It’s that time of year where, if you grow zucchinis, like some of us do in Spokane, you have to start doing something with them, and if instead, you find copious quantities available at the farmer’s market or the grocery store, it’s time to enjoy them a lot, while they’re fresh, in season, maybe local, and inexpensive.
But healthy, good tasting, low fat recipes can be a challenge even for a basically healthy vegetable like zucchini. And, eating healthy is an important part of dieting, and diet is an important part of fitness. So let’s get started.
For myself, I have just one zucchini plant in my Spokane garden, and apparently not enough bees, or neighbors also with zucchinis. This requires me to manually go out and help fertilize every morning at dawn. The male flowers and female flowers last only one day and are open for only a short time in the morning, so unless you get both types blooming and successfully doing their mating thing every day, the little zucchinis never grow up to become big zucchinis. So, I’m out there with my paint brush helping them along at first light. The reward is a decent crop and a need for good recipes.
Zucchinis are low in fat and cholesterol, high in fiber, and have an assortment of good vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin A, Calcium, Vitamin C, and Iron, also useful amounts of Folate, Potassium, and Manganese. Keep them that way, by not smothering them in cheeses, butter, and salt, and by cooking them gently. I found this recipe in Vegan Planet, by Robin Robertson. It was way better than I had originally expected and so had to share it (and the finished product) with friends and now with you.
Tuscan Style Pasta with Chickpeas, Zucchini, and Rosemary (from Vegan Planet)
2 tablespoons olive oil (the best for heart health!)
2 small zucchinis, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼ inch thick half moons
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh rosemary leaves (I used half that of dried, ground)
One 14.5 ounce can plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
1-1/2 cups cooked or one 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 pound penne or other short tubular pasta
- Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the zucchini and cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the rosemary, tomatoes, chickpeas, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes to blend the flavors.
- Meanwhile, cook the penne in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dante, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place in a large, shallow serving bowl, Add the sauce and toss gently to combine. Serve at once.
My variations. I did find the recipe to be a bit long on pasta and short on sauce. So, the second time I made it I doubled the recipe for the sauce for 1 pound of pasta (alternatively, you can use only ½ pound pasta). To me, it was perfect this way.
The other thing I did was use canned diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano, instead of plain, and requiring no additional chopping. And I didn’t drain them. Rather, after the 10 minutes of cooking, I spooned out the veggies into a colander to drain, and poured the liquid that drained off back into the pan to cook down to a thick sauce. After the veggies and pasta are tossed together, this sauce makes a nice, flavorful addition on top.
This recipe is amazingly quick and tasty, as well as healthy. The only fat is from the olive oil (plus a very little bit in the zucchini itself and a little in the chickpeas), which is an excellent, healthy form of fat—low in saturated and trans fats, and high in monounsaturated fat. The chickpeas provide good protein. The not-so-secret ingredient is the red pepper flakes that keep it interesting. My friends want me to make it again, and even liked eating it cold (although I prefer it warm). And what do you know? I’ve got plenty of the main ingredient, Spokane-grown zucchini!
If you want to learn to eat healthy, train properly, and achieve your weight and fitness goals, besides eating zucchini in low fat recipes, come and check out Physzique in Liberty Lake, Washington. Zach Hunt will augment your Spokane zucchini recipe with a complete recipe for fitness!!