Best of the Week: Our Most Popular Stories

This week, we kicked back with a perfectly steeped and sweetened glass of iced tea. The tricks are in the details, from the freshness of the tea to the temperature of the water. The same can be said for Bluegrass Soy Sauce, brewed by Bourbon Barrel Foods in Louisville, KY, in true Southern style. Another ingredient worth paying attention to: Argan oil (it's not just a basket ingredient on Chopped). Use in place of your normal oil of choice, and make things interesting. We were all about taking things easy, from repurposing leftovers to getting a full night's sleep--there are worse ways to spend a week.

How to Make the Perfect Pitcher of Iced Tea

The Modern Pantry: Bourbon Barrel Foods

5 Do's and Dont's Before Bed

Back to Basics: Argan Oil

Leftover Lunch: Zucchini 2 Ways

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Leftover Lunch: Zucchini Two Ways

2012-06-24_1340536422 After a weekend of unhealthy eating, I like to make Sunday lunches light. Think fresh vegetables, not many fats, and bright, sunny flavors. A raw zucchini salad was perfect for me this weekend. Dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, and freshly ground parmesan cheese, the fresh zucchini and tomatoes shone.

With quite a bit of leftover shaved zucchini however, I was stuck. Already lightly salted and oiled, I couldn't exactly throw them into a healthy chocolate zucchini muffin batter. Instead, I decided to whip up my lunch for Monday: fritelli di zucchini (an easy version of this recipe below).

After roughly chopping the leftover zucchini salad (without the tomatoes), I mixed in some thinly chopped white onion and one egg. Three tablespoons of flour thickened the batter to the point that everything stuck together in the bowl.

Somewhere between a zucchini latke and pancake, I will take these to work on top of a salad and with a lemony, Greek yogurt dressing.

Fritelli di zucchini

That's hardly the only thing to do with the shaved zucchini. Some more ideas:

  • These curry cayenne zucchini chips start out with shaved zucchini, so using the leftovers for this impressive side gives you a huge headstart.
  • After a rough chop, mix the zucchini into eggs, and make scrambled eggs, an omelette, or a frittata.
  • Leave the leftover salad as is or turn it into a tangy Greek yogurt dip. Use it on a sandwich or burger to complement something spicy.
  • Mix the shaved zucchini into cooked pasta, or stuff pasta shells with a mixture of the zucchini, ricotta, and walnuts.
  • Make an elegant zucchini gratin. Chop, and mix the zucchini with heavy cream and breadcrumbs, and bake.

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Unconventional Ingredients: Zucchini Blossoms

By Arielle Hartman

Everyone loves flowers, right? They're brightly colored, cheery even, and signify the approaching summer months. Something about the way they open up toward the sun is just so simple and beautiful I almost can't stand it. Then why am I about to fry these poor, helpless zucchini blossoms into oblivion and devour them like some horror movie monster? Plus, I'm excited about it. Is that wrong? Do I care? The temptation of deliciously crispy blossoms may be too much for me to pass up, even if I do feel like a cold-hearted flower killer. Maybe I'll perfect my evil laugh.

I first encountered zucchini blossoms when I was volunteering at Pleroma Farms, in Hudson, New York, last summer. We sowed, we seeded, and we ate like kings, picking from the fresh and plentiful crop that was our backyard. We harvested some zucchini for the morning market and kept the blossoms for ourselves, careful not to waste any part of the plant. We fried those suckers up and gulped them down as soon as they hit our plates, scorching our mouths in the process. But, boy, were they delicious, crispy and golden, yet super light and a bit sweet. It is this taste that prompts me to drop the first blossom into my pan, relishing the sizzle, leaving all worries aside and fully embracing my inner flower slayer. Don't judge me.

I made a really simple batter. Mix together an egg, 3 heaping tablespoons of flour, a bit of salt and some milk. You can mix in some herbs too, like parsley or oregano, for some more flavor.

Then dip those blossoms in the batter, apologize to the invisible zucchini blossom gods and fry them in an oiled pan until they're golden brown. And voila! An unusual summer appetizer in five minutes flat! Tell your friends! The only downside is that now you are a flower killer as well. Welcome to the club, we're glad to have you...now go practice that evil laugh.

Cooking with Zucchini, a Healthy Summer Squash

The zucchini is known by many different names around the world. In France, it's la courgette; in Great Britain it's the vegetable marrow. No matter what you call it, this squash can be a tasty addition to dishes ranging from lasagna to muffins. Zucchini is in season for the summer and has some great health benefits, so get cooking with it today! 

The zucchini is a member of the squash family. It grows on a vine and has bright yellow blossoms that are also edible and taste great in salads or deep-fried until crispy. The flesh of the zucchini itself has a slightly sweet taste and a spongy texture, which makes it a popular ingredient in baked goods.

Baking with zucchini can also be a great way to get your kids to eat their vegetables! A plate of cooked veggies can be scary to picky eaters, but baking zucchini into a favorite tasty dish can encourage kids to venture outside their comfort zone. Try your hand at some zucchini bread or zucchini muffins. It's not great just in sweetened bread; you can fold grated zucchini into scrambled eggs, casseroles, brown rice, and more.

Zucchini is great for grown-ups, too. It's packed with fiber, which is beneficial to your digestive system and aids in weight loss as it help keep you feeling fuller for longer. It's also high in vitamins A and C, which act as powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents and are great for flushing toxins from your system. On top of that, zucchini is perfect if you're counting calories - one cup only contains about 30-40 calories.

Aside from baking, zucchini can be used in some delicious savory recipes. Ratatouille, a Provencal stew of zucchini, eggplant, and tomato makes great use of this squash.

Now that it's in season, look for zucchini at your local farmer's market. If you're a gardener yourself, zucchini is a particularly easy vegetable to grow and is a good addition to a summer garden - it will even grow on a trellis if you're short on space!

What are some of your favorite zucchini recipes?