serving platter; dust some cheddar dust on top. Garnish with micro greens and bell peppers.
—Chef Makarand Samant, Executive Chef, Maffy's