Baked Zucchini for A Healthier Side

Squash is my favorite vegetable and it comes in endless varieties. There are also innumerable recipes for preparing the various types from plain old yellow squash to acorn, spaghetti, butternut and zucchini. Almost all those include large additions of unhealthy things like brown sugar, mayo, butter and loads of cheese for those wonderful squash casseroles.

 

For a healthier side of squash which still delivers lots of flavor, try baked zucchini. This is one of the easiest and quickest side dishes in my personal repertoire. You can make this with the simplest of ingredients or bump it up with a selection of cheese toppings, herbs, bread crumbs, spices or whatever else suits your personal taste. Here is my favorite way of making it.

 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and remove the ends of your zucchini. Cut the squash into half inch thick planks. If you get much thinner, they will turn out too limp for easy serving. Place the “planks” on a baking sheet with wire insert. You can use cooking spray but it is much easier to cover the sheet with non-stick aluminum foil – the best thing invented for roasting veggies or potatoes since it works very well. Brush your squash [you can use yellow squash too but shorten your cooking time since it is far less dense than zucchini] with olive oil. I pre-fer the light version but EVOO is fine. If you don’t like olive oil, just about any vegetable oil will substitute.
Sprinkle the oiled zucchini with salt and pepper to taste. Then you can add any other spices or herbs you like. I almost always add red pepper flakes for some nice heat. Bake your squash for 15 to 17 minutes or until a sharp knife easily goes into the thickest part. Remove from the oven and add any toppings you like. I almost always use a layer of Parmesan and/or a mixture of shredded Italian cheese. Put your oven on broil and return the cheese topped zucchini to cook for another five to six minutes or until the cheese gets bubbly and brown. Baked zucchini with no cheese is delicious too and you can avoid the added fat and calories. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for later reheating, which works very well.

 

–Dick Funderburke