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Dining In: Zucchini in abundance in August

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In the alphabetical list of vegetables currently in season, zucchini comes last, but in productivity it is always first.

Easy to grow, home farmers who plant it usually find they have more than they can possibly use, especially since it has a long growing season that lasts until the first frost of autumn.

Because they have so many zucchini on their hands, home cooks have become especially inventive when it comes to ways to put it to use. You can eat it raw with dip or in salads, sauté it, grill it or stuff it. It can be added to soups, lasagna and mixed vegetables, served cooked with tomatoes as a sauce over pasta, made into pancakes or fritters and baked into sweet bread or muffins.

A first cousin of yellow summer squash, the two are interchangeable in recipes. Both are good sources of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C, potassium, folate and manganese. When cooking, it is best to steam it because it retains more nutrients than when it is microwaved, sautéed or boiled. It always pairs beautifully with tomatoes.

We can thank the Italians for this beloved vegetable. Although the first squashes originated in the Americas, zucchini itself was developed in northern Italy in the second half of the 19th century by those working with the American versions.

One way to use up an abundance of zucchini is to make zucchini bread, then freeze it for whenever you need a wholesome treat. This recipe comes from thewholesomedish.com.

Classic Zucchini Bread
1½ cups grated zucchini – lightly
packed – do not drain liquid
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup vegetable or other
cooking oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
 
In a large bowl, add the grated zucchini, sugar, brown sugar, applesauce, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk until well combined.

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir just until no dry flour remains, trying not to over mix.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 54 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the bread should come out with moist crumbs on it.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely before slicing.

Store covered in the refrigerator. This bread is best served after it has been refrigerated for at least 12 hours.

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